So time has gone by down here. I remember some of the things said to me by the volunteers who had been here longer when I was new in country. They said the days may drag, but months go quickly. I haven’t found that to be the case. When I am waiting for students or a meeting, then time may slow a bit, but on the most days, weeks, months, and the last year has gone by rather fast.
To make use of our rest and relaxation days in August we decided to mark a year in country and go up to 27 charcos. For Anna and I, it was the second time (and for me at least the final time), but for the other volunteers who joined us it was the first. Hopefully someday I will be able to share pictures, but getting physical film developed and put on cd has eluded me in this country (I have of course only devoted a tiny portion of energy to this so far).
Even though then I knew it had been a year since we landed in country, it was not until September that it really sunk in. What caused the realization to come about, I had a trainee fresh from the farm visit me. Okay Pantoja is not a farm, it was a metaphor. About 2.5 weeks into service I went to visit Maha in the South (and this year she ended up getting another trainee with the same first and last name because a series of events, which I found amusing). This year a guy named Stanley came to visit me. I got to show off my site to an American for the first time.
I took him to one of Miguel’s English classes and then the next day to my English class. Both times he got to show off he great grasp of English. We also walked around town and I showed him the market. I took him to meet with my project partners and let him listen while I had discussions with them. One afternoon we went up to Mucha Agua for a tour of the campo. Saturday we went up to see Doug’s site up the mountain. Doug gave us a wonderful tour of the coffee association and an overview of his work. Then after lunch we went on a trek alongside a river and through the river to a beautiful waterfall. The next day we did some exploring of on of the foothills close to my house and in the afternoon I sent him on his way to the capital. Along with those activities there was time where we just chilled and sometimes talked, showing him the different rhythm of the DR.
Like I said it was Stanley visiting that made me recognize the year has gone. I would mention something casually and he would be at a loss, reminding me of how it felt less than a month in country: trying to handle living with strange families, a school like schedule, communicating in another language, and tons of information thrown at you. Well soon I will be coming up on a year of service and then each month with be the last one of its kind I will be sending in the DR.
What a year has done for me. A greater comfort communicating in spanish (or should I say dominican spanish), a greater patience for the dominican concept of time (not to say I don’t want punctuality, but it does not frustrate me as much), a greater facility getting around the capital (finally we have found the most efficient routes on not the 3 modes routes). introduced me to a sushi place in the capital that was good enough to meet the need, and helped me have a clear idea of what might be next in my life. That’s just what came to mind in this moment, I look forward to my remaining 404 days.