21 4 / 2014

It’s not all beaches here in the DR! Here are a few photos from a Brigada Verde (environmental youth group) conference a few of my youths and I attended.

19 3 / 2014

Basic run-through: I’ve been in site for about five months now and things had slowed down for a while but they are once again, picking up. I completed my three month community diagnostic and many things came out of it such as: the need for health education, better roads, improved access to water, improved cookstoves, latrines, home improvement, employment opportunities, and better electricity—all of these things were identified by community members and I get to see these needs for myself on a daily basis. Given that I am just a health volunteer, there is only so much I can do; that being so, I am focusing on health education, improving access to water (by either getting a new water system installed or through the amplification of the current one), and building improved cookstoves/fogones. Tons of stuff to keep me busy! That is generally what I’ve been up to—for those who had been wondering :)

P.S. I want to get a zumba class started so any suggestions for videos are welcome. Thanks! 

31 12 / 2013

horseback riding, new kitty, goats, coconuts: in the jungle, the mighty jungle…. 

31 12 / 2013

28 10 / 2013

more cacao, scenery, pineapple, and coffee

28 10 / 2013

cacao processing factory thing, host family’s puppy, lizards, and stone/rock processing factory

28 10 / 2013

Pictures from my new site! the little wooden shack is my new home. its has two bedrooms and is behind the main house. theres also a picture of a “daddy long legs on acid” (thanks Grace) that lives in my room along with some other creepy crawlies. the donkey is my host dad’s and he also has a horse. aaand i have a little lake about 15 minutes away from me

28 10 / 2013

First things first, I love my site! I already feel at home with my new host family; it is comfortable and fitting for me. I live with a host mom, dad, and brother. They live in the main house and I live in a little house in the backyard. My little house is made of wood and it has two bedrooms (yay now I have a place to accommodate visitors when they come!) The nights are cool here, temperature-wise, since we are a little ways up in the mountains. I get to fall asleep to the music of the crickets and frogs crowing- it’s actually pretty nice! The sky is absolutely gorgeous at night, especially when the lights go out. My host family is talkative so it makes it is making it easier for me to “integrate,” as PC would say. I have absolutely no cell signal anywhere in my campo so I’m going to have to switch to a new company, sigh. Along those lines, I get electricity only a few hours a day, I get to bucket bathe (with freezing cold water), and use a latrine (one of the nicer ones that I’ve seen, thankfully). My host family has a few pigs, some chickens, a dog, a donkey, and a horse. I barely found out about the donkey and horse and I’m super excited about it cause I LOVE animals! Especially horses!!

My community is really active and organized. It is a mainly Catholic community with about 55 homes and 300 people (which I think I’ve said before). I met with some of the people on my first day here and they all seem enthusiastic to have me here. On the second day I met with a youth group and then with a women’s group; The women were a lot more open and vocal about their needs in the community than the youth were. I’m sure the youth will start opening up more once we get to know each other better :). My third day I went and visited some of the surrounding bigger towns. I also got to see the place where they dry and pack cacao for exporting. SO MUCH CACAO!! And then later attended another community group that expressed concerns about environmental pollution. AAAND I’ve been gifted bananas multiple times, avocados, and china (oranges). 

P.S. I won’t be saying what the name of my specific campo is because of security reasons. But I will say that I am in the Sanchez Ramirez province :)

22 10 / 2013

CBT (community based training) was a memorable experience. I met wonderful people and became accustomed to the daily routine of the campo life.. My host family was loving, fun to be around, and they took care of me as if I truly was a part of their family. My Doña was quite the character- just as much as my host siblings. I spent many afternoons under their mango tree chatting away with my host family and a fellow PC volunteer.

I loved my host family and CBT experience but I had a few things I struggled with:

I’m calling them #PeaceCorpsProblems and will continue adding throughout my PC service:

- When you are walking to training but after a heavy rainfall you find yourself trudging through ginormous puddles because there’s no way around them/because you just gave up on trying to arrive to your destination clean/because you’ve been here so long you don’t even care anymore.

- When you have to bring an umbrella to class so you don’t get rained on, indoors!

- When you are walking somewhere late in the evening/at night and you see not one, not two, but THREE “cacatas” aka giant tarantula looking spiders crossing the road like the own it.

- When you learn to shower/use the bathroom on the bees’ and cockroaches’ schedules. (6-10am was ok to shower. 11am-4pm was NOT OK to shower because bees would come in through the window every 5-10mins and I don’t play with that! 5-8ish pm was ok to shower. 9pm and on was not ok because the roaches took over the shower and I was not trying to share a shower/co-shower with a ton of cockroaches because that just disgusting.)

- When you are walking to the next town and you have to move off the road to let the herd of cows go by.

- When you start sweating from places you never knew you could sweat from; for me it was the knees, the upper lip area, and the lower lip/chin area.

- When you wake up to a frog watching you sleep, one foot away from your face, but thankfully through a mosquito net, and you no longer care to make it go away.

- When you get a bird (possibly an owl) flying/crashing into your room in the middle of the night but you are too scared to turn on the light and check it out. (this was me). 

- When you try to plug the charger into your computer and instead just get a good shocking to your hand (great way to get the morning started).

- When your toothbrush gets stolen by a rat in the middle of the night (happened to one of my good friends)

- When there is a giant toad that lives at the bottom of your latrine and you just wonder WHY???? (happened to the same friend with the stolen toothbrush, haha, sorry Abel)

- When you see a mosquito sucking the blood out of you so you smack it to kill it and end up with blood splattered all over your hand and the wounded area of your body.

Now that CBT is over, we’re all going to visit our permanent sites for five days and then come back to the capital for swearing in and then its back to our sites for good. My site is a campo with approximately 55 homes and 300 people. I think I’ll have unreliable electricity and possibly running water, I’m not sure though. My site is a slightly mountainous area and it’s an agricultural community that grows coffee and cacao. I hear that it’s a beautiful area and that I will be the first PCV that the community receives- no pressure. I’m super nervous but excited at the same time. It’s like a friend and I were saying earlier- it’s like a blind date… a blind marriage- for two years, to an entire community… WOW. But no pressure, right? I’ll let you all know how these next five days go once I get back.

15 10 / 2013

There are only four days left of CBT and I couldn’t be more excited! It’ll be bittersweet because although it means I’m closer to my permanent site, it also means I’ll be separated from the rest of the trainees.

I found out my new site not too long ago- I’ll be in a small, rural, agricultural community in the Sanchez Ramirez province. I was told I would have light and that I may or may not have running water. I’m excited because I will hopefully be able to have a mini farm once I get my own place but I’m also nervous because I’ve lived in the city all my life. It’ll be a challenge but I believe I’m there for a good reason; plus I’m up for the challenge :)

Apparently I will be the first peace corps volunteer my community gets so it makes my role there that much more important. As a health volunteer I will be working with the programs “Hogares Saludables” (Healthy Homes) and “Escojo Mi Vida” (I Choose My Life~I Make The Choices In My Life). I will make a post later on explaining the two but they are basically directed towards women and youth and how they can make healthy choices for themselves and their homes.

As for my family and friends back home, I miss and think about you all, all the time. I hope you are all doing well and that you continue staying in touch.