Friday, March 21, 2014

So yesterday I went to do an overnight stay in a new volunteer site, it was my second one and I enjoyed it a lot.  I spent the evening hanging out with the new volunteer's host family and playing Dominoes.  Then in the morning I was given the opportunity to go on a tour of the communities organic chocolate (cacoa) tour.  It was pretty cool :)

This is a cocolate tree... Here's an interesting fact, when cacoa is ripe it turns green, when it's unripe it's purplish red.  It's the reversed of a lot of fruits... Like the banana which is green starting out and then turns yellow as it ripens.

The inside of the cacoa fruit is white and sweet, and it's the seeds within that are later processed as chocolate.  First they are removed and then they are either fermented, baked, or dried in a green house like the photo below.  To tell the quality and type of the cacoa they cut the dried seed down the middle and compare their colors.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Close of Service Conference... What's Next?


 So the past few weeks have been pretty loaded with new activities and life events. I was able to bring a kid from my town to a plastic surgery medical mission two weeks ago to fix a cleft lip that she was born with.  She is healing wonderfully and I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to do this in my life.
I've also been spending lots of time with my awesome project partner... working a little on trying to develop a community website... we've managed to explore new parts of the river and plan to see more potential tourist attractions.  I am also happy to say that she has started running with me in the evenings, which allows me to go down my favorite road again with safe company.
Finally the most emotional and overwhelming experience in the new year is here... it's time that my group is preparing for their close of service.  This is the first time that our entire group has been reunited for a conference since we all left for our sites close to two years ago.  In an uncharacteristic turn of events we are in a classy hotel, with our own private beds, hot water, all you can eat buffets, and a gym... Needless to say we're all happy this day has come.  We've worked on updating the all important resume and trying to figure out how to describe what we've done with the past two years of life.  We've started to come to terms with the idea that even though this experience is coming to an end, we are going to have to adapt and readjust to another lifestyle all over again.  Alas while most my peers are preparing for this journey home, I am preparing for my new job as Regional Leader.  I will be extending 6 months until November.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Well I know I have to keep this up because Jessica keeps on me when I'm slacking... It's nice to know that someone reads it at least.
February 2, was groundhog day... which doesn't mean much to be besides the fact that it reminds me of my dad's birthday every year.  He was born 57 years ago in a black out, and was the 500th baby born in the hospital.  I still tell people that matter-a-factly, as if it's their pleasure to know.  I miss my dad dearly and can't wait to be home for his next birthday!  (It's been too long)
On his birthday I think I had the biggest impact that I will in this country on an individual's life.  I took a 13 year old from my community to the Capital to be operated on for a cleft lip, at a medical mission from the United States.  It went well and she is recovering really well!  It was a long trip and made me exhausted.  Sunday I was able to help with the initial intake day by translating, and it reminded me that I need to remember to always bring comfy shoes to the capital because I can't stand all day in flats...

Then Monday my stomach returned to it's upset ways and threw me back a few days in training for this 1/2 Marathon in April.  I semi calculated in on my phone today the amount of miles I will be running to train for it if I run 4 miles, 3x a week, and progressively do long runs, by the time I get to run day I will have run over 220 miles starting this week alone... holy cow was my response :P  Let's see if I can make this happen... I'll try to keep you updated.  Also I agreed to run a 10k on my birthday in Puerta Plata with Simona, which will keep me going after april...

Finally I have to say something about this, as it's been on my mind a lot lately.  My family in the states told me last week that they're moving soon to a new house.  While I'm so excited for them, and I know it's what they want it makes me sad too.  I knew things wouldn't stand still at home when I came here... and I wasn't even hoping to live there much longer when I return, but I will always cherish that house as the home I grew up in.  I have been blessed all my life with amazing family, both at home and here I know I'll never be without family.  There goes another chapter :)... not that we won't still dig up the time capsule in the backyard someday.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I really want a boat

95% of the people who build boats don't finish them.... except boat builders of course.  
I have no ambitions of ever building a boat, but I do love to be on them and row them.  I live by a bay here, on my side of the river the streets are paved, the majority of the houses are concrete and there is running water in most of the houses.  My projects are hard, because the mostly involve motivating and re-motivating people to do things that will improve their lives, but maybe not enough to make it worth the effort to them.  That doesn't mean we don't do things, and I don't find things to love about living in this town.  It just means that every once in a while I feel like staying here is equal to hitting my head against a wall continuously. 
On the other hand and back to boats... My outlook changes when I cross the river.  The first part is the boat ride across, and I do look forward to it.  Cacon is the boat taxi man, and it's a really simple little lola.  I love it because I'm pretty sure Cacon sees me get on the boat and immediately signals me to row the boat.  This is AMAZING exercise, and reminds me dearly of my days in Crew.  The town across the river is a challenge, it has a tiny dirt access road that no one takes.  The majority of people just take the lola across with Cacon.  It has a tiny school with a teacher that crosses the river and gives class in the morning, however most of the kids are pretty far behind.  I finally gave up on the hope of recruiting a water volunteer to build an aqueduct when I realized that everyone there is just waiting to sell their land to whatever resort/company comes in and pays them enough.  I go once a week and give a small class to 4-5 kids in literacy and math and when I can organize it I do an outdoor activity (visiting the beach, or hiking to some cave) with a group of older kids.  Then I get to row the boat back.
I have a special place in my hear for those little kiddos.  
On a different note I'm pretty sure I want to own a house boat someday.  
Also I killed my housemate the mouse with poison... I knew he was dead cause I could smell him but it was Archer (my hero of a dog) that pointed out that he was inside of a mattress.  I had to cut the mattress open and remove him with my gardening gloves.  (#thingsIneverimagineddoing)
 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Here's to the good life :)

Ok it's a new year... and I'm back!  I enjoyed an amazing visit from my bff Alana... who was a sweet heart and cared for me through my first amoeba in the DR... Luckily the medicine worked and I was able to get rid of it by my second day in the USA... Where I enjoyed washing my hands with hot water... lots of food, the company of some of my favorite people... and my amazing family.

Upon getting home I realized that I had house guest while I was out... rats!  They left me little gifts and I saw one hiding in the spare bedroom... Determined to get rid of them I went to town today to get some poison and other supplies...I just have to say it was slightly comforting to jump in the guagua on the way home and be the 20th person squeezed into a 12 person van... There is always room for one more :)....
My women's association had our first meeting of the year and we set some good goals to lead up until April... I have the feeling I'm going to be mad busy...
...Later today,  my stove broke, and I jerry-rigged (is that the saying?) it so that it will not leak from that burner if I turn the gas on and kept on cooking... I might invest in a new stove soon... as I do not want to test my luck...

I'm pretty sure that I killed at 2013! There was nothing left of it after I got done with it... I hope that 2014 is as awesome and brings me as much luck.  Life's good in the DR, once you get used to the water and kill the amoebas...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturdays are the New Long Run Days... centipedes, run, and laundry... gross but productive day...



 Today is mostly going to be a photo blog...
So today I had planned on getting up at 6 AM and running until 8... I slept in until 7:30 and ran from 8-10ish...While I was getting dressed I got surprised by this little guy on my pants... I proceeded to kill him.  I'm sorry I don't usually like to kill bugs, but when they break my bubble things change...
 and no I did not wear those pants afterwards...


The run did get off to a good start and I will show some photos of happier things now...

 This is the view of the ocean from about 100 ft from my house.
 Archer says hurry up mom!!
Also the just paved this part of the road :)









If you look closely you will see some interesting birds that Archer loves to terrorize on the reg...

In between this photo and the next there was a dead horse on the trail... I thought it best not to put a photo of a dead horse on this blog...









...And we go further


                   It rained a little...






 This is the swimming hole that I should be swimming in more often!


After I ran today I decided that anytime there is a centipede in the clothes it's time to do laundry so I spent the rest of the day cleaning and doing laundry...
Today I ate a banana pre-run, a Cliff protein bar during the run, and a smoothie and coffee while doing the laundry.... I made chili for dinner... This chili was amazing and cost me $200 RD but it will last me at least 2 days :)  Ohh and that fruit is papaya... Interesting note about papaya, I had never tried it before coming to this country... upon tasting it the first time I thought it tasted like puke... but if you ease it into your diet with smoothies one can develop quite a taste for it...DON'T think of puke when you try it for the first time!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ok, I get it... the underlying theme of this blog is really about how much I hate mosquitoes.  It just goes to show how much I think about them on a daily basis.  For instance recently I've been thinking of how I could do a comparison of blood loss during all of the times I've donated blood in my life... every 4-6 months from the ages of 19-24... to the amount of blood stolen from me by mosquitoes in this country.  I mean really I kill at least 3-6 a day, but I get bit about 3x an hour during the day double that at night.  Those are conservative estimates... Also I think if I going to go into biology (which I hate) I would try to develop a mosquito virus to kill all mosquitoes... this would inevitably backfire and lead to zombies (I know I should not be a biologist). On that note, life does go on in this mosquito filled world...

Today I was rather lazy. I probably ran about 1.5 miles and walked a lot.  I went to la Romana to get my secret santa gift for the Women's Association christmas party, and picked up a few gifts for some special people back home :)  On my way I tried to read more of the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Which is an interesting enough book most of the time, however like most self-help type books I think I would get just as much out of it if it were 50 pages, as opposed to 358 pages... I hate the feeling of reading the same thing repeated 10 times, just to fill some space. On the other hand it is interesting to look at development work through the perspective of the core paradigm shifts he discusses.  All too often we try to improve our lives through an outside in perspective (changing our environment, and expecting a real change in our live)  as opposed to focusing on changing from the inside out (focusing on improving ourselves and habits to change our lives).  And then come the development workers... and that whole dependent, independent, and interdependent thing comes into play... and I won't bore you by going into it.
After the trip I went and traded more books with kids and ended up playing card games until it was dark and the mosquitoes made me go home...
Today's diet- papaya & banana smoothie & coffee in the morning, grapefruit for dessert
Today's diet failure- I was hungry on the way to la Romana and I bought a slice of pizza $50Rd (it was the worst looking pizza I've ever eaten but I conquered it of course...) and then I was hungry on the way home so I bought a chicken and corn empanada and my favorite empanada place $50 + $20 RD coke (so delicious, and worth it).  Finally I was relatively cheap and fried a platano to make toastones drenched in tabasco sauce and ketchup, ~$20RD + $10 Rd grapefruit... so all in all I spent about $180RD  which is $4.50 US :(