Friday, January 28, 2011

typical weekend in the campo.

overview of my time in the campo...




and a few around her site!

it was a blast! i actually felt like a dominican retreating to the campo for the long weekend. good times.

will update more soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

back to work.

Things are back to normal in my site. Vacation is over for the most part, so I am ready for the new year! I have started round 2 of English classes, and it's going fairly well so far. Knock on's been a week. I have 22 students for 2 hours twice a week. I am still doing the Survival English class (sometimes it feels like I'm the one trying to survive the class...but there's always coffee, cookies, and lots of town gossip, so who can complain?), the Advanced English speaking group, and the two community organizations in which I'm slowly learning my place.

Let's see...what else? I am finally starting the girls' youth group in February. I am going to take a few girls from my town to a regional conference, and then try to have them help me get the ball rolling. I have been ecstatic about everything that I want to start, except this one. English classes? Piece of cake. I know English. And I can look like a genius, make fun of myself & be a goofball in class- all at the same time. However, I am almost a little intimidated to start this youth group with a bunch of hormonal Dominicans who I'm sure will make their number 1 goal to give me a makeover. Teach them about self esteem, confidence, with a mixture of sexual health? With my Spanish? This outta be interesting. I used to get an ulcer just thinking about it, but I am slowly getting more excited.

OOH- another update! Last week, I found out that received a US$500 grant from the Kids to Kids organization. I will use it to start an art group in my neighborhood...I'm so excited! Check it out:

Hopefully, that is the first of several grants that will help me get things going in my site. I will start applying for more soon, I believe.

I think that's it for now! We have a 4 day weekend, so I am going to the campo (aka boondocks) :o) to visit another volunteer, Carly. Goodbye "city" (aka town with roads) life for a few days. Peace out.


I might buy a bike :o) I'm excited...

My fridge broke. Poor was from the 1940's, I believe, and had the smell to prove it, but I liked it. Another volunteer had finished her service and offered to sell me her only-slightly-used, non-roach-infested fridge for super cheap. Now I have 2 fridges, the desire/need for a bike, and zero money. If I can fix (as in have someone in my pueblo fix...let's be honest...I haven't changed THAT much since I've been gone)& sell the old one, I will take it as a sign that I should buy the bike.

Or a table that doesn't lean to the ground when you put something on it.

Nah- I'll probably buy the bike.

Here's to hoping.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! And merry belated Christmas! It’s been a whirlwind of events here, and I am excited to finally get back on track with the blogging. I knew this blog thing would be difficult (pretty sure I called that on my first post), but I am ready to make a change for this año nuevo. Good or bad, I’m going to tell you about it. Speaking of the bad, I almost didn’t post that previous blog written forever ago, but I think it’s ok to express myself. Ok- enough justifying for now.

Now on to more important matters…I HAD MY FIRST SET OF VISITORS!! It was so great. Two of my friends, Brad & Cheyenne, visited me on December 17th and my family came on the 19th. It was the perfect Christmas gift to get to see friends and family, and I feel really lucky that they were all able to spend time with me in my new home.

My family had always planned on coming for Christmas, so that had given me something to look forward to for a while now; Brad and Cheyenne, on the other hand, were a different story. Cheyenne is one of my best friends, so when Brad told me that he wanted to surprise her with a trip to the DR, I cried. ANOTHER reason that this was so exciting is that he planned on proposing after he told her about the trip! Long story short, Brad was amazing in the planning process, worked everything out, had me help tell Chey about the trip, and then proposed! It was amazing. Less than 24 hours later, my first visitors (the newly engaged couple- YAY!) arrived and the fun began.

As we were crammed in my neighbor’s 2-seater pickup truck, bouncing around as we zoomed down the unpaved backroads, with another neighbor chilling in the bed of the truck with the luggage, I knew we were in for an adventure. It ended up being the perfect trip! At least for me. Ask them and they might warn you from making the trek down here, but they at least told me to my face that they loved it.

Rundown of the visit: Brad and Cheyenne were at my site for 2 nights, then Santiago for a night to pick up my family, then Puerto Plata to stay at a hotel on the beach, Brad and Cheyenne left (really sad to see them go), my fam and I stayed there for 2 more days, my family came to my site for Christmas, basically drug them around to every house in my town for lots of food, dancing, and intense Spanish-English translating, Dad & Kelsi left , my mom stayed another week for more Juan Lopez (my site) time, as well as trips to the Capital, Santiago, and Cabarete for New Years. Phew!!! It was honestly the best way I could have spent the holidays, and it was really hard to say bye to everyone.

Some visit highlights:
• All of the girls in my neighborhood falling in love with Brad and making such a big deal about his height. (Dominicans are short for the most part.) One of the more umm…outgoing…highschoolers in my barrio put on her red corset and made Brad stand next to her, meanwhile exclaiming how “chiquitita” she looked next to him.

• My project partner stealing Cheyenne away on his motorcycle for a “5 minute” tour of the town, leaving me and the worried fiancée waiting on her for an hour. No worries- the neighborhood gals kept us company.

• Sharing my newfound cooking passion with Brad & Cheyenne, just to have them laugh and take pictures of it. Rude. :o)

• All of my friends, as well as randos, in the town going on and on (and on and on…) about how I looked like my sister when I first got here, but not that much anymore because I am much, much fatter now. To make it clearer to my non-Spanish speaking family, some would point to my sister and stick out their pinky to indicate thinness, and then point to me and stick out their arms to their side and puff out their cheeks. And then imitate eating to explain how I got to be “so much bigger than my sister.” Fun times.

• My family getting to witness firsthand a Dominican photo shoot. My neighbor told my mom that she wanted to take a picture with her, and then decided that she preferred to do a solo shot. My family got to see the millions of wardrobe changes, the scandalous outfits, and then the even more scandalous poses. On the red satin bed. Welcome to the DR, folks.

• My whole family seeing firsthand how much a guest is forced to eat…every house we visited served us a huge spread and acted really offended if we couldn’t finish everything. Taco Bell 4th meal ain’t got nothing on us. Try 5th & 6th meals…every day.


• Running out of water and electricity while my visitors were there.

• Christmas dinner of PB & banana sandwiches while watching The Office episodes.

now for some pics...
the proposal.

Maggie & Cheyenne. Miss you guys!

Brad & Chey in my town!

Teaching Chey how to get a bola.

Brad experiencing the crammed public transportation.

Sugar cane! Sick.

In Santiago.

Puerto Plata- 27 Waterfalls! So much fun.

Love her.

My fam getting a tour of my site.

One of my favorite families in the DR.

Neighbor visit.

Just a few of the photo shoot pics...

Visit up the mountain.

Christmas dinner!

My host fam.

Another one of my favorite families.

Bachata lessons.

Dancing continues at another family's house

More dancing at a disco!

Mom & me in the Capital


Some of the volunteers for New Years.

All around good times. I am so happy that they were able to see my life here & that I was able to spend time with them. It was a perfect end of 2010 and start of 2011. I am currently accepting applications for my next set of visitors! :o) Come one, come all!