Sunday, September 27, 2009

Five

Halfway through tech training. Sad news. Our trainer Ryan got really sick and had to head back to the United States. We´re not sure exactly what is wrong with him yet but we´re hoping the best for him.

Happy news. We built a latrine last week. One more family will now be able to poop in privacy. This week we´re going to build a springbox for the aqueduct that they already have in the town. Then I think we´re going to build a ferrocement sedimentation tank. Exciting stuff.

We have a meeting this afternoon to try to establish a Water Committee in the town. We´ve prepared some ridiculous skits to illustrate the importance of water governance. I´m not sure how a bunch of gringos making asses of themselves helps make a water committee but I´m all for it.

Otherwise not much has changed in Mancebo. Last Saturday we drank some rum at the colmado and started dancing and the whole town showed up to watch us. I sometimes feel like a zoo animal here. A dancing zoo animal. But eventually they started dancing too and it was great fun. Everybody was talking about it the next day.

We decided to get out this weekend and so we´re here in Ocoa using the internet and stuff. Yesterday we went on a sweet hike to the top of the loma. We could see the ocean from there. On the way back we stopped by some giant waterfalls to bathe ourselves. We did a photo shoot there. Then we hiked the rest of the way in our boxers and hiking boots. It was pretty funny, I think.

The two year old who yells too much in my house decided that she likes my name so she stands next to me at every meal and yells it at me until I run away. I try to answer her but she doesn´t want to have a conversation with me. She just yells my name for 15 minutes straight. It´s absurd. One time I threw a balloon at her face.

I´m trying to load photos but the internet is too slow here so I think you´ll be left photoless once again. Just know that where I am is more beautiful than where you are and that I have gotten much more attractive. That´s what I wanted to show with my pictures.

Ummmm....huh. I don´t have a whole lot write about this week. I´m sorry this post is so uninspired. I´ll try to stir something up so I can write a more interesting post next time.

Here´s a link to a few photos my friend put up:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42992225@N06/

The first two are of the place in town where there´s a waterfall and we rock climb and stuff. The next two are from our hike yesterday.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Four

Hello. I found the internet! It was right here all along. I´m in the nearest city to my training site right now for a day of R&R. Unfortunately there is no rest for me because I have so many people counting on me to update my blog.

I´ve been in Mancebo for 1.5 weeks now. It´s a tiny community at the end of the world with a population that changes every time you ask somebody. I´m going to go with 250 people. That might be way off though. There is no electricty or cell phone reception or McDonalds. An organization came in and put solar panels on all the houses about 10 years ago but all of the batteries have died and almost nobody replaced them. I guess they didn´t really like electricity that much. But there are two colmados (bar/liquor store) in the town that have generators so they can blare bachata music. Even the most quiet, peaceful spots in the country play their music way to loud.

One thing that is pretty wierd is that a lot of 14 year old girls get married to 30 year old men here. I know I´m supposed to be undertanding of their culture but that´s a little disturbing for me.

There is a sweet river at the end of town that has carved deep valleys into the rock. We go there a lot and rock climb and fall into the river. There are also waterfalls to jump off of. It´s very cool. We go every day that it doesn´t rain which is about half the time we´ve been there. We´re usually followed by twenty little kids, until the deep part because most of them can´t swim. That´s the only place you can get away from the kids in town. Also bathing in the river is way better than bathing in the latrine. Something about cleaning myself next to a smelly shit pit doesn´t seem right to me. I think its the shit part.

I think my Dona is trying to kill me via carbohydrate poisoning. She feeds me enough for 3 people. Every time I eat I sit sit around, comatose, for an hour until I´m sure that I can move my body without exploding.

There are three kids in the house. A 10 year old niece, an 8 year old boy, and a twoish year old girl. The 8 year old is really obnoxious but I think we´re starting to work somethig out. Whenever he is really bothering me I just say mean things to him in english. I´m not sure if that´s immature or not. Then I just tell him to go away in Spanish and he usually does. Then he comes back 20 minutes later. The two year old is really cute but she has trouble controlling the volume of her voice. Usually, in spanish speaking countries, my name is pronounced Dooncon but for some reason in this town they call me Donkey. I´m not sure how that happened or if I should be insulted.

For now I will go go eat lunch and then jump in the back of a pick up truck. It takes about 1.5 hours to get back to Mancebo and most of the way is unpaved. It´s really uncomfortable and I think it´s causing me brain damage.

Pictures will come soon. Or at least I will keep saying that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Three

Tomorrow is the last day in Santo Domingo. Thursday we ship off to the mountains for technical training where we'll learn how to build all the stuff we'll need for the aqueduct and how to set up local water governance. The place we're going is called San Jose de Ocoa and I've been told it's one of the most beatiful places in the interior of the country. So that's promising. Especially since the group I'm going with is mostly male engineers. I'm going to need something pretty to look at.

Over the weekend I went on a three day visit to a water/sanitation volunteer who has been here for a year now. I got to see how he lives and what his work is like. He's a pretty cool guy. Kind of like the Survivorman of the Peace Corps. He has a little wooden shack in the mountains in a community of about 250. He has dirt floors, no electricity, no water, and the nearest town is a 30 minute walk. He builds stuff out of wood and bark and stuff that he chops down in the woods. And he cooks over a wood fire. I told my director that I wanted a site like that. I might regret that a year from now but for now I'm real excited. He also has a horse named Zap that he rides into town. I want a horse but with a better name. Anybody got any good horse names to suggest? Except I don't really like riding horses and it seems like more responsibility than I can handle. But besides that I think it would be fun to have one. Maybe I'll just get a cat. He also has tarantulas living in his house. I'm less excited about that. He bathes in the river with the other men and their animals. It seems less than higienic if you ask me.

I found out that my site is going to be somewhere in the north of the country, in or around the province of Puerto Plata. There are nice beaches up that way. So start planning your vacations to come visit. Everybody's welcome. Even if I don't know you. Unless you're weird or a serial killer or something.We can go surfing and drink Presidente. We don't have to stay in my shack if you don't want to.

I think my family here was trying to get me to marry the daughter of the dad from another marriage. It made for some very uncomfortable situations. Apparently “Do you want to come over and use the internet?” doesn't just mean that. Anyway my mom said I can't marry anybody who doesn't speak english. That still leaves like a billion people so it's not so bad.

I got a sweet new motorcycle helmet because some parts of the country can only be reached by motorcycle taxi. I haven't gotten to use it yet but I look pretty cool with it on.

Today the nurse told us that we will be spending approximately 2.6% of our lives in the Peace Corps based on a life expectancy of 85 years. And since I'm 24 that means I still have 69.2% of my life left to live when I get back to the states. She used it as a reason not to get AIDS while I'm here. I wasn't planning on getting AIDS anyway but it's nice to put things into perspective like that. 2.6% isn't really that much.

I have two exams tomorrow to see if I've been paying attention for the past three weeks. I haven't really, but I think it was mostly stuff about helping poor people and not getting diseases. It's probably easier than quantum physics. There's no Hilbert space in the Dominican Republic. That was a physics joke.

I'm going to put up some pictures when I have a chance. I forgot the cord for my camera so at the moment I have no way to put the pictures on my computer. Luckily my writing is very descriptive and pictures aren't really necessary.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009