Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Photo Sequence

28 de enero 2014. Okay so a quick and choppy photo sequence recap because I've either been out of internet, too tired to post, or didn't feel there was enough interesting stuff to post :P



Baseball game:

Bolas on the back of pickup trucks.

Pipe still being perfect. Was a bit worried about the way he is so protective. Like, will I be able to do anything on my own? Then is allowing me to go to Loma de Cabrera and for once I want him to go with cuz I'm not sure exactly how transportation works yet and he doesn't offer. Then, the night before, he tells me he will go with me! And I didn't say a word! Ugh. So happy. And he even says after the first time, then I'm good to go on my own. But he figures he will help me out once ;). He also found out I don't have bed sheets and ended up secretly buying me one in Loma...

Then there's that moment when you HAVE to agree that you'll "think about him before you fall asleep" in order to get the drunk guy to leave your house... Gross. Especially since he's "married" to the daughter of my neighbor and I don't want the wrong idea being sent out if he was seen in my house... Don't need that kind of chisme not even two weeks into my new site.

School is on strike so only two hours of class per tanda this week...hopefully just this week.

Vara de Vaca trip:

Lemonade on steroids.

Cool, Colorful Critters:

And my new sunglasses-stealing-best friends (who should totally start a band with this cover photo):

The End.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yes, I'll Have the #2 Combo Please: Presidente and American Music

21 de enero 2014. So at 7am, I hear, "Julie! Julie!"  It was Altagracia looking for me to go walking! I felt so bad but by the time I realized I was going to be out so late, I didn't want to call and bug her. But she came looking for me! I apologized and told her through my wooden walls that I had gotten back at 3am and wasn't going to walk today.
I was awoken for good at 8 but stayed in my bed until 9:45. I could hear Pipe yelling at the kids to quiet down and let me sleep haha. It didn't work but was nice to hear :). When I finally got out of bed, I played cards with Francheska, got water heated up for me to bathe (and given a plant to rub in the water which would help soothe my muscles from the walk apparently haha), and fed lunch at 12:30pm. Where I ate this:

The meat on the left is fowl. Literally freshly killed yesterday by Pipe. And was sooooo good.

And that's the fowl's foot. Also delicious :D

I rested, chatted with visitors and waited then for someone to come pick me up to go to one of the teacher's houses outside of my site for dinner. She was supposed to come at 2pm but didn't arrive until 4. The party was okay, food was great, and mostly just sat in silence or played with one of the other teacher's daughters. Right after we ate, most people left and Maria's (it was her house) son, Misael, went to take me home. He knows quite a bit of English and ended up having a ton of good music from back home. So naturally, we are pulling into my site, he asks if I have plans, I say no, and he turns around to go to Restauración so we can drive around and listen to more music. It was awesome. He may or may not have pulled up to a side stand and ordered a Presidente beer drive-thru style and drank while driving too. Cuz ya know, open container laws or drinking and driving exist, but aren't actually reinforced. He is a big guy though, so mom, dad, grandma's, and everyone else who might be concerned, don't worry. I don't think he felt a thing and I was cautious ;) lol
And at 7:30pm I was home, presented with more food I couldn't eat, and loving the fact that it was raining so I could just lock myself in my house and maybe even sleep early. Which I'm definitely going to do now.
Buenas noches.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Let's Go for a Walk.

20 de enero 2014. So this morning I reluctantly arose at 6am and started heading towards Altagracia's house in the dark, being sure to throw a rock at a dog barking insanely at me. When I arrived, her house was dark. I stopped, waited to see if I could hear rustling, and was only met with silence. So I tried a soft, "Buenos Dias" and this time I was met with a laugh and a "Buenos Dias!" back :). She had just gotten up and was changing. I waited and we called Lucila who was also late. Finally around 6:50, we were off! Walking up into the beautiful views out of my site in the dark. And as the sun rose over the mountains, the fog settled in and left me speechless. The ladies were hysterical though. And between almost stepping on a huge, dead snake and battling barking dogs with sticks, we made a pretty awesome group of three :). 
I made it back to my house at 7:50, threw some water over me and soap and left at 8 exactly; making it to the school just as the director did. Phew! I spent the day observing math in first grade and then hanging with the teachers. And then making posters to fill their empty walls. Hey, I'll do anything for some good ol' confianza ;). I went to lunch at Nena's, laid down and rested a bit and then headed back to the school with the promise that the director made so we could talk. He was busy, however, so I kept myself occupied doing more posters. Finally at 4:55, he finished his "work" organizing the cabinet and sat down with me. And after the following the question I've been dying to ask, "When my boss Ann came with her proposal, or idea of a volunteer, what were you excited about? What did you want from a volunteer?" I got this: 1.  Help with their English classes in 6-8 grade. 2.  Computer lessons for the kids on the computer in the office.  And 3. A map painted on a wall somewhere in the school.
So for at least the 4th time (4th time I've explained it anyways...I know Ann did too before me), I reiterated that my project is with literacy. And asked if there's anything related to literacy he would like help with.  He kind of nodded but didn't say anything so I explained that in my old site I helped the teachers (lie...) and paused hoping for a reaction to that. Nothing. So I continued and said that I also did evaluations of all the kids 1-4 grade and had small groups to help those who were a bit behind. Of course then he perked up and says, "Yes, that's your job, okay. Help the kids that are lower than the others."  And proceeded to give me a list for first grade... Guess I'm back to where I wasn't supposed to be.
I went home and just hung out with my Doña a bit and then got to FaceTime my family for the first time since I've gotten to my site!
Later that night I then was asked by Francheska if I wanted to go to some place where a bunch of people go and is very far away. And we would walk. I was confused so they explained that people put candles around a shrine and make wishes to the Virgen Altagracia and come from all over the country. We would leave around 9pm and not get back until at the earliest, 1am. Nena kept saying for me that I didn't want to go but I kept looking at her with a face and finally said, actually, I do want to go. So at 9:30pm with Francheska, my new love Alexander (Tin Tin-9 year old), their father and another woman and her baby boy, we left by foot in the sprinkling rain! Stopping at El Cruce because it was raining, we waiting for about 20 minutes before heading out again. Pipe ended up meeting up with us because he wanted to be sure I was safe; there would be lots of drunks there lol. 
And 13km, 2 breaks, 3 piggy back rides for Tin Tin (he fell asleep on me all three times until I couldn't take his weight anymore), two baby carries, and 3 1/2 hours later, we arrived to a place set into a mountain side with a ton of people. Yes, my ankles were (are!) killing me but it was so worth it to do something crazy, a tradition here (January 21-Altagracia Day), knowing it only happens once a year and means so much for so many Dominicans to make these wishes and pray to her.  
The pictures turned out poorly but here:

Candles were laid and prayers made but you could also wait in line (on the left) to go up to her shrine, touch her face, and pray more directly to her. 
We were literally there for a solid 15 minutes and were on the hunt for a free ride back. None of us would have been able to do the winding, hilly, 13km trek back haha. And after about a half hour of waiting on the back of a huge flatbed truck, about 30 of us piled in and were off. And the ride back was probably only 20 minutes. INSANITY. 
So at 2:30am, I was in my bed with a bleeding foot and pounding ankles and happy :)

Today? I Saw Haiti

19 de enero 2014. 
Sooo... I tried to sleep in? Haha cute, I know. But. I did stay in my house till 10 though just to take a breather before starting the day. When I finally emerged, I watched how my Doña makes coffee and had two cups. And then played Casino (shocker!). After a bit, I hung out front and watched Pipe (Maximo's nickname that he wants me to start using cuz I'm family lol) buzz cut his kids hair. And also helped make this...

...turn into this...

...and then we did this...

...and it was delicious. They say the name funny and I have no clue how to even begin spelling it so I'm not gonna try. But I had it in Villa once and it's delicious :)
Lunch followed and then the big baseball game! It was Mariano vs. Restauración. Fun to watch but there was lots of arguing on the field. Three times we thought the game was just gonna stop lol. 
Around 7 it ended and Pipe wanted to take me to Vara de Vaca. He made sure to say he wanted to take advantage of my days off and show me around. And when the game ended late, he still wanted to go despite it getting dark because he "doesn't like canceling things." Oh. My. God. Lol I don't think he's Dominican, actually. ;P
His little one that was almost asleep in my arms towards the end of the game came with us. We moto-ed our way up a road for a ways and ended up at this view:

And apparently out there somewhere is Haiti. The river below is what divides the countries. Crazy. Oh, and just behind this picture was where Pipe grew up :D Can you imagine having that view everyday?
And this is the munch that joined us:

He wouldn't smile for me haha. But I let him take this picture of a baby yucca plant:

Pipe introduced me to a neighbor there and showed me the teeny tiny school that they have. The community has water (we still don't btw) but never has luz. It got dark fast though so with a promise to return during the day (I'll take better pictures then), we were off. 
When I got back yucca and jamón was waiting for me but no water to shower (and I skipped one last night haha ew, I know). I was all ready to baby-wipe-shower but...My Doña had Pipe moto across the campo to fetch some for me. Ugh again. 
So with a shower and 9am approaching I'm off to sleep. Because tomorrow? I'm getting up at 6am to walk with two ladies (one is Altagracia, the turkey fetcher and rifle confiscator haha) in my community that walk for an hour every morning during the week for their health :D I'm pumped and don't wanna be too exhausted tomorrow.
Buenas noches!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Different Things.

Real quick.

Things I'm doing differently here and loving:
1. Talking better Spanish (and obviously losing English). 
2. Being myself.
3. Quitaring la vergüenza and being accepted for it (actually loved for it)
4. Not letting the kids play with my iPad (SUCH a good decision but I completely understand why I did it at my old site). 
5. Taking things slow and not beating myself up (too much) over things or freaking out if I'm not doing enough soon enough.
6. Truly soaking in the small beauties around me (and there's a TON). 
7. Making time to compartir more and not get caught up in work or in my house.

Things I'm doing (unintentionally) differently and not loving:
1. Having a hard time allowing myself to be happy here.
2. Putting up a wall with my kiddos and not letting them into my heart so easily.
3. Not letting KM59 go.

But it's been less than a week (but feels like so much longer with how comfortable I am with these people).  I'm going to work on those things and keep up with the top list.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Baby, Turkey, Rifle

18 de enero 2014. So first thing I need to get off my chest for the day: everyone looks like people from my old site and it's killing me. And no, that's not a racist comment saying all Dominicans look alike because they don't. But I can't tell you how many times I double take because I swear I just saw (or even heard) Eddy, or Lili, or Domingo, or Luis. It happened on the drive out here but it keeps happening. Even one teacher looks like Elva but thank god she's a wonderful woman so I'm reminded quickly that it's not her. I must be going crazy...
Anyways. Today I arose at 8 and was ready to go with Maximo by 9, like we had said. But at 9:30, I got breakfast. At 9:45, I got coffee. And 10, he leaves and says he'll be right back. Lol finally around 10:15, I was on his moto and headed to the pueblo Restauración where Allison and Ryan are.
And talk about breathtaking views. As soon as you move out of the wooded circle that is my community, through the broken trees is just...mountains. Dry lands but mountains beyond mountains and trees. Then on main winding road, views go from breathtaking to views that could kill. I'll get pictures someday but it's hard on a moto lol. Incredible.
We asked a few people where the Americans live and found their house easy haha. He dropped me off and left for church. I hung out with Ryan and Allison for a bit and they gave me a tour of their pueblo. It was nice. Not even close to the size of Villa so I liked it haha. There's also another American that was a volunteer but now works for another organization and lives in Restauración. It's funny because we joked about how his job is like Peace Corps on steroids because he actually has money to do stuff. Lol no joke though, you walk into his house and it's so America. Furniture from IKEA and just... Yea. It was beautiful lol. 
Around 1pm, Maximo came back with two kids. And the four of us were off. His little one (maybe 2years old) fell asleep within minutes and was falling over. So...he passed her to me. That made the 4/5 year old up front, Maximo and then me with the baby in my arms off to the side of the damn moto. INSANITY. I've seen it plenty of times but that was the first time I had done it haha.
When we got back, lunch was waiting and of course, was phenomenal. Afterwards, a few kids and I played Casino, and Maximo passed me a Christain magazine to read. For a little bit there it was just him and I reading magazines in the back in silence. Haha cute.
Later on, Maximo took me to visit a woman, Altagracia, with influence in the community. And HE suggested it. I never had anyone take me around the community in KM59... We drank coffee, chatted, laughed A LOT, she winked at me just as much as I wink, and...chased chickens? Yup. They thought it would be funny for me to toss out corn, get surrounded by chickens and watch me try and grab one. Naturally, I failed. But she grabbed a huge turkey and just handed it to me. The thing must've been like 30lbs. So I held it in one hand by it's feet and the other under his belly. Ahhhhhh haha Then I asked what I should do with it, just let it go? They laughed and said yes so I threw her and she ran off.
Then Altagracia's drunk son went in the house and brought out his rifle. And handed it to me. He wanted me to shoot it in the air and wouldn't take the gun back no matter how many times I said I wouldn't do it. His mom finally took it from me. 
So today I go from holding a baby, to a 30lb turkey, to a rifle. 
As we left, Altagracia gave me fruit and yucca to take home with me! And to balance out the insanity, I took the little boy that had been on the moto ride and gave him a piggy back all the way back home. 
Of course, dinner was waiting when we got home and Maximo goes, "Julie? I just know that you're going to love your dinner tonight." When I asked why, he laughed and said, "Because it's yucca and you love yucca." Ugh. Why am I in such a perfect place?
More Casino followed and then I got to FaceTime a cool kid back home with shitty internet. At 9:45, I went and said my goodnights and went to bed.
Buenas noches.

Friday, January 17, 2014

As Promised!

17 de enero 2014. 

My house!!  It's Christmas colors!!

As you walk in, my kitchen/work area which is still a disaster.

My room! Have I mentioned how much I hate curtains over the walls? But... That's a thing here lol

Directly behind my house. The green door on the right is mine. The house on the left is the son of my Doña's. The blue door is where my Doña and two of her grandchildren sleep. And across from that is the kitchen house.

House on the right is the same kitchen house but from the back. The house in the middle is where the fogón is.

Then behind there is this! Beautiful yard with cocoa trees, coffee trees, orange trees, coconut trees, and I think more haha. The left guy is my latrine (nice, right??). And on the right with the yellow curtain (might be hard to tell) is the shower one. Which I haven't used since the first night with my peeping Doña. It really is just easier to do it in my house with a shallow bucket below me.

And the damn rooster hut directly behind my house lol. 

Buenas noches!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spoiled Rotten

16 de enero 2014. Okay so I officially hate dogs. Obviously not Diego but I just about got up and murdered them last night. I really hope this gets better cuz I'm not sleeping.
Pero ya. Ipthats my first and only complaint for today (I think!) Today I Observed in first grade and the teacher is the director. Though his plans weren't phenomenal, he was enthusiastic, animated, energetic, positive, and fun. I LOVED watching him and saw his passion. Then the kids. I can't even tell you how many times I nearly cried from joy (but also some uncertainty- I'll explain). The kids could read. Not fluently or even all the syllables but quite a few. And they knew the names of the letters. And didn't fight when he left the room. Respected him and listened. Shared erasers and pencil sharpeners. I was in awe of it all. Literally on the brink of tears seeing what is in fact, possible. But then I wondered. What the hell am I doing here? It hurt to think about KM59 and how far behind they are in comparison. And I left them to come here? Something doesn't sit right there. But I told myself to keep learning, it's only been a day and a half. Not that I want things to be bad, but I also don't want to be somewhere that doesn't need help in comparison to what exists elsewhere...
During recess, we sat out of the gates while the kids played and ate food that is prepared for them in the kitchen daily. And if there was fighting, I didn't notice. Amazing... Maybe it's because they have a cancha with balls and things to do. Maybe it's because they were taught well by the staff. Or maybe their parents raised them differently. Whatever it is, I'm thanking God repeatedly. 
After recess, I headed to second grade where I watched each student go up and read a paragraph on the board. Again, it was beautiful. Not perfect, not completely fluent, but still amazing. Then on to math where again, planning not so great but the teacher has passion and she cares about the kids. I can see it. 
At noon I headed home and laid down for a bit. About 45 minutes later, Nena's kids were calling me to go to their house so I could eat. The food was delicious and at 2, I was off to the school. And we didn't start classes until 2:45 with the kids arriving super late..and all at different times. I observed third where I was bored to tears with the lesson but I'll continue observing and hope for the best. They do have a psychologist, however, who came in and talked about very important things which I had never seen taught before (health, contamination of the waters, garbage, etc). But.. Each child was sleeping by the time she was done talking. And I was close too lol.
After class I headed home and Maximo started working on my ceiling above my patio. Ann told him he had to fix it and bought plywood to help. So he started by lowering all the planks and cleaning them off. Then he put them back up and placed the plywood that already existed on top so it's completely covered (it was in bad shape before and coated in rats nests-looks like I didn't escape from Rufus after all! ;) ). The piece Ann bought was left over so he told me he is going to make me two tables out of it!! So spoiled. 
I then got dinner brought to me by Nena which was platanos and salami :D Mmmmm. Spoiled again.
Three games of Casino followed with a few kiddos on my patio and afterwards, I asked my Doña timidly if there was water to bathe. She said that there's water abajo but it hasn't come here yet. But she had some of her grandkids fetch water earlier so yes, there was (!!). She put together a fire and started heating it up. And proceeded to tell me that I'm family. I need not worry and just say each night, "Doña, prepare my bathing water." Haha I could have cried with how incredible they've all made me feel. And obviously, spoiled. 
So while it was heating up, I watched as Maximo had coffee in a big pot over a fire. He showed me the tree and explained the process. What's on the tree has two beans inside. You shuck the tree and heat the "pods" (?) over a fire. When it's dry and blackened, you let it all cool and then take the beans out from inside the pods and voila! Coffee ready to be ground and made :D So cool. He also told me he's making me dinner tomorrow cuz there's a vivere I've never had that's apparently the best vivere. I told him he's got major competition with how much I love yucca! Haha AND crab. He's gonna make me crab. 
Yea. I'm never leaving this house (I had thought about finding another). Despite not exactly having the privacy I want, how can I say no to a Doña who heats my water up (and I now shower in my house; it's much easier and more private lol)? Nena who brings me coffee at the school and cooks all my meals? A handyman like Maximo who fixes the house, gets me my Botellon of water, and teaches me things and cooks? Nena's kids who are wonderful and fun with one especially (Alexander) who has stolen my heart already with his smile? I'm sold, spoiled, and confused. But happy :)
Buenas noches.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

From Bucket Shower to Cup Shower

15 de enero 2014. Today I arose at 7am and headed to the school. I was so hoping for coffee but no one seemed to be awake haha. Definitely need to invest in my own Botellon of water cuz it doesn't seem like my Doña has a lot. And buy some coffee. And sugar. But anyways! I met the teachers again and then the director. He is a well dressed little man with a horrible comb over but seems energetic and kind. There were no classes today but just a meeting and planning day for the teachers (who are awesome and seem to have a great, fun relationship with each other). Incredible benefit from that? A few cooks made sancocho for us! My favorite Dominican dish on my second day here! Yesssss. I fought back yawns and drowsiness until noon as they just did their own work. I did however, meet the district director whom Ann knows well. He gave a speech and even I felt motivated afterwards! They all stayed but I decided to head out at noon. There really wasn't much for me to see or do at that point and I figured I could hang out in the community for the rest of the day.
Well. That turned into Máximo (son of my Doña and handy man) saying he'd fix my door (put locks on it) around 2 and that I should just rest for a little. Which gave me the go ahead to lay down...a little. Which turned into me passing out into a broken nap until almost 3. Oops? I hardly slept last night due to the fighting dogs and roosters (not sure how many but there's a hut full of them directly behind my house) starting their call around 1am haha so while I felt bad, I needed it. 
When I arose, Francheska brought me to her mom's house, who is Nena, the daughter of my Doña who cooks for me. I learned that all the little ones around my house (6 total-though should have been 8...) were all hers. And sleep in separate houses; some with her, some with my Doña, and some in another house. I played Casino with Francheska, Luisa, Gabriela, and a few others who's names I haven't gotten down yet haha. Nena fed me and then we headed back so I could change and we could play baseball! Apparently they have a women's and men's team here too! I played horribly and despite the kids being super competitive, it was a lot of fun :D. Afterwards, I went behind my house and hung out with my Doña while she juiced oranges to make some sort of vinaigrette. We chatted, some of her grandsons joined, and I spent the rest of the night with the entire family in the back area (which is beautiful by the way), drinking coffee, freezing a little (I put a sweater on!), watching the little ones dance, and cheering when the luz came around 8pm. Perfection. And I already feel somewhat close to them. I'm so in love and feel much better today :). 
To end the night, I learned that there's hardly any water left. So a 3/4 full milk jug heated up became my shower in my house. I used a big(ish), shallow bucket to stand in and my bucket shower upgraded to a cup shower. Woo! That's when you learn to accept only washing the necessary body bits ;) but hey. It was a quick shower, that's for sure! Haha on that note, off to bed I go!
Buenas noches.
(Ah! And I'm hoping to get on taking pictures for y'all tomorrow!)

Peeping Doña

14 de enero 2014. By 7am, Lula, Greg and I were ready for our departure. We left a little late but made it to Villa, packed their stuff in with mine and 7 hours later jam packed in the front seat of the truck with Zach and the chofer (and with a little lunch break), we made it to their site first. And can I say, the trip was breathtaking. Closer to our sites, we started up through mountains, winding (seriously winding) and narrow roads, with views across vast mountains and trees (even pine trees!!) and dry lands. I'll take pictures someday, I promise.
We unpacked Lula and Greg, met their host family (amazing people) and briefly went to their school. Their kids barely have class still because the school went to a full day for all students and they don't have the classrooms or teachers to accommodate it... 
Then we left the couple and headed to my site. Thankfully, there's a windy, wooded road off the main road that leads to my site. The community is a circle around a play (baseball field). They've had volunteers before (though not for education) which is good and nerve racking. They have expectations (nerves) but also know what Americans are like a little better than most (good). There's less of the direct and long stares and comments about American women lol. I have my own place though it's different than the original. I'm not on the second floor because apparently it was brought to Ann's attention that the lady I was going to live above is a little...crazy. So instead, I'm in a house that is grouped together with three other houses which all belong to the same family. One house is solely a kitchen area and the others are occupied by a Doña and some grandchildren and one of her sons. The Doña lived where I am now but moved just for me (!!). She still has stuff in the one room so I have my bedroom and the main room. Which sadly isn't enough for all my shit lol! But it's perfect. She's already said that if I decide to stay here after this first month, she'll gladly clear out that room so I'll have the whole house.
Before Ann left me, we went to the school and met the teachers.  The Director wasn't there though but will be tomorrow. The school is much bigger than my old one and they have a cancha! It was brief so we came back, Ann left and I started unpacking in between talking with the kids that came in and out and taking a break to eat a banana (which apparently are plentiful here and sooooo good). 
The Doña's daughter will be the one cooking for me and she brought me dinner which I got to eat alone in my house. I was happy with that though I didn't eat much so I stored it in the non-functioning fridge (damn! Though there is talk of getting it fixed!). 
The Luz came at 5 and we had it all night. Apparently there's some sort of consistency but Nena lost me in the process of explaining it. I guess it's almost every other night we will have it. And the nights we don't, we have it in the afternoon. Sounds doable to me!
Water only comes once, maybe twice a week. But! My Doña heated up my water for me!! It was quite chilly tonight so it felt soooo good! Only one problem. She also followed me out to the shower area (cuz she didn't want me back there alone in the dark) and shined her flashlight through the see-through curtain despite me trying to tell her that I had one and didn't need her to do that for me. And despite my best efforts to weasel my way behind the wall or cover the curtain with my towel, all failed and I showered naked in front of my Doña on the first day. Win!
I have a latrine but it's super nice! No gaps because the walls are the zinc slats that our roofs are made of. And it's clean! Just have to bring my own toilet paper and hand sanitizer cuz I don't even know where they store water to wash my hands. Haha 
Aw well. All is a learning process! It was a good day but all the strange faces and times when I found myself silent again reminded me of the beginnings in KM59. But I did it then and plan on doing it better now so I'm fighting the feelings of unhappiness. Exhaustion probably wasn't helping so I went to bed :) Buenas noches.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I'm Baaaaaack!

13 de enero 2014. Well! I'm back! I arrived in the capital around 3:30 yesterday, bargained a taxi down a couple hundred pesos and made it to the hotel. After leaving my house at 4am, it was quite exhausting. I planned on showering and going to bed but! The lovely Lula and Greg were at a restaurant down the road and invited me over so I headed out :) It was so nice to see them again.
So, around 11, I was finally in bed but unable to sleep. Go figure, right? At 8am, we left for the office, I got a ton more malaria pills since I have no idea when I'll make it back to the capital, and made plans with Ann for Tuesday's trip to my new site! We then headed up to a mall I hadn't been too, I set up a thing called tPAGO where I can put minutes on my phone or pay for my internet WITH my phone. Crazy right? Lol
And after? Off to my KM59! I ended up having an awesome conversation with random guy on the guagua. And awesome as in I didn't lose as much Spanish as I thought! I saw a few of my chofers that loved to mess with me at the place where I pick up my car in Villa. When I finally got to my site, it felt strange. Not necessarily bad, but somehow my heart knew I no longer belonged there. But I made my way through and got running hugs from my kiddos getting out of school. Saw Ramona, Juana Iris, Luis, and others right off the bat. Then the teachers from the morning tanda and Natividad! The visit there was brief though cuz I knew I was gonna be back for the afternoon. I went to Dulce's and she excitedly greeted me and Moreno was even there! Not working! He made me feel so welcomed and loved. As Dulce cooked, she kept passing me the phone to say hey to people cuz she seemed to have a ton of minutes for some reason. It was hysterical.
I must've drank four cups of coffees, ate, I sat in the gallery with Dulce, Margarita, Moreno, Alex's dad, Domingo, Luis, and Eddy and just talked, and even drank wine. It felt so good to see everyone again. I can't even explain it to you. While I could sense that this wasn't where I was supposed to be anymore, it still felt like home. Even Luis said to Domingo that "something better than money" was there. And that something was me. Hahaha
Around 4, I headed to the school to see the afternoon teachers. They were wonderful but all talking to me at once haha talk about head rush. I then left because Ramona said that Linda was home and I was so excited to give her the baby clothes. And I was justified in being excited! Watching her pull out piece by piece and scream with each one was such a beautiful thing. She freaked. So a HUGE thanks to those who gave me the clothes! She really needed them and appreciated them more than anything.
I then made Domingo drive me up to his mother (China) so I could see her. She was great but still mad that I left :/ another difficult encounter was Bebo... My little man who caused me so many problems but in the end, loved me like no other and hugged me like no other. He wouldn't say hello to me this time. Would barely look at me. And threw nasty comments my way... His mother said that when I left, each day he would say to her, "Julie is gonna come back. I just know it." And then I didn't. And now he hates me. It broke my heart.
But, it was getting late so I headed up one last time to my host mom's mom's house. And saw Fredito. He drove back all the way from Constanza because he had been told I was there. It was so good to see him. Aaaaand because of his later arrival and me not wanting to leave so fast... I left late (it was dark! Don't tell Peace Corps...). But! The car ride back with a few guys and the driver ended up being the best car ride I've ever taken in the DR. The chofer put English music on! Aaaaand I was BELTING Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, etc. It was hysterical. All the while, I was mushed up against the total stranger next to me in the front and translating the songs for them. Amazing.
I got on the Metro, made it to the hotel, FaceTimed my family, (re)packed, showered and went to bed!
It really was SUCH a good day. I arrived yesterday from the states kind of numb. Leaving my family all over again was...brutal. I didn't feel the motivation I was hoping I would right away. But going back to KM59? It hurt a lot feeling so loved and missed but felt so incredible all at once. I really wasn't sure how they were going to be after me leaving and with the many problems we had.. And if that was after coming in with super limited Spanish? I plan on rocking my new site. I'm no longer nervous, I feel empowered, I feel at home (without actually having a home yet) and am so ready for what's to come. Good, bad, ugly, and amazing.
Buenas noches!