Feliz Año Nuevo!

7 01 2011

Okay, so I’m back.  2 weeks of straight visitation- amazing and amazingly stressful.  Man, I am difficult to please!  Its great of course because visitors and loved ones, and also because visitors tend to take you on vacation.  Not that my daily grind or life here is so so rough, but I do enjoy a hot shower, wine, and the beach.  It is hard because having visitors reminds me of how my perceptions have shifted in my time here.  I consider myself a wanna-be peace corps volunteer here working in a computer lab in the Caribbean.  However, these visitors make me realize that what i have come to consider luxuries at one point were basics.  Additionally, there are certain things that I have never considered trying to avoid or change, and it turns out are very difficult to avoid regardless of how many pesos you have in your pocket.  My favorite example of this is noise.  Chickens, motos, pigs, ridiculously loud music, people yellings to be heard over the music… you get the idea.  Of course if someone just goes to an all-inclusive property you can avoid this.  Here’s the deal though for my visitors.  If you want to see a beautiful beach near the US, go to another island.  The beaches here are beautiful, but I think there are prettier beaches and better tourism infrastructure on other islands.  People who come here come to visit me and the DR.  And the DR is sooo not just beaches- the people and scenery are astounding.  Unfortunately, getting around and leaving giant enclosed properties leaves my unsuspecting visitors exposed to electrical outtages, extreme noise, crazy traffic, ect.

Always after a few days away from my site I get surprisingly intense anxiety to return.  Don’t ask me why, the second i get back and see my host family and friends in town I am at ease.  I come in, and as mentioned before, receive a major guilt trip.  But, i actually really and truly love some of the people here as my family.  I usually march straight over to my host mom’s place for some food and coffee before hiking up to my house.  Oh, and my house.  What a fucking disaster this place can end up after a few days, and after about 10 days… A mouse had gotten into my mini-fridge and eaten and shat all over everything.  Luckily my cat was by my side when i opened it to find him in there so he jumps into my fridge and grabs him.  My busted wáter filter had made a small river in my house, but hey, i needed to mop anyways.  Later, through a third party (because no one will confront anyone about anything here), i find out my cat had wandered into the neighbors and broken several lamps, and my landlord is looking for the rent money.  Between all these issues, the loneliness of living alone, and the constant reminders and questioning of my community about why I live alone and haven’t at least found myself a lover yet I sometimes consider moving back in with my doña.  But, I like my failing garden, making all the American food and music I want, and walking around naked (although its a bit cold for that right now).


As I said, I am back.  Three days back and busier than ever.  I am gearing up for a new round of computer clases, one of which will be taught by my youth.  We still will open the lab every morning, and I am also starting a program called “Deportes para la Vida”- an sports-based HIV/AIDS education program. Beyond that, I looking into funding to get my lab Unterrupted Power Supplies to keep the electrical surges and outtages from killing my computers, a projector, and USBs to sell in the lab.

Outside of the lab, a Peace Corps “Appropriate Technology” training group may head our way for their community training. I am lobbying hard, because this group could fix our aqueduct as a training exercise, and I could hopefully attend lots of training sessions to learn lots of random but potentially useful development tools.  Right now, I am helping a nearby volunteer build latrines.  Its so nice to do hands-on work and know you are improving a family’s life in a matter of days.  These families right now either have no bathroom or a real shitty latrine.  I mean, I went to the bathroom in one super broken-down latrine that was not being replaced, and they were using scrap paper as TP.  Its fantastic to do some good and practice my sawing and cement skills, but also makes me question once again, ‘why am I teaching computer clases when there are people nearby who can’t read and have nowhere to go to the bathroom?’

Finally,  for the Peace Corps Marine Interest Group, I am hopefully going to find time to  gain enough Reef Check experience to start teaching courses to volunteers.  It is a difficult goal to make work with my resolution to stay in my site more, but it is also something that I would like to possibly pursue beyond my two years here, so I do what i can to make this a priority.  Another volunteer and I also have a fun youth Exchange idea we would like to make happen, so we are also researching grants to fund the Project.

Si Dios quiere, I will finish 2 computer courses, 4 Deportes para la Vida courses, write 2 grants, become certified to teach Reef Check, and see my aqueduct fixed and attend lots of charlas over the next 4 months.  Whew.  Regardless of the outcome of all this, I will be back stateside a the end of April.





2 responses

7 01 2011

Jenn, you’re awesome. Keep up the craziness. I’m so proud of you!! There should be a letter coming for you, si Dios Quiere… Happy new year! xxoo

7 01 2011
Berry Forde

“You go girl.” We really look forward to seeing you in May.

Love, love, love reading what you write!

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