Friday, January 23, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

This is my first blog entry written under Presidente Obama! How exciting! On Tuesday I headed up to Santiago with a bunch of my compañeros to watch the CNN coverage of the inauguration at the Hub, our favorite hostel. The coverage itself wasn’t overly exciting (we did like the CNN “FACTs” at the bottom of the screen and had a good time making up our own. FACT: The guy who writes CNN FACTs gets paid minimum wage. FACT: Newseum. FACT: Joe Biden is the first white vice president. FACT: We were just kidding about Biden.) but it was nice to share the moment with other Americans. I would describe our overall attitude regarding Obama’s presidency as: cautiously optimistic. Obviously we’re all a bunch of crunchy hippies who have more or less swallowed Obama’s message of HOPE and CHANGE, but—from abroad, anyway—it seems like there are nearly-impossibly-high standards being set for President Obama right now. We hope he can meet them. (Also, we’re really counting on him to fix the economy by the time we come back to the country and enter the job market.) Obamanos!!

We also took advantage of some of the other things Santiago has to offer, like a giant American-style grocery store. We bought frozen waffles!! The Hub, unlike any of our campo houses, has a freezer and a toaster, so we could make them! And they were delicious! Plus I bought whole-wheat tortillas and some honey-almond cereal to bring back to my site. So awesome.

The next day, I had a relaxing morning and afternoon at the Hub, then went back to my town in time for my 6pm English class. On Monday, my students asked if there was going to be class on Wednesday. Since it’s a Monday/Wednesday class, I said, “Why wouldn’t there be class on Wednesday?” They told me that Wednesday is a holiday here—Dia de la Altagracia, one of many Catholic holidays that I don’t really know much about. So I said, “Well, if you guys don’t want to have class on Wednesday, that’s fine.” To which they replied, “No, we want to have class!” I was surprised, and somewhat skeptical, but we agreed we’d have class on Wednesday.

So I got back to my site on Wednesday around 4pm, giving me time to unwind a little bit before the 6pm class. As soon as I arrived at my house, it started raining. I wondered how this will impact my class turnout, since Dominicans generally don’t like to go out in the rain. “Well, whatever,” I though, and laid down to read for awhile. It was really raining HARD, and when I got up to go to the bathroom I noticed that a spot in my bedroom ceiling was leaking, so I put a bucket under it and went back to my book. Meanwhile, it was raining so much so fast that my paved-over yard was becoming a moat, which began to seep under my front door (which has a small gap between the bottom of it and the floor). When I left my bedroom, I realized that my entire front room had a good 1/4 inch or so of water over it, and it was also spreading into the kitchen. I tried to put a towel in the door gap, but by this time it was really too late. Since my whole house has tile floor, and what little furniture I do own is plastic, the house flood wasn’t really hurting anything, so I shrugged and headed off for my class, figuring I’d clean up my underwater house later. (Incidentally, I think that my putting a bucket under the leak in my room while remaining completely oblivious to the rest of my house flooding would probably make a good metaphor for something. I’m putting that story up on public domain; you should all feel free to co-opt it for your own personal metaphorical use if the need arises.)

So anyway, when I get to the school, I realized the flaw in my brilliant Have Class on a Holiday plan: the school is locked, and I don’t have a key. Grumpily, I stood in front of the school until about 6:15, figuring if anyone comes I can at least tell them in person that the school is closed but I tried, sorry. (Ordinarily I might have offered to have it at my house, but it’s flooded. And also the power is out and by this point it’s almost dark, given the rain and clouds.) At 6:15 I gave up (normally, given Dominican standards of time, I would wait half an hour or 45 minutes before deciding no one was going to make it, but I wasn’t especially thrilled about standing out in the rain myself) and headed back towards my house. Three of my four students were standing on the corner under umbrellas and called my name. “We were waiting for you,” they said. “I was waiting for you… at the school… where we have class,” I said. “Are we having class?” “The school is locked and I don’t have a key. Sorry. See you Monday.”

Then I grumpily went back to my house and watched a movie on my computer and went to bed without mopping up my house.

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