Sunday, February 21, 2010

counting down!


75 days, apparently. 75 days left in the DR. I'm sure when I get back to the US and start transitioning, there will be things that I miss about being here. Certainly I'll miss all my Peace Corps and DREAM friends. I'll miss being so close to the beach. I'll miss egg empanadas.

But mainly, I'm ready to get home. What I miss most isn't material things--although there are plenty of those that I do miss, like hot water, a non-flood prone living space, and paved streets/sidewalks--it's just American culture. I'm not going to make a case that American culture is better than Dominican culture. But I'm used to American culture. For example, if many people are waiting for a service, such as asking for goods from behind the counter in a small store, who should get that service first? If you said, "the person who was there first," you are probably American. Or European. If you said, "the person who is loudest," you are probably Dominican.

If there's a dog in the neighborhood that you don't like, what should you do? If you answered "confront the dog's owner" or "call Animal Control," you are probably American. If you answered, "put out poisoned meat," you are probably Dominican. (Now, if you are Dominican, you definitely do not have an Animal Control line to call. And if you are a Dominican whose dog is accidentally killed by some poisoned meat, you are probably not too worked up about it--you probably thought of your dog as a security measure, not as a beloved family pet. But this is one of the reasons Duartecat isn't allowed outside.)

And I guess the benefit of two years here in the DR is that I really do understand where Dominicans are coming from, and I'm not like, "God, Dominicans KILL THEIR PETS." I mean, Americans have semi-arbitrarily chosen a few animals, like cats and dogs, that are "pets" and are taken care of, while others, arguably about as cute, like sheep and chickens, are kept in gross factory farms and eaten. But I still am American, and I'm looking forward to getting home and waiting in line for things, letting Duarte outside, and letting myself outside in a tank top without hearing every passing male's thoughts on the subject (which, granted, are invariably favorable).

Soon enough I'm sure I'll be complaining about how people in America are overly litigious and obsessed with their lawns, but for now, I'm pretty happy to get back to the devil I know.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

culinary delicacy

So, lately I've been really excited about leaving the DR. Granted, I've been here over two years; it's fair that I'm ready to go home. But still, I have three months left and I want to take some time to focus on the positives. There must be some things I will miss, right?

Yes there are, and here is one of them:


Mmm! Egg empanadas! Empanadas are awesome little fried things sold on the street for around 15 pesos (about 50 cents). They come with a variety of fillings, but the best kind is egg.


They are very best when they are fresh out of the oil. Some places will sell cold empanadas. These are acceptable for eating, but nothing compared to the warm crispiness of a freshly fried empanada.

Dominicans: maybe not the best at getting along with their neighbors, but excellent at frying things.

haitian-dominican relations

I was running a little late for work this morning, like usual. I turned the corner to get to our side entrance--our front door is blocked off because we're constructing an extension to the building. I turned the corner and saw most of the other volunteers in a little gaggle outside the door. "Whew," I thought. "I must not be that late." They were talking to a couple Dominican men I didn't know. It turns out that someone hung themselves behind the community center I work at. When I found out, I said, "Wow, how sad!" And the random Dominican man said, "No, it's okay! He was Haitian! He left!" and made a "get out" hand gesture.

Needless to say, he was a little confused about why we were still upset, even though he was Haitian.

Later, in my computer class, I had the kids look at this page of photos after the Haiti earthquake and choose one, and then write a description of the photo and how the photo made them feel. One student chose a picture of some men digging out a building. The English caption said, "Residents search for victims after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010." But of course the kids can't read English, so this kid wrote that it was "Dominicans helping Haitians out of a building." I asked him how he knew they were Dominicans. He gave me a "Well, DUH" face and said, "Look at them!" I gave him a little lecture about how not all Haitians look the same, and neither do all Dominicans, and Haitians work hard, blah blah blah.

I think I have more to say on the topic, but I am tired.

No es fácil, no.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

beginnings and endings

Oh, hello there! I'm back from a pretty exciting week in Santo Domingo. Wednesday through Thursday we had our COS (close of service) conference. This was exciting for several reasons: we got to stay at a nice hotel with hot water and buffets, all the members of my COS group got to hang out, and it meant that we're ALMOST DONE! The COS conference is three days designed to prepare us for returning to the US, which we can do on May 7th! We talked about resumes and interview techniques, we learned about our health insurance plan, and we took some rad group photos. Here is the COSing group of IT volunteers, minus Keane, who got tuberculosis and couldn't come. (Like that's a good excuse.)

By the way, yes, it was incredibly nervewracking to hold my laptop that close to the pool. You can see I have one hand lamely curled around it.

Some environment volunteers are COSing too, but who even cares about them?

Anyway, I am getting excited about leaving! The past two years have been a rollercoaster, and I'm definitely glad I did Peace Corps. But I'm also looking forward to first world conveniences, speaking English, not being stared at all the time, not worrying about people killing my cat all the time, and eating delicious, delicious American food. Ohh, yes. America.

After the COS conference--which ended up being somewhat of a plague zone, and most of us left with either a cold (I did) or food poisoning (I did not, gracias a Dios)--we all stayed around the capital for the weekend, because Stephanie got married on Saturday!!

She kissed her new husband!

We toasted her!

Hoorays all around! There are more photos at my Flickr, featuring many PCVs looking suspiciously well-dressed.