Friday, August 12, 2011



This is a typical attempt at talking in a Dominican night club or bar or public transport or on a porch. If there’s one thing in this country that never fails to reach its full potential, it’s the volume of the music. And not just any type of music. The WORST kind of music ever (invented, obviously, by a horny, violent, tone deaf, sadistic little bastard) Reggaeton. Now Merengue and Bachata are also played here and on occasions when my iTunes stumbles upon a Merengue or Bachata song and sends it through my earphones at a reasonable volume it can actually be pleasant. But in the colmado (bar/convenience store) they turn it up until the speakers are blown and you mostly hear loud scratchy sounds. Reggaeton is bad at any volume. Even if you mute it, but it’s still playing, it is excruciatingly terrible. Not that they have a mute button here. They only have an “UP” volume button which raises the volume of the music at an ever increasing rate directly proportional to the rate of hearing loss in this country.

A friend called me “crotchety” the other day which, as he explained to me, means that I am kind of like a grumpy old man. And I’m rereading what I just wrote about the music and I see how this could be taken as the writing of the only crotchety 25 year-old in the Dominican Republic. But no. Reggaeton, and the volume it’s played at, is some sort of rhythmic masochism which I refuse to accept just to be considered the opposite of crotchety (“good natured” according to Rant over.

The Dominicans have another name for me here that is similar to crotchety. I haven’t told you about this name before because I was ashamed. I wanted you all to think I was a happy go lucky globetrotter. But in the eyes of a Dominican it is not so. And it’s time that you all know. For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a very talkative person. And I don’t always greet people with a great big smile and a firm handshake. And I’ve learned that my normal, everyday, walking around face that I wear here does not express enthusiasm. Well in the Dominican Republic if you aren’t smiling and emphatically greeting everybody you see and making small talk then you can only be one kind of person: an “Odioso.” (gasp!) This translates roughly to “The Hateful One.” A bit harsh, I think. It was officially coined by the members of another volunteer’s community where I spent a lot of time, apparently not saying hello or smiling. Now in my head I am neither crotchety nor odioso. I like people. And I like talking to people. I just sometimes don’t see the need for the niceties and small talk that are so important here. So in the future if I seem angry or hateful towards you, it is probably not the case. But I also probably don’t want to talk about the weather. So I am whatever that makes me. I won't worry about it until I stop laughing at fart jokes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


As I enter my final season on this Island I have to think about the future of my projects. My stove project is a young baby, just learning to walk. But I can’t raise it anymore. So I’m giving it up for adoption. My thesis study is like the obnoxious toddler I never wanted but I can’t just abandon it because everybody tells me that’s not a good thing to do. And my second water project is like my unborn baby that Cameron and I conceived (immaculately) a while back and is about to be born. I will probably have to leave pretty early in its life but thanks to you guys I almost have enough money to support it from abroad (*cough* see blog below! *cough*). But enough with the baby analogies. They’re pretty creepy.

Let’s try Star Wars. So in this stove project I am like Yoda except that I am shorter, greener, and wrinklier than he is. I’ve gotten pretty good at using The Force (fire) for good (cooking). But I’m getting on in years and I won’t be here for much longer so I have to pass this knowledge of using The Force (fire) for good (cooking) on to some young Jedi (other Peace Corps Volunteers). Because Darth Vader (smoke) is using The Force (fire) for bad to carry out the evil plan of The Empire (respiratory diseases [the reason for Darth Vader’s breathing problems]) and so we must use the light-saber (improved cook stove) to defeat Darth Vader (smoke) and be one step closer to blowing up the Death Star (umm…). So this month I will be training the young Jedi (Peace Corps volunteers) how to use The Force (fire) and their light sabers (improved cook stoves) for good (cooking). And I am hoping that one of the young Jedi (Luke Stovemaker) will turn out to be even more powerful than I and be the hero of the Galaxy (Dominican Republic) by defeating Darth Vader (smoke) and bringing down The Empire (respiratory illnesses). I am also holding open auditions for Hans Solo, Chewbacca (no hair required), and Leia. Their analogical representation has yet to be determined.

Yeah so basically I’m trying to dump this project off on somebody so it doesn't die when I leave. It shouldn’t be a problem because it’s a pretty rad project. In my opinion. As if there were any other.