5/18 Tuesday: Sick, guest speakers, and Ernestina flips out
You never know what you’re getting into when the day starts. Or do you? I woke up today with full body aches and a headache to match. Little did I know that it was a foreshadowing of the day to come. It was a bummer being sick today but at least I didn’t have anything to do until Escojo at 4- MY Escojo class:) You know I’m sick because I’m worn out from all these kids and all this EMV stuff!! Today I didn’t get out of bed until 11:30 and then I laid back down again at 1:30. I was concerned because I only had about 60 pesos on my phone and the colmados were all out of calling cards. I needed to get in touch with my guest and also I wasn’t even sure if the kids would be out of school at 4 when we were supposed to have class!! School goes until 5:15 but this week they’re in review sessions for the exams and so they’re generally done early. I was hoping so.
The kids showed up on time but it was a disaster with my guest. He got so lost that he couldn’t tell me where he was each time I called. He just kept saying he was on his way. As I watched the balance of my phone card dwindle, it began to rain and the kids got out from school. It was 4:00, the kids were being bratty about waiting and my guest speaker was lost in the rain somewhere. Urg, and I had a headache. Luckily the kids were actually being bratty about waiting because they had forgotten we were having a guest speaker and when I reminded them they perked up. The speaker showed up around 4:45 and we had a fun class.
Nearly at the end of class, Ernestina showed up outside of the Club. I invited her to come in with us and she declined. About 5 minutes later she came in, when the class ended, and she began to talk with the speaker, a Regional Coordinator or RC. I offered her some pop and she declined that as well. As the kids lined up to put their stickers on the attendance sheet, Ernie began to yell something to all the kids about how this 3rd group is terrible. How she is part of the 1st group and no one can pass her up/walk on her. She said she’s a coordinator now and if we have guest speakers she will be informed about them. She said that the 3rd group just wants to work by themselves and she wouldn’t let that happen. Whoa. Can you say “Monster”? Needless to say, the kids all looked petrified. So I told the kids to keep on with the stickers and told Ernie that we would talk after.
She is insane. After the class left, it was me, Ernie, the two guest speakers and 4 other youth that are going to teach these next Escojo classes. I was asking each youth whom they wanted to be paired with from a list I had and when I go to Ernie she said she wasn’t in the project and wasn’t going to do it. Ummm… why not? Well, that did it. She went off. She said that I was the one who left her and all the others from the 1st group out of this one, that SHE was the one who formed the 2nd group while I was fooling around in the States- and for how long was I there? THREE WHOLE WEEKS!! (Dominicans come here from the States and generally stay the entire winter to visit with family) I was the reason she wasn’t a Regional Coordinator (RC) last fall because someone told her I was talking about her, she said it was HER that went to training in SD, it was HER that got that position and she doesn’t need help from anyone, nor did she get it. She said that I took out my angry feelings for Wandi on her whole family, she has been my enemy since last fall (which I was not aware of), I have no friends here, she tells people I didn’t come here to work but to live alone on the hill, I don’t visit anyone, I don’t do anything, she tells everyone that the fist PCV who came here was excellent but the 2nd one sucks and that they don’t want to work with Peace Corps anymore, that they don’t ever want another PCV… on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, I was glad that we were “talking” I would have maybe preferred somewhere where crowds weren’t gathering (literally) or somewhere in front of the 2 guests. But, so be it….
I told her that I never told anyone she shouldn’t be a coordinator last fall. On the contrary, I wanted her to be one, I called her my “Star” but she couldn’t make the interview date because that was the weekend she got married! Also, new rule: RCs are supposed to have at least one year with EMV and she had one class. I didn’t say this but I wish that Miguel had spoken with me about selecting her to be a coordinator for the foundation because I would have suggested against it since she left EMV and has shown no interest in going back. I told her she’s at fault for not being an RC. She needs to change her bad attitude and also she quit EMV last fall. I told her that I’ve tried to fix things with her and her house, I wrote a poem for Mercedes (ok, so I copied it from some website…), I visit, I gave gifts. I tried to talk to Wandi and he ignored me. I tried to talk to Ernie, I even offered her a seat the other day when I found her on my front porch as I was leaving to go run. When I visit I can only visit when Ernesto is there because Mercedes treats me so coldly. What more can I do? Pay them? Don’t think so! I didn’t mention anything about my having no friends or never visiting because I felt it was irreverent to the problem and she apparently wasn’t going to take the high road in problem solving. I didn’t even really feel bad (I felt a teeny bit bad) that she said all that crap to me because I’m used to it from her family!! Ha! In hindsight, I am very happy with the things I said and where this happened. Now everyone can see both sides of the story and I didn’t say anything even remotely bad. Yay for me!
Tomorrow I’m either going to call Miguel or I’m going to tell Ernesto that I am not working with the Foundation from this point on until things change with Mercedes and Ernie. If Ernie can/wants to do it all alone, be my guest but I’m still in charge of the current EMV class and will continue teaching it. Miguel would be a good mediator but it’s not like he’s going to come out here tomorrow and I have to go with Ernesto on Thursday to another EMV thing. Not sure what I’m going to do yet, guess we’ll see. Whatever it is, I’m ready. I feel good about the decisions I’ve made. Mercedes needs to put some effort into this too; it’s always Ernesto telling me to go over there. Forget that. It’s got to be from both sides, I’m done being a doormat. And Ernie needs an attitude change. She thinks she’s always right, she’s perfect, and that she has to be in control of everything. She’s a monster.
The good side of this is that I told Minga and Margara about it and they both back me up 100%. They make me feel so good. I went to each of their houses tonight for a total of about 5 hours. With them behind me, I can do anything!! Also, it made me feel good because Margara walked past the crowd while Ernie and I were discussing things and she heard them saying how Ernie was saying so many lies (maybe I’m not a friendless looser who joined PC just to live alone on a hill!!). It feels good to think that the community supports me, even if it is silently. After all, if I wasn’t already in the fire, I’d avoid being burned by this family too!
5/17 Monday: Escojo takes over Betsy’s life
Today I began the day with a run (less sore today) and then had to hurry and get ready to go with Ernesto to Paradero, a town kind of far from us, to give the 1st Escojo class. When Ernesto told me about the foundation starting 10 Escojo classes I said I’d be glad to help but I’m not going to run 10 classes. That would be insane. Well, I kind of ended up running the workshop to start the classes and now I’m giving at least the 1st class to each group. And while Ernesto was with me in the morning, when we did the one in the afternoon, he dropped me off and went to Navarrete. Great. You know, it’s a good thing Escojo doesn’t make me nervous anymore because there were 25 kids in that class and I didn’t know any of them!! The class in the morning had 12 kids. Anyways, it looks like I’ll have the pleasure of giving classes 5 more times this week in addition to my other stuff. Oh boy! I complain but actually, if this works out I think it could be really cool. Also I like that I get to travel to other communities in my mountain and get to teach classes to other youth. Pretty sweet deal! (when they aren’t driving me insane like the afternoon group who wouldn’t shut the heck up) I just hope it works out because I don’t think I can keep this up for more than 2 weeks without loosing it.
5/16 Sunday: Elections
Elections in this country are insane. Politicians lie in wait outside of the poling areas and pay people for their votes (although many people say that they’ll vote for Fulano, take Fulano’s 100-8,000 pesos and then vote for Pedro). I wanted to see this spectacle but sadly went running super duper far yesterday thus today, the idea of walking .25 miles to the school and back was too much. Instead I stayed in my house the entire day. I was so sore that any ideas of getting out of bed made me ache. Jeesh.
5/12-14 Wednesday-Friday: Newbies Swear In, All PCV Conference, Peace Corps Prom
Talk about negative. Today I was stuck in my site for like 2 hours because I couldn’t find anyone to take me to Navarrete. I decided to kill time at Minga’s house while waiting for a ride or a hitchhike and her daughter, Margara came over. I always refer to her as Minga’s daughter but let it be known that she is also Noel’s mom (btw, I was sick that Sunday so Noel and I didn’t go on a date, I take that to be a sign) and she’s my best friend. She’s really fantastic and my go to for advice. So, imagine my surprise when she came over today and spent about an hour warning me about how terrible the people are in the community!! She wasn’t saying it in a malicious way but man- an entire hour?! I figure something bad must have happened to her recently.
I went to Navarrete finally only to find that the buses were on strike, great. So when I finally got to the capital I missed the meeting by about 2 hours- the meeting I was supposed to be co-running. Then, since I got there so late, I didn’t have time to go to the swearing in of the newbies. Which means I’ll never see a swear in unless I extend (a very likely option). Although, remembering my swear in- they’re boring.
That was all on Wednesday. On Thursday I went to my last ever (and 2nd) All Volunteer Conference. It was ok. They’re kind of boring but fun because you get to meet all of the newbies. The conference is at the training center in Pantoja and it’s far from the office which makes it a pain in the butt to get there by 8 am. Nevertheless, the conference is from 8 am until 4 pm. The great thing was that they gave great snacks this year (DONUTS!!!).
Something about Entrena that makes the weather crappy- it rained. So we ended up spending 45 minutes in the rain before our taxies arrived. Urg. I was surprised at the punctuality of the PCVs because my group was the 1st to get back to the hotel and we got back at 6:30. Prom began at 8! So, imagine 4 girls trying to share one bathroom, one shower and one mirror to get ready. Not to mention we got locked out of our room. But, we got dressed in prom attire and hit the road. Prom was really fun. What made it prom you ask? While we had it at a regular get together for PCVs we got the happy hour extended 2 whole hours and we had to wear nice clothes. Also, some PCVs got together and drew a picture backdrop!! Happy Prom!!!
5/11 Tuesday: Woooo Whoo!!! RAIN DAY!!!
I am an old campesina. I went to bed last night at 9:30 and didn’t get out of bed, officially until 9:30 this morning. I say officially because I had to get up 3x to deal with the psycho puppy who peed in my bed the night before and since has been temporarily band from the bed. She doesn’t like this and so, in addition to waking me up to tell me her puppy bladder is full, she wakes me up to show her disapproval of her not in bed with me. Great.
Today I was also able to sleep in because it was raining. I was supposed to have an Escojo class but had to move it to Saturday due to the school once again being uncooperative with the schedule we’ve have for nearly 3 months and trying to coordinate the new time with a guest speaker who moved and so was going to send someone else. So I was going to keep working on the mural but- hey it’s raining!! Thus, I took the day off… kind of. I cleaned the house, made some cake, am writing in my blog, talked with Ernesto, and am doing that grant jazz I need to get done. Later I’ll prepare to head out to the cap early tomorrow and hang with the Dona some. I mean, sure there’s no power and there’s a lot of mud everywhere, and my cell phone has been lost for about 3 hours now, but those are the worst things about my day!! Life is so good:)
5/10 Monday: A very strange day.
So today was a weird day because everything fell into place in a seemingly productive way. Today I was supposed to meet up with Ernesto in Navarrete at 1pm and we were going to buy the wood for the library. We were both late, getting there at 2 pm. We went to the wood shop and ordered the wood, and strangely the wood shop said they could deliver the wood that same day. (I agreed but figured it’d be delivered Wednesday or Thursday). The wood buying went so quickly that Ernesto and I found ourselves with an hour to kill before our meeting with the Mayor at her house at 4. We went to a furniture store to hang out with a friend of Ernesto. A thing to understand is that furniture stores are a dime a dozen around here. They’re on everyone corner along with the same type of clothing stores and colmados. Well, here is where the day gets weird. We were at this store for maybe 20 minutes when the Mayor shows up to buy a mattress. Of all the furniture stores in all the world… Anyways, we had our meeting right there and she agreed to the amount we asked for on the letter- $150, 000. After a long and confusing conversation with Ernesto (because her agreeing to give this money just like that isn’t what happens here… it’s like trying to convince me that pigs really do fly or something) I discovered that this money has to also be approved by a board (which Ernesto is pretty good friends with) and then they generally approve half. Well dang. If I had known that I would have asked for double instead of 1.5 times more. Anyways, we have to wait for them to have the board meeting and then see how it goes I suppose. I’m not holding my breath. I feel like we will get something from the local government but it’s going to be in the stage where we’re buying books and furniture.
And the day gets suspiciously better: Ernesto told me he talked with one of the people we spoke with last week about getting all of the sand donated for the project. We went there together last… well, some day last week and dropped off a letter explaining our cause. The guy, to me anyways, seemed completely uninterested and after a 2 minute conversation of Ernesto talking, we left. Does that seem promising? No. Well, Sunday when I was with Ernesto, I called the Mayor and set up a meeting with her (luckily being able to set one up for the next day) and then Ernesto called a friend of his. His friend happened to be with Sand Man and so his friend talked to him about the sand. And Sand Man said he’d donate all the sand we need! It would be available next week and we just need to get it transported up, aside from that it’s free! (not sure how we’re going to get it up here, but hey, one step at a time…)
After all this good news, I went to an internet center to write letters to newspapers asking for help in filling the second Peace Corps Community Partnership grant, or PCPP (the one that is posted on the internet and then the funds become available once the grant has reached it’s goal). The letters were going well, I wrote letters to 5 newspapers from my hometown area asking them to write a story about the library we were doing here, and to see if they could run the story on the same day- to see how fast we can fill it. Well, the weirdest thing happened- I wrote a wealthy friend of a friend two months ago about the library and he never responded. Literally 15 minutes after I had finished sending the last letter to the newspapers, the friend of a friend sent me an email asking if I still needed help with the library, how much we needed and where he could send a check!!! Not that I think by any means he’s planning on donating $5K but it’s just another sign of how things that are meant to be always come together. Now I just need to close out the other PCPP (for those interested in this, we spent the entire $2,300 USD from that grant in one trip to the hardware store and still had to use another $1750 USD just to buy the rest of the materials to make the floor of the library and the support columns… so no books, no walls, no electric wiring, no furniture, no paint… we have a long way to go still) and then write up PCPP #2; which I’m doing tomorrow. Today I am so tired. Having a puppy, two kittens and a cat that won’t shut up for the last month and however much more time is making me tired and grumpy.