What a week! I’m exhausted and it’s only Thursday! Thankfully I’ve got a two day off so I’m in town and able to update you all on what’s been going on!
We moved out to our tiny village [Boma pronounced bow-mah] on Monday during a rain storm and the road is anything but smooth. We actually cross a river and 4 wheel drive, or quattro por quattro is necessary to get through. The girls and myself had to do a weee bit of adjusting as 1. There is no running water thus requiring bucket showers or river bathing 2. The electricity comes and goes 3. No one speaks English. I am in charge of dinners every night and making sure the girls eat properly, planning menus and helping with Spanish translation. I hope you laugh at the last bit because I do not in fact know Spanish. As I was trying to communicate with Enrique, the greatest man with no teeth I’ve ever met, he spoke a bunch of Spanish at me and then proceeded to yell, “No Entiendo NADA!” which I later learned means “you understand nothing!” I’ve gotten a good chuckle out of Enrique, who was appalled that since the majority of our food, including all the bread and meat, didn’t make it out to Boma due to the rain, we were simply having “soupa” or Top Ramen for those gringos like myself, for dinner. He said, “no no no! soulamenta soupa! yo necessito salami y yucca!” (You can’t have only soup!) so he fried up some salami and yucca which is like a potato for all the girls to go with the soupa. Enrique was a good sport and tried it but he didn’t particularly care for our gringo soupa.
We get the privilege of hiking Pico Duarte this summer, which is a mountain about 10,000+ feet that is apparently the biggest mountain East of the Mississipi. However, I’ve been warned it’s a steep strenuous hike and so Jessica and I have been taking off during the day to find steep hills to climb to prepare for Pico. On one of these excursions, I made it to the top and turned around only to find the most perfect hole to roll your ankle in. I went down like a sack of potatoes with a big crunch from my ankle and prayed it wasn’t a bad sprain. I unfortunately was over a mile from the house and on the top of a steep hill and had no choice but to get myself down. It was a slow process and it is still swollen but thankfully I brought a brace down. In other injury news, the burn on my leg has blistered including one LARGE BULBOUS PUSTULE, which the girls were adamant that I pop and did accidentally when I attempted to “good game” one of the them. I’ve been trying to make sure it stays clean so it won’t get infected but it’s hard given the fact that the water contains parasites. C’est la vie!
It has been amazing lately seeing more of the country and learning more about it’s people, language and food. We are lucky to have a Dominican woman who cooks our breakfast and lunch for us and she seems to get better and better with each meal. I’m picking up more Spanish but am hoping I’ll be at least conversational by the end of the summer! Here are a few pictures of recent things!
Jessica wanted to test out her new concho to see if it would hold both of us going uphill so we took off and found the steepest gravel hill we could find. Halfway up when the engine had idled down to where we need to get some more power Jessica asked if she was in first and I said I don’t think so. She tried to downshift and we proceeded to roll backwards as we were indeed already in first. We fell over. I thankfully didn’t go all the way down but managed to jump off before Jessica and Eugene became parallel to the ground. A little bruised we went back down the hill because we had to go to work and not wanting to die on a gravel hill I suggested I walk back to the bottom. Upon arrival Jessica said ok, let’s go. I asked her if she was ready for me to get on the back of the concho and she’ll tell you that she was not ready and everything inside her said to say no but when I asked if she was ready, she said, “yes.” I hopped on but she was not ready and I fell off but not before severly burning my leg on the exhaust pipe and lodging some gravel in my elbow. Jessica managed to just go down gracefully with the bike but it was I who suffered the worst of the injuries. Apparently I learned after I showed some people my burn that it is customary for all new staff to get atleast one bad motorcycle burn upon arrival, however, since mine is blistering and quite large, I’ve told that I’ve got a good one. It’s nice to know even with injuries I still live by my motto: Go big, or go home.
I LOVE THE DR! So far it has been AWESOME! I’m adjusting to being sticky all the time but after a year in Lost Wages it feels nice! It has been overwhelming the last few days and I’m exhausted with all the training I’ve had to wrap my head around. It’s also been an adjustment to get used to the amazing amount and variety of bugs here. Including what I now know to be “banana spiders” that are the size of tea cup saucers. Jessica casually warned me about a spider around the corner as I passed her on the way to the room we’re sharing but she didn’t warn me about the SPUH-HI-DUR around the corner. I’m really not scared of them but one that big, definately made me jump. I also learned how to ride a “concho” and a “pesola” the equivalent of scooters in the US. It was pretty interesting and the first time I reved it up too high and went shooting off the driveway into the lawn. The Andersons got a good chuckle out of that and when daddy got home at 5 pm three year old Lucy met him at the door to tell him that, “daddy! daddy! wachel was riding and she CRASH over der in dah gas!” It was pretty hilarious.
We got the rare chance to hop a van to beach with one of the houses here on campus and we had an amazing day at Cabarete on the North Coast of the DR. It was a gorgeous day and the wind picked up and it is a kite surfing hot spot in the DR so we got to see a lot of them. I actually almost got killed because I was swimming out a ways practicing “open water swimming” because I want to do a triathlon next year, and a kite surfer came so close and saw me luckily at the last second and whipped off in the other direction but not after scaring the both of us and splashing me. Here are some pictures from Cabarete, it looks like a Corona commercial. The first picture is my attempt at a corona commerical! The lady in the pink shirt is the “fruit lady” she walks the beach all day selling fresh fruit and she was so pretty in her pink shirt against the blue of the ocean. That was our little camp for the day under the umbrellas, the locals make money by buying chairs and charging foreigners. We paid a$1.50 US for 8 hours of leisure… quite the bargain!
Today we drove out to the village where we’re going to be living this summer and I am stoked out of my mind. It’s a tiny, tiny little village set up in the mountains on a river. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It is going to be rustic with a capital R. We have an outhouse and will be bathing in the river. We have a cook who’ll be cooking us Domincan Cuisine for breakfast and lunch every day and from what I’ve eaten so far, I really enjoy it. We had “mungo” (mun-goo which is crushed bananas, eggs, onions, salami and fried cheese) today and it’s not very appetizing sounding but it’s delicious! I didn’t get many pictures of Boma today but I know I’ll get betters ones when we’re living out there! Anyway here are a few and I’m getting up REAL early tomorrow for training so I’ll write more later!
After a whirlwind four days in Portland of wedding planning (Jessica is getting married January 3, 2009), packing and visiting with a few friends, 8:30 pm Thursday May 15th arrived faster than I anticipated. We crammed everything in our bags, which we later learned were 5 and 6 pounds respectively over the limit, and jumped our first flight to Newark. We arrived in the Newark airport after our red eye from Portland jonesin’ for some coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts hit the spot. Our gate got moved because we later learned that the plane we were supposed to fly out on, which we coincidentally had just flown 6 hours on, had a weak spot in the floor. We gratefully switched gates and boarded a Boeing 767 (I like planes that are built in Seattle) that was crammed to the gills full of Dominicans who don’t understand seat assignments and hate flying. My favorite was the LARGE bottle of whiskey that some how managed to get on the plane that the three gentlemen in the row in front of us downed during take off, turbulence and landing. It was funny to see grown men hiding their heads under a blanket. We landed safely in the DR and I doubt that I’ve ever known terror like standing at the baggage carousel in the Santiago airport and watching the majority of my flight retrieve their bags while mine is still MIA. I held a count of the number of bags we had, 0, and the number of bags we were looking for, 4, on my hands for probably 45 mins, while Jess and I watched a cardboard box with “fragile” stickers on it go by that looked like it had been through a war. I smiled as I realized, “we’re not in America anymore.”