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Published: March 30th 2014
Not as light as usual
The assistant leaders and I had dinner the night before travel with Derek from Courts for Kids
, after I had coffee with my former student and returned Peace Corps volunteer Sarita, who had worked in the DR, participated in a Courts for Kids project, and is planning to take part in another this summer in Nicaragua. Derek brought us up to date--for example, we'll be staying in a house, not a community center. We will carry several very large duffel bags of a fiber that replaces metal mesh in the court surface, portable showers, and a first aid kit.
Everyone showed up at the airport on time, which is always something with an early morning group departure. There are 17 of us. This trip has taken some doing to stay viable, and I was very happy to turn off my phone and be in the air--too late to stop us now! The flights are Portland to JFK to Santo Domingo, where we'll stay in a hostel. Tomorrow, we'll take a 4- to 6-hour van trip to the batey ("take Dramamine!").
We'll do half a day's work after arrival. The court area has already been graded and a cinder block retaining wall
Santo Domingo hostel
Hostal Bella Epoca: http://hostalbellaepoca.com/es/top/galeria-de-fotos/
built. We are the grunt labor, hauling sand, gravel, cement, and water to the mixer or human mixers, then concrete to the court. It's unlikely to rain as we'll be in an arid area. Sarita says the mosquitoes could be bad. Staying in a house might mean that there's an indoor option for showers (still bucket showers, but perhaps better than an outdoor portable shower) and a toilet (bucket flush, but likely better than a latrine). Possible mold or mildew, but somewhat more privacy for cleaning and changing. We shall see. Several students have physical issues that may require the leadership team to set limits, since the students seem likely to push themselves and we don't want additional injuries.
At the airport, the usual open backpacks with wallets and passports spilling out. Unattended bags. I guess this is typical. Some will become more aware; some will become more aware by having something stolen. We try to correct the behavior gently and without being patronizing. I'm sure I made myself an easy target on my first international trip to work in Israel for a year.
Gear for this trip: A different kind of packing for me, since clothing is going to get very dirty and there's not a convenient cleaning option. I still plan to do a little hand washing, so I've brought a small microfiber towel. A GoGirl
for convenience. A black-and-white cotton krama
from Cambodia for sun, dust, and as a longi.
It already worked well over my head for the first hour and a half of the flight. Electronically, a charge stick, though thus far it doesn't seem to hold for very long. I haven't packed many electronics, since there's little electricity. Sheets, towel, small fleece throw, cushion--all, with my work clothes, to be left there as a donation. A mosquito net headpiece to wear in bed just in case. We're supposed to get nets, but who knows? I've had torn nets in hotels in Cambodia before. $12.99 for the net and a baseball cap to keep it off my face seems little enough for avoiding malaria and dengue.
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