Friday, August 30, 2013

Again, two years girl

28 August 2013

It started with a broken spray bottle I use to put water in my hair. The sprayer doesn't really work and I had considered getting a new one.

Then the cleaning girl in my house asked if she could have it in two years when I leave.

Again, I'm still here. It will likely be broken by then.

As I brought in all the new things for my casa she asked if I was going to sell it to her when I left.

Okay... We can talk about that in 18 months.

Tonight, we were reading my favorite kids book in Spanish that I got here. She wanted to know if I would give it to her when I left in two years.

What is this? I really want to take that book home with me. The spray bottle will be on a last leg if not dead, and my estufa, well, I can probably sell that one to you.

I should keep a list of the things she wants. I'll put it here for safe keeping.

1. Bike
2. Broken spray bottle with the fish on it
3. Stove top
4. Gas tank
5. Mattress, box spring, and cart
6. Children's book
7. Pots, pans, plates, etc.
8. Combs

Maybe she thinks I'm going to drop everything I obtain here and run away with my computer and iProducts (she knows enough not to ask for them). Actually, she did mention that she basically thought I'd take just my computer and go.

Who knows, maybe I will grab the goods and run when this is all over. The clothing I wear is quickly becoming a collection of things from the free box and will likely find a home there again. The pants I'm wearing could have been from Peace Corps DR 1996. At least the underwater I brought with me.

I'll let you know what becomes of my stuff. Who knows. Maybe I'll be one of those volunteers whose house burns down right before COS making packing to go home that much easier.

(Side note: I'm putting mini twists in my hair in the morning. We will see how my first attempt at this style goes.)

Dar en

30 August 2013

Today I learned that to "dar en" means to hit. I learned this when the two year old boy in my house grabbed my glasses off my face and his mother told me to hit him in the mouth. I told her no and the little boy did it again. She told me to hit him in the mouth again and I said I couldn't. When she asked why I said it was cruel. He grabbed the glasses again and threw them, so she really wanted me to hit him in the face (and to say that God didn't like what the boy was doing), but I scooped him into my lap for a chat. I kept thinking, "kid, can't you make this a little easier on me. I'm trying to show your mom that we don't have to injure you every time your little two-year-old curious mind touches something interesting." I looked him straight in the face and told him it was not good to take my glasses. I set him back down and told him to go pick them up. Success! The little boy ran over and picked up the glasses from where he threw them and brought them to me. I'm sure he will do something like this again. He is only two. But I'm also sure I didn't need to smack him in the face.

Now, I'm not the best parent in the world. Mostly because, I'm not a parent. I just happen to think that children aren't born knowing what is right and what is wrong in society. We have a few years when their brains are still developing to teach them the consequences, good and bad, or particular actions. We can either teach them with grace and understanding, or we can teach them that discovery and doing something you didn't even know was wrong could land you in a pile of pain crying on the ground and the only person around to comfort that pain will be the one who inflicted it.

You know, they don't warn you about what you are going to take away from Peace Corps, just that it'll be worth it. I'm taking away a lot more than I ever imagined and becoming very firm in certain beliefs. That is something I never thought would happen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My friends

Part of being in the Peace Corps is creating wonderful relationships with other Peace Corps Volunteers. This weekend I have had the pleasure of meeting up with many of those friends. I was missing one very important Julianna, but for the most part, the ones who have walked along side me through this Peace Corps life were in the capital and in my life this weekend.

It started when the first of my friends had a visitor from AMERICA then it ended with the first of my friends to go to AMERICA!

Courtney's wonderful sister Jordan was in town and their adorable mother paid for us to sleep in a suite for two nights. It was a lot of fun and a generally enjoyable experience. I liked that so many people came because it took the pressure off of me when it came time to go out waaaay past my bedtime. We ate at nice restaurants. I had a "Sex on the Beach", and I am pretty sure that was the first time I tried that little concoction. We were in the Zona Colonial, which means we were outside in the Dominican Republic which means it was really loud, but I was still able to (sort of) find a quiet place to take a phone call that I've been waiting for from AMERICA! (Really, I miss you. If i haven't said it enough.)

Sara was there as well. She is the adorable little thing at the top of my blog in the cute (pink, salmon, red, orange) dress. She had her reasons for wanting to stay behind the first night, so I had a good excuse not to go out. The boys (John, the boy not wearing sunglasses at the top of this blog), and James (Not pictured, but wonderful friend who was in my original Spanish class) went out with the sisters and they all had a great time. I was able to pretend I was there when they told the stories later and I had a good night with Sara back at the hotel, falling asleep to a movie. One of my favorite pass times.

The next day I hit the beach with Jordan and Courtney. I should remember the name of the beach, because it had a name and people know beaches by names, but I don't care about the beach so I don't remember the name. It was Juan D-something, and it was in Santo Domingo, but I don't even care enough to look it up. The beach is the beach is the beach, but this beach did have ice cream sundaes.

That night we walked looking for a place to stay and ran into a sports bar a la AMERICA and ran into our boss. I split a burger and wings with John. Shared un chin de cerveza with my friends and was able to hit up the hotel with John while everybody else went out. Score 2 for Amanda. Nice bed. Air conditioning. Two people who love the internet playing on their phones and only talking when something really good happens.

The next day was possibly even better. Well, equally good. I made my way a little away from the capitol and spent time with my good friend Lobo who had just come back from AMERICA. I was able to hear about the wonderland and pick up my mud wash. It came at the perfect time, because I used the last of mine as I left the campo in hopes that the order made it to New York. I have to say thank you to my mom for order and paying for mud to be sent to Lobo and to Lobo, thank you for taking my letter and not throwing out my mud.

We were able to chat and catch up and I met his host family and we watched the Simpsons in Spanish and we talked about grammar and we (again) got lost on a guagua and I beat him at Blokus and he beat me at Blokus and I made pancakes and I burned coffee and he watched coffee burn and I was jealous of his apartment and we had a great time catching up. When I left i was able to get a helmet and catch a ride out of his site after standing in the sun for a million years.

I met up with John for a final shebang (Read: trip to the chemical store) and I walked to Caribe tours for a walk back into 100% Peace Corps life.

(Sort of: I went to Santiago next, which is how i have internet, so it's not really the campo, but I did speak Spanish and buy things for my apartment. That's something.)

I just have to say, at the end of the day, I appreciate the friends Peace Corps has given me more than I ever thought I would need to.


Sometimes you plan on going away from your site for 3 days.
At times, that three day trip will turn into what feels like a six day adventure.
You tried to pack light (bad idea).
You wound up cleaning up floating poop from an overflowing toilet which took away some of your clothing.
You forgot that when you live on an island you have to change your clothing more than once a day.
Some of the clothing you brought was to go out and party in the Colonial zone, and not to lounge around in.
You're sick.
And the other thing.
It's late.
You're sweating.
The ibuprofen is running low.

That is all.


That's how I say "okay" in Spanish.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Juan Dolio

Sometimes BeachCorps is a thing, and sometimes I embrace it. 

I know. The girls are just hanging out in this picture. It's never on purpose, but whatever, embrace reality. 

Courtney's adorable sister came to visit. 
They are from Utah. 
No, they are not mormons.
Well, okay, technically they are mormons, but that's similar to being Catholic. 

Should guys pay and why?

That was the topic of conversation in my hotel room tonight. What do you guys think?

When should who pay and why?

(Maybe don't answer... This could get controversial...)

Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm still here...

So in going to buy the things I need for my house soon and I want to point out that a girl at my house has already asked me of he can have it when I leave... In two years.

She also asked me today if she can have my water bottle when I leave... In two years.

She asked me if she could have my bike last week.

I didn't realize someone was already counting down the days until I leave so thy could have the things I don't even have yet.

Also, I wish there was a GoodWill here. I furnished a cute apartment on like $100 exactly one year ago and I'm about to do the exact same thing. Should I be feeling some kind of nostalgia right now?

both apartments were studios.
Both need a bed.
Both had yellow paint.
Both make me feel all cozy.
Both will have little refrigerators.

My life here is going to be a lot like my life in America, but I sleep in here more often.


This is my life.

La capital

Well, my doña doesn't trust me to wait for the guagua to the capital after what happened the first time. Now she sleeps in the room directly next to mine and wakes up with me to be sure I don't sleep in. Ha ha.

It's kind of cute though. We drink tea together at 4 a.m.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What will matter when I'm gone

I've spent some time this week thinking about my service. I guess that is normal since I just finished my 3 month diagnostic phase and my 3 month IST wherein I am meant to plan my entire first year of service.

I've decided that what I do with adults won't do much. Most of the women I work with are over 80 years old or near to it and stuck in their ways. I'm all for it. They seem happier than a lot of the people I know back home, and if thinking that opening the fridge when it's hot out will make your face get stuck in a weird look is part of that happiness, then they just won't open the fridge very much.

Then I think about kids here, and what I could maybe do for them.

I think a lot about the little girl in my house. I was helping her with her homework last night. The question was, "What country do you live in?" She had no idea. Neither did the Don at my house, but he had a stroke in May, so that's a different story. I took her to the map I have of her country in my room and we went over cities, municipals, provinces, and countries for as long as I could keep her away from the people calling her to wash dishes. (I mean, the kid had 4 questions for homework that all only required two words, so why can't you give her a second to finish?). I think about the lady in my house who is in love with reading my new spanish children's book. She wants to finish high school. All I can do is encourage her to keep going and ask leading questions. I think about the girl who can't read and keeps skipping school. I make deals with her that if I do her hair she has to go to school the next day.

I guess what it comes down to is the bottom up approach Peace Corps has. What I really think this country needs is a top-down refinancing of their entire school system, but what I can give them is a Peace Corps Volunteer who can only speak Spanish on good days and knows the difference between a country and a state. What good is that going to really do for anybody?

With that in mind, my service is going to be 100% relationship based. I'm going to impact in a real way max, 5 people. I think that is shooting high. One hundred or so people may remember me in 10 years, and all of Guelete will remember my name, but I have a new goal of impacting for the better 5 people and I think 3 of them should be children.

I know my service will have gain, but for now all I can see is what's in it for me. I am surrounded by people to practice the skill I want to leave with (Spanish) and unlimited time in which to study that skill. I will learn a lot about business and have time to study those skills. I will leave understanding myself and my own country a little better. I have developed time for exercise and will, in theory leave with a developed habit. So, my service will be great for me, but the hard part may end up being passing it on.

So, would you ever join the Peace Corps?

What circumstances would you need in your life to join or want to join?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New in Chickens

A. I was recently informed that my Don (the really old guy) has given me Trevor. I don't know how truthful that is, but multiple people have said it which means I may now be the "owner" of a big giant mean rooster whom I love.

B. I think the new cleaning lady detests chickens and really birds of all kinds. When she sees one on the patio she gets a wild look in her eyes, grabs the closest object she can find and sneaks toward the bird to throw it at it. When she can't find an object she makes this rage type sound and chases the bird. It's actually kind of exciting when it happens and I tend to laugh at her and she winds up laughing with me.

C. One of the guineas died. I don't know how, but it wasn't there one day and I asked about it and they told me it died. Those were my favorite birds on the land save for Trevor. Estoy triste.

D. Sometimes I can look at a chicken and think it looks completely normal. Other times I look at a chicken and think "Now, where the heck are his arms?" Now, I am fully aware that the wings are the arms of the chicken, but when these birds aren't frozen and featherless their arms are hard to see and sometimes they look like they are running around missing two important body parts.

E. Do all chickens crow? I mean, I've never seen Trevor crow. In fact I've never seen one of the really big fat roosters crow, but those little skinny ones they use in the chicken fights, those are the ones I've seen and heard at all hours of the day and night.

Monday, August 19, 2013


It's the first day of school here on the sun and I told the little girl in my house I wanted to walk to school with her. This is partly because I'm going to walk to my new house after and since it's a long walk I decided together was better than alone.

I asked her what time she wanted I leave. She said, "doce cincuenta nueve". As in 12:59 p.m.

Why so specific...? Why not just say 1:00?

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I had a discussion last night with some Dominican-American kids. Their parents are from here, but they are full blooded Americans. The 10 year old and I had a long discussion about why iPads are great and how I still really want one. It was really interesting how upset she was about her Dad having her iPad since before Christmas, but he held out until her birthday in February to give it to her. The 15 year old and I talked about addiction to Internet and apple products.

It was also interesting how against latrines these girls were. Their family is from here, but they told me they refuse to use them. They really are a product of the country I love and miss so much. I don't have a problem with latrines. Yes, I am stoked that my people are building a bathroom with a real toilet in the apartment I'm renting, but I wouldn't be mad about a latrine. I think we've learned I just want access to making my bath water warm.

Another thing that surprised me was just how happy these girls were to be able to speak English with me. They said it was more comfortable for them. I asked them if they speak English at home and they said yes. That was strange because their parents are from here.

I am learning a lot about the assumptions I had with life. I am also wondering how easy it will be to raise kids who are super comfortable with both languages (granted I a. Get the language down myself and b. have kids one day).

Also, I wrote this at the Internet center where the wifi connection has been bad for about a month and its not important enough to anybody to fix it because I am the only person using my wifi device with any level of consistency. I'm going to look into other Internet options. I may even become a security risk and have my iPhone hooked up to an ISP.

I am a product of my generation and I have given up feeling guilty about my desire to have rapid Internet 24/7... The world would be a better place I everyone had that (along with knowledge of use), of this I am almost certain.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


One of the two phones I have is a flota phone which has service with Claro. Peace Corps has a network phone that gives me a certain number of minutes to call other people on the network. If I go over I have to pay out of my paycheck per minute. Because I don't have service in my site with the flota phone Peace Corps bought me a second phone with the company Orange. They only pay for service on one, so I chose to keep the flota, but I put minutes on the Orange phone.

Veteran volunteers here have warned about flota overages. Abusing the flota appears to be a pass time of PCDR volunteers. I didn't think that'd be me, but I am quickly learning otherwise. When I didn't have service it was easy to not call anybody.

I have a list of people I used to call and now that they can shoot me a text on the Orange phone that tells me to climb the hill where I get Claro service they can call me too. I was chatting it up with a friend tonight and when I realized we had used 106 of my flota minutes complaining and laughing and telling stories I had him call me back and we used his minutes. When I called a different friend on my Orange phone and had to use minutes that were prepaid it was obvious how much we talk because she and I were cut off by the phone company. Stupid phone. Then hers wouldn't let her call me back and the banca to recarga mine was far away.

Basically, people who don't talk forever on the phone back home will drink up flota minutes here. The opportunity to talk to someone who knows what it means to talk about bargaining with motoconcho drivers to go buscar un cosco is precious here.

Talk to me about:

Doña boobs
Motoconcho helmet issues
Not speaking Spanish
Peace Corps
Lack of dinero
How great America is
The next time I do peace corps
Child abuse
Chisme again

... And I know you are probably a fellow volunteer.

Damé algo.

Something I've been warned of during training is the "give me money" feel I will find all over this country.

It's already started. The women at the little bank in trying to work with have already asked me to write a grant or a loan for them to "get money from Peace Corps" to finish their bank. That's not how this works and that's not how I want this to work.

I have them a Peace Corps lie. I told them I couldn't write grants right away and that first we should work to earn the money ourselves. This is somewhat true. If I wanted to write a grant at this point I can, but I don't think I want to write a grant at all.

I don't even know why I would for this group right now. I can't exactly tell what their issues are, but every meeting is full of anger. The women are gossiping about each other and also finding stupid reasons to fight. They fight about rules and regulations, but they don't even have written rules and regulations. Also, the president keeps trying to throw me under the bus for something I don't even understand... I'm not trying to be a person to drop issues on this early. "The Volunteer even agreed with me!"

Wait, when did I understand enough Spanish to agree with you about what the rules of your association should be.

Either way, I'm going to take a stab at a Peace Corps initiative with these ladies called "Somos Mujeres!" And if it works out they will have to take their time moving toward working together. Hopefully, I don't become a matter of conflict in my community before then.

Another house

In walks my doña. She asks me if I want to "go for a walk". I know what her ploy is. She wants me to rent a little casa down the street from her so she can have control. She told me she wanted me close so she could protect me, but of what I've seen so far, my doña is a plotter.

So off we go to take a "walk". A thing we never do unless we are heading to a meeting and in a direction we have literally never gone. My doña actually grabbed my arm when I looked at her confused about this "walk" and tried to pull me to the street. Okay, I'll go, but I'm on to you.

When we made it to the little casa she walked past it and turned around about 20 feet away. Then, as we pass the house again she acted all surprised. "Oh! It's that little house I was telling you about. Lets go inside and look at it!"

Okay doña. Like I don't know your plot.

I have to admit, the house is great. It comes furnished and has a stove. It would suck kind of to have a latrine, but the rent would be RD$1000 (US$25) a month. Literally 1/6 of what I pay now, but I have to keep in mind that I would be buying my own food and crap.

The bad thing is that this house is even farther away from the area I want to live in than my current situation. Yesterday when I spent most of the day in the good area, then walked back home, I felt the air change. The mood is just so different by my house. There is no music, the people are older, and I can't not think about abuse and plotting as I get toward my house. Everything surrounding this deal feels like a ploy to control my life.

I think my new plot will be as such. If tomorrow, when I go check out the place I want to live, if I can negotiate the price and all I that I may try to rent the bed, stove, tables, and chairs from the other lady for 1/2 the rent. The house is just sitting on her property, so maybe her furniture can sit two miles down the road for two years... Maybe.

I just can't live so far away from the one adult female who always makes me happier when I see her.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I live in BFE

Okay, I can't decide if its an "N" or an "E", but whatever. I live super far into nothingness. I was talking to other volunteers and decided my site was super far away from everything. To get to my site, at the very least, from the capital, it costs RD$600. Just to get out of my site to the road that goes to actual places cost RD$150. Most other volunteers that have a moto ride have a RD$50 or RD$75 max. Then it's at least a RD$150 to anywhere worth talking about.

It's okay. I, sometimes, like my site and I really like the straight from my door to the door of the Peace Corps office Guagua my campo has.

Come visit.

Size matters

I don't know what's up with these Dominicans who try to give me clothes. Either I look way smaller than I am or they are being super complimentary.

First, for those of you who don't know me, Beyonce and I are twins.

Joke. I look like a person and I've been told, that my chest is on the larger side. I'm not sure I agree, but I guess the letters don't lie.

Well, in walks my cleaning lady with this bra. Easily a size 1/2 A cup. Home girl looks at me and asks, "Is this yours?" And she was serious. I was thinking... "You think I could wear that training bra?" I mean come on. Even I, a person who has no concept of her chest size (according to many a Peace Corps friend) can tell that the string bikini bra would do absolutely nothing for me.

In walks my 80 year old, short, tiny little Doña. I gave her back one of her shirts that wound up with my laundry. She proceeds to try to give it to me. I told her that she was mas pequeña de mi, pero ella wanted me to put it on anyhow. So here I go attempting to wear this tiny little shirt to prove to my doña that we aren't twins. She believes me with the first shirt, but drags me to her closet and proceeds to put all these shirts on me looking for one that would fit.

I'm thinking,"Doña, I don't have body issues now, but if this continues I'm going to..."

Home girl finds a button up shirt and proceeds to button it over my chest. I will also say that she grabbed the girls and pushed them together. If this were America, that would feel like sexual assault or the beginning of a good time. Here, it's just a night with the doña.

So the buttons are pulling at the chest, because that's the kind of relationship I have with the button ups. (Really, remember apple bottom jeans. Can we make those in shirt form? My self esteem would LOVE it, and my business attire would look a lot better and have less of a street walker feel.) My doña tells me it looks perfect. I grab the 2 inch gap and ask her what I should do about that? She says it looks really good...

Doña, really?

I unbuttoned the top button. You know the one attempting to cover the chest, and pulled the look any lady with big girls falls back on with the button up.

Remind me I want to find a tailor when I get home, or a plastic surgeon.

Let me know. What kind of relationship does your doña have with your chest?

Also, how big is too big, how small is too small? (With anything, coins, cars, chest, checkers, cakes, cupcakes, and any other C related words.)

I think I found my house.

Update: be sure to read to the update. It's funny-ish.

I walked the road today and asked every woman who didn't look scary if she knew of a house I could rent. I decided to stay away from men. Men in this country are too much work to figure out.

I made it about an hour in the sun to a friends house and dropped into a chair. She said I could live with her and as much fun as that would maybe be, I'd feel better if I had my own space to lock up. I've learned that things here aren't always as they appear. So I went forward.

I went to the house of another woman I know. She had a space, but she is going to use it as for an Internet business (which I fully support!), and the other houses were falling apart and to be blunt, way to close to my project partner for my comfort. This woman kept insisting that he should be there helping me find a house. In all honesty, he'd probably be great at finding me a house, but I want him involved in my personal life as little as possible and finding me a house and knowing the ins and outs of my entire transaction feels like a security threat to my sanity.

She and another woman discussed for a long time other places I could live and people I could live with, but I gave up and turned around.

I saw my original friend sitting near her house chatting with a man. I think he is her husband. I mentioned my house hunt again. I find people don't mention this to other people, but if I mention it they get to talking and things maybe happen.

Well the husband suggested this would be store located two spots down from their house and directly next to a funeria. I checked it out. It's all secure and made of cement and cute. It doesn't have a bathroom, but part of the deal is the dude will probably build me a bathroom. So we have it. Friday I am going to chat with the owner and try to work out a deal. I'll get to actually look at the inside and really consider the option. Homeboy needs to build me a bathroom and hopefully pull up some form of running water (fingers crossed) and I may work out a deal for the casa.

After this morning (my doña went off on the little girl and hit her and told her basically that she was worthless crap and I think it's because she and I were up during the rainstorm laughing and having a good time), I have to move out.

(The little girl walked past me and looked at me, but didn't say hi, we just waved, and my doña crabbed her head and turned her toward me and told her to "saludar Amanda!" I just can't live with this any longer or I will hate Dominicans due to a semi-isolated situation.)

I already feel better just being in this part of town with different people. I haven't found the spot where I can use my flota phone and call all of my peace corps friends, but I will and it will be great and I'll use up the flota and get to know Dominicans and be happy all the time... Except when I'm not.

So I'm eating lunch with my friend near the house I want to get. My project partner creeps up like a creeper because his day isn't complete if he isn't creeping. He chats with other people, says he has somewhere important to be and can't stay so he leaves.

Not 10 minutes later he is back. He wants to talk to me. Says he heard I was looking for a house. He wanted to tell me about a house he knew of. My friend asked him about the house he said he had. It is apparently big with three bedrooms, but my friend asks him about how it's so not secure, clean, or close to any people. His response is that it's basically good because its super close to his house... No sir. Bye. She tells him I have a house and he leaves. As he is walking away my friend looks to her daughter and says "El loco viejo!"

Really?! I confirm. "Did you just say he was a crazy old man?!"

"Yes. Yes I did!"

Ha. Okay. So it's not just me who thinks he is crazy. One of his people, his friend in confianza thinks so too. I feel validated.


I don't know what I said, but the president of the little women's bank told a very angry woman that I agreed with everything she said yesterday and now the angry woman is even angrier.

I'm really not convinced of the leadership in this group, but I'm going to try my best to make it work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I need to get more songs on Spanish. Last night the little girl and I laid down on the tile in the kitchen and listened to my two songs in Spanish over and over against during the rain storm.

Yes, I did throw in English songs every now and then (Pittbull: Give me Everything), but she only liked the ones she had heard before (Pittbull: Give me Everything) and I didn't have the heart to force her to listen to Lana Del Rey, so we stuck with the only one she knew (Pittbull: Give me Everything).

I've decided she is the reason I have to deal with a creepy project partner who is 50, has almost no teeth, and hits on everyone like a creeper (Except me. With the exception of telling me I could live in his house for free, adding "my baby" onto the only English phrases he knows even though I told him it was creeper, and watching me do everything from eating to fixing my hair, he tends to not seem to be hitting on me.)

If I have to see him once a month at a meeting, every time he makes it his job to come to my host family's house, in the street, and hear his name brought up every day of my life for the next two years, I'm going to make up for it by having fun with and making the life better of the little girl ("worker") at my house. I buy her soda and let her play with my games and read my books. When I leave, I want her reading level to be brought up. That's a fair trade for my site I guess. (Until he crosses my final line that is. If that happens, site change here I come. Really dude, you are going to lose a dedicated worker if you continue to be creepy. Promise. ¡Se fue la Amanda!)


There is some plotting going on within the group of women I am working with. It has to do with me and some women trying to plot that I am going to work with them and no one else. I need to work to make sure that doesn't happen, because it would not look good for me or Peace Corps if that were true.

They are also helping me find a house, but that too seems to be turning into a plot to get me at their houses.

Tomorrow I think I am going to head out on foot early and simply ask about every empty house I find. If these people are going to waste time plotting to get me in their backyards literally instead of finding a good house that is close they are going to lose me... Distance wise.

I'm trying to stay a little close though, because I have a feeling the one thing I will care about at the end of my service is my relationship with this little girl. She just lit a lamp for me even though the light of this phone is bright enough for us to sit and listen to the rain with.

She and I are going to sing badly in Spanish now.


I went looking for a house today and I didn't find one.

I was told I should be at a meeting I'd never heard of.

I was used as a plotting device for a group of gossipy women.

I was told my job was to find money to give to some women.

I was told the puppy someone was going to give me died.

All of that, and at the end of the day I feel super successful because when the little girl in my house asked to play cards I said we didn't have enough light, but she accepted a reading circle. I was even more excited when a trabajadora and her little son joined in. We are currently passing the book between the three of us reading stories aloud! I don't understand all of the words, but who cares. I was able to help a little girl feel special and practice reading at the same time.

Peace Corps is worth it. I just have to remind myself of moments like this!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I'm heading back to my site today. Traveling in cities I've never been to. I will be alone, and I don't speak Spanish.

That's okay. I'll be alright!
(I'm saying that to convince myself I'm not scared, because I am, a little, or a lot. I haven't really decided.)

I'll let you know how my first real public transportation trip alone goes.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friends and family

I updated the friends and family section of my blog. If you are looking at this blog on a non-mobile site and are at a ll interested in that... you can read the updated information. There you go. I miss you friends and family.

Right now i am sitting in a PCV circle, on the internet, while PCV's sing with a guitar and eat great food and drink wine at an Eco-lodge. Let the jealousy begin.

This is where I am Cool Eco Lodge.

Help me have a Thanksgiving. (In which Amanda begs for money, a little... but not really.)

Thanksgiving is expensive when you are far away from America and your entire income is $300 a month, max, so we get around that by begging our family for money.  

I wasn't sure about asking specific people for cash for me to eat a turkey, but I wanted to let people know that this was an option, so I decided the best way to handle it would be to let you know that this is something that exists, and if you want to be involved you can. If you don't, I won't be any the wiser. 

It's basically a bunch of homesick American peace corps volunteers begging for money to afford pumpkin pie and a time to gather with other Americans and be thankful for our lives. Some will be all sad if they had to sit at their site and think about their families in the states, so we gather together instead. 

I've been told there is a way to pay directly to my ticket for Thanksgiving, but I don't know how that works. I will put the link at the bottom of the letter, and if you want to donate to PCDR Thanksgiving, feel free. If you want to avoid this post, that is all it is about. 

(Okay, I lied. The link is right there. I decided someone may have just decided they want to donate and not read an entire letter, so okay, that is also now an option.) 

From PCDR to you, my loving family and friends, 

Everyone can agree that Thanksgiving is a particularly special time of the year. It’s when you get together with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company and reflect on everything you are thankful for.  Here in the Dominican Republic, Peace Corps Volunteers in particular have a lot to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is one of Peace Corps Dominican Republic’s greatest traditions and this year we are hoping to make it better than ever. It is really the only event of the year when we can all come together from around the country as a big family. Over 200 Dominicans, Volunteers, and Staff are expected to celebrate this holiday and we want to ensure everyone can spend time celebrating with their Peace Corps family without worrying about cutting corners or sacrificing on essential Thanksgiving traditions due to lack of funding.

Here in the DR, Thanksgiving starts bright and early with a 5k Turkey Trot and a morning filled with football, basketball, and other sports. The hotel where we celebrate has a pool where Volunteers can work up an appetite worthy of Thanksgiving before the big meal. Dinner includes all the classics – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and desserts galore. Baking teams tasked with creating all the traditional desserts stay with host families in the capital before the big day turning out enough Pecan, Pumpkin, and Apple pies to satisfy everyone. After gorging on all the tastes of America, Volunteers participate in the famous talent show and the day culminates with an all-night dance party.

The truth is that putting on this event is not cheap and the event is entirely volunteer supported. We do not receive any funding from PCDR. Volunteers pay nearly 10% of their always thinly stretched monthly living allowance for a ticket.  On top of the ticket cost, volunteers also pay for their transportation, lodging, and food (besides Thanksgiving dinner!). As with everywhere, prices have gone up and we are trying our hardest to keep our ticket prices the same. This year we’re turning to loved ones and family to ask for your support. Donations as small as $15 or $20 can make a big impact on our budget !

Thanks to friends and family who donated to Thanksgiving 2012, we were able to provide the following services to volunteers:
Shuttle bus from sports events to the hotel where Thanksgiving dinner was served, allowing volunteers to enjoy the entire day’s events
Our favorite desserts! Including brownies and 3 kinds of pie - pumpkin, pecan and apple :) 
Extra transportation costs for our dedicated baking teams

 Planning such a large-scale event like this begins months before November 28th and includes baking and cooking teams, sports organizers, talent show hosts, ticket sellers, and many more PCVs who volunteer their time before the event to make it great – but we need your help! Consider donating what you can to help ensure that your Peace Corps Volunteer gets to really enjoy one of our best American traditions.

The Thanksgiving Executive Committee 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013


It's funny when I think about this weekend and different American cultures I have been a part of.

Last night my CED group was in a room during our 3 month IST and we were at the relax party time of the training. We sat around and played To Tell The Truth and stayed up really late talking. When we left I looked around and there were wrappers from the snacks we'd had all day and paper from the materials we had used during training and the room was just a little bit untidy. I looked around and thought before we left, "Oh, we should pick this trash up."

When I realized we didn't really do that. As a whole as a group I got to thinking about my past culture where I spent a lot of time with my Campus Crusade and Crossings and Wired River of Life College group friends. So often when we left a room (The youth room, a room at the Omni during the Passion Conference, or the Worship center at Cedarmore as examples.) someone would say, "Maybe we should pick up this room." We pushed in chairs and picked up trash and generally clean swept multiple rooms before we left them.

Now, I'm not necessarily trying to say that my CED friends should have cleaned this room. A. We are coming back today for more training. And B. It's a hotel meeting room that has a cleaning crew to clean the basic messes after a group uses a room for training. (I'm saying, if someone in my CED group had for example spilled the entire bucket of tea on the floor we would have laughed at them and then took the steps to have that cleaned up, not said "Oh, there's a cleaning crew, they'll get to this when we leave.)

People in my CED group do clean up their messes, I'm simply talking about the general clutter that comes from having 20 or so people gather in one space to do trainings.

So, what does all of this mean? Nothing really, except that I am realizing again how different culture can be even within the confines of one shared similar culture.

When my "church friends" we have a culture I didn't realize of as a group tidying up a room (even when a cleaning person is coming in after we leave) that I didn't realize wasn't something every American is programmed to think about and specifically didn't realize I was programmed to think about until I found myself thinking about it constantly.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I'm really struggling with a "work" relationship. I say "work", because I am at work 24/7 so it's my personal life too. At the IST my PP and I have obvious communication issues. I am going to work on finding a way to communicate with him better. I'm not going to get into specifics right now, because I'm still frustrated and that will just breed anger, but I'm going to have to do something. I can't live in anger and frustration for two years. I'd go crazy and turn bitter and become someone I don't think I would recognize.

I'll update you on this issue in the future. It's a big deal, so I won't forget.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Change in perspective

I had to laugh today when I remembered that the month before I left I had a slight issue with double buckling two kids in the back seat of a car, but just two days ago I threw 8 kids under 10 in the back of a pickup with no thought whatsoever.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Computers and internet

I had my computer out today and the group of people at my house was almost entirely new. Entonces, they didn't understand the sad skills my computer was lacking. People kept asking me if I had Internet and if I could look up people on Facebook for them. 

I think they didn't believe me when I said that I did not have Internet because it was like they kept sending different people to ask just to see if I were lying. 

I had my computer out because tomorrow I have to get up in front of a mixed crowd of Dominicans and Americans and give a presentation in Spanish over the information I have gathered over the past three months. (Here, again, I admit that I miss the English language). 

I tried to explain again that if I went down to the Internet cafe, and they had luz, and they had cable, I would then maybe be able to have Internet. It is a maybe because sometimes the router isn't working and the boy behind the counter doesn't really feel like resetting it for the American. 

It's like talking to someone of the wrong generation in the states. It's fine, some people just don't understand how the Internet works. "You have a computer. Why isn't the Internet working?" Older adult, I agree with you. As soon as my computer was open I too wish it were instantly connected to Internet, but unfortunately... That's not how the World Wide Web works just yet. 

I will also point out that people here don't always understand that I can't hear them when my headphones are on. They go on and on with conversations until I notice they are talking and ask them to start over. It's worse with kids. They've likely never used headphones and don't understand the strange new head accessory I am using so I grant grace there, but really, quit asking about the Internet. I'm not lying to you out of sport. If I had Facebook, believe me, I'd probably be on it right now. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

This is my entire day

I've learned to appreciate noise canceling headphones. I never understood them before I lived inside a radio planted on the sun.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


When am I going to stop wanting to talk to anybody who speaks English?

I mean it. Whenever I come across anybody that speaks English I think we should have at least an hour long conversation. I'm usually disappointed when they end the conversation with who are you? Oh, I'm "x".

This is probably because the English speakers are typically dudes in their 20's and any guy here in his 20's who speaks English is not interested in talking to me because unlike me, they also understand what every other person in the room is talking about and that may include a set of weird facts about the American and how many pig intestines she avoided eating for lunch. It's for the best I guess since I should probably avoid English and force some Spanish, but sometimes it's really hard to avoid a conversation where I at least understand the other person.

I bet peace corps languages were easier to learn before telephones and the Internet.

Also, whenever I do I for my first visit back to America I bet I sit fascinated by all the words I can comprehend. (I guess I should hope that by that time I understand enough Spanish that comprehension isn't a factor.)

Anyway, English, I miss you. We had something I didn't even realize until it was gone. Come back to me... Por favor?

The old guy

Friday, August 2, 2013

Whisper it

When I asked my doña where the new doctor was from she whispered something to me.

"What?"- I asked

"Haiti!" -she whispers again

Ha ha. I laugh because this little old lady feels like she is telling me a secret. I'm sad because the secret is his nationality.

It's kind of funny, and somewhat sad, that even when a trilingual, doctor comes to town to help in the clinic, Dominicans will still whisper that this person came from Haiti.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Peace Corps

Peace Corps is a special combination of, "Oh wow! I can't believe I get to live this life!", and "Oh my god. This is my life? When do I get to go home?"

I've been in both boats. Sometimes I switch between the two a few times each day.

When you're standing on top of a mountain with some kids you just met, hunting for some of the tastiest mangos you will ever eat, as you walk to land in the coolest waterfall you've seen thus far in real life, and you were able to do it all by walking out your front door, you tend to have the gushy feelings of love for your current situation.

Then you go to a meeting all prepared to offer your great Peace Corps skills to a group of women. You stand tall and speak you best Spanish to explain the work you could maybe do. You sit down and many women look excited. The first woman to speak is sitting right next to you and asks the leader of this meeting, "How can I take a class with her if I can't understand what she's saying?" Ooh, I drop into, "Why don't I just go home and get a job that lets me speak English?" I speak the English, I speak the English real good like!

There are days when I wake up, realize I don't want to leave my house at all, so I don't, and it's great and I'm still doing my job (I live with a host family. I'm never not doing at least one part of my job) and I'll still get paid. Weekends aren't weekends, so sometimes I decide Tuesday is the weekend.

Then someone at my house will do something (especially to a child) that I just hate and all I want is for my home to be on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the land of the free home of the brave, "nuebe Yo'k", 'Merica, land of the Golden Arches, however you want to describe it, I want to be there.

Let's not get carried away. I am no where close to walking out on what could very well be the most life changing experience I have for 1.5 more years (my life is very dramatic I expect great experiences to happen all the time), but it's not always easy.

Even something that seems as simple as do I stay with my host family or move out on my own, literally goes back and forth everyday.

Sometimes volunteers stay with their host families, and I always thought I would for at least a while. I thought it would help with language and force me to interact. Now I don't think that, but I wonder if it would just be a good idea. I like living with other people. I lived alone in a studio apartment for a while, and I loved that place, but I promise I would have given it up for a roommate. Even a weird room mate. I've just learned that I can't watch some of the things that happen at my house, and I assume happen at many houses here. I need to be able to shut my door and breath and pretend I'm not home, at least once in a while. At the same time, I want a place to invite some of the many new friends I expect I'll make in two years. My host mom asked me about it yesterday. She wants me to stay close if I do move out. I too want to stay close. There are a few options out there. I think in the end I've decided I have to move out. For my sanity. I may ask my host mom if I can have a standing invite to lunch though. The foods not bad and it's a great way to still have some time with my host family, who, at the end of the day, I do adore.