Friday, December 20, 2013

Nunca Te Olvidaré

One more thing. Fredito? The one I spoke of 100X and saved me on countless occasions of emotional breakdowns, or taking care of my house and Diego twice, or simply taking me to fill my empty gas tank so I could have cup of coffee? This is him:

And typical us:

He will never see this but deserves his own page. I will always be grateful to him and for proving that not all Dominican men aren't to be trusted. I cried countless times in front of him, trying my best to explain in broken, stuffy Spanish why and he (almost) always said what I needed to hear. Or loved and laughed at my silliness but never thought I was a weird American (well, maybe he did). Was always there to teach me something about the culture that flew over my head. Or simply provided company when I didn't even know I needed it most. And neither did he. 
Abrazos y amor. Te extrañaré pero nunca te olvidaré.

Nos Vemos Pronto

Diciembre 20, 2013

First things first:

Yup. This is the rooftop of the hotel that PC puts volunteers for whatever reason they might need to. As much as I'm still struggling, coming up here for the last two days and just soaking in the view, foregtting about all the garbage in the streets below, and loving the breeze that's blowing my hair in a thousand directions at once is therapeutic.
So Tuesday was the last day in my site. I spent most of it finishing packing, playing with my kids, and visiting Dulce and Moreno one more time. It was a numb day more than anything else. Then that night my munchkins came over and we had a blast. Sat and watched music videos on my iPad, danced, played Dominoes, and took more crazy pictures as my helmet was passed around to even the littlest ones:

It was perfection. And even getting them out of the house wasn't so bad. Yes, they hid in all parts to escape the inevitable but they weren't angry like normal. And I lost count of the hugs I get each time I somehow got them out the front door. Even Bebo who caused me the most problems and respected me the least gave me the best hugs and sat on my lap for a picture:

And cried while walking out with his mother... 

Wednesday I arose at 6:30am, hung out clothes that decided not to dry enough the day before, made my last cup of coffee, and finished putting everything in the front room. Ann arrived at 9:30 and we loaded up the truck. Then the visit to the school. It was "Kid's Day" so they were having a party. We talked with Natividad, Ann gave her a letter to pass around the community, and not a single community member showed up to fight for me. And they had told me the night before they would. This brought a mix of emotions. It saved me from feeling more guilt than I already do and from Ann having to deal with them. But it was just one more way in which I saw their promises and saw them not get followed through. I didn't want them to do it for me, I wanted it to do it for them. If they did, they would have proven themselves and a possibility of another volunteer in their near future would have been brighter. So I will admit feeling disappointment for them. We even passed by Ramona on our way out doing laundry; the one who made the biggest fuss about me leaving. But such is life.
Ramona (teacher) made the kids all chant "We love you" as I was leaving and since once would never be enough, there were three chants, each one getting louder. And if you're all wondering, yes, the tears were flowing. 
We pulled out onto the thruway and it was official. I left behind something beautiful, frustrating, life-changing, and challenging. There were problems, there were uncertainties, and while I know this is the right decision, I left a bigger part of my heart than I thought I would and after such a short amount of time. I'm not going to have anything left in this chest if this all keeps up. But we carry on. Pack up our things with another suitcase of unknowns, nerves, depression and anger but all alongside a bottle of faith. Faith that my next site will be all that this one couldn't be. But also be all that this site was. 
I have some more details but I will save those for when I get there so I can show you all and know more. My flight heads home to Buffalo this Sunday morning and my soul couldn't be any more ready. To see my family and friends and be encouraged like they do so I could turn around in three weeks and start all over again. Because right now, I will admit, the only motivation I have is getting through the craziness that are airports which still give me anxiety haha.
So I leave this blog at a standstill until I come back. I may do something if the flip side of culture shock actually exists but until the 12 of January, I leave you. I'll be back with a vengeance and ready to fight again, I promise. In the meantime, I wish and pray that all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hold your dear ones tight and make memories you'll never forget. I'm sure going to.
Nos vemos pronto.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

KM 59 to Las Terrenas to the Capital to Buffalo and off to Da Jabón

Diciembre 12, 2013. So let's update this life since I've been sick shall we? I really haven't done much but have been emotionally around the world and back again. And that's each day :P
When I got back, I started telling people I was leaving. First Natividad which was the smartest thing I could have done because she really understood. Since she basically came in around the same time I did and experienced this community first hand with me, I could tell her honestly where the problems lied and why Ann made the decision. The rest? It got rough. My pastor was quite upset. Linda, angry. Dulce and Moreno simply said, "Well, you gotta listen to your boss." Ramona cried. And many have made plans to meet with Ann when she comes to fight for me to stay. Every day since the word spread, everyone has told me repeatedly that I'm not leaving. They're even planning on bringing the entire student body to the meeting with the community members and Ann to.... Well to just kill me I guess. The movement they tried to start was upsetting. Because I see them come together, like they did in the past to get the old director booted and I see their passion. I see their determination. Their fight. But it's misdirected. Shallow. An empty threat. I had to remind myself that even if they convinced Ann to let me stay, they would go back to being complacent and again, nothing would get done.
And that's not to make you upset with them or angry. Because I'm not. It's not their fault. My placement wasn't done right. They weren't ready for a volunteer. There is still too many problems in the school. The streets are empty during the days because every one is working somewhere else. How could they help me? They're not here. And they don't understand how I could help them. Or why.
So with this added stress I decided to pass Diego off to another volunteer. I couldn't devote the time he needed to train him and just love him. He was high energy and wonderful but I was always leaving him. Also moving to a new site? I couldn't even begin to figure out how that would work since I have to stay with another host family for a bit. So, with the help of Lula, Greg and their friend in Villa who has a car, we made our way up to Samaná to meet Andrea. And... Decided to aprovechar the trip. There's beautiful beaches up there so we headed to Las Terrenas and stayed the night, beaching it up and drinking chocolate milk :) It was the escape I needed to recharge a little and I know they did too. Here's the beach:

And us:

I can't tell you how much I love this couple. I just hope the feelings mutual because... We found out this week we're going to the same area again :) 
So on that topic. Two days ago after keeping in touch with Ann almost everyday, she finally called with the decision. I am heading up to a campo near Da Jabón which is up in the north by the border of Haiti and the DR. That day I kept my door shut (though still had a few visitors) and felt every emotion possible, my body shaking along with. It's a whirlwind but I'm trying to stay focused on the fact that I'm going home first to be with my family. And will get to touch the snow.
Then yesterday happened which was beautiful. 1. I slept in. And though it felt wrong, it was needed. 2. I FaceTimed my momma. Always a good way to start the day. And she was wrapping presents in front of me :) 3. Luis and Fredito came by, had a few laughs with my mom and Sam and then while Luis was using my computer, Fredito and a few kids were wrestling and playing in my house. And I may have joined :) 4. I kicked them out to shower and plan for my last English class in Juananito. Which ended up being cancelled. I was upset since it was the last one and I wanted to get a picture with them but it led to this: 5. Playing baseball outside with the kiddos in my neighborhood. And getting muddy just after I showered (it's rained everyday here and the sun isn't strong enough to dry it up in between, believe it or not). And 6. Having about 15 munchkins in my house going crazy. Literally. Putting clothes pins all over their faces, scooting loudly in the little chairs I still have here, and climbing all over my walls. And I let them. Soaked those last few moments in and loved it. And for you to share in the joy that are these trouble makers (who were mad at me by the end of the night when I kicked them out like usual):

Oh and 7? Last night I was taken by a friend, Domingo, to dinner. We first stopped and got cookies and orange juice. Then Pico Pollo. Which would be the equivalent of fast food and delicious. We came back and then drank wine with Luis in my house. I'm thankful for them.
So today I arose and have my house on lockdown for a little while. The kids are running around peeking through the doors and cracks and playing baseball which occasionally hits my door or zinc roof hard and scares the shit out of me. Waiting for Ann to call and tell me when she's coming to break the news. The community has calmed down since last week so I'm hoping it will go over okay. And that all the kids don't show up to tear my heart out with them. I will be leaving Wednesday now. Ann said she could put me up in a hotel until my flight so I can escape a little early. Another bittersweet decision but I'm grateful for it. Guess I should start packing soon too...
And since it's morning? Buenos dias.