Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Living la vida solita

I’m back from the 3-month IST, wiser and fatter from the constant stream of workshops and cookies. Now I’m living the good life in my own house! Of course, I still don’t have a working stove or refrigerator, so I’ve been living on raw vegetables and fruit and peanut butter sandwiches. It’s still really satisfying to prepare my own meals, though. And I’m getting the stove situation remedied soon—I have the stove, the tank, and today I ventured to the hardware store to buy the things I need to connect the stove to the tank. My previous excursions to the hardware store have been a little awkward, since I barely know what to do in English-speaking hardware stores, and here I find myself doing things like attempting to describe a showerhead (“I need something for my shower… right now the water just comes out of the wall… but there should be something else there… you know… a thing…”) or asking for a lock and getting a doorknob. But today I wrote down exactly what my host dad told me to buy and handed over my sheet of paper. All that’s left is to go get the gas tank filled, and then actually connect it to the stove. Luckily, I’ve enlisted my former host dad to help me with these two steps, because left to my own devices I would probably explode my house.

Not having a fridge isn’t that big of a deal thanks to the colmado system. A lot of people here don’t have refrigerators, so at a colmado you can buy a single piece of cheese, or a fourth of an onion, or basically whatever quantity you want of whatever food staple you want. You can also buy individual bread rolls, but I don’t like colmado bread very much so I sprang for a whole loaf of wheat bread at the fancy supermercado. Now I’m in a race against time to eat as much bread as possible by myself before it gets stale or moldy. I also had to eat a whole pineapple in one day so it wouldn’t spoil. It was delicious, but now the corners of my mouth hurt. Que pena sobre la piña! (What a shame about the pineapple.)

Tonight I’ve scored a dinner invitation from one of the school secretaries, who lives across the street from me. She knows I’m vegetarian and asked if “fried onions and cheese” would be okay for dinner. Um, yes please.

Update: Thanks to my former host dad, my estufa is now up and running! Bonus: my kitchen remains un-exploded. This morning I made coffee Dominican-style for the first time, and it was delicious. Dominicans use something called a Greca to make coffee. Since this means “Greek,” I’m assuming that this is also how Greek people make coffee, but I am pretty ignorant about Greek coffee so I can’t confirm that. Basically, it’s a metal pitcher, and you put water in a little compartment at the bottom, and then over that is a little strainer compartment that you fill with coffee grounds, and then over that is an empty compartment. Then you put it on to boil, and as it boils the water goes up over the coffee grounds and TRANSFORMS INTO COFFEE. Dominicans only drink about a fourth of a cup of coffee at a time, known as a “cafecito.” I have a three-cup Greco, but this morning I drank it all for myself. It still wasn’t as big as an American cup of coffee.

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