2/19 Friday: Filter Charla
In a nutshell: I am soooo over dealing with these filters. I made announcements and personally told people about this presentation and only 1 new person showed up. The requirements to get a filter are easy: pay $550 pesos and go to a class. Then you get your water filter and stop getting parasites. $550 isn’t so much that people can’t do it. Every single person in my community could do it if they set aside a little money here and there. Today was the 4th time I gave the same class and out of the 30 original filters we still have 6. People are so freaking lazy! I refuse to just give these away. I think that people think that I will just give them away if they wait long enough. The thing that really annoys me is that I had at least 5 people come up to me and tell me they really wanted a filter and they would be at the class but not one of them was there. There are two houses where the people want filters but they’re just weekend homes and I wanted to give the filters to someone who lived in the house all the time. Sometimes I get so frustrated by the mentality here. A lot of people want stuff but they won’t do anything to get it except complain. Well until they decide to do something about it, those filters are staying in the Women’s Club. People have to put something in for them or they won’t take care of them. I’d rather give them to someone in a different community who will take care of it than give them to someone who doesn’t appreciate it here.
2/16 y 2/18: Tuesday and Thursday: Escojo
In a nutshell: Tuesday was my 1st Escojo class. It went soooooo well!! My 1st Escojo class I ever had was incredibly boring but this one, with all the promoters there (kids who got at least an 80% on the final exam and didn’t have a lot of absences) went fantastic! I hope this round goes better! I have a feeling it will since my old promoter group had a bad attitude and this time around there are only two from the previous group. Mostly Wandi and Argeni were the worst. Oh, and the time Ernie, Vanji and Yameliza walked out… that was pretty bad. Vaji and Yameliza are still in it but being the only old ones makes them less bad. They’re not the type of girls who are bad on their own but are obnoxious when paired with someone bad. Anyways, the class went great! Afterwards I invited all the promoters to my friend Mark’s Escojo graduation on the 6th of March. I said we should get the other group something as a happy graduation gift. All the kids agreed so we decided to have a raffle and also to make and sell Pine Sol again. I was a teeny bit concerned for the making of the floor cleaner but decided to just roll with it. I was nominated to get something “cool” for the raffle and when I went to Santiago on Wednesday for an Escojo meeting I stopped at a store which is more like a huge garage sale (very disorganized but cheap!) and found the perfect thing: a thermos! Doñas will like it because they will only have to make coffee 1x/day and it will stay warm and men will like it because, well why not?
On Thursday the Pine Sol making went soooooo smooth! It was amazing!! I kept having flashbacks of my other promoters sitting and watching while just 2 people worked and then all arguing about the amount of work to be done. We made about 60 bottles in about 90 minutes. That includes looking for the bottles, cleaning them, making the floor cleaner and bottling it. They didn’t help clean up much but I was planning on being there for about 3 hours anyways so I was happy! Now we’ll see how many they can sell. No matter what though we’ll have enough money for the gift. The raffle alone raised enough money as the gift costs about $500. I told them we could use the rest for a party or something.
2/15 Monday: The Mother’s Club gift exchange
In a nutshell: I wasn’t sure how Mercedes was going to treat me this week since we have since talked about our issues. She was civil and even kind of friendly which was a nice change. I bought the gift for my secret santa to exchange but I also wanted to get a gift for Minga. So, when I was in Santiago today coming back up from the concert, I stopped at a great store called Jumbo. I found a flower pot with little hearts all over it and got it for Minga. Then I went to the counter and had them wrap it (all the stores here will wrap presents for free) and Jumbo takes FOREVER but they do a great job. Minga liked the wrapping job so much she refused to open the gift! I found this hilarious so I took a picture of it. Finally her daughter came by a few days later and opened it for her. Next time I’ll save the money and get a rock wrapped for her!
2/13 Saturday: Adventura!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In a nutshell: My favorite band is Adventura. They’re great and sing my favorite type of music, bachata. I found out last December that they were going to come to the DR for a concert and definitely wanted to go. Through some miscommunications with friends buying tickets, I didn’t get one in time and unless I wanted to pay 700 pesos more ($20) for better seats, I wasn’t going. Well, I am too cheap to pay 1600 pesos for a ticket so I resolved to not go. Then, a miracle happened: one of my friends had an extra ticket and called me on Thursday to see if I wanted it!!!! So, I went to see Adventura in concert. We got there about an hour late and were really far away but who cares?! The crowd was amazing and we all agreed it was one of the best concerts we had ever seen. Yippee, my 1st concert in the DR!!!!
2/12 Friday: A short example of why school here no cive para nada
In a nutshell: This entire week I have been trying to go to the school to talk to the director. I’ve been trying to go during the least intrusive time of day so as to not disrupt classes too much but I need to get Escojo started again and have to compile a list of interested kids. I can’t do that if I don’t have permission from the Director, Humberto. Well, to be blunt- school here sucks. I know I have said this before but here is a great example of why it sucks. Every single day this week I was going to go around 5, near the end of school to talk to Humberto and then come back the next day to talk to the students. Every single day my plans were foiled because, after beginning school at 2 pm each day, school was let out no later than 4 every each day this week for reasons such as meetings with other teachers, the school is being remodeled and they’re putting in windows…. I finally just went on Friday in the morning to talk to him but he wasn’t there. So, I sat and had a 20 minute conversation with Violeta, his wife and a school teacher, about Christmas, New York (aka the States) and how everything is so organized (so says her husband who was there for 45 days over Dec and Jan), and other random things. While this was during her class I have decided that it really doesn’t matter if we have a long conversation in the middle of it. She’s more likely to be agreeable if I chit chat with her for a while before getting to the point. Finally we began the topic of Escojo. I made a list of kids who were old enough to participate who have school in the morning and said I would come back in the afternoon to talk to Humberto. I went back later, school once again got out early but I was able to make a list of kids and talk to Humberto. Even though I’m not having class in the school anymore he insisted I write a letter to him about it again before he would agree (agree to what?). So, I wrote the letter and I have a very small class. Only about 10 kids are interested in it as opposed to 40 I had this time last year. That was a little discouraging since I’m sure a few will drop out of it but at least it will be more manageable.
2/10 Wednesday: Controlling the situation
In a nutshell: It made me very happy today when Pimbi came over. This is the woman who stole my clothing from Minga’s house and gave it to her prego daughter (I still haven’t say anything to her about it). She came to my house to see when I was going to fix her filter and then told me she wanted me to “gift” her one of my shirts. My first reaction was laughing out loud thinking, well, at least she’s ASKING me now! But then I was annoyed not only because its rude even in this culture to ask people for stuff like that but because it was the 2nd time this week people have out right asked me for something. One woman I don’t even hang out with sent a little kid to my house 2x asking for nail polish. Anyways, after the initial shock of this woman’s audacity in asking me for a shirt, I asked her if she knew the story about someone stealing from me. She said she did and I then went on and on about how it made me feel so terrible and sad. I thought the community didn’t like me and after leaving all my family and friends in the States, people here treat me like that… so sad, yada yada yada. She agreed, said of course it wasn’t her (to which I of course agreed) and said her goodbye- without a shirt of mine. Adios mujer!