Sunday, March 31, 2013


Really though, Columbus... What were you thinking landing on such a hot island?

I spent my lunch break sweating in my room under my mosquito net and abanico. This is my life, and at the end of the day, when my zinc roof makes my house sound like the world is ending during a rain storm, I still love it.

Also, I debate shaving my head around 1:00 every day. I think that's why Spanish countries have siestas. To prevent all if their ladies from balding themselves purposefully.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Semana Santa

It's Holy Week in the DR and I've had some interesting activities.

First, crazy cave day. I didn't know we were going to the cave at 10:00 until 9:50. We take the regular guagua to Ave. Duarte. From there we walked about ten blocks in one direction in order to turn around and walk ten blocks back to the initial starting point. On purpose... Not. So we are at the place with all the jam packed guaguas and the cobradoors who are yelling at everyone to get on their guagua. Mind you, it doesn't matter if you are going in the direction the guagua goes, it is their job to convince you to get on their guagua anyway.

So we are looking for the one we need and a helpful Dominican man finds a guagua that states that he is going in the direction of the caves. The directions we had state that we need to find a guagua going to the caves, so we decide to get in. The guagua is rickity, but everyone has what I would call a seat of American size, so I'm happy. As we are riding down the highway next to the beautiful water someone points out that from the point in the city that we were in and the direction of the caves, we shouldn't have gone anywhere near the water... Um. Okay.

We consult the driver. As expected, he had NO IDEA where the caves were and just wanted to give a ride. He was winging it on direction. We turn around eventually. Then stop. On the highway. In a random spot. Someone else jump in. Okay, that makes sense. He picked up his homeboy who knew where the caves were. That was a thing.

Eventually, after other shenanigans (Crossing a highway, getting gas, making a U turn) we make it to the caves.

Cut to, hungry. We make it to food. It's Chinese food though. The big debate is, do we trust ANY Chinese food after it was decided then proven that the Chinese food we were all served a few weeks ago at the training center made many PCT's and staff members very, very sick. Three of the nine trust the food. Good job DR... 1/3 of our group will still eat your Chinese food and one even trusted the vegetables (that were cooked).

As we walk back up Duarte we receive a call from our friends. They have their own PERSONAL guagua waiting for us. We are lost. They can't find us. they already waited for the rest of our group to decide if they even wanted to get on that guagua. They promise to come pick us up, their friends, from whatever spot we are lost in. Good job cobradoors. They will do anything to get a person on their guagua.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Feeling at home

Today was test day. Tests in Spanish as well as core skills. I feel like I'm back in college.

Also, I've been here two weeks and the rest of the PCT's already feel like my home base. It's amazing how important people can become when you go through an extreme change together.

Your house is made of cement

If you're wondering about my blog title the story is as follows... My friend was questioning why we weren't getting cell phone service at home. That was my answer.

Okay. I'm heading to CBT on Monday which means 5 weeks with a new host family and a new training site. I don't know what that means as far as Internet and contacting me, but my cell phone will be an option. For the number as my mom or sister or the people who have called me (Erik) or anyone you think may have it by now. Okay, I'm going to play cards now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mi hermanito!

In the DR I am privy to something I've never had before... Little brothers. Now, at first, I didn't really know what to do with little brothers. Especially little brother to which I could only say a few select sentences to, none of which appeared to be that interesting to me. What I've learned is that kids don't need language.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

PCV visit

"Being you is not a bad thing. It's just a thing." -A. Lobo

One of my Peace Corps Trainee friends said that and I think it's genius.

I went kayaking to a beach yesterday. That's a thing. Today I am hiking a mountain I saw from the lagoon... That's also a thing.

The tour is part of the volunteer's Eco-Tourism project. The guide was a local man and the tour was a lot more informative than I was expecting.

This post was written about that day.

Cut to Saturday.

Today we climbed a mountain. Well, I caught a ride with a tour group half way up because I really had to use the bathroom. As I sit here in the swing up top I realize I may have to use the bathroom again. This place is great. Also, weird tan.

Cut to Sunday.

I'm leaving Tito's house today. As I lay under this mosquito net I think about the sunburn on my back. Is this going to be a constant over the next two years or will my skin adjust? I'm hoping for adjustment.

Tito, Lobo, and I talked about blogs last night and how a lot of people can have blogs that become way to unrealistically a list of "all the good I'm doing in the peace corps". I'm hoping to keep mine informative and funny... But mostly funny.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This is my favorite picture I've been sent since I left my home for a new two year home.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The view from the bottom

This is the view from my front porch. It's really just a view of mi abuelo sitting across from the little shop (closet) he owns and sells things out of. It's actually really cute. I just say closet, because according to any American standards it is pretty small. It's called a colmado and they are all over the place. As in, one on every street... sometimes two.

Thank you DR

In the Dominican Republic I have little brothers. I think the little brother I am going to connect with best is Albert. He is a four year old little boy and he is exactly like me. We both push food around on our plates and then suddenly shout out a word in Spanish. His reason is likely because he is four, mine is because I have finally thought of a Spanish word I know that could maybe start a relevant conversation with my host family.

I am currently most proud that I finally really know what también means.

My malaria medication has started producing the vivid dreams. I think I am going to ask the PCMO today if that was a super bad sign, or just a sign. Last nights dream contained some risqué things and multiple multiple characters. Some were baking eating and stealing banana bread from each other and others were speaking Spanish. Everyone says its good when you begin to speak Spanish in your dreams, but being as I am now at most a level 3, I think the Spanish is simply because I've been surrounded by it. Today is todo día español.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cable tv?!

Tonight I learned that my host family has cable. I knew they had a television in the parents room that the kids watch every time we actually have electricity. Until today, I was never invited in, so I simply didn't go in. Every other television I have seen has been a white noise, 1990's version of 5 channel Spanish television and I assumed the T.V. in my host-parents' room was the same.

... Wrong. It is a big screen television with at least 292 channels. I know this because my brothers were watching the Disney channel here and that was the number on the CABLE box. I'm not a cable watcher. Even in the states I didn't have cable at my apartment, but in the middle of the D.R., where I typically take a bucket bath, actually... I ALWAYS take a bucket bath, the idea of cable television is one I hadn't even considered.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Adan y Eva

It was really nice tonight. I went to a bible study class with my host mom. I didn't understand much, but she is always sure to send me to the right passage in the bible so I can attempt to follow the conversation. Usually the conversation is for not, but it is nice to have something to read while the chatter is happening around me.

When we arrived at home, after successfully asking my grandmother if I could buy a spanish bible in the supermarket, I had a long successful conversation with my mom about Adam and Eve and also a passage in Romans all in Spanish. It was probably only five minutes of conversation, but right now in the DR that is more than enough for me to feel successful.

Now, vamos a mi cama. En la mañana, yo tengo clase de Español. Necesito duerme.

Okay, so the Spanish isn't perfect, but I promise, it is coming.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oh, okay, guagua.

Sometimes, you find yourself in the Dominican Republic. You are upstairs at your abulas house trying very hard to practice your español with your PC amiga who also happens to now be your aunt. All of a sudden your host-Mom is there. She grabs you by the arm, half drags you to the guagua your father suddenly has waiting outside. You are on your way to your other aunts house for a birthday party you knew nothing about. Upon arriving at the house you hear music and join in dancing with your younger brother Albert. He is adorable, and the friends mention that you can dance and should go to a discoteca. You are pleased to know you now have one transferable skill. You are also reminded of the safety and security training you had this afternoon which involved drawing your perfect victim if you were a burglar and remember that it was a girl about your age at a discoteca. Put that aside. Your spanish is limited, you need at least one skill. This party ends as soon as it began. As you get home you wonder if your father rented this guagua just for this 2 minute drive or if your family has a hidden garage someplace. As you get into bed you hear your 8 year old brother singing "I want to dance with somebody!" because you were all singing this and dancing outside the door just minutes ago as mama looked on and laughed. You recognize that your Spanish has far to go, but for now, you are getting somewhere. Children know what you mean... Sometimes. They repeat without being asked. They accept that you don't understand anything.

As you reach for the light you take a look at the photo album you made before you left America, you miss your family. Your "novio", as mama said, and your "gabriella" and "Angela". (Dos anos es largo). So much has happened, but it has only been a few days. You live in the Dominican Republic. You speak none of the language and yet you accept your day to day life of nonverbal communication and surprise visits. The bucket bath is cold. The food is delicious, and your mama is limiting the sugar because you somehow communicated that you don't want a lot. This is your life. You are a Peace Corps Trainee.

At these times you just have to think... This is all worth it. The diarrhea they say is coming will be worth it. Likely being pick pocketed, is worth it. (One thing wouldn't be worth it, but prevention is out there and DR isn't to blame.)

For now, you turn off the light, and aim to dream in Spanish. Until another day, and pray the gum in your suitcase is the most interesting thing your brother finds!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Glory adios!

Apparently going to a baptist-like church in Santo Domingo feels exactly like going to a Pentecostal church in Germany. The praises to God being shouted in another language sound random, then an occasional word I understand will be thrown in and for roughly 30 seconds things make sense again.

When my host-Mom told me last night that we were going to church at nine then I woke up at 8:37 this morning I was worried. Then, when 10 came and went and we were still sitting at the house, I was less concerned.

We went to church, had a great big meal, and I am now in siesta time. This was also my first time eating with men and the first time my mom gave me aguacate (aka: avocado). I knew she wanted me to have it because she brought it to me personally and asked me about it. We had talked about me liking it at some point. My dad also talked about how avocado grown here is deported to Los Estados Unidos.

Final thought, I was trying really hard to figure out what the people meant my "glory adios". I listened for a long time. This is something along with hallelujah that was shouted randomly by many at church. Part way through I figured out that they were saying "Glory a Dios!" Same thing, but instead of glory goodbye the second means glory to God. Dios is God in Spanish.

Final final thought. I didn't know how much French I knew, but as I try desperately to communicate my brain is pulling at everything it knows and I use avec instead of con frequently and le toilet instead of inodoro. Also, l'enfant instead of... I don't even know, bebe? My accent is French and my understanding is all over the place, but I do have hope. Language will come.

From so close, yet so far,

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I scared my host mom today. When Corina came over this morning we walked to Andy's* Lobo's house. His mom made me pancakes. Side note, I don't like Aunt Jemima syrup. After Andy's Lobo's we walked the neighborhood. When we returned we were late. Mama had made lunch and was worried about me. Next time I won't be gone so long, or at least give her a time of my expected return. I am now laying in my bed for a siesta. I'll probably be here for a while, but my friends and family know I don't siesta very well. Maybe I'll listen to some Spanish study. Maybe... Siesta does sound nice. Tomorrow, Iglesia.

*Updated March 2014

Friday, March 8, 2013

A proper update

I have a host familla. My host-Mom is very aware that mi no hablo español mucha. She is also okay with that. She has two young boys who are hilarious and love to laugh at and with me. Mi padre is also aware of my lack of Spanish skill, but being as he came home and I was bucket bathing and heading to bed he didn't get much chance to laugh at my expense. My host-Mom served me eggs with vegetables and watered down orange juice, freshly squeezed. Her mother lives upstairs and is hosting another volunteer, so when we ventured that way I was again served freshly squeezed OJ for dinner.

I did bucket bathe. For me, I used the spray bottle I brought to country for my hair. I don't know if it made it harder or easier, but for now I've washed the important parts and headed to bed.

My PC provided mosquito net is tucked in tight and I think for now I am going to take care of a grooming situation and go dormir. I look forward to mi mama giving me a breakfast in the morning. Likely a PB minus the J because through broken Spanglish I was able to explain that I liked it And she was able to hear that I wanted it at EVERY meal.

In other news, I hear we are getting our cell phones next week, so buy your calling cards or Skype Credits now. It's cheap enough for America to call into DR that I'm sure some of you may take advantage of that. While I'm here in Santo Domingo for training the signal may be good enough to call, but my timing will be limited. Once training is over in May and swear in happens I may have a bit more time, but could also move to some place with limited signal. The good news is that three months after that I can get visitors. I hear some of the other volunteers speaking of plans being made by anxious relatives, so put your considering caps on.

Any way. Though my Spanish is awful and my smiles are strange my host-Mom still said mi amor when I went to bed (as she spoke to me from the toilet), so I feel a family connection already blossoming. Dominicans are very wonderful, and I look forward to my time in country.

Cut to technical talk: The way this is working, this blog thing, is I set my blogger to accept emails as posts. So, I am writing the posts on my phone with no wifi connection and at the earliest convenience to wifi I will hit send and hope the connection is strong enough.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I have been in the DR for about two days now. I spent the first night at a wonderful Catholic retreat center and my fellow trainees and I played a lot of cards and spoke a lot of English. I know this is not going to be the case much longer, but for now I am okay with being coddled like a baby.

The food has been wonderful. Beans rice and chicken make up a lot of the diet. I was very excited about the avocado I had. (I bought an avocado in DC as well and both the DR and DC avocados are ahead of the game in taste compared to Colorado avocados).

Soon I am going to meet my host family. I am currently in a post lunch fight for wi-fi. I feel lucky in that I was able to grab some Internet this morning before the rest of the group and I sent a message out to three much missed family and friends.

I am having a good time so far. The Spanish will come tonight and the host family fun will start.

For now I leave my readers with this: I forgot to bring a watch so I will be buying one. And also, I'm having fun, learning a lot, feel safe, and will contact when contact comes.

A few days in...

Wifi for a sec. I made it to DR. Training is on full blast. I feel like I've been here for a week already!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Boarding now

I need some razor blades. Gillette 4 for women. The one with the buzzer on the other end.

I'm boarding the plane now. I don't know when I'll next update. I miss my family, but I'm excited!

Next post from DR!