Archive for October 2009


October 31, 2009

Saludos todos y todas.

So, I have a couple things to clear up. First, the name of my site is Caribe. I live in Caribe in the Caribe. Fantastic. El Verde is the town nearby where several of my artesans are from. Second, there are kacatas at my site. I was taking a nap the other day and I woke up and saw a little kacatita crawling up my wall. My dona took care of that, but not before I snapped a photo for proof. Hopefully soon I´ll find a way to put my photos on here. Third, I visited my site.

Caribe sits below the mountains. I´ve already been swimming in the very large and fantastic river located three minutes from my house with a mountain backdrop. The town actually used to be really really poor, so I´ve been told, but recently has been developed by the donations of the Cigar Family Foundation. Whenever you light up a cigar from this cigar company, boom- money to Caribe. The street is paved beautifully, the police station fenced in, the tobacco fields are gorgeous. And the Cigar Family Foundation school is a big project with a lot of project players. Now I´m one of them. The school is partially solar powered. They have several sustainable environmental projects- an organic honey farm, an earthworm garden project, and something to do with fish. I´m not sure what I will be doing with the school, probably many things with the students. Swim lesson project? I may have already been recruited..

My artesan group I have yet to meet. I took a nap and missed their meeting… oopsies. But I saw the stuff they make. They are indeed gords, but unlike the ones we see in Indiana. They look like big brown thin hollow balls that grow on a tree and then the artesans use a tool to engrave pictures and cut out holes to make little bowls, jars and lamps. I was told that I would be learning to make them too. Very neat stuff!

My amas de casa group welcomed me with a song! Then I was asked to give a speech, haha. Always gotta be ready for an impromptu speech here in the DR. I asked my project partner what the group does and wants. All that I was able to understand is that they basically want some income. So I said, alrighty then. We can make and sell floor clearer, shampoo, or menthol rub, all I learned to make during cbt. She seemed pretty excited about it. Once I learn to speak Spanish, we´ll figure it out.

I have a puppy! She is adorable, and her name is Ani DiFranco(a super feminist singer from the states.) I wanted to name her Ingrid Michealson, but I thought it would be a little difficult for Dominicans to pronounce. So Ani it is. She has flees… I washed her and got rid of many of them, but still some remain. I won´t really have her until I have my own house in three months. For now, she lives and sleeps outside with the rest of the pups!

I´m not at my site right now because I´m having some problems with my new bank account. No funciona. I have to wait here until Monday (since it´s the weekend) to go to the bank with Juan, the US embassy guy, and get it all straightened out. Good thing I´ve become bff with a Dominican! Now I get to eat good food, stay in hotels, and go to the movies/dancing. Such a sacrifice, I know.

Welp, gotta go turn the air conditioning up and watch Kill Bill Vol.2 in Spanish. Then it´s off to sleeping under my mosquitero, playing with my 5 year old host niece, and asking everyone “que dijiste?”.


New Home, New Life

October 15, 2009

Greetings All!

I have landed upon the final few days of training, and after tomorrow´s technical exam, I will be only one step away from being sworn in as a volunteer. These past fews days I was at a national business plan competition featuring business plans made by young entrepreneurs around the country, several from Haiti as well. I look forward to meeting the young people in my community and forming a group of young entrepreneurs of my own!

So, I know where I´m going to live and the type of project I´m going to have. Drumroll please! ………….

El Verde Bonao.

Anticlimatic, I know. This means nothing to you, so google it! Basically, Bonao is like a pit stop along a highway. It´s a beautiful city nestled in the foothills of the Cibao region below the mountains. My community, El Verde, is about 15 minutes off the main highway from Bonao. My community is famous for their tobacco fields; a rich cigar maker recently reinvested into his community and built a school that connects kids from three different communities. The school is bi-lingual, very rare for the campo. So, part of my project is to work with the teachers in the school to teach them how to teach the high school kids about forming a business plan. The second part of my project is working with an artesan group that apparently carves and paints gords. I don´t even know how to spell gords, but you know.. those pumpkin things. So, I´ll be teaching them how to operate a business, and hopefully increase their business along the highway to locals and tourists passing through. The third part of my project is to work with a women´s group that also make products for income generation. We call these ¨small income generation projects.¨ I´m not sure what they make right now. My guess is either shampoo, floor cleaner, menthol vapor rub, or possibly some sort of crafty item. Again, teaching them how to run a business from a very micro-enterprise stance.

I will find out more details on my site and projects on Monday, then Tuesday through Sunday I´ll be visiting my site with my project partner. A project partner is basically a Dominican counterpart- someone who the Peace Corps solicits to work with you and your project, and to help integrate you into the community. Basically, someone who wants to help their community too.

My Spanish has improved a lot so far, and I´m really proud of myself for all the things I´ve accomplished. One of my desires for joining the Peace Corps is that I would gain a lot more confidence in myself. Peace Corps definitely gives you the opportunity to accomplish things you didn´t think you could do.  Yay!

So, write me. Send me schtuff.

I´m buying a guitar Saturday, SO EXCITED!

All for now… next time I promise to share some fun stories. Peace!