2/7 Monday: For the love of all things holey, can we PLEASE move past this!?!
In a nutshell: Today I confronted Mercedes about our issue as the poem and gifts didn’t have the affect I was hoping. To my surprise, she seemed bursting with things to say and pretty hurt. In a nutshell, she is offended that I don’t tell her when I’m going to eave for days at a time and when I’ll be back. That’s a fair complaint as she is my closest neighbor and one of the two people signed up to take care of me with PC. We talked and we sealed it with a hug. PC told us in training not to be direct here but I’m finding that’s horrible advice.
Then I went to Minga’s and had a great talk with her and her daughter, Margara in the kitchen while Margara’s kids played in Mingas house. For some random reason I opened up about everything, I haven’t opened up about everything to anyone here- not even Wandi. But I told them how I was in my house crying for days after Christmas and how awful I felt about the entire situation. They supported me and said that Mercedes gets mad over lots of little things but mostly when she thinks someone messes with her kids. She knew Wandi liked me and that I was really mad at him so then she was mad at me. When I was gone I think it turned into her thinking I must be mad at her and her entire family for whatever I thought Wandi did to me since I didn’t tell her I was leaving or when I was coming back.
I also told Maragara and Minga about how it was Geraldo who broke into my house before and that he did it again in December. Then when I went back to my house, I passed my Mercedes house and said hi to Geraldo sitting on the porch and he ignored me. I know he heard me because I walked up to him, kicked his foot and shined my light on him. He wouldn’t even look at me. Then I noticed Margara’s son sitting behind Geraldo. Nuts.
The Real Blog: In the 15 hours I since I returned home I had 2 people come up to me and tell me that “someone” is saying I’m mad at Mercedes. This amazes me since I have not been here to be mad at her, which I pointed out to each person who said that to me. Today I must have been feeling surprisingly bold. I went to the Women’s Meeting and unknowingly sat right next to Mercedes. She literally turned her body so her back was to me. It took me a good 30 minutes to notice it was her since I couldn’t see her face and why would I assume someone is purposely putting their back to me? Then, when the meeting was nearly over, I was the only one left to talk, she actually left! More like bee lined it out of there. She is the president and so she’s supposed to stay until the meeting is done and all the women are gone. After this, I decided that I would just talk to her. I’ve tried hiding from her which obviously was not successful. I tried a poem with a gift and that didn’t work. (I thought for sure that would work) So, without other options, I’m going against the advice of not being direct in this culture and I’m talking to her.
I walked up to her house and she was there washing clothing. I told her people have been telling me that they heard I’m mad at her and to my complete surprise she said, Of course Elizabeth. That sure opened up conversation. We talked for about 5-10 minutes and she was pretty upset, in fact she talked for at least 8 of those 10 minutes. I actually felt kind of bad. She told me that she knew Wandi supposedly did something horrible to me but that she didn’t think I needed to treat her family bad when they have never done anything to me. I told her I wasn’t mad at Wandi anymore and that even if I was, I would never displace that on anyone else. I told her that her family was very important to me and I never wanted to offend them but that I thought they were mad at me and it made me feel awkward going over to visit. She said they weren’t mad at me either. The main thing she was upset about was that she is my closest neighbor and as my project partner with Ernesto, she’s responsible to PC for my wellbeing and I never tell her when I’m leaving for a few days or when I get back. I personally think she’s embarrassed that when people ask if I’m home or when I’m coming home she has no idea. I guess I didn’t think it was a big deal, didn’t think they cared and I’m not used to having neighbors who care. She said one day she looked in my house in the afternoon to make sure I wasn’t dead in my bed. (See why I felt bad?!) I told her I was sorry and that I would tell her from now on. I gave her a hug and felt very satisfied when I left.
Then I went to Minga’s and she and her daughter, Margara, told me I had better talk to Mercedes after how Mercedes was treating me in the Club earlier. I told them I had already talked to her and ended up spilling everything to them. I haven’t ever completely shared how I’m feeling with anyone here, people are such gossips and I’m worried they’ll turn on me. Well, Minga and Margara always defend me and watch out for me so I opened up today, which is weird because I wasn’t even upset today. But it made me feel so much better! Like there are some people who really understand where I’m coming from now, they couldn’t have understood me before since I didn’t tell them the whole story. I need to learn to let Dominicans in. I have a hard time trusting them, which is awful. How can you really make any friends when you don’t trust them? And that’s my problem: I have no Dominican friends and it makes me feel awful. On the other hand, I trusted Mercedes without question and then in May she turned on me and it was devastating. So, I need to trust again but figure out whom to trust. I can think of two other ladies I think I can completely trust- but I’m such a bad judge of character it’s hard to know. I am very ingenuous, way too naive.
Minga told me that no one wants to get on the bad side of Mercedes and her family, that they will pick a fight with anyone for anything but especially for messing with one of their kids. Apparently Wandi told them all that I was accusing him of something he didn’t do and of course they believed him. Then they saw me ignore each phone call when he called me 50,000 times on Christmas. So I’m sure I wasn’t imagining them being mad at me in the days after Christmas. I had no idea they were mad at me for Wandi, I thought I offended them for not eating their food! Then when I was gone so much in the following weeks the problem just grew and grew in their imaginations. The problem that I was angry with them grew so much that while the gifts and the poem helped for the time being, I left again and so the problem continued to grow.
I’m just hoping that one of Margara’s kids didn’t run off to Mercedes house and tell her everything we said tonight at Mingas. When I got back to my house one of her kids was there and Geraldo wouldn’t look at me or respond to me. I told Minga and Margara tonight how Geraldo was the one who stole from me. It could be bad but if it is I supposed I’ll deal with it as it comes. Today was productive if nothing else, I feel supported by Minga and Margara.
1/31- 2/6: Medical Mission
In a nutshell: This week was amazing. I kind of fell into an opportunity to translate for a medical mission (medical mission = when a medical group comes to the DR for a week or so do to medical type things and needs people to translate). It was a hernia med mission which had me less than thrilled at first but, as always, things worked out and I loved it. I ended up with two really fantastic doctors, Clayton and Gladys, who incidentally love to teach. Because of this, Justin, Sarah and I (the 3 PCVs on duty) were able to be really hands-on instead of only translating. We were able to make incisions, give stitches, and take gross stuff out of people (cysts and lipomas). It was so fun!
The Real Blog: This week was the coolest week ever! Even better than when I went to Jimaní! Let me explain what a medical mission is. Lots of groups of medical-type people (nurses, doctors, med students… you get the idea) come to the DR to help out for a week or so but need translators. So, PCDR has a “med committee” with PCVs who are in charge of coordinating interested PCVs with groups. Spring and Fall are “med mission season” and so there are a lot of opportunities at the moment for PCVs to translate. Generally, PCVs are very interested and so it’s competitive to get a med mission. But since there are so many med missions, most PCVs are able to do at least one before they finish service. I had signed up to do a surgical mission in the cap for a week in Feb but as I’m not in the next group leaving, that group was given preference and that group filled all the spaces. I was annoyed because most people just wanted to do this one since the group of doctors have a rep of really “taking care” of their PCV translators, staying in a niiiiiice hotel, and taking the out to 5 star restaurants, whereas I’m easy to please and just wanted to see some cool surgeries.
It turns out there was a different med mission for the 31st until the 6th. Meredith asked me if I could do it, she was kind of scrambling for translators since it was such short notice. At first I thought, How lame… hernia surgeries for an entire week? Boo. But I figured, meh, why not? I still haven’t started any classes in my site and what’s another week. Sign me up.
When I got to the center on Sunday I was happy. Sure it was no 5 star hotel with gourmet food promised in the future but I had my own twin bed with mosquito net, a room with a ceiling fan, HOT WATER with pressure, and…. WIRELESS INTERNET!!! Whoot! It turns out there were only 3 of us there to translate, with one person getting there later on Monday. Sunday night, I was in the cafeteria, happily using the internet for several hours when this really tall guy who was in there with me walked by and on his way out said, “Jeesh you’ve been facebook-ing for hours.”- with a total tone to his voice! I was offended. I thought he was rude, I even told my mom about him. I ignored him, flipped back to my facebook tab to keep stalking people, and later went to bed.
The next day, Justin (the other PCV there with me) and I were assigned to the consulting side of the operation. We were going to be with 2 doctors evaluating people to see if they actually had hernias and setting them up with appointments. We would be doing this all week. I translated that me an no surgeries for us. To make it worse, one of the doctors we would be with was that tall, rude dude from the night before!! He walked by us and said how he really wanted a Coke and Justin and I looked at each other with horror, just waiting for him to send one of us to get it for him! When he walked away, Justin said, What an egomaniac! To which I said, he was going to Justin’s doctor for the week and Justin of course disagreed and said I was going to be stuck with him. His nametag said he was a pediatrician; I pitied the kids who had to have him as their doctor! About 5 minutes later, Justin headed off down the hall with the other, female doctor and said, see you later Betsy- have fun! My jaw dropped and my eyes narrowed: Justin had officially been placed on my “list”.
So, I went into the 1st consult with Clayton and after about 3 minutes realized that once again my 1st impression couldn’t have been further from the truth. This guy was so nice! Really hyper and funny to boot. So I ended up being his little sidekick the entire week with the worst part of it being the fact that he loooooooooves kids so he wanted to be the one to see all of them...yes alllll of them. The 1st one we saw I had to help hold down while he screamed and kicked! (And we all know how I just looooove screaming kids)
But, by the end of the 1st day it was evident that people thought this was a clinic that would be taking care of any type of lump or bump people had. Clayton and Gladys noticed that there were a ton of people that had something to be removed and so they began scheduling mini surgeries for the afternoons after all the consulting was done. It turns out; both Clayton and Gladys teach medical students that are doing their residency all the time so they love teaching people stuff! I’m not sure how it happened but, where most doctors say, Stand back and don’t touch anything blue, these guys were like, Scrub in! Fantastic! So, the 1st thing we did was take a lipoma (a fatty cyst) off of the tip of a penis… and I got to hold the penis! I can see that to many this wouldn’t seem like a treat, but it was. The rest of the week passed the same but with Justin, Sarah and I becoming more and more involved. Gladys and Clayton had us giving people stitches, making incisions (I made an incision on the 1st day!) using the skin glue (ok, not really cool but still strangely satisfying), popping huge, nasty cysts (Justin loved this part and consequently was strayed with a TON of pus one day) and I even gave a shot! (Although that was just for practice on Justin but it was still fun!) It was the best week and I was sooooo sad when it was over.