Today I leave the Dominican Republic and is my last day as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I hope my posts have been enjoyable. Inspired by a youth at Construye Tus Suenos, I made a prezi. Sadly it cannot be imbedded.
Anna. Anna was my best friend in this country. She was more than that. She agreed to be my sister sometime during training, and from there on we were set. Anna is from the West Coast, Long Beach to be exact. Anna used to work for sign shop and has mexican heritage. I like to joke about her dad being a communist. Anna sometimes has interesting ideas about what words mean, like that a bridge had to be concave.
Anna is crafty like I. She made these great earring from a coke can (me having coke can earring I believe was inspired by the 3 cokes of the last day of COS conference). And she now has a etsy shop. There will be a delay before she makes more because of our upcoming travels.
I like Anna because she is chill and willing to go along with so many of my plans, I believe we had some great trips. She was always there to listen to the frustrations of my site (well when there was service for her phone).
Just have to end by saying Anna is simply great, and definitely part of my enjoyment of the last 26 months. Now over to the girl herself.
Not Chill is
Ashley: but I like her anyways! Ashley is outgoing, knows what she wants and does what she has to to get it. Therefore I feel honored to have had her as a friend, like she chose me. Our sisterhood in the DR is not a marriage of convenience. Ashley is loyal and puts a lot into friendships.
She has gently guided me into an improved wardrobe in country and now even covets some of my own select pieces (okay so a few of them were her own purchases). Without Ashley I wouldn’t have gone to Jamaica, and I wouldn’t likely be going to South America in one week.
We don’t agree on everything. She’s East Coast to the core and I’m a California girl through and through. She’s looking into government work, I’m looking non-profit. (Also, my dad wasn’t really a communist, only socialist) And we won’t even get into food. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think she challenges me to be a better person. Peace Corps service would not have been the same without her.
Well that’s the show.
So time is almost done. One thing to close out my service was the Construye Tus Suenos conference. I did not receive a completed plan, but my girl got to come and be inspired by the conference. We have talked and she will finish, and I will help her over the internet, to make sure she takes the opportunity next year.
This year it was in a different location then the last 2 years. No more cabana zone (not that we were in a cabana), now we were on the malecon. The hotel was very comfortable, except for the arctic temperature (at least that is how I view it, commenting the night before last that polar bears might be comfortable here).
The jovenes for the majority were animated, well behaved, and inspiring in the plans they had as youth. We had previous participants who had one share their stories and offer advice. We had charlas on professionalism, networking, presenting, and a one minute introduction. There were off course dinamicas and color teams. I was on verde and it went well, we almost won, but we lost, in my opinion due partly to the fact that the leaders kept wanting to change the team chant right before we were supposed to train it. Also some animosity was created with the red team over some point.
This year we had all women winners, an artist who makes 3d paintings inspired by flowers, a bakery, and a library/bookstore/cafeteria. All the finalists did great presentations, and one even used prezi (which was super neat to watch).
On the third day we promoted microfinance through a microfinance fair (with representatives from ADEMI, ADOPEM, FDD, ECLOF International), a talk by Franciso Abate of Fundacion Dominicana de Desarrollo, and panel of bank representatives field questions.
As always the days were full, and a rest was needed after. After I sent my joven off home, I went to the office and changed bags, because on Thursday when I left for the conference I was leaving my site for good.
So I am taking a trip before returning to life in the United States, but I don’t have the urge to drag all my stuff along. I just don’t have the desire to be a pack mule for my trip. I once arrived at my sister’s house when they were moving to help and it was a surprise. My sister on answering the door calls to her husband and says something along the lines “Ashley is here, she can be our pack mule.” And my job first was to transfer boxes from upstairs to downstairs.
So hope you enjoyed that little story, but this is actually another one. I decided to send some things back to the United States, because some items just would bring me pleasure still having them in the future. I originally hoped for a courier, but no one took me up on my awesome offer to host them this fall. So I did some investigations, to figure it all out. I found out where the post office was in San Cristobal and one day last week with all my errands went to San Cristobal. The address was pretty simple, on Avenida Constitucion farther than the Banco Popular (which I also had to go to, closed my account! Oh my). So I went on my quest. I wasn’t entirely sure it was the right building, it looked so deserted, but it said words that made me think it must be.
When I got in there, I wondered if it was a functioning post office still. The worker was an older lady (that type you think should be pensioned off) and she confirmed I could send packages to the United States. Then it became a chore. Figuring out the cost was something beyond a quick check on the chart, it had to be so slowly done, she didn’t always start with the right number. If the package was taped it was then untaped and determined what was being mailed (interesting when it came to my knit picks interchangeable needles). And the postage was done through stamps with the largest stamp being 25 pesos (no electronic scale printing postage). Let me tell you it takes many stamps to get a package of weight to the United States. I left the post office with a slight headache. Then I receive a call the next day that something had been measured wrong and I need to pay more. So through none of my fault I took another trip to San Cristobal the very next day.
Well that’s what it is like to go to the post office in San Cristobal. There is mail in this country, just not to the house.
So I knew my time with my billabong thongs (flip flops in American English) was coming to an end. They have been worn enough to be perfectly shaped to my feet, which is quite a joy. They have been worn enough to lose all traction on the bottom and make walking on the unbroken sidewalks of Cambita rather perilous. They have been worn enough that very few kangaroos are left (don’t worry the ones that are no longer there, went to live on a farm). I believe they have had a good run, several countries and many years.
However, they broke when I was at the beach. And they broke when we were going to cross two rope/wire and board bridges and a walk down a rocky trail to a waterfall. So I walked with one foot in a flip flop and one without, because I didn’t need both to feel unprotected.
When I got back to all my clothing, I took the safety pin out of my dress and pinned together the plastic strap that had broken. Dominicans often fix their broken flip flops with safety pins or wire, so I was just following the custom and could still wear the flip flops in public. Then I was being lazy (did not feel like buckling shoes that stupidly buckle on the outside of my foot making it harder as I am not a contortionist) and conscious of the weather (i.e. closed toed shoes were not something I felt like putting on either), so I wore them to my chemicals class.
No post on the class because:
We simply made nail polish remover, super easy – acetone, glycerine, and water.
I only had 4 students that day.
And most importantly, I did not have a sd card in the camera and have no clue how to connect it directly to my computer.
On the way the plastic broke some more. So I go off to the side where I was walking, place the gallon of acetone in my hands down and the bag that held the other gallon, the glycerine, and other things, I take off the broken flip flop and as I am about to reposition the safety pin, an old man sitting in a chair takes it out of my hands and does it how he sees best. I have to say that was not surprising. Although I was perfectly capable of handling it and willing to, often a Dominican will want to lend a hand and not alert you by saying “oh, let me” but by taking the object. It had happened before with a yarn tangle on a bus.
The fix stopped working for the 2nd time this morning, I think I will have to say goodbye. Luckily the amount of time I need flip flops for is very short, they will not come in handy in the States in November and I should be getting a care package with new ones at that point anyway (and more importantly considering it will be November on the East Coast – Tim Tams).
So there is a lot of music being played throughout my day. Sometimes it comes from my computer and therefore is my choice. However, there is always what the colmado or billards hall is playing, what cars and trucks are playing, and what is on the house radio or the girls computers.
When traveling, there is also often music playing on the guagua. Actually it was very strange for a portion of the trip along the northern coast in August, on 3 guaguas there was no music. When you are crammed cinco in the cocina (5 in the back), sometimes the music makes it better. Of course sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes it is not music but talk radio. On the trip, even with the dearth of music being played, I was also introduced to a new popular song. Now most of the time I am only giving a low percentage of attention to the the background noise, but if there is something that grabs my attention. What grabbed my attention about this song, well the chorus music was remarkably similar to The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
What was also amusing was I returned to my community, and barely heard the song after hearing it twice in an hour on some days of my trip (that is a clear sign that this song is going to get alot of play). And the song grew on me, enough that I put it on my kindle (yeah I can do that on my kindle keyboard, not that I put songs on it usually since I can’t chose a song from a group to play). It was actually several weeks before I heard the song in a regular manner in Cambita. I don’t know why, I am definitely not rural.
If you want to hear the similarities, and a song that may not have longevity when it comes to my interest, but definitely gained it for a time, here it is:
Vakero – Hoy Se Va Bebe
So when I went up with Anna to visit Robin after our medical appointments, I planned to return to my site directly from there. However, in the capital, Ellen who was visiting the Samana area for her birthday was talking about stopping at el Salto de Limon (Waterfall of Lemon (or possibly Lime since they think limon is green and tastes remarkably like lime)). Anna still had not been, even with living in the region. So when we are chilling in the ocean, I just casually mention that we could make a side trip there and then I could stay at her house before making my trip home. She was open to that, so we did take a trip.
We slept at her house and took a bus partway to Samana and then another bus up towards Las Terranas. Just asking the driver, we picked one of the stops for the waterfall (there are a few stops to give you options. And then once there, we let it be known that we would like to ride horses. My horse was quite truculent, it had not interest in going anywhere. My guide on the other hand was quite a bonus. He told me about the plants of the area (much of which I did know from my 2 years, gave me a passion fruit (which makes my favorite juice) and shared that he was singer, even singing a little song for me.
Rough Guides provides a good overview on visiting. The waterfall is tall enough, that getting a full picture is not just a snap (I know lame, but really wanted to). Being river fed, the water is very cold. (not North East Coast Atlantic in June cold, I didn’t feel I was being frozen), however, with movement a person feels fine. I even went under the waterfall and waited for Anna to take a picture with the water pelting me. There was also a outpost with snacks for sale and artisan crafts set up at the entrance where we changed from horseback to foot.
It was a quite enjoyable activity with the transport included cost around 15 dollars. Definitely worth delaying my trip home by a day (of course it was, I got to ride a horse), especially considering that was Labor Day.