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Published: September 10th 2010
So for breakfast today, I had a pancake with syrup and my mom put cinnamon on the table for it (not cinnamon sugar so i didn't use it), and she put the cinnamon out in two containers, and then she had also set out a mug of hot milk, so i was just going to avoid the milk, but, i was getting so thirsty, cuz I didn't love the pancake, so I was needing something to wash it down with. So I sipped the hot milk once, and it wasn't that bad, just kinda no taste, really. And then a little later, she came out with sugar and told me, "Here is some sugar for your cocoa." Turns out, the second container of cinnamon, the one in a dish, not in a sprinkling container (like that you sprinkle it out of), was actually chocolate to make hot chocolate. Whoops!
Commentary on the DR:
I think the reason that it even harder to understand native speakers of Spanish here, besides that they speak much faster than I can follow, is also because the inflection they use is different than in the states. A question never sounds like a question to me, and I don't realize it is a question until the person talking to me and I end up staring at each other for a couple of seconds. Then, I just say, Oh...what? Also, and this is specific to the DR, they drop the "s" at the end of words, which is confusing.
Here, you can't flush toilet paper...and other items, down the toilet, so when you're done, you have to throw it in a trash can next to the toilet. Also, bathrooms that are in restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, the university...You are lucky to have one of the three: soap, toilet paper, toilet seat. If you want toilet paper, you better carry your own, as well as soap. As far as the toilet seat...I don't think they make a purse that big. The reason you can't flush stuff in the toilet though is because the septic tanks are very old and aren't able to "digest," if you will, the toilet paper, so if you flush it, it could become clogged. One of the ISA resident directors put it this way, "So, you better throw it in the trash, otherwise it'll explode and everyone will know YOU were in the bathroom, because you're American."
Time, walking, and driving
So, I've heard this for other countries, about arriving on "Dominican time" or "Africa time" or whatever it may be, meaning that, you can show up 20 minutes late and no one will care. So, that was not surprising. What I thought was interesting though, was that the way they drive here (although not different from a lot of other countries as far as craziness and non-organization and not following traffic laws), is that they become incredibly impatient after sitting in traffic for 2 seconds, literally, and there is a constant orchestra of car horns. Plus, the taxis and the conchos drive along looking for anyone who looks like they might need a ride, so they honk every 10 feet or so. A concho is a small car, made for 5 people but they fill them to 7 (3 in front, 4 in back) that is kind of like a taxi, but you can't call for a concho, you just have to wave one down, and conchos have a set route. They are marked by different letters of the alphabet, and I think they are all over the country and different parts have different letters. To get to La Sirena, the Dominican Wal-Mart, I take the M concho. They are crowded, but very cheap, only about 50 cents, or 15 pesos.
So, people are always going as fast as possible when driving.
When walking, however, people go EXTREMELY slow. I have a boyfriend who is 6'5" and lived with a roommate for four years who is at least 5'7". I am 5'1", 5'2" on good days, and I am quite used to walking at a very fast pace. VERY fast. At first, I was confused by the difference in driving speed and walking speed (relatively...obviously I wasn't expecting people to walk at 70mph), but then, after 2 weeks of arriving in class dripping in sweat, even on windy, cool days; and after a few concho rides on hot sunny days, sitting for sometimes a minute and a half unmoving, in between three other people, with no air conditioning, did I realize that these Dominicans actually have method for their madness. It is HOT here. If you walk to fast, you get sweaty. If you aren't moving in traffic, there is no breeze to keep you cool. I still can't walk so slowly, though. I am four years in training now and it is going to take a lot of undoing to get me to walk as slowly as they do here. And the honking will never not annoy me, I don't think. But, I am going to have to get used to it, I guess!
Other than those things, nothing really terribly interesting going on. A couple of weekends ago, the ISA students took a trip to Santo Domingo...It was a promising trip with lots of cool museums and ruins to see. Unfortunately, the trip wasn't as organized I don't think as it could have been. And, walking through museums and going on tours is never as rewarding when you are doing it in a group of 20 and are on a schedule. I prefer to take my time and see every detail that I want, and not have to be rushed along to get to the next activity. I want to go back and hopefully get more out of the city. Which actually reminds me, though, about organization in the DR. One girl who is trying to stay very positive while here put it this way, "There just doesn't seem to be as much emphasis on organization here..." Which is very true. My host mom was even talking about how she feels that the government here is very unorganized which is why the country is the way it is. She told me that she pays THREE TIMES for her garbage each month or week, whatever kind of schedule that is on. She pays her taxes, she pays the garbage company, and she pays the man who comes to pick up the trash, because sometimes they ask for money, too. She said, I pay taxes...where is that money going? I don't know. The streets are not very good...it is not going there. School is not good...it is not going there...
If you don't know who the Mirabal sisters are, PLEASE LOOK THEM UP!!!!! They are a very, very important part of the history of the DR, and they are a very, very recent part of history here, too. Three out of the four sisters were assassinated in 1960. There is a movie called "In the Time of the Butterflies" that tells there story, as well as a book by the same title. Really, look them up!!!!! They have a very interesting and powerful story. Their faces are on the RD$200 bill.
Last Sunday, I took a trip to the beach in Sosúa with four other people from ISA. When we left Santiago it was raining, but when we got to the beach, it was just cloudy. By 2, it was very sunny and we realized we were really going to need sun screen after all! I only got a little burnt...but it only lasted the night. When I woke up it was gone. We took a 2 hour bus ride to get there and back. Each way it cost 135 pesos. That is not ever US$4. Crazy. The bus is from a company called Caribe tours that has buses back and forth all over the Dominican for cheap cheap cheap. It's a coach bus so it is a pretty comfortable ride, besides the FREEZING cold air. I still don't have a beach towel, so until Thursday, I was using a towel covered in sand and salt water. The did sell towels at the beach, though, so I may have to invest in one of those, maybe...
I hope all is well at hope for everyone! I am having a good time...missing my Phewfie and my family and my friends and my pets! (Mom, I really hope the litter box is being cleaned!) 😊
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