Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Frank something, my dad the baseball player, and Bruno.

Basically, Amanda went to her first concert the other day. Maybe it doesn't count as a concert. Maybe it was simply my first festival. Maybe a festival is bigger than a concert because it is a bunch of concerts together. Either way, I am on a roll with my doing things once, and then never doing them again. I went to my first something and I had a good time even though I fell asleep on a floor that contained used beer cups. 

Santo Domingo hosted the Presidente Festival over the weekend on October 4, 2014 and I had tickets to go on Saturday. My good friend Susi said it would be fun, so I said I would go because really, it's not that hard to get me out of the house. If you tell me there is an event I am most likely going to tell you I'll be there. 

Obligatory list of things Amanda learned about concerts: 
1. They don't start on time. 
2. The headliner comes out last. 
3. They go for a really long time. (I hear this is only sometimes)
4. The event planners constantly taunt you with the idea of the one guy you want to see. 
5. Beer tastes better at a concert. 
6. Dominabros don't want to dance at concerts even more than they don't want to dance at clubs.
7. I will fall asleep even if my father the the baseball player is blasting some song I don't know. 
8. Event planners will use a giant fireworks display to wake you up before Bruno at 12:10
9. Bruno still won't come out until 12:30 and you regret the 20 minute nap you missed
10. By 11 you will already be thinking about post concert donuts your friends picked up. 
11. Concerts are yet another compass, pointing to my inevitable vida as a grandmother. 

Overall I was VERY satisfied. I've fallen asleep sober in clubs and still had a good time I think I can now say the same for concerts. 

Better list because it's a list of all the socially unacceptable weird places I've fallen asleep:
(Note these all take place after 20:30, the exact moment I tire every night. 
1. Movie theaters
2. Bars
3. Dance Clubs
4. House parties
5. Friends houses
6. Strangers houses
7. Openings to movies I've waited over 3 months to see
8. Plays
9. Bowling alleys
10. Parks

We should also note that I woke up at the very latest at 8:30 the day after each of these events. In reality, I would put money on 75% of the time I woke up before 7 a.m. 

Insert pictures of me looking fly. I was able to borrow a dress from a friend. I was worried about it being too short the entire time I was prepping (Remember I am a grandmother at heart), but I was rocking it by concert time (Because I showed it to no less than 4 girlfriends to get opinions beforehand). 

 My girls and me before the concert. 

.and below we have me and my face before the concert.

I will also include this picture of me with the craziest of eyes, because well, if I don't include it here it will never be seen by anyone ever and I can't let the photo feel so useless. 

So there you have it. A post that was kind of about my time at a concert. 

Oh, and just as an FYI the lineup was Frank Reyes, Daddy Yankee and Bruno Mars. 
(In that order, because I don't want to confuse you the way an event planner might :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cow poop

I've watched the same cow poop on my morning run for the past three days. How does the cow know that I am about to run? Also, how does a cow walk, chew, hold its tail really high, and poop all at the same time? 

Tambien, is that diarrhea or is it just falling really far? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nail Salon

I went ahead and did something super Dominican, and by "Super Dominican" I mean "Something really girlie that I just happened to do here so I am going to call it Dominican"… I got my nails done acrylic-ly.

I'd post a picture,  but whatever.

True to form I thought about this move for about 3 weeks before I went through with it. One of the girls in one of my classes does nails and her salon is right across from where I teach the class each day. I decided to go ahead and give her some business.

We made plans to start at 5 so naturally she was there at 5:45. It took an hour and a bit. I don't know if that is as long as it takes in America… I have only had it done once before and I wasn't as happy with the results as I was here.

The girl made them pretty short without me really having to tell her and she didm' file the tops of my nails down too much. That was nice…

I left them in a basic french, because that's the kind of person I am, but I did let her put a little flower on one nail on each hand. When I turned around and spoke with Julianna and then turned back around she surprised me and was putting glitter on my nails… whoa girl, but in the end I like them….

And now I will see if I am one of those people who does the whole get them filled in in approx 3 weeks or not.

I may or may not keep you informed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cow poop

I've watched the same cow poop on my morning run for the past three days. How does the cow know that I am about to run? Also, how does a cow walk, chew, hold its tail really high, and poop all at the same time? 

Tambien, is that diarrhea or is it just falling really far? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Don't go to the gas station.

When I get a ride home.

…when I pay for a ride home.

I really don't like it when the chauffeur goes to the gas station and then holds out his hand indicating that I need to pay for the gas.

My house is right down the street from the gas station.

Take me home.

I'll pay you the agreed upon rate.

Then you can go to the 24 hour gas station on your way out of my site using the money I gave you.

None of the above matters at all…
…other than to say I've found something to complain about.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

In which I again… ask for money.

… Because I wouldn't want to be the only PCV not informing my friends and family that they can give me money.

… Because I know you love the idea of giving me money because…

Basically, for those of you who remember last years post… the volunteers down here use Thanksgiving as our time to get together for family time. Most of us can't go home because we go home for Christmas (I don't and won't this year… but ya tu sabes, most of my friends are.) The only problem is… ya tu sabes… money.

Some of you remember the post  where I explained how excited I was about Thanksgiving.

This year is a little different. I applied for and finally made it onto the baking team. I am SO excited. I looked forward to Thanksgiving down here before I even left for America. This means I am going to use some of my vacation days and spend a swanky week in the capital baking and making other people happy, which is really what makes me happy. Peace Corps friends are awesome and I am so excited to have our last Thanksgiving in country together.

So…. what can you do if you want to help the volunteers engorge themselves.

For one… there is a link if you would like to help me pay for my ticket. Just use this link…    and then send an email to pcdr.thanksgiving.com and let them know the money goes to my ticket. Also, if you want to help pay for my hotel for the night or anything else related to me you can email that address and they will make a separate pay pal link for you to help me out. 

Other than that, for those interested you can also help out the general fund.

I do want to emphasize that this isn't really a Peace Corps event. It's an event that the volunteers put on to bond with each other and not cry about not having their families around for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


"Your computer's not going to get cold your food will. Stop working." -Seth R.

I guess I can be a hard worker when I'm working on something I love. It's Grita week again and I am working with a great staff. Wish us luck.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The first day of school

I was sitting in my living room studying Spanish when I heard a drumline. "What's going on?", I wondered. 

I went outside to see all of my neighbors waving and clapping. It was a parade. 

The drumline was leading and dancers followed. Behind the dancers students in their uniforms began to file in place. 

So that's what they do here in my community. On the first day of school a band starts at the top of the campo and makes way down to the school. As the line passes each students house they join the parade.

What a great start to the school year. 

My neighbors did mention that the group was small. Noting how few students actually go for the first few days of class.

I think I'd want to be at the first day of school every year if this were the practice. Then again, that really is my style. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Because sometimes… monkey

Wouldn't we all like to know what's going on in this picture? 

I will let you know a few things: 

1. I am not wearing a wig. 
2. I am currently being a monkey. 
3. I am currently loosing to an elephant. 
4. I am currently winning at everything else. 

Hashtag, Go Team. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pictures of cute puppies

My front neighbor's dog had puppies and it is taking everything in me to remind myself why is would be an unbelievably bad idea for me to coger  a puppy right now. 

The tiny little nuggets continue to find their way into my garage and I don't have the heart to kick them out. Cuteness abounds. 

Sometimes they look really gross, but I still really love the idea of having a puppy. 

Also, I am kind of falling in love with the mom now that she is super skinny and pathetic. 

Really though. The little boy across the street needs to quit asking me to take one, because then I would have a dog to take care of and I am just not as ready for that as I thought I would be at this point in my life. I want to travel too much. 

Soon… My puppy will be waiting. 

My Scarlet letter

In Peace Corps we are given an almost unlimited supply of condoms. I have more condoms than I know what to do with. When I went off to my site Peace Corps gave me a box of 150 condom and a big fake wooden penis. I was also given a bag of Trojans at a mini-Vac. All of these condoms are still in my house, save for the few that have been used in demonstrations. I keep them in a bag next to my shoes and the big penis.

I also mentioned that I was recently at a conference. At the conference we spent a bit of time teaching about HIV and AIDS. We also had a condom party where we threw condoms about, blew them up, and taught people how to use them correctly.

Well, during the events of the days I wound up with condoms in my pockets. When I came home from the conference I dumped my laundry in the front and washed my clothes. As I cleaned out my pockets I found a stray condom and set it on the ledge.

Let me tell you about the scandal this condom has faced.

First, there was question of who the condom belonged to. There were people living in my house at the time (hey guys!) and they were asking each other in hushed whispers about it. "Whose condom is that?" Okay. Whatever. Eventually I was asked about the condom and I said that it was in fact mine. Whatever, I have condoms. I have 150 of them…  would you like one?

Later, the condom was moved into the house and someone else asked me about it. "Amanda, do you know whose condom that is?" Well yes, yes I do, it's mine.

I also recently found out that the cleaning lady happened across this same one condom on the table. She shook it in the face of another person in the house and was very ashamed of me. The scandal… I have a condom in my house. What else could I be doing. I didn't have condoms all over my house before I came to Peace Corps, but I also didn't feel much different when I brought a bunch into my house here.

I can't even imagine the scandal that would happen if the cleaning lady ever went into my closet.

I think I'm just going to leave that condom wherever it ends up. I actually don't know where it is, because I keep forgetting to hide it away so I can pretend sex doesn't exist and this island doesn't have the highest preteen pregnancy rate.

Thank you Peace Corps, I now wear a Scarlet letter!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

… a work thing.

Just a little picture for me to say one thing.

I am so thankful to all the powers that be, because the guy I work with now has use of a computer so we can work side by side. We are still doing the same stuff, so really not much has changed, but really it is so much better. Peace Corps is all about making sure what you do is sustainable when you leave. Now he and I sit side by side and walk through everything we need to do together. We still have a long way to go, but this is a huge improvement. We can collaborate on so much. I am so excited. 

From what I understand someone donated this computer to the organization I work with and the director has put it to use for the shop. So while it isn't exactly his personal computer, it is exactly what we needed to get this stuff done! 

Excel, we will conquer you. 

…Which reminds me, I need to go fix some things on a spreadsheet before we meet again… 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Time to clean the bathroom...

The house I live in has been invaded this summer. That is a bit of an overstatement, but by my calculations closet to 15 people have slept here this summer. At most I think we had 10 people at one time. All of this was functioning on one bathroom.

At the beginning of the summer I decided I was going to let the cleaning slip. It stands to reason that when the number of people increases the cleaning should increase, but I have my reasons. To start, the volunteers were mostly all short term. They don't and shouldn't be expected to learn the ins and outs of how this house is kept running smoothly. We start with the basics, "Don't put toilet paper in the toilet", and kind of run from there. I didn't expect the volunteers to all learn that it is best to mop the bathroom every time you go in thee because the sink has a hard to find mystery leak. Another important factor to not is that the volunteers all paid trip fees to cover the cleaning of the house. I kept things tidy as best I could and awaited the fateful day when I cold run damage control. My good people, that day was today.

I've actually been a little excited to get down to the nitty gritty and clean up my home. I did a bit of this when I was sick. Most of you probably don't know that when I am coming to the backside of a sickness everything in me wants to clean house. I scrubbed a small corner of the living room near my bookcase that day before I ran out of steam and had to go lie (lay?) back down. Now, with the number of houseguests down to two, I took the opportunity to clean the bathroom.

Now, I didn't take any before shots, because, well, whatever, but I did manage to sneak a few after shots to give you a sense of the last two hours of my life. In short, or long, I was sweating and cleaning and bleaching enough to make my mother or sister very proud.

Above you can see the pile of toiletries left behind like unwanted orphans. 
Don't worry toiletries, Amanda will take advantage of you. 

Below you will see the edge of my shower. Until tonight those very same toiletries lined my showed. As of tonight the ledge is only housing the toiletries of the two ladies still with me. You also have a view of the bath mat I finally decided to splurge for. I'm telling you four hundred pesos is sometimes a lot of pesos. 

I'd go into the ins and outs of the cleaning process, but this is already turning into an Amanda story. Basically I was listening to The Moth podcast and sweating a lot while i wore pink gloves and scrubbed mold and stuff with rags and scrub brushes. 

Yay… the bathroom will be clean for one night! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Baby.

Something big is about to happen. Someone is going to have a baby. That someone is America and the baby is ME!

All that to say, I have about the same about of time left in my Peace Corps service and took my Mom to gestate me. After that I will come out screaming and enter the great land of America. After this time, the ability to feel me inside a womb… or see my inside this country during my Peace Corps service, will be over.

So pack your bags, friends, family and stalkers. Are we friends? Visit me. Did we used to be friends, but now you don't like me? Visit me! (I mean… I'm sure we can both get some utility out of the trip right?) Do you think I'm cute? Visit me! Do you read my blog and think, "Amanda doesn't even know who I am? Visit me! Do you wonder what it's like in the Dominican Republic? Visit me! Do you really just want to experience a colmado? Visit me! Do you want the inside scoop on the Dominican Republic from someone who has traveled way more than she ever thought possible on one tiny island? Visit me!

Long story short, my house is nice and it's about to be empty. I've decided I am probs using the rest of my vacation days in country, so I should probably use them with someone next to me. I'm done traveling alone. Come get to know me, and if anything else, I'll introduce you to my cute friends.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What I took from the Chicas Conference...

Because I have a mostly unwritten policy with my blog that I don't mention too many things about work I probably won't talk much about the recent Chicas Brillantes conference I went to. I do want to talk about an "Archie Bunker" activity, but I am still trying to find an Amanda-way to do that. Until then I give you "What I took from Chicas Brillantes".

Two things. 

The first: 
Most of the pages from a 2003 calendar. I was attracted to the images while my group began working on their collages. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for me, none of the girls in my group were interested in these images.

Imagine my luck when the activity was over and the leadership told people to go ahead and take the leftovers. I offered the images first to the Dominican leader in my group, because she and I had been looking through them the entire time, but she was also ready to trash them.

I've learned a lot from these images. For starters, 2003 was the international year of freshwater. Pretty cool. Also, each piece is made with water from the location in the world it represents (wash image was originally a water color done by Dave Parker.) I also learned that I like "art" in my house. I was going to wait until the volunteers left because I am sharing space with them and since they live here too I want them to be comfortable, but they all liked the pictures, so up they went. It's cool for me to have something to remind myself that water can be scarce for some people. My water goes out, but I have confidence it'll be back the same day. Others don't afford such luxury. 

The second thing I took from the Chicas Brillantes conference was the idea of encouraging notes being sent within a group of people. We all know emotions can run high, especially when a lot of girls live together in one house, so I thought this could be fun. 

I started with white Manila folders I had on hand (you can see I was short one) and I just asked my housemates to each decorate one. You may have noticed a theme, rainbows. I was drawing mine next to Cole and as she began drawing her rainbow I let her know that I was planning on drawing a rainbow too. After that Taylor drew hers and I wondered if she had noticed the rainbow theme too, but she hadn't. The rest we pushed to draw rainbows, I mean after three it's a theme right? 

Hopefully thinking about good qualities someone has, as all of my roommates possess, will help keep good spirits for all. 

For more information about water in asia and maybe this 11 year old calendar www.adb.org/water

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A quick update

I haven't spent much time blogging lately. This is mostly because I don't like blogging about work-type stuff and I have been doing a lot of work type stuff lately. Such is life.

I will tell you that I am working at an english immersion camp for the organization that solicited me. Because we didn't have enough American volunteers the first two weeks I had invited a few Peace Corps Volunteers to fill in and therefore have had plenty of time to bond with some PCV's while they stayed with me at my home. I have also had a great time getting to know the American Volunteers who are down here for differing lengths of time during the summer. I will let it be known that I have taught them all how to play spades so my evenings have been filled with some pretty intense bonding.

I set it up a last weekend to take the volunteers to Santiago. This was probably going to be their last chance to get out of Puerto Plata for a while, so we met up with Chris and went to the Centro Leon museum in the city. I'll have to find a link to the museum, because it really was worth the price.  I also bought the coolest book I have ever bought. It was written by children from across this country. USAID and some other organizations put it together. The illustrations were added and the text was typed up. It is really well done.

The rest of the week was camp.

The Fourth of July was a lot of fun as well. Most of the PCV's in this country were heading east for an event, but I stayed in site with Conner and the volunteers. I am trying to spend a lot of time in my site right now, really getting to know the gente here in Muñoz. That has really been working out. I like having the volunteers here, but I have wanted my neighbors to know I am not just here for the summer. Conner and some of the girls and I went dancing in Cabarete for the evening. It is super close to my site, but I hardly ever go.

All right. I shall add in some photos and you will see them and be happy. Unless you are reading this from the DR and have slow internet… I suggest killing the page, because the pics are already on the fabu! 

Centro Leon Peeps. The two girls on the ends helped at camp. 

My new room mates and the guy hitting on them. 

I was embracing big hair and Facebook blew up over it! 

Cutest book in the world. 

Yogen Fruz and packed carro publicos in Santiago. 

My shower wasn't draining so I had the landlord let me help work on things. He was shocked when I told him my mom and Uncle taught me about "house-stuff". He didn't let me help much, but it was cool to see how the DR handles plumbing y etc. 

Fourth of July in Cabarete. I love this girl. Also, I look tan. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pizza and Moro

Sharing is a big part of the culture in the Dominican Republic. I've recently started sharing my time with the neighbors by frescaring across the street with mi gente. I also made brownies recently and brought them to the sharing space. One particular neighbor gave me a bunch of free milk this morning and another gives me fruit on occasion.

Today I was talking with the young guy next door. His arms are covered in this black gunk and his legs are peeling away. He was recently in a moto accident, so he has basically been frescoing ever since. He has scabs and weird black dried cream falling off of his legs. When I look at the infection, blood, dried cream, and dead skin cracking and flaking I go back to my childhood and imagine that I would be picking at that all day if I were him…. back to the story at hand. This guy asked me what time is was and when we noticed that it was food time I told him I was going to make pizza. When I asked if he wanted one he said just un chin to probar. I went ahead and made two broccoli, pepperoni, and onion pizzas and but them into small pieces.

When I went back outside he wasn't across the street, so I went to his house to see if he was eating with his mom. He wasn't there, but I gave her pizza and in exchange she gave me chicken and moro. Long story short, Amanda shared pizza with the Mom and all the other guys outside. The guys were reluctant at first. They even claimed to be having stomach issues, but finally took a piece. When I went back home and was pulling clothing off of my room they shouted up at me… "Amanda, do you have any more pizza?"

The guy that didn't want any at first wanted more. They asked who made it and were impressed when I told them it was all me. Yay. Amanda can make personal pizza in a skillet that even Dominicans love.

We ended with me promising that the next time I made pizza I would share.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hair is happening...

Natural hair is a challenge, but I'm having fun with it on the island. 

Chicas camp

A few weeks back I received a call letting me know that someone had dropped out of GLOW camp and that I could now bring two girls to camp in their place. 

I've met with two parents in regards to three girls. I don't think I realized how hard getting the girls would be. So far the problem isn't the distance as I currently thought, the problem is that the girls do so much house work and the mother's don't think they can afford to lose them for five days. One set of girls is a cousin set. The mother cares for both of them and they do all of the cooking and cleaning in the house. So far it looks as if one may be able to come and the other would have to stay behind. I also don't know that parents see the value of the camp. 

I just hope my limited Spanish was enough to explain the value of a girls camp. 

I have another parent meeting set for tomorrow. A girl asked me to talk to her father. It sounds like she lives with her two older sisters and I may have more luck with them. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Not in America

"That would never happen in America!"

Today I was buying ice cream. When the cashier handed me my treat I took a bite. Then she tried to hand me another. 

The other cashier was waving her arms. "Wait! You have the other persons ice cream!" 

Sad face. I looked at the woman ashamed. "I'm sorry!" She took the ice cream. "But... I already tried some." She waved it off and we both paid for the correct ice cream. 

That would never happen in America. 


Sometimes, when I am not doing Peace Corps things, I like to send my friends and family random photos, in hopes of receiving one in return. 

My sister always comes through. 

Other people are also pretty good at the return photo thing. IE My favorite, Taylor, but I don't know if she would want her photo on the internet. As my sister is my sister, she had no choice. 

My mom also sent a photo after I explained the game, but she has since told me the picture is not allowed on the internet. Fine. 

Anyway, that's how I bond with my family back home. Random photos make up for some of the time when, if I were home, we would just happen to see each other. 

Also, for those interested, I am now twisting my hair, so that's a thing. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Best day of my Peace Corps service?

I know I haven't written in a long time. It's so long I don't actually know how long it has been. Here are my excuses in a list that is also kind of a list of accomplishments.

1. I decided I wasn't going to "leave" my site for 6 or 8 or 10 weeks. (We will see in 10 weeks)
2. I've also decided I wanted to compartir with my neighbors more. (I now have friends)
3. I started playing dominoes with my neighbors.
4. Things just don't seem strange or "exciting" when they happen to you every day.

The real reason I decided to write a post today is that I could not contain my excitement for having taught a group of DOminican dudes how to play spades.

SERIOUSLY! That happened TODAY.

I've started visiting all of my neighbors. By visiting my neighbors I mean we all sit out under the trees across from my house when it's hot to catch some shade. Really, we are awesome.

I also started visiting the guy down the road who appears to be the only guy in the area who owns a set of dominos. When I was about to walk over there today the guys were coming back and said the guy who owned the dominos was at the clinic. He's sick today. Sad… but opportunity was knocking. I asked if any of them had a set… nope. I had my chance… "Do you know how to play cards?"

I wasn't about to let this turn into some "Casino (Dominican card game I understood for about 20 minutes one time and then the rules changed.)… I was going to make these guys play spades!!!

It was so exciting. I was all aflutter with trying to know the spanish words for the following:
1. Spades
2. Clubs
3. Diamonds
4. Books
5. Tricks

Whatever. It was great. I even went nil and my partner covered me. A better spades player could have broken me, but I was so proud of them. I had about 20 people sitting around the small table watching, and three guys playing. They got really tigure and started talking trash. I loved every moment. Seriously, please, can we play again?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mwen pral pale kreyòl.

As of this Monday I was officially learning Creole. What I never considered was that I was going to be learning Creole in espanñol. Oh boy. 

I'm very surprised to say that everything went swimmingly. 
Learning Creole in spanish has taught me that I actually do know some spanish, and that Creole is a pretty simple language. (Not that I don't need practice, pero tu sabes

Because this was a jam packed, all-or-nothing kind of week, I will likely drop all knowledge as soon as I leave. Reality check, that's what notes are for. 

Taking a look at my notes, we see that being "trilingual" really just means Amanda doesn't speak any language at all. You see those notes up there? Español, english, kreyòl.. which one am I learning and which one do I speak? 

In all reality though, I learned a lot of spanish this week and a lot of kreyòl. I had printed off a BUNCH of spanish study material the other day, because I have also decided that my 24th year of life is going to be the year I can confidently say about myself that I speak spanish. Y entonces, I have studied spanish everyday. 

It's also really neat to see when kreyòl resembles english and when kreyoòl resembles spanish. 

As example: adapte (K) means "to adapt" 
As spanish example: viv (K) means vivir (S) which means "to live"

As probably just took it from each other blackout (K) means "blackout". 


C and A are discussing boys today.

C , with a glass half full attitude. "Okay! So he's literally taller than…"
A, with realism in her voice.        "Nobody."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life lessons

Today, I had a doña tell me that I needed a boyfriend. She said there was work time and boyfriend time and I was seriously slacking in the boyfriend area. She also informed me that she knew who my amorè should be. Good job doña. Way to show off your awesome being a person skills. You, my friend, are way cooler than I could ever be. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Duarte Duarte Duarte!

I read this on an RPCV's blog. It is a statement about begin back in America and in my opinion it's relevant. Why isn't public transportation better in America? We have some cities that get it right, but come on America, I want a guagua to anywhere for 50 pesitos. 

  • "I find it very strange how taxis don’t slow down to follow me and ask where I’m going and if I want a ride."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy Birthday!

I've now spent two birthdays in the Dominican Republic. 
Last year I turned 23 with the company of my entire training group. 
We were newly sworn in Peace Corps Volunteers. 
We were heading off to our sites the next day. 
It was all very exciting. 

This year was much the same, except my friends and I were all "very experienced" volunteers, and the newbies were the ones heading out the next day to their new sites. They were full of the unknown. I was living in the comfort of knowing my current reality, and being able to celebrate my birthday with friends. There was a bit of a shin dig last night. It was basically the exact same shin dig from last year and I am lucky enough to have my birthday fall exactly on the day of the shin dig. 

The next morning my friends treated me to this delicious masterpiece for breakfast. 
We had to share, because it was filled with sugar. What I didn't know what that when I went to the bathroom they worked it out with the restaurant that I would be given a birthday surprise. 


Peace Corps friends really are the best. I had a great birthday. Serpas didn't have to sing to me once, and he loved that fact. I also received a birthday card and a birthday text from other friends, so that was really nice. 


"Good job Amanda. Your boobs came through and blocked my body."-Ashley

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Was there ever a point where you seriously considered quitting the peace corps?


Peace Corps is hard, but I have known that I want to stick it out for the long haul. If anything, I don't want to be the one that didn't make it.

I have always lived my life after considering the advice of others. I think that if enough people say something is a definite yes, or a definite no, I should listen to them. I don't always follow through with the majority (most people told me to finish graduate school before I left for Peace Corps, and I decided the timing was right for me to say yes to Peace Corps), because in the end I know I am the one that has to live my life, but I always take advice into consideration.

So many people say that the two years were worth it. They tell me that there will be hard times. That is will suck, but that it is always worth the time we put into this crazy life we are living.

I've been right on track with what people said. I've wondered if it would all be worth it. In the end though, I have prepared for it to outright suck sometimes, and I think knowing it is supposed to have crappy times is what keeps me going.

"If it didn't suck sometimes, it wouldn't be Peace Corps."

Sunday, May 11, 2014


My life is funny sometimes. Here is a selection of funny moments.

"Amanda, you don't even wash your hair. What are you still doing in the bathroom?" -Susan

"The ears have walls."-Amanda

"Computers are magic." Brendan

"The cloud in powered by coal!" Brendan

"I'm going to have to take my Mom and sister to the Orange store when I go home."
"Amanda, did you just say "The Orange store?"
"Oh, yeah... What's it called in America?"


Oh my gosh Constanza!

Because I was out of the country when my region had it’s latest Mini-VAC meeting and the new country director was going to be going to this round of meetings I recently found myself in the coldest part of this island a little farther up from the town of Constanza in a beautiful cabin with some of my best friends and some new friends.

I knew before I left for America that my regions Mini-Vac was going to take place while I was gone. When I checked into the region next to mine (the same VAC meeting I went to when I went to Playa Grande) I found out it was also taking place before I returned to the island. When I found out Region 6 was going to be after I returned I jumped at the chance. I have a lot of friends in that region, and I hadn’t really checked out much of that area. I also really wanted to see what the new CD had to say, even though I’ve already met her. I am a big fan of VAC meetings. A lot of volunteers tell me they don’t go to their meetings, but our region is known for having great VAC meetings. I was ready to check out the competition.

Sadly, I was denied. Because this Mini-VAC was in Constanza at a super cool cabin way up in the mountains there was limited space… or something. I was hopeful, but Serp informed me that I was out. So I was home, planning my … whatever I was planning, when I got a call saying I was in. Really?! I was excited, but I didn’t actually know the details. I didn’t know the date, I didn’t know the time, and I didn’t know the route. I called the regional coordinator and she confirmed that I was in and that the meeting was the very next day. I packed a bag, went to a meeting in site, and headed off for parts unknown.

I’ll try to condense the 9 hours of travel that took place after my initial 6 hours of travel to get to this meeting. We started at Caribe Tours at 7 a.m. Wait… that’s not fair. Let me start again…

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. I got dressed, made pancakes, eventually my travel companion woke up and by 5:50 we were out the door. A moto, a bus, and a few steps later we were at Caribe Tours for the bus ride. We met some more of the group, ate some fruit, and took the guagua to Jarabacoa. After that it was the back of a pick up truck to Constanza. In short, it was curvy, cold, raining, and we had a tarp over our heads for a part of it.

Check out my boys! Especially the tan one on the right… the far right! My favorite! 

After that it was a Safari truck up to the national park (Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo) and we dismounted at a beautiful cabin. I’m not going to lie, it reminded me a lot of Colorado. There were mountains forever. It was really cold. We had on hoodies and blankets and no, it isn’t just because we can’t handle temperatures below 70 degrees anymore. I saw pictures that were taken there featuring snow. This is where the strawberries are grown. The beds had big heavy blankets on them… three layers, that we all gratefully used. I chose to sleep in jeans, because the idea of sleeping in the shorts I brought was so undesierable. Also, Serp never took his shirt off. He was spotted wearing two shirts at one point. What world is this?

I don’t want to talk about work here too much, but I will say that this was probably the most meeting heavy of any of my VAC meetings. We talked and talked and talked… and then the Peace Corps Staff left, and we talked and talked and talked some more. It was all policy this and rules that, but it was super casual and that is why I love VAC meetings.

This is where we had the meeting. Check out the website. Just look for Villa Pajon. The cabin in the back is where we stayed. 

Also, Spades. Also, wine. Also, story sharing. Also, staying up late. Also, why was Serpas wearing his shirt so much? I woke up the next morning and took a walk with two new friend through the mountains. We went to a rock garden and had many great chats.

I have to say, Region 6 didn’t fail to impress me.