Friday, May 31, 2013

Student Loans

Before I came to PCDR I read a blog post written by another Coloradan who was in the DR. (I'll note that it wasn't until last week that I realized she was also from Colorado) I will put the link to her blog here... (

I ran into her in the office the other day and asked her about it again. Well, I think this is the step I am going to take. Instead of deferring my loans, which technically I have already done, I am going to start tracking myself for the PSLF program. Basically people who work for the government or in education/ public service related jobs can have their loans forgiven after about 10 years of full on time payments. Since I don't know what life after Peace Corps will be I will at least begin getting credit on my loans while I wait out the next two years. If, after Peace Corps I don't work for a qualifying employer for 10 years I'll be able to crunch the numbers and save, but on the chance that I do work for a qualifying employer I would regret giving up two years of qualification. 

So, that is what I think I am going to do about my loans. 
I only wrote this because as Erin says in her post (really, just read hers because its better) no one writes about what they do about their loans when they join Peace Corps and PC isn't really in the business of giving advice about finances and what each individual should do. 

Dry toilet seats

Are hard to find here. A lot of people bucket flush and don't dry the seat afterwards. Also, some bathrooms have showers, but no shower heads, so water gets everywhere. Also, and I and some of my PC friends don't understand this one... A lot of people don't use toilet seats. You just sit on the rim. It's weird. As in, current Peace corps volunteers, who are used to American ways, have found that after going a certain amount of time without a toilet seat they'd just as rather not purchase one themselves. I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Ask me again in six months.

Steve Jobs

June 1, 2013

I've read 10 books in 15 days. Today, and last night, I read Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. I dont really know why, but I cried a bit when he stepped down as CEO. Also, how did I not know he was so involved in Pixar and Pixar shorts? That was $3.00 well spent at a GoodWill. I also finished A Thousand Splendid Suns (Sara, I have no idea why it took me so long to finish that one.) it was interesting to read two books in the last two days that had settings in the past two years. I think I may drop both of these books off in the Peace Corps pack shack next time I'm in there. It'll be nice to leave some things rater than be solely a taker.

As I head to my Spanish lesson I am going to pass by the Internet center. Yesterday when I was in their the guy said I would be able to use the wifi. I'm hoping that is still true today and that the connection is good. I may even try face timing some of you people.

I think my communication has been lacking lately. Being as the cell signal in Guelete is zero, a motoconcho ride out of Guelete is 100 pesos, and a walk to the Internet center hasn't been on the top of my priority list. I do promise to be better now that I know where it is and how much it costs.

Also, I'm taking emails still at
You can find my address at the top of this blog. I am sending about 250 pesos worth or had written mail out next time I go into the capital, so be on the look out.

No empty promises though, so I won't promise anything.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


You know how sometimes you live in a foreign country and don't have access to new undergarments on the fly? Generally, this means that when a wire pops out of your bra you are more inclined to sew it yourself than hope for a new one. Well, such a moment happened to me the other day. I was in my room with my dress down like a nursing mother when my doña walked in to give me juice. I shrieked and was a tad uncomfortable, but she just kept walking in. The fact that I had crossed my arms over myself to cover up didn't seem to phase this doña.

Other times, you find yourself living with really old dudes. Sometimes you walk in on them sitting on the toilet. Even while your apologizing, you wonder if there is even a point because he seems to have no clue why you don't simply stay and help him finish.

Another time, you are living with another old dude who recently had a stroke. His daughter comes to tell you he'd like a word with the new family member. As you talk, you are aware that he is naked and his grandson is giving him a foot massage. You will begin to question all thinking; your thinking, their thinking, and what it means to be naked with others.

I will say that it is different in the city. The day before you leave for the last time you walk in and your doña is walking out of the bathroom with her pants to her ankles, full frontal, taking care of some business. She will talk about her verguenza and you will tell her that everybody uses the bathroom. You will try to make her feel as if the nakedness is totally normal.

So... Is it?

Monday, May 27, 2013

My life

May 23, 2013

Where do I want my life to go? Standing on the road in Guelete I ponder this question. I've read two biographies in the past three days and it has lead me to wonder about the kind of person I want to be. One book was about a boy who went into the wild of Alaska, spent a few months just being, then promptly died a painful death right before he meant to leave. The other book was about a housewife with a gun in Alaska making jam and shooting mountain goats on the side. This doesn't lead me to wanting to move to Alaska (Though I would consider it.), but rather leads me to ponder just what do I want?

I know that in the end I want to give more to society than I take. I want to pay my financial debt to society... To the government... To myself.... You know, those pesky student loans, and then give of myself as long as I am able. I have considered things such as Teach for America, Red Cross, over seas mission work, joining the national guard, and nomadically wondering from place to place after natural disasters being of use. I'd like to use my brain and any physical strength I actually have to lift someone else up. I've considered settling down and becoming a parent, but that I've decided probably requires a second half first. I've dreamed of being a foster parent and adopting a child (foreign or American). I've created big dreams for myself, but so much of that depends on just what happens in my life. Right now, I am sitting in my bedroom in the north west part of the Dominican Republic. In theory I will live most of the next two years in this little corner of the world. What happens after isn't necessarily something I have to or should consider, but if you know me, I will forever be thinking of the future while trying to simultaneously live in the present.

Conclusively, I turned 23 last week. The future looks bright. If I play my numbers right I may be able to slash my debts by 30. But what really matters is that I find what matters to me, and go for it.

Give more to the world, than you take from it.

For when you give of yourself, the return is always worth any sacrifice.

I made up this story

One time, a peace corps volunteer was living with a really old lady in the Dominican Republic. It was dark out an the electricity in the house hadn't been working for a few days. The volunteer spent the night playing "Skip-Bo" with the three kids this lady was caring for. Two were he grandsons destined to move to America at the end of the school year and the other was a young girl who ha lost both of her parents on the years preceding.

On this particular night the volunteer went to her room to prepare for bed. She heard whispers and laughter just on the other side of the door. She walked to the kitchen and there, hovering in the corner were the kids and their grandmother. They were chucking and holding a flashlight over the sink.

When the volunteer joined then they laughed some more. The oldest was opening a bottle with the end of a can opener and grandma was holding the light.

When he popped the top the grandma pulled out some cups and asked the volunteer if she wanted some. The confused volunteer asked what was in the bottle thinking it was root beer or club soda. The corners of grandmas lips curled up as she said "Cerveza!" The volunteer couldn't hold in the laughter and everyone else joined in too.

Not wanting malt beer but also not wanting I miss out on the moment the volunteer accepted the glass. The group shared the bottle and headed to bed. When the grandma snuck more dark liquid into the volunteers glass the volunteer snuck the glass to a snickering little girl.

The funny thing is the volunteer had no idea who they were hiding from. The law in the DR isn't like in other places. Kids can walk into colmados and buy beer for their parents all the time. Their is an age limit, but what matter is it. None of the kids have parents currently in the country if they even have parents that aren't this particular doña.

Things like this happen all over the world. Grandmothers just want their gran children to laugh a little and enjoy a little sneaking around. What a fun moment the volunteer will always have.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ella rasgaste mi vestida

Right in front of me...
Because she couldn't figure out how to turn it right side out.

This adds to why I have accepted that I will most likely move out on my own after three months in Guelete and why I will not wear certain outfits until then.

Laundry here is strange to me.

As is how children and animals are treated, but I promise that is a problem for another day.


Did you know the word for cheat in Spanish is "trampa"? I looked it up when I was playing cards. Did you also know that my iPhone changed that word to "tramps" when I typed it in? Did you also know that I would probably use that same word in English for a cheater, but that it would probably not be directed at you young card-playing child but rather directed at a woman with apparently ill-fitting pants. Think about that while I think about how funny I think words are.

Books are funny

"Well, the Methodists believe something stupid or else they'd be Baptists." - Bernese; Between, Georgia

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The language of children

I've been having a hard time wanting to leave my room recently. I won't go into too much detail, but lets just say I have a very over bearing person in my life right now. Because of this, I have more or less been home bound and therefore English bound. I read a lot, and I need to change that. With that in mind, I left my house this morning and walked up the hill to the next casa. I was hoping for a woman I had met last week, but found instead her daughter. The daughter has her hair up in true Dominican style. After awkwardly speaking every Spanish word I know I was asked in for some coffee and a tour. She does have a porky house. I think it is fairly new. Everything looks clean and new. She has cable. I think she is living off of remittences. When I asked about the father of her little four year old niño she explained that he is in Nueva York. Just so we are all aware, to Dominicans, The United States is Nueva York. All Dominicans that move to the states move there and everyone knows someone who is there. Anyway, she has a pretty nice home and the man who picture is in the house is in the states, entonces I'm thinking remittences.

My point. We are watching some kids movie on Cartoon Network and it is in Spanish, but like The Croods, even with my limited Spanish, I'm understanding it all.

Monday, May 20, 2013


20 May 2013
Night time, as in late, as in it might as well be tomorrow.
Okay, we will just call it 21 May 2013 aka: my cousins birthday.

I've begun what I've read about for ages... I call it Peace Corps reading. I read two books yesterday and another one today. I still ha time to study Spanish and go to another town to meet with a friend. I've regained my younger self's reading speed. I actually think I need to slow down the pace, because I am almost out of books and I don't see another trip to Santo Domingo for at least a few weeks. The good news is, I have two years and a room full of books to get through in my spare time. Soon, as in now, my time will run shorter, but I am happy that in the wake of being out of college I have regained my ability to read for pleasure.

All I need now is to start reading in Spanish. Aqua para elefantes is not going as quickly as "Into the Wild" and two of Jodi Picoults books went. Spanish... You are my Everest.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Man, I feel like a woman.

I don't know if I wore high heels "a lot" in America, but here, I know I do not wear them nearly enough. I miss my shoes. When the PCDR packing list said not to bring shoes I promptly ignored that. I know that sometimes I have to get up, put on a pretty dress, and walk around in some heels. I may not even have to leave my house. Sometimes it just feels nice to feel like you look nice. If that means I brought 2 pounds of extra weight that isn't suggested and doesn't make sense then I am okay with that.

All of this comes in light of my most recent event... swearing in as a peace corps volunteer. It was a ceremony completely in Spanish, but hey, I looked nice. I wore jewelry, heels, and a vestida worth the money I spent on it that one time I was in Wisconsin. I took pictures, so those will appear sooner or later, but for now, I slumber knowing I will always be able to say I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, at the very least, for a day.

BTW, Happy Birthday. Last year was a Sh!t storm, so this year has to be better.

Swearing in

Today the Peace Corps staff gave me a number.

Actually they gave me a bunch of numbers, but the only one I cared about was a ranking, out of ten, that determined if I will be sworn in or not. The answer is yes. I "needed" a tinge and I am a 4.5 on the Spanish scale. I guess this means you can throw me in the middle of only spanish speakers and I won't freak out. I probably couldn't successfully explain the difference between ESL and EFL, but I can explain that I am from the United States and like to eat oatmeal.

I've been stressed about passing the test, but I should have known the peace corps wouldn't spend all of your valuable tax dollars getting me here if they weren't going to try their hardest to keep me here and functioning.

After today, I'm on my own. Training is over. I am officially a free bird. I'm free to drink coffee, learn more Spanish, and convince my uncle I'm actually going to do some work here.

I have to commend two fellow volunteers on their Spanish work. They went from a 1 to a 5. They practice non stop and read our Spanish verb books on the regular. I've been reading them too, but not at the rate they are. I hope I gain confidence in the next few months. That is where my real problem lies. I tell myself I don't speak Spanish and voila, I don't. Now, I have to... If I want any success at all I have to pick up the pace.

Okay, I'm going to take a shower, fix my hair, apply makeup, put on high heeled shoes, and become a peace corps volunteer. I'm ready. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time now. The decision was made and I can't back out now.

I miss you all.
(If you're reading this three years from the day it was written, this may not be true any longer, but you understand what I mean here.)

I love you.
I'm 23 tomorrow.
What will my 23rd year look like?

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Is the music they choose to play at this bus station full of children still considered vulgar if most of the children have no idea what the words say?

I would probably only play this possibly American song at the scene of a drug deal. Hash tag: Thank you, America. We are full of class.


It happened again. I expected food to be one temperature and it was another. This morning my host mom offered me cereal. Corn flakes to be exact. Well, she brought out a bowl of milk and a bag of cereal. Usually I like the cereal first, but hey, things are different sometimes. I poured some cereal into the milk, dipped my spoon in, and took a bite.

The milk was hot.

... Really, I rarely know what temperature to expect until the food is literally already in my mouth.

Using my iPhone

My iPhone has been a great help to me. I have invested in a great app for practicing verb conjugation. (Thank you Sara for that one!) it's called Conjuverb. Great app for anyone studying Spanish. I also downloaded a Spanish dictionary and a flash card app. I use my couch to 5K app when I run in the morning and I still use the 100 push up app occasionally. I use my email to periodically send in a blog post, but I can type them here and keep them until I have an Internet connection. Instagram is fun and I still use my calendar to track things. Another girl, Sara, brought an iPad mini and I'm staring to think I want one tambien. It really has been more useful than not. The only thin I would want different is way more space. Since Internet, uploading, and downloading are few and far between megabytes are the real answer.
Below is my home screen. Most of the apps I use frequently are here. I really just wanted anyone with the desire to have a chance to check out the Spanish practice apps.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Funny thing of note

Today I am at a class with my project partner. The woman who came with him to pick me up four days ago is here too.

Funny thing: She is wearing the name tag Peace Corps gave her on introduction day.

I don't know why. It's just a simple paper, handwritten name tag. Everyone in this class knows her. I know she has changed her outfit since then. Does she now wear it everyday? Maybe she is proud of it. I don't really understand, but it is nice to have something families here, no matter how strange.

A man came in with a big name tag shaped like a giant cloud. Why is it trendy to wear old name tags? He is the director of the school. Maybe this is his everyday name tag. Either way, at this small weekend class, why is he wearing a name tag that is literally as wide as his shoulders?

I'm a spectacle

You know how sometimes you can feel it as six Dominicans watch you do you hair. While its happening you probably try to look away but you can still feel their gaze. You then try to be less interesting by finishing quickly. After that, you'll slip your glasses back on and look them in the eye. Then you all laugh because they realize you've caught them all staring.

Yeah... I live in a cage at the zoo.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I will never again complain about finding my way around America. No subway, bus station, airport, boat dock, or train route in America is ever allowed to be considered complicated again. This decision comes from spending a good 45 minutes with my project partner simply trying to know we both understood the route to and from my city and Santo Domingo. It's actually quite simple. It's two guaguas and a motoconcho. The hard part comes in when he was explaining which city, which wasn't on the big map I had, I needed to dismount the guagua in. I was reminded of the time I spent in Europe. The transportation was similar to America in that I could look up a schedule and a price online before I went. Roads had names and trains listed prices. Maps were in foreign languages, but everybody spoke English after they heard me butcher their language just once. Here, I butcher Spanish and they ask me to keep going. It's interesting how easy things seem when I have a semblance of normalcy. Here, nothing is normal and nothing makes sense. Never again may I complain, because at least the information will be in English.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

You've Got a Live One!

Picture this. It's the day we are all going to meet our project partners. I see a guy dressed to impress. He's older with a cool haircut. Tambien, he has a sweet mustache. I look to my new friends and say, "Look at him. I want him to be my project partner." Lobo said something about not being able to handle all of that professionalism. I remember thinking and then saying he was correct. He was wearing a suit and looked ready for business. I'm not even ready to use the word business.

Later I was told my project partners had arrived. Wouldn't you know it... There he was. He was suited up and ready for me to get started. Tambien, he talks... A LOT! He talks more than me. He said a bunch of stuff I didn't understand that I later learned was his plan for me to meet EVERYBODY in the world. Well, everybody in Gaulete.

As Sasha said, "You've got a live one." All the volunteers who speak fluent Spanish told me to watch out. Also, I was told I may need to set some boundaries...

It's my first full day here. I spent the morning learning that the community wants me here even though I speak almost no Spanish. They all plan to teach me. My project partner is VERY involved, but I like it. He says I have 50% of my time with him and his association and 50% with the other. He is a hand holder, but for now it works. He introduces me and the plan. I can understand that he knows the first few months are for diagnostics.

Also, I'm pretty sure he is already planning my puppy. I said I wanted one and he was about to get me one. I had to put that off. This is not the time. He put my birthday in his date planner and told everybody it was coming up. He is disappointed that I won't be here for it. I'll be in Santo Domingo.

I don't have cell service unless I walk up the hill, but it's okay. My phone doesn't usually ring anyway, and text messages will come in as they will. I'm going to have to seek out the person in the community with wifi though.

I'm really far away from most I my close peace corps people, but it turns out that doesn't matter. I foresee being really happy here. I can't wait for you to visit!!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

My site!

For some of you, you will have heard my stories or read my stories before you read this blog. This will be my first introduction to my site. Others will be experiencing this with me as I go and will hear it along with me. The stories will evolve from here. Do you think I'll stay at this site for the entire two years? Will I extend? Will something happen and I have a site change? Will some of you realize that you could spend the money on a plane ticket and come visit me at this site sometime after the next three months? Where am I going and what will this place bring to me?

Let us get this party started!

Hear it is. I don't want to write, so here's a picture and a name.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


So, not so far from my casa in Santo Domingo there is a five story mall. This mall is attached to a JUMBO (think Super Target) and contains a movie theatre. I went to this location today with Lobo, "Corney", and Corinna. I ate a McFlurry. I am currently sitting in "Los Croods" in 3-D. Yes, before I go to a campo or batey for the next two years, I wanted to pretend I was in anywhere, USA.

... That happened.

Update, post movie:

If you are going to see a movie in a language you don't speak very well, pick a movie meant for people's of your language level. AKA I saw a movie meant for children and I speak as many palabras as a child could. Entonces, Los Croods was wonderful.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wonderful words

"Peace Corps runs on the fuel of people who care." My PCVL said that tonight.

It's not April

So, the other day I wrote that tomorrow was April. That's wrong. "Tomorrow" was May. I have somehow lost an entire month in this country training. Where has the time gone? What are all of you people in the states up to? Have any of you lost this much time? I am going to be 23 years old in 13 days. I am going to be living in my new community in 13 days. I am officially going to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in 13 days. In case it isn't clear. I am less than two weeks away from living a completely different life from this life that is already completely different from my real life. Every day I think of new ideas for sharing all of these new experiences. I want to share what I've already learned even though I have so much more to learn.

Tomorrow, when we leave CBT and head back to Santo Domingo we are in for the ride of a lifetime. From then on we will receive a packet of information about our new home, meet our project partner blind date style, and then head off on public transportation with all of our crap arranged marriage style.

I watched that movie Marie Antoinette. This is like that.