Published: April 21st 2012April 15th 2012
I believe that I have a day that encapsulates my life: El dia perfecto
Alarm beeping, 7:20am. I grudgingly swivel my head around to turn off my alarm. While rubbing my eyes, I get out of bed and willing step through my door to sit down at the table for breakfast. Literally, 2 minutes later, my Dona, Dona Chede (its her nickname, very common here to use), puts in front of me a breakfast of avena, some kind of sweet bread, and a mixture of papaya, pineapple and mystery fruit #3 (lets just say I forgot the name and really I only know the name of this fruit in spanish, but it tastes so similar to me). First, lets talk about avena…Genus English….Oatmeal…..Genus Tal’s dictionary…Not fucking oatmeal. Oh don’t get me wrong, I like it, really like it.
But Avena is to Oatmeal as Tal is to
A. Humbly arrogant
B. Decently hairy from the waist down
C. Most Gorgeous creature on this earth
D. Vain, Vain, Vain, Vain and Vain
E. All of the above.
E is the truth, but B is the correct answer. There are oats in avena, but mostly its like 10 pieces of oats and a glass of warm milk. Sometimes I get it in chocolate flavor even! It’s maybe not as absurd as this but its like calling a liquor/scotch on the rocks a mixed drink. Sure there is water but its mostly alcohol. Secondly, the bread in this country is not a strength of this country, but this sweet bread that I have is pretty good. Third, the fruit in this country is the bomb! The fruit that I eat has literally just come off of the vine. The pears that are produced here are some of the best fruit I have ever had. Oh and a little side note, while this country primarily uses indirect communication (hand signals, passive aggressive, general gossiping), always use direct communication if you want something, with a smile of course! The peace corps is right in promoting this, however, they want you to use these techniques to get the kind of food you want from your Donas. I used this technique for my first Dona, I sometimes got what I want as far as foodwise. But guess what I discovered, my ass isn’t Dominican! I’m not even classic American. Someone in my class said to one of the instructors how it is so hard to do this kind of communication. Not it isn’t, you are an AMERICAN! I’m not even making fun of this person, but Americans are not direct. Pick another country for this claim. On the first day I arrived in Manabao, I just told my Dona that I like lots of fruits and vegetables with my meals. I eat more fruit here than in the states, except for when I am with Maria! I really wanted a salad with my dinner, so I told my Dona this exact statement. Not, place a cassette player near her with subliminal messages so when she goes to sleep at night, she hears my cries. This woman is my Dominican mom. She is just trying to please her new son.
Back to the story! I ride in the back of a pickup truck, with the rest of my water group (only 6 of us), while the head trainer drives us to Jarabacoa, which is down the mountain. Our task for this morning is to go into a hardware store, and get a quote for a list of materials to construct 30 Eco-bathrooms and include transportation costs as well. I have never done this in English, so Spanish was interesting. My partner Jenni, and I, almost messed up this roll quantity of some material. I had said that we wanted 690 rolls of this material, which comes in a length of like 200 meter rolls. The guy’s response, “We are not a factory!” So of course, it was 690 meters of material. Whoops, or new favorite phrase in Spanish, Lo que sea….whatever. After this, I got on the back of a motorcycle (public transportation) with my partner and took it back into the center of Jarabacoa. We met up with the rest of the group at the truck, and proceeded to drive back into the mountains. Stop right here! I know I am in Peace Corps when I am riding in the back of a pickup truck (no available space in the cabin), wind in my face, sunny skies, gorgeous hills topped with greenery (pine and palm trees), cascading river, 4 people in the truck bed with me, 2 live chickens with their feet tied and stuffed into a cardboard box with a motorcycle helmet on top of it to prevent them from defecating onto the truck bed (there was still 2 little pieces of chicken poop in the truck bed, and I’m trying to get a picture with my other hand to capture the moment. Oh and I had seen a motorcyclist do a wheelie for a whole street block (seen this like 100 times already).
After arriving at my house, I eat lunch and then go to my Spanish instructors’ house to just chat. Tried to explain oxymoron in Spanish, failed. I sometimes forget what the meaning of the word is in English. Then, I say that I have to leave because I need to use the bathroom. Their response was very gracious, I could use theirs. Next sentence out of my mouth, necesito cargar (I need to take a shit). Go me for looking in the Spanish dictionary like 3 days before. Followed by shock and laughter, with my response, I have my own bathroom. And actually I can throw my toilet paper into to toilet. Lo que sea!
I go back to my house to change into sports attire, and I go to the outdoor basketball court to play soccer with Dan. We eventually play with some Haitians and then we play with some Dominicans that we know, Chulo and the Strong (no I am not kidding, it’s his nickname he gave to himself), basketball and lose both games to them. Afterwards, they take us to the river so that we can have some play time (where is bonesaw from the first spiderman)! We take off our shoes and go up to this ledge area near a man made waterfall that is 5 feet and like 40 feet wide. After about 5 minutes, the 2 dominicans jump from the ledge and into the water 15 feet below. Since I can’t have my manhood challenged, I jumped off, into the frigid waters where it is indeed deep enough to caress my fall. We even went inside the sort of waterfall structure by going underwater and swimming into it.
After walking barefoot most of the way back, I took a shower to get ready for the birthday party that I and the other volunteers were invited to. I took the head trainer’s truck up the dirt road to the house in Tierrita Colorada, where we had earlier started a block masonry project to expand one of the bedrooms. The party played out like this: cool, clear sky, a big dulce de leche cake, and lots of merengue and bachata dancing. It’s not every day that I can actually reach the stars! Challenging, dynamic, unexpected, and fun. Trabajo para vivir!