Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Because I love making lists...

It's hard to believe that I've been gone for almost 5 months. Time has flown by, and even with a few ups and downs, it's been a great experience so far. I am still learning more Spanish, and I still get surprised by many, many things in the culture; however, I feel like I have come a long way.

Looking back, I am so grateful for the training that Peace Corps provides before one's 2 year service. Several individuals put in countless hours preparing the cultural information, teaching language skills, rehearsing skits, researching facts and statistics, and ultimately ensuring that each volunteer will not be too overwhelmed that first day in site.

Some things were taught at Entrena, the Peace Corps training site, during my first 3 months. Other things I learned while in El Seibo for 5 weeks of Community Based Training. As great as all that is, though, sometimes it just can't be enough. I am sure everyone knows that some things just can't be taught in a classroom...

Top 10 List of "Things I Learned the Hard Way":

10. Pedestrians do not have the right-away in this country.

9. As healthy as your dona might tell you that the juice is, it's all a lie. The amount of sugar in one glass is enough to give the entire town diabetes.

8. Geography lessons are sometimes merely a losing battle. Trying to convince people that you're not from New York is hard enough, but when you try to explain how the United States and New York are different (even with a map), you might as well be speaking jibberish. When people ask, "What state are you from?", they are going to be thoroughly pissed if you answer anything other than the Bronx, Manhattan, or Queens. By the end of any conversation like this, be prepared to feel like you're the one who has it all wrong.

7. Anything you order in the DR will have at least a pound of ketchup & mayonnaise on it. Beware.

6. Beauty Pageant = a bunch of 14 & 15 year old girls dirty dancing on stage in booty shorts, stripper heels, and shirts tied up.

5. People are usually not trying to insult you when they say you're gaining weight. Sometimes they mean it as a compliment because that means you're eating well. Gosh, they are so blunt here.

4. Don't get your hopes up for ANY plans in this country. People will cancel any dinner, party, meeting, trip, ANYTHING if it rains. Also, sometimes people will make plans, knowing fully well that they don't have the money to pay for them, just to "save face." Then they will stand you up. And you will have wasted a good bucket shower on nothing.

3. Dominicans love taking solo pics, and will relentlessly ask you to take non-smiling or "sexy" pictures. Now that probably a hundred awkward pictures of me are all over the social media site, High-5, I have learned that it's ok to say no.

2. Embarazada means pregnant; Avergonzado means embarrassed. Don't get confused or you could end up having people think you're a slut when you're just trying to say you get embarrassed a lot.

1. Nodding your head and agreeing simply because you don't understand what people are saying can get you into a lot of trouble. Trust me.


I really wanted to do a blog where I had you guys help me pick a house out of my options, but I never got around to it. Plus I found the most perfect little house here & I am sooo excited about it! Hope you like it, mom. :o)

But before we get to the winner, I can show some of the more unfortunate runner-ups...

OPTION 1: This was the first house that people kept showing me. It's great, has a cement ceiling, centrally-located; however, it's was a little too expensive. It was about 4,000 pesos a month, not including water and luz. The main problem, though, was that the landlord lives in New York, and her family kept being shady about it.

"It's not for rent right now...there are a lot of people that want it...if you're going to be living alone, it's probably too big of a house for you...why in the world are you living alone?...that seems need to talk to my sister in New need to bring someone with you who speaks better Spanish (so I did)...we would love to rent it to you, but it's not our decision...can you talk to her on the phone, you ask? Of course...come back on Wednesday (so I did)...umm, ya she's really busy, so she said that she would rather talk in person...when is she visiting, you want to know? Maybe sometime in August...we're not really sure...why are you in such a hurry to find a house?"

Give me a break. So all of that to say, I kept my options open throughout all of these conversations.

OPTION 2: This cute little thing is right behind the CTC. It is only for rent because the old man who was living here died. It's in the middle of a family's little housing unit, so I would be right in the center of this didn't seem that appealing, but the family seemed nice. So that was a plus!

It also is the only place I looked at with an inversor (meaning I would have 24-hour electricity) and I would have all of the water I wanted. It was 1500 a month, but there is only enough room for a bed and maybe a shelf in the entire house. There is a tiny bathroom, too. There is no kitchen, so once again, I would have to depend on someone else to cook all my food for me (which is one of the main reasons I'm excited to live on my own...reason #2 being that I want to have space for visitors!) So this one (after a few pro-con lists) was out of the running.

OPTION 3: Here is the place that I seriously considered for a while. It looks scary from the outside, but it's actually kinda

cool upstairs. It's located above a little colmado, and it's on the same street as OPTION 1. It would have cost 1700 pesos a month. Main problems included: 1. no water. I could go outside to fill up buckets, but that would be annoying after a while, plus not the safest bet at night. I kept telling everyone in town that I didn't mind that part, and they would just shake their heads. 2. Not the best place for other volunteers or family & friends to come visit. Besides the no water thing, there is not a ton of space & very little privacy in the bathroom. 3. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in town told me no. Maybe this should have been reason #1, but I figured I'd be honest with how I ranked them. They said it was dangerous and not around the best people. That part, I really don't understand because it's on the same street as Option #1, but they said it was different because the other house has a gate and this colmado one is more hidden and people could could come in at night. They also kept saying I shouldn't live by Haitians, and I think they got mad when I kept telling them that I was friends with the Haitians that live over there. My rule= if you speak a little English, we are automatically going to be besties. Enough said.

So there were a few more possibilities, but these were the main ones. These were the top picks because they had indoor bathrooms and, for the most part, didn't look like they could be in one of the scenes from SAW. So I figured I would save my great-grandmother a panic attack and not post pics from all the places that I looked at.

SO FINALLY....the main event:

My House!!!!!

2 Bedrooms, kitchen, living room, working bathroom, gate, yard in the back for a garden, space for a puppy!, new doors, new windows, flowers on the door. It's in this nice little neighborhood, where all of the people seem to be the nicest people in the world. Everyone agrees that it's pretty safe, and I am pretty sure the landlord takes incredible care of it. He's a tough cookie, that's for sure, but that's another story for another day. The point is that I have a house! (Almost.) How perfect is it??

It's going to be 3500 pesos a month (about $97), not including water and electricity. This is actually less than the amount that Peace Corps allotted me for my rent, so I think it's a good deal for my town. I will always have water (YAY!), but the luz will come and go as it pleases. So i can buy candles & lanterns? No biggie.

If you can't tell, I'm a little excited about it! I sign all of the papers next Tuesday, and I am going to try to be officially moved in by August 15.

SO SERIOUSLY...ALL VISITORS WELCOME!! Mi casa es tu casa :o)

Monday, July 12, 2010

update through pics :o)

some fun places i've been over the past few weeks...

latest injury: dang motos.

just another day in Juan Lopez.

4th of July in el Sur.

love these.

some pics of my host fam.