Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Tomorrow is April and mawarwia Wednesday... The day I take my Aralan pills AKA dream inducers.

We are all a little frustrated right now. We were supposed to go to a conference this weekend and it was pushed back. We are frustrated about it, but trying to keep in mind the people who have actually been working on the conference for months.

We were also told we could find out our sites on Friday only to have that ripped out from under us a well. Again, I'm trying to keep in mind that this is because the person who makes the final decision on site placement is working really hard to place is all in the right site.

I guess since I was a "cheater" I never really had to wonder about which country I was going to go to. I simply went to the wiki and deciphered where it was. Here, even if there was a website that said, "Amanda will be placed here." I wouldn't have enough of an Internet connection to search it.

As it is, I set up my blog to post via email y entonces I typically write these posts days in advance on my iPhone (so glad I upgraded by the way) and post them when I can send a quick email.

2 years 2 weeks and about 1 day left. I haven't even dipped my toe in the water.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just some random DR tidbits... And dating in the DR

I was going to go to bed, but then my doña put on the Sundance Channel as a way of being nice to me. A weird movie is on, but it's in English, so I know it's for me. Entonces.. I'm going to watch it. (Update: it's called Rectify and it's apparently a television show. This should be a movie.)

As some of you know I never really had a dentist until December. I mean I've been to the dentist, but since I saw Dr. H close to 6 times in December I feel like I can really call him MY dentist. Well, one of my teeth was hurting a bit tonight and I kept thinking I wanted to go see MY dentist. (No, it's not for the reason some of you may be thinking. Really, I simply trust MY dentist with my teeth over the rest of the yay-hoos). Basically, I'm going to pay attention to my teeth for the next few days to see if I need to give the Medical Staff a call.

Dominoes. I was at Courtney's house tonight. We wanted to play Dominoes and asked her host doña to join us. The doña said yes and hollered down the street for a 4th. That's how you do things here. "Someone come play Dominoes!" That's all you need. Also, why didn't I ever know how to play Dominoes? It's so easy...

So, I may have mentioned, but if I didn't, I will now, in the DR men cheat and it is basically known and accepted as a fact. I don't approve, but whatever. Men are constantly sending "piropoes" to the girls here. That means they shout out things about their appearance or asking them to love them or whatever. They aren't exactly serious. Sometimes they shout at us in English... The only English they know. "What your name? I love you baby. What your phone number. I love you." A good thing for me is that this only happens when I walk with a white person. Good because it will almost never happen to me when I'm alone and therefore it won't be scary. At 11:00 at night, on empty streets with Courtney, this was said... "I love you baby. Hey, rubia, I love you. What... They told you not to talk to strangers?" When that one happened I let out the biggest chuckle. That cracked them up too. Then they told us that we better be careful. The streets are peligroso at night... Which I guess is kind of true, though I think MOST Dominican men are all bark and no bite. They just like to spit lyrics at you. Basically women here have verguenza if they walk alone. Usually this is only at night, but some say it references the day time as well.

It is assumed here that if you are alone with a man in your house that you are having sex with him. Relationships are weird. If a man spends the night in your house you are "campo married". Not everyone here who says they are married are legally married. They may live together and have kids and not even have a legal marriage. That may also not be the only marriage or family a man has. This is accepted often as truth. Also, a mujer I know has two children, two daddies. Not weird, actually common to me... But then there is the question of her relationships with the fathers. Both of them are around a lot, but seem to have little relationship with the children. I haven't quite found a grasp of if men so in fact have relationships with children. She calls the youngest's father her novio, and he sleeps in her house sometimes, but when we went to the Bomba a few weeks ago he danced with every rubia there, even me, but not her. Dancing here is kind of a sport. Everyone dances with everyone and people don't necessarily stick to their partner, but I question the idea of partners anyway. All the doñas want to hook their sons up with the rubias. If you tell them you have a boyfriend, they always default to either he's not here, I /my son am/is better, or you can have more than one. That last part is what I think it comes down to in the DR... And maybe it's more "natural". Men dating around and women raising children. I think the word is childish. Dominican dating is like dating for children. Now, that is not to say I think Americans have it right. We've screwed a lot of people up with our system of relationships. I just hope I can learn things from both styles and apply it to my life, now and in the future. Also, I think I do know that if/when I do get married I think I'll put more thought in it than falling asleep at a guys house.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

FRIENDS and hard drives

So, a new friend of mine, who also happens to be from Colorado let me in on where I could get FRIENDS (every episode, every season) as a digital copy. I now have every episode, every season, as a digital copy. I was going through withdrawals leaving my box set at home. Now I even have the episodes that never worked in my set (disc 10).

I also learned that I want a 2T my passport for Mac. Hard drives are what make a volunteers life here. I now own more digital copies of movies than I ever thought I would. They are much lighter than physical copies. I learned that information about books the last time I was over seas. You'd think I'd have learned that it applied to everything. Also, that was a wordy sentence.

I wonder if my pesos will afford me 2 TBs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


In the DR transportation simply gets the job done. If you can fit yourself and your 3 kids on one moped to drive them to school why wouldn't that be your first choice? If you can fit yourself and 50 other people heading in a similar direction in a 20sq foot space, why wouldn't you? If 8 friends are heading in the same direction, they only need one ancient honda. I promise. When the point is to transport people from one place to another, the DR aims to do that with as little machine as possible.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We had it good.

You know how I said Kentucky had the worst education system I ever saw? Well, I was wrong. Because I've now been to the DR, and sat in on a class, and read about how their system functions, I know that America is at least doing better than someone.

Though, having only been to one day of classes, I am hesitant to say DR is the worst in the world. I know the parents, faculty, and teachers are fighting against a broken system. Last year, though, major headway was made with the "4%". It has been written in the DR constitution for years that 4% of the GDP was supposed to be spent on education. From what I hear it rarely makes it to 2%. Last year though, the country fought to force the government into using the 4% for education.

What does all of this mean? Do we have it right is the USA? No. Nobody is perfect. Is it perfect in the DR? Also no. This means that as a business volunteer I am going to have to take into account how adults in the DR were conditioned to learn in school. I am going to have to cater my thinking to one of patience and understanding.
I may be working with adults who did make it to the 8th grade, but never learned to read. My challenge won't be explaining how to write a business plan, but explaining how to use a full sentence in that business plan.

Now, I'm not hear to say their education system has failed. The country has admitted to problems and is working to fix them. Also, some very intelligent (wealthier) people have come out of this education system. The issue lies in those without access. The students who are meant to have 4 hours of class a day, but live in areas that don't have enough staff to support that.

I hasten to say we did it right though. If we had it together organizations like Teach for America wouldn't even exist, but for now, I face this challenge. Maybe when I get home I'll look into something else.

Final thought, being here reinforces to me just how important education is in the lives of children. If I have any small ones, I'll pledge here and now to make education a priority in their lives. Hold me to it. (But don't let me go crazy. Kids need fun too.)

Monday, April 22, 2013


So, my cousin gave me a San Francisco 49ers hat before I left. I decided to wear it today on my walk to class because it is upwards of 100 degrees I'm sure. Bad idea. The hollers of "Americana!!" And the whistles were almost constant, as was the young lady who actually walked up to me to ask if I were a tourist or if I lived here. I rarely hear that unless I'm with a white volunteer. I guess I didn't realize just how constant that can be. Believe it or not, as long as I don't say much, I can pass for Dominican. And if not Dominican, I at least have the ability to look close enough to attract attention. That is until I throw on my shiny red cap that screams "MERICA!"

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Being as I was in the group of people who spoke the least amount of Spanish when entering the DR I am now going o have an extra hour a day with a Spanish tutor. It's nice to know that the time will be spent one on one and I was able to chose which teacher I wanted. I chose a man named Asbel, because he is really funny and I hear nothing but good things about him.
Tutoring starts Monday, so I'll see how it goes. I'm beginning to look forward to it though.

Animals in the campo

In this life, I have access to animals I never imagined I'd have access to. These animals aren't necessarily all that exotic, I just never expected to see them this close.

My first example are the ducklings. I came home a few nights ago and my host mom told me we now had bebe patos. Me: "WHAT?" Yep, the 8 ducks living in my backyard are no longer the strangest thing I found as they added 12 little baby ducklings to the mix in one day. As I said before. Ducks aren't strange. I see them at parks and such in the states, perooo... Ducklings aren't something I ever thought I'd have in my backyard.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


CBT is great for no other reason than my host family is so much nicer than the one in Santo Domingo. Here I don't feel like a paycheck. In SD the host families have volunteers in and out twice a year. They know the deal. Some American will be in their house for a few weeks, speaking no Spanish and eating food twice a day. For the CBT families this is all new. Sure, they get a paycheck too, but we are probably still humans in their eyes rather than $ signs. (Yes, the $ is used for Pesos too. Which makes buying lunch for $250 a much different experience.

I also want to use my new space to start a DR exercise routine. Currently my routine is walk up a bunch of hills all day as I head to the different places I have to go. So, no routine at all. I want to start running. I know some of the other volunteers get up at 6 A.M. and run. I am up at 6 A.M. typically, but I am not in the mood to run. I think running though will make it easier to want to shower in the cold bucket water in the morning. Goal, tomorrow morning. Start the "Fit in a guagua exercise routine." I have two years. I might as well use my time to start a good habit.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

For now, some things will be out of order.

It's funny. The family I have in CBT is very similar to a family unit I was once a member of. Here I live with the grandmother and the daughter lives next door. By lives next door I mean she has a house, but she, her two-year-old daughter and older son are always in my house. It's fine. She and the mom sit around all day caring for the kids, doing nails, and gabbing. I really like siting and observing them. This has also lead me to recognize that I love sitting an watching people without feeling this need to interject thoughts. In the states, when everybody spoke English, I felt like I had to participate in conversation, but here, since I don't understand most of the conversations happening around me, I tend to be a tranquillo observer. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

You know how...

Sometimes it feels like your host family doesn't like you at all?

Just remember, they are dealing with having an awkward American girl live in their house who speaks roughly three complete sentences in their language. You'll be okay. Besides, you get a second chance at this tomorrow and a third chance at this in May.