Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Its been a while...

I know....Its been a while :/
What can I say? I guess there really is nothing to say except ...Its been a while! But the good news is I am alive, well, and still loving la vida en la Republica Dominicana :D ....I've even posted pictures to show you all what I've been up to since APRIL! I know I said this last time but....Entry coming soon!!! Es verdad!

Gira to Boca Chica Aug 15.2010

Giving Art Class, Jrey's Visit to DR, Campo Wedding, y compartiendo with the vecinos! April-Oct 2010

Celebrando la Tierra Parte 2 Nov 12.2010

December Happenings!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Photo Story

I put some new pictures up of family/friend visits...and of course more of my life here in the Dominican Republic...Blog entry coming soon!
Fun in the sun!

Campo Living

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Estoy cansada (I'm So Tired!)

Dominican independence is celebrated each year on the 27 of february. It is a cultural time filled with parades, shows, concerts, and carnavals. Yesterday I went to Santo Domingo with my project partners and some girls from the community to see the parade of the armed forces. It was a nice experience, and the sun wasn't blazing on our skin, which was fortunate. I have never been much of a parade lover, but I am glad that I went. More marching band music would have livened things up a bit ...maybe I will include that in my letter to Leonel. haha. Speaking of Mr. Presidente, I was a bit disappointed of his abscence. Not from the event, but from the parade! When the parade ended, I asked why the president had not made an appearance and Lissette informed me that he was at the starting point of the parade, sitting, waving to all of the marchers from a highly secured spot.
What a let down!

After the parade we drove to Manresa for ice cream. There were a good number of people there getting food, ice cream, and putting their kids on the kiddie rides. There was even a carousel! This Brought me back memories of Central Park! After ice cream, we headed back to our wonderful campo in San Cristobal. I fell asleep in the car ( I was soooo tired) but was awakened on the way as I felt the car stop and everyone around me skurry toward the windows on the left side. I woke up to see a red jeep on the side of the road. Nana and Melanie identified the red jeep right away. "Mom thats Ambiodie's(our community's regidor) car." My project partners rushed to the scene as myself and the four other girls watched from the car. Pretty much every male from our campo was at the scene. They carried knives, machetes and other weapons. I did not like the looks of this one bit. "Surely it was a ladron (thief) who they caught and killed," said one of the girls. At this point I am just thinking to myself.."WHAAAAAAAAT??!!" Yup, its actually common here for a community to rally together and kill a thief who has stolen from a community member. Talk about solidarity! People here say that they have to do that because the police do not do anything.

As we sat in the car, one of the girl's brothers came to the car and gave the full story......It turns out that Ambiody was driving and decided to give two guys on the side of the road a bola ( a ride). The guys turned out to be atracadores (bad guys). Out of panic Ambiody swirved off the road. Thankfully Ambiody was okay. Cant say the same for the atracadores though. The entire community showed up to the scence and took care of the rest....

By the time I got home, it was 9:30pm. I was exhausted, sleepy, still a bit nervous, and full from chocolate ice cream. Not to mention I still had to make brownies for the Kermes the following morning and prepare for my english class which would also take place the next morning. I am happy to say that I completed the lesson plan and the brownies... Not so happy to say that I fell asleep at about 3 in the morning! Today I woke up at 7:45am. I took my brownies over to the Kermes (basically a food sale usually for a cause of some sort...in this case , the kermes is for the sick people of our community; especially one woman who is very sick with cancer), stayed to help a bit and then went over to prepare for english class. After class, I went back to the Kermes to help out. For about 2 1/2 hours I stood at the side of the road with a sign asking the cars that passed by to donate to the cause. At about 3pm my feet couldnt take it anymore and I went home to rest a bit. I had been on my feet since 7:45 this morning! Thats 8 hours! I laid down on my bed with the intention to take a quick 30 min nap and them go back to help some more...however, I was awakened by my mothers phone call at about 4:30pm. I waS still extremely exhausted but managed to speak to my mom for about 30minutes. By the time we got off the phone it was about 5:15pm. I wanted to go back out there to help out but my body wouldnt let me. I have taken the rest of the day to sleep, rest, sleep, and rest some more....Boy,from parades to attack scenes to brownines to lesson plans to kermes' to englsh classes....I am tired

Friday, February 26, 2010

First Family Visit!

My mother and aunt returned back to NY last week after visiting me for 8 days. My grandma came also, but she is actually staying in the country for a bit longer so I wont have to say my goodbyes to her just yet. It was great seeing my family and just taking a little vacation to spend time with them. I introduced them to a lot of community members and to my new apartment...which they helped me fix up a bit (a lot actually!)We spent about half of the week at my site and the other half in the capital. I wish that week didnt pass by as quickly as it did.
I am really glad that my family got to see where I will be living and working for the next year and eight months. I think that the light/water/bug situation caused just a sprinkle of culture shock, but I think that their stay helped them to understand my experience a lot better. The only downside to their visit was my slow, (even reluctant) transition back into the role of a peace corps volunteer. Dont get me wrong, I love my community and enjoy the time that I lived here, but it was just comforting to be around my family and experience life in a way that I have not done in over 6 months. I knew it would only be a matter of time though before I got that volunteer ball rolling again and I am happy to say that this week was my transitional week and today, Friday, that ball is officially rolling. Starting tomorrow I continue with volleyball, girls groups, english classes, the book club, and art class.........Oh, the life of service :)
I have posted pictures from my famalias visit, some chicas at our group meeting,students at the local school performing in honor of Dominican Independence, and and ice cream outing with one of my favorite little girls, Nayeli. She turned 9 on Tuesday so I took to her get some ice cream today!
Family Visit!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Y vas a dormir sola?!?!

Its official!Yesterday my host sister and another girl from the neighborhood helped me move into my new apartment. It is amazing how time flies. It seems like only yesterday I arrived at my host family's door with my luggage. Now, 3 months later, I am here, with my puppy, in my own apartment. Today Michel and I went into the pueblo to buy some stuff for the apartment. I bought a table stove, clorox, towels, cubetas, some food,light bulbs some other little things. I am waiting until next month to get the fridge. Later this week I will go to the hardware store to buy planks of wood. I want to mount lots of shelves around. The apartment is small and shelves will take up minimal space. I am so excited to finally have my own space. Living with my host family was great, but it was time for me to move on. I know I will be over there at least once a week though. They hav been really supportive of me during everything and I know I can count on them! They helped me out with the bed, two plastic chairs, and light bulbs! Yes, I do have electricity (whenever there is luz of course) And I also have running water (also whenever there is luz) My set up is actually pretty nice. I have two entraces, a bedroom, a living room, and a small kitchen and bathroom. There is also an outdoor sink out back. The back yard is really big and has some orange and platano trees too. It think there may be some mango trees as well! Cant wait for mango season! Now it is just a matter of be accomadating all of my things. Right now everything is still pakced because without the shelves, there really is no where to put my things. But thats okay. It was so funny to see peoples reactions to my moving in yesterday. The conversation always went the same...."Ya te mudaste verdad?" >>> "Si, hoy mismo, hace como 2 horas nada mas.">>>>"Y tu companera? Esta ahi?" >>>> "Ay no, ella era alergica a Esencia...Nada mas vivimos yo y Esencia en la casa?>>>>"QUE?!!! Vives sola?!!!" >>>> "No...con Esencia...nunca estoy sola">>>>"Ay dios mio...ten cuidado con los ladrones...no le habras a nadie...Ay dios...Solita" .... Here NO ONE lives alone...It just isnt part of the culture. I always take opportunitites such as the one I described to explain to people that in some parts of the world it is perfectly normal to live alone. Even for women. I am glad I could introduce them to this idea though. I really do feel safe here too. My neighbor is super nice and is always home since she has 4 kids and must take care of them. Last night, at around 7:30pm she yelled my name out because "no me sentia" (she didnt hear me) and she wanted to make sure I was okay. Talk about looking out! So, friends and family...please do not worry about me...Even though, voy a dormir sola...OH and please do not hesitate to send any house warming gifts! :)....portraits...towels...chocolate...posters...movies...music...pillows...candles...you know whatever!

On another note. Our 3 month service traning was last week and it also went really well. I took a young girl from my community with me and we presented the community diagnostic to the other volunteers and some peace corps officials. Everyone really liked it and I enjoyed learning about what everyone else has planned for the next two years! Now with this diagnostic business behind, it is time to get to work. I am starting 3 girl's groups, a women's group, and 2 english classes in about two weeks!I will also be spending some time at the school where I going to see if I cant incorportate a book club and art club as well. Why not before two weeks you might ask? Well, because my mother, grandmother, and aunt will be in town!!! YAY! They arrive on Saturday actually. I cannot wait to see them. I miss them so much. And I cant wait to have some good old Dunkin Donuts French Rolls either! They are only staying for a week, but I will take it! Saturday needs to hurry up already!
Check out the photos link for pictures of yesterday's move!
Moving In

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2010! I am happy to report that Christmas and New Years in the DR was quite the experience. I enjoyed experiencing Noche Buena here (had dinner at 10pm!...ha) with my host family and campo friends and spending New Years with other fellow volunteers in Cabarete. I brought in the new year by the beach! That was a first. So, now with 2009 behind me, I am looking forward to this year and everything that it will bring. It is a time for new beginnings, new experiences, new journeys, chances, opportunities, lessons, friends, and everything else! I am working hard on my community assessment and am excited for the upcoming months to really get started on some projects. This month I am beginning my English seminar with some local youth who are currently already taking an english course in the pueblo. I will also start my girl's group this month, which I am really looking forward to! :) On top of that, starting this week, I will be helping out my project partner at the school where she teaches 2-3 days a week. I am looking forward to being in a classroom setting helping out the little ones! I held volleyball practice this past Saturday and that is still going strong gracias a dios. The girls really enjoy it, and although we practice really early on Saturday mornings (8am!) they are really pumped about it so thats enough for me. Today I was in the capital printing some surveys and getting some additional resources for the girl's club and english courses. Tomorrow I will head back to my site. I think I will stop by the mercado on the way and get some fresh fruit and one or two bottles of honey! The honey is 41pesos...thats a little over one dollar! Mmm, I can taste it now...Nothing beats a natural tea with a dose of honey.
Today I also spoke to my future landlord. Yup, thats right...come february I will be moving out on my own...si dios quiere! I am really excited about this. Essence doesnt know it yet, but she is going to be a much happier dog in about a month when she is able to run around the apartment as she pleases any time!
February is going to be a busy month though. I will be moving into my new place, My family is coming to visit, and I will be in the midst of initiating my girl's club and english class. The following month, one of my best friends is coming to stay with me for a while.
I sense that the next couple of months are going to keep me very busy, but thats a good thing.
Well, that is all for now. Life here is good. It has been a rather cold winter here in the DR. It even gets into the 50's - 60's(F) in the early mornings and late nights. Though its not as astonishing as the snow that has recently fallen in Orlando!
Be sure to check out the new photos I posted (The link is on the top right....above my mailing address)There I have pictures from Christmas Eve, a visit to a private campo of a family friend, Dia de Reyes, and a family Reunion that I went to with my host family on Saturday. We went to a campo called El Jamey about 30 minutes north of my site. It was fun. I took lots of pictures. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

*Aguinaldos + Hospital Visits + Public Transportation = (OnE LoNg DaY!*)

Here in the campos of the Dominican Republic, during Christmas time, it is common practice for Catholics to take part in Aguinaldos. This is an event that takes place each morning during the week before Christmas. A group of about 40-50 adults and children gather together their tamboras and guidos (Native instruments)and make their way to a pre chosen household to honor the inhabitants with songs, orations, prayers, and lots of hugs and smiles! Each visit usually follows a theme. For example, according to the scripture, on the 23rd of the month, the church is to dedicate an aguinaldo to a foreigner visiting the country or a pregnant woman. So yesterday at about 3p.m. a young boy came by the house to let my host family and I know that at 5 am the next morning the aguinaldo was going to be held at our house! We were going to host the aguinaldo! Yup,thats right, the aguinaldo was going to be in my honor! And what an honor it was!

Later that night I helped my host mom and sister make the te de jengibere (ginger tea)that we would brindar (offer) to the group at the end of the aguinaldo. By helped, I mean I watched, asked questions, and took photos ! I learned that at every aguinaldo,it is tradition to compartir (share) ginger tea (with chocolate mixed in! yum!) and crackers. Ginger tea is very common here, especially during December because it helps alleviate people from being cold. I watched as my host mom filled the giant pot with water, limoncillo leaves, orange tree leaves, and ginger. She then put it over the stove to boil and later added the chocolate. By the time we went to bed, it was 11:30pm. I put my alarm clock for 4:30am to make sure I didnt miss the big event. My host family assured me that I would hear the tamboras and guidos from far and would surely wake up in time. They were right. At exactly 5am the group was outside our door singing, playing..clapping, waiting for our invitation to come inside. My host dad let me do the honors of opening the door to our guests. One by one they walked in. Some sat down and the rest stood. The event last almost two full hours. The group sang many songs, read scriptures from the bible, and did special prayers in my and Paul's honor. Toward the end, we were even asked to share some Christmas songs from our country. Paul and I sang Jingle Bells and We wish you a Merry Christmas. They were both crowd pleasers :) As the group left the house, they took a cup of te de jenjibere and crackers and went along their merry way. I am glad that I got to experience an Aguinaldo and was extremely honored to have it dedicated to me. It was a really heart warming ceremony that really made me feel welcomed and gave the home that holiday feeling. It was really nice to witness such community solidarity and even more so, it was a honor to be a part of it all...

CLICK ON THE TAB ON THE TOP RIGHT ("The Journey Starts Here") to see photos from the Aguinaldo and some other fun stuff ! :)

Hospital Visits & Public Transportation
Later today I met up with Julia (a fellow volunteer from Germany)in the pueblo of San Cristobal for brunch. As we ate our grilled cheese sandwiches and sipped on our coffee and hot chocolate, I got a call from another volunteer who wanted to know if I would like to join her to Santo Domingo to pay a visit to the families we stayed with during our first month in country. I thought it would be a great idea and I would also take advantage of the trip to visit PCV Miguel at the clinic, who has been sick with pnemounia since Monday. Poor guy will be spending Christmas Eve in the hospital :( After my hospital visit, Gitana and I made our way over to our old barrio in Santo Domingo and spend the later evening there. At 5pm we made our way back to SAn Cristobal so that we would make it before nightfall. To save time, instead of going all the way to the peace corps office and taking the bus to san cristobal from there, we followed the instructions that our family in the barrio gave us which would be more convenient from our location. Two carro publicos later we ended up at Pintura, a bus stop where every bus passed by except the one we wanted! After waiting a bit and asking around, we learned that Bus Ruta A San Cristobal does not stop there. There were other buses that head to San Cristobal, but not to the part of town that i needed to get to. Finally a bus stopped with a sign that read "RA San Cristobal." It didnt say the usual Expresso Ruta A San Cristobal that we are used to, but it was close enough! Before hopping on the bus Gitana and I asked the cobrador if the route stopped at her stop and later mine. "Para en el PArque de San Cristobal?" I asked. The cobrador said yes and Gigi and I hopped on. About 5 minutes later...the entire front half of the bus started arguing with the cobrador for telling me that the bus stopped there when that route in fact did not stop at the park of San Cristobal. At this point I had about 5 Dominicans telling me alternate routes to take in order to get to the park, and though perhaps at some other point in my life I would have panicked right at that moment, after being here for 4 months I have just learned to flow with the waves...because everything always works out...one way or another. The Dominicans were genuinely more worried for me than I was. Thank you, you caring souls! In his defense, the cobrador wasnt completely flawed. The bus did stop at Gitanas stop. So after she got off, it was just me, my Dominican bus companions, and the lying cobrador. By this time it was about 6:15pm and it was getting dark. I'll admit the approachind nightfall made me a bit nervous since i had no idea where this bus would acutally leave me in relation to where i actually needed to be, but I just left it "en las manos de dios" (in gods hands) and listned as 3 Dominicans continued to bad mouth the cobrador for lying to me and trying to figure out the easist way for me to get where i needed to go. Finally, we came to a stop at the side of the highway. Outside was a line of 3 motos. The cobrador told me to take one of the motos to the park and I would get there within 5 minutes. As I walked off the bus, a young woman got off with me and told me that it wasnt a good idea to take the moto there and told me that she and her husband would drive me to wherever i needed to go........ Holy angels, they do exist! At this point I was both thankful and a bit apprehensive and even a bit confused by this woman's kind gesture. She had clearly been going home from a day at work, she didnt know me and driving me to my stop was clearly out of her and her husbands way, but still, she was doing me that favor. She and I talked a bit as we made our way to her apartment. She explained to her husband what happend and how the mean cobrador lied to me and my other american friend so that we would get on the bus and now i was far away of where i actually needed to be. And then with no questions asked he grabbed his keys and we headed toward the car. Pretty much The car ride i expressed my thanks and told them how they really were two angels. My this time it was almost 7pm and I was just hoping that there would still be carro publicos going toward my campo at that time. I have never taken a carro public past 5:30pm so this was risking it. When the nice couple dropped me off at the stop, there it was, a carro publico just waiting for one more passenger before it drove off. I thanked the nice couple again and got on my carro publico. I made it home safe and sound by 7pm. So even though I took the wrong bus and was lied to by a corrupted cobrador, I did learn an alternate way to make it to San Cristobal and I was filled with joy to be in a country where there are caring people with pure intentions looking out for me. You see...didn't I say everything always works out in the end? ;)