I am going to the capital this week for a Teaching English Conference and decided to take a side trip to visit a friend's site. This visit was to El Palmar in the dirty south to visit Sara. She lives in a small campo surrounded by batays 3, 4, 5, and 6. The landscape of this part of the country is very different from my area. There are cacti everywhere and more mosquitos that I care to deal with. It was nice to get a little taste of this part of the country and also to find reasons to be thankful I live where I live.
Sara is a great girl. She is from Kentucky and actually went to Transy, so we get our Kentucky chat going con frecuencia. She lived in Lexington and has stated that it's a great place. She has done AmeriCorps twice and was living in Austin before PC. Sara knows a lot about a lot and is a reader of great books which, surprise-surprise, I love. Overall, wonderful, wonderful human being.
Our first night brought on this little date. We opened a bottle of wine and Sara made a delicious meal of boxed macaroni and cheese. I provided the film. Do you recognize it? It was that new one "The Big Wedding." I just want to take this time to side track and talk about how wonderful I think Diane Keaton is. I think she is a wonderful actress and a classy older lady. She has a style all her own and is just an all around wonderful gal.
The next day was international clean the beach day. This was a work trip too. I went to Barahona with a brigada verde group and we spent a few hours in the sun cleaning the beach. (Ignor my weird outfit and awkward hair. It was really hot, I was comfortable, and the water here is really doing some weird things to my hair.
I took more selfies than I normally would because I was trying to get the label on this hat to show up in a picture, but it never really worked and I was done trying.
And then set out to clean these things up. I found so many shoes, but not a single pair. I guess that would make sense, because why else would you leave your shoes at the beach.
I was also able to hang out with another volunteer I had met a few months before. Papa Dengue has been here for about a year and has a really cool job. He is mapping out the country to create Disaster Relief maps. His Peace Corps life is kind of like a 9-5 job and he seems to really love it and has a chance to use his college degree for what it was meant for, so that's cool. He also lived in Denver for a time working as a Paramedic. Really, truly, a cool dude.
The Brigada Verde group was there as were this other group of people that Sara told me were basically the AmeriCorps of the DR.
These bags are filled with plastic bags, clothing, shoes, parts of tires, medical waste, glass chips, diaper pieces and a lot more that I couldn't even name. It was a great dent, but trash here is a problem that I've mentioned before. Honestly, I don't have a solution, and I am not convinced the way we do it in America is all that great for the environment either, so I won't state too much, but I do feel that I can say, trash here is a problem and it doesn't seem like anyone is even looking for a solution.
After the beach we headed for a Haitian Market. I wanted to find some new running shoes (which turned into a long process, because as some of you remember, I have large feet. It's hard to find my size in the states, so imagine at a random market in the DR that basically resells free things that were sent to them from other countries). Sara and I also both wanted to find ropa for upcoming vacation time in the DR. I found 2 new bathing suits. They were perfect for me and I got a great price because I was buying them at a market in the DR. Overall, the market was a win.
At the same time, the day was hot and full, so we decided to catch a beer before Sara and I hopped back on the hour long guagua back to her site.
Another little date night. Conner made the food stuffs and I sat around talking about whatever. This was burrito night.
This was also identity thief night. Not the best movie, but Sara liked it WAAAY better than Friends With Kids, which I love.
The next day we were going to a Construye Tus Sueños graduation. I should talk about that here, because this is something I want to do at my site. Construye is a competition for jovens age 15-30. Peace Corps Volunteers teach a business class and help the students write a business plan. Then, in October, there is a competition. The top 15 business plans get to present their plan in front of a panel of judges who deicide three winners. The prize is the capital you need to start up your business. It's a really cool program and I am excited about starting it in my site in January. I've been reading the manual in my down time, because I want to be sure I understand the entire thing when the time comes to teach it. I also want to be sure I learn all of the spanish vocabulary I am going to need to teach this class.
Isn't Sara beautiful.
This is the group of students in her community who graduated. The boys took the class, and the women are the people each decided to bring to their graduation.
And a final date night. Sara made something with Curry and it rice that was really delicious and if she weren't still sleeping I'd ask her what the name of it was, but she is still sleeping, so I'm not going to go ask her.
Overall it was a wonderful trip and a nice insight to the dirty south. Veteran volunteers always say to not waste your R&R days and to see as many different places as you can in your two years, and that is my plan. I've been north, east, and now south, but I am still scratching the surface.