Tuesday, June 16, 2009

more tales from this dominican life

  • I’ve been corresponding back and forth with a 6th grade Spanish class in the States through the Peace Corps program World Wise Schools. (Briefly, my English class was also corresponding, but that kind of stopped when all my students stopped attending English class.) Last month, one of the students wrote to me that he liked cooking and baking. I wrote back asking what kinds of things he cooked, and last week I got a reply saying he just made a “pie de arándano.” “Pie” is Spanish for “foot,” and I didn’t recognize the word “arándano,” so I was a little grossed out as I went for the dictionary, like, what animal is this kid cooking the foot of?! And then it turned out that “arándano” means “blueberry,” which threw me for another loop. Blueberry foot? Is that like some kind of British pastry? Or, wait… he just meant “pie.” Blueberry pie.
  • This story actually probably could have happened in the States, but I’ll share it anyway. It is for your amusement, reader, that I do this! I’ve recently had a few sets of visitors to my house, which made me realize that my mug and bowl supply has been somewhat depleted by my tendency to drop things. So I went down to my town’s 10 y 20 (like a five and dime store, but the devaluation of Dominican currency has led to 10 & 20s instead) and perused the somewhat limited housewares section. I debated between some large solid-color mugs, some smaller flowered mugs, and some Garfield and Friends mugs that were shipped directly from 1988. I left the store with two plain mugs and two neon plastic bowls (probably from the same shipment as the Garfield mugs). Since the stuff was dusty from the store, I washed it before putting it away. Unfortunately, I dropped the red mug on its way to the drying rack and broke it. “Oh well,” I thought, “at least I still have this green mug.” Unfortunately, the green mug had some sort of dirty speck that was really stuck on the bottom, so I left it to soak over night. The next day I went back to continue my attack on the green mug. The mystery fleck was stubborn, and I kept scrubbing at it. And scrubbing. Until I somehow scrubbed through the side of the mug, knocking out a nickel-sized hole on one side, severely reducing the liquid capacity of the mug. Oh well, I guess I’ll go back and try the Garfield mugs.
  • In the DR, ambulances and fire trucks are sort of rare and unreliable, so if someone drives by and sees an accident, they will almost always stop and assist and drive people to the hospital if necessary. Accidents are also often the most exciting thing to happen all day, so they draw huge rubbernecking crowds. Yesterday, I was taking a guagua back to my town from La Vega and talking to my friend Justin on the phone. We had gone about 2 blocks from the stop when we passed a big accident, which actually had an ambulance there, in addition to a large mob of onlookers (La Vega is a pretty good-sized town.) Suddenly, my guagua whipped around and did a U-turn, which I grumbled about to Justin. “I think we’re turning around to go back to that accident, but there was an ambulance there! What are we even going to do? Are we just going back to stare? ” As it turned out, we were just heading back to the guagua stop because the driver had forgotten his lunch.
  • Last week, my friends Justin, Arianna and I met up for lunch with a Dominican doctor, who had been some kind of liaison with the military med mission Justin and I did last month. (Which I don’t think I ever posted very much about, but it was really great! Speaking as someone who has personally criticized the size of the US military budget, these Reservist medical missions seem like a very well-done program, and one that military PR guys maybe should spend a little more time promoting to the general public.) So when this doctor told us we should meet up because she wanted to help us plan medical missions in our own sites, we were excited about the possibilities. Unfortunately, it turned out that 1) this woman has a crush on Justin that she is apparently prepared to be pretty relentless about pursuing, 2) she has no actual authority with the military med missions and is offering to travel with a couple doctor friends to sites to do one-day mini-missions (which is still a nice project, but not quite what we were hoping for), 3) she is some kind of quack who encouraged Arianna and I to wear vibrating bands around our waists to lose weight, noting that it has worked for all of her patients, many of whom are much fatter than we are, 4) she is interested in acquiring a Peace Corps volunteer to serve as her personal assistant, 5) she is also interested in acquiring a Peace Corps volunteer to serve as her private English tutor, and 6) she is some kind of crazy. Oh, and when I tried to bow out of her crazy meeting by saying I was going to the States for three weeks (true), she asked if I could bring her back “una cosita” (one little thing). I said “Maybe… what?” And she said, “Oh, just a little laptop computer.” Ay, Dios. Anyway, so the three of us engineered our escape (but not before she got Justin to pay for her lunch by claiming her wallet was stolen—which maybe it actually was. Maybe.) by claiming (semi-truthfully) to be subject to the whims of Dominican public transportation, and scurrying to a colmado a block away to sit on plastic chairs and talk about how crazy this woman was. Then, an hourish later, when we actually did need to start leaving to make sure to catch public transportation in time, she passes by the colmado and sees us standing up to leave. “Justin! Justin! You abandoned me!” she yells (Arianna and I are pretty much off the hook). “Oh,” Justin says, awkwardly. “It’s just that after we left, it started raining, so we sat in here to wait a little bit for it to stop…but now we really have to go or we’ll miss the very last carros.” (This is kind of true, in that it had been raining on and off all afternoon, and we really did need to leave then. It’s also an excellent excuse, because Dominicans hate to do anything in the rain, so avoiding rain is always an acceptable motive .) STILL THOUGH, IT WAS SUPER AWKWARD.

No comments: