Where is the DR?

Where is the DR?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Almost a year!!!


My boss came to visit my site in mid April. She said everything is going great, and she was happy with my projects. 
The Shakira concert was a disappointment.  We were too far away in the stands. As you all know, the real reason to go to a Shakira concert is to see her dance! There were some technical difficulties as well.  Pitbull opened for her but she didn’t come on until 11pm. It was still fun to get together with everyone in the capital. 
April 1-3 I got SCUBA certified! It was incredible.  I went to 60 ft and saw beautiful reefs and a wreck.  I can’t wait to dive again. 
This weekend is Bola Race.  A bola is a free ride… We will meet in Santiago on Friday and then Saturday morning we find out the final destination. We have to get to there without paying and we can’t say we are Peace Corps Volunteers, since this is not an official PC event. 
The new volunteers are swearing in next month so we will no longer be the new group.  I am really excited to meet the Environment volunteer who is going to be living 10 minutes from me.  My community is eager as well since they are very interested in starting some stove projects here.

Bola was really fun! We had to go from Santiago to Samana.  Doug and I decided we were scientists who sailed from Boston to study the Lion Fish that resides in the reefs here.  Our boat got blown off course and we ended up in Santo Domingo instead of Samana.  We had no money and no way of contacting our fellow scientists so we needed to get to Samana quickly and for free.  In total we got 11 rides.  Everyone was so nice and willing to help us. Some guy even paid for a bus trip… we of course felt bad about taking his money and karma struck because as we were getting out of his car my finger got slammed in the car door and broke.  I didn’t get an x-ray until three days later. My first ever broken bone!!!   But eventually we made it and had a great time at a beautiful beach. 

August 15, 2011
Almost at the year mark and I have been terrible at keeping up with my Blog! This summer has been hot! The first half started out slowly.  When school ended some of my groups fell apart and I wasn’t doing a whole lot.  In July things picked up.  Right now I have an English class on Tuesday’s and Fridays, Chica’s Brillantes (Girls group) Monday’s and Thursday’s, and on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s I teach a sex-ed/HIV/pregnancy prevention course.   Quality of life went up as soon as the wet season hit and I had access to water every day instead of every three days.  However with the rain also came the mosquitos. I’ve looked as though I have chicken pox for the last few months. Quality of life also went up when Mom and Dad sent me some “remesas” (remittances) so I could buy a refrigerator.  It is so nice to have a glass of cold water and cook my own food. This past Saturday Doug had a dinner party at his house and invited everyone who lives around us- including myself, Andy, Robin and Stephanie, a French girl who is living in Los Cacaos working on her thesis on agriculture.   We made a salad, and used the Chicken Tikka Masala spices that grandma Judy sent (THANKS!!!)  it was AMAZING!  La Sirena (the grocery store in San Cristobal) had Basmati rice so we got to have our first taste in almost a year of Indian food.  We had also made a flan for desert.  It’s nice to be able to get together and have a nice dinner and listen to friends play their guitars.  A little reminder of home.  What else…  I got a cat!!!  He is all black and I named him Theo.  He found a girlfriend who now also lives in my house and eats all his food. Once she started sleeping here every night I decided I had the right to claim her and so I named her Alice. 

To back up a little and catch everyone up from the last few months I want to say that I had an amazing time in June when Amanda, Ashley, Elana, Kristin and Lori came down to visit for 5 days.  We stayed in a villa in Bavaro near Punta Cana.  The weather looked a little if-y due to a hurricane warning that was issued that same week but as it turned out excluding the first day, the weather for the trip was great.  We went twice to the Barcelo resort which had pools and all you can drink/eat. It was so nice to see them. I’ve gone scuba diving a few times since my last update. I was took a scientific diving course where we learned to use cameras underwater and how to evaluate the conditions of coral reefs and monitor diseases and any destruction caused by pollution or boats or other divers. We also took a rescue diver course and I can administer O^2 in an emergency situation.  In order to get my official Scientific Diver certification I need at least 25 dives and up-to-date CPR. 

For the fourth of July I went to Bayahibe with some other youth volunteers.  It was nice to be in a smaller group but it was cloudy so we didn’t get to take advantage of the beach. The night of the fourth the nearby resort set off fireworks.  The last week of July was Camp GLOW.  I took two girls from my Chica’s group to a five day girl’s camp in Yaguate, San Cristobal at the Rancho Ecologico El Campeche.  It is a beautiful camp with cabins and a pool.   The girls had a great time and participated in workshops, art activities and sports games all while getting the chance to leave the campo which they otherwise rarely get to do. Over twenty volunteers participated and brought their own girls.  I gave a workshop on self-esteem and taught the girls how to make friendship bracelets. Each girl was given a sheet with twenty characteristics on it and they had to circle the four that best pertained to them.  Each characteristic had a corresponding color; the girls made the bracelets with the colors that corresponding trait.

Upcoming events- I was made VAC (Volunteer Action committee) co-coordinator for Region 6, and have two meetings this week on the 16th and 17th with the other regional coordinators and the Country Director.  We have a post-GLOW meeting on the 17th to discuss what went well and what didn’t go so well this year at camp to plan for next year.  The 18th I am going to get my residency/ green card. As far as projects go, I hope to graduate my Escojo Mi Vida (sex-ed) group in three weeks.  After graduation I want at least two or three of the really motivated kids to help me start a second Escojo group. I still have a while to go before graduating my English class but this new group is a lot better than my first class.  Part of that is because I make it more interesting and I hold class twice a week.  Chica’s just started up again and we are going to graduate at the end of September if all goes according to plan (which it never does). I am trying to work with Andy, the new Environment volunteer who lives near me, on a stove project in the coming months. The tubes finally got here and my community is starting the aqueduct. Doug and I are trying to build a library in the government building in Los Cacaos but only 4 people showed up to our informative meeting last week.  As we have all learned, you shouldn’t start a project if you don’t have a lot of community support. The community needs to feel, and be, invested or the project will fall when the volunteer leaves.  Thanks for the packages as always.  Keep the trail mix, granola bars, oatmeal and Thai food coming, and don’t hesitate to send good books or magazines.  Love and miss you!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Same blog... new name

Yes I changed the name of my blog. Not once have I heard a Dominican use the word "vivencia",  and none of the streets where I live have names.  And I love U2.
Updates coming soon!

Sept 22: Ok did it again. Also love the Counting Crows.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life updates since January.

January was somewhat uneventful except for a weekend in the capital when I went with some friends to see Harry Potter.  February 1-5 was our three month In-Service-Training.   We had to bring someone from our community to give a presentation to our supervisors. I brought Iris, an 18 year old who is my “project partner.” However she no longer lives here in El Guineo because she is attending University and now lives in San Cristobal.  Our presentation went well and it was fun to spend time with the Youth crew since we hadn’t been together like that since CBT which ended in October.   After IST I went to San Rafael, a beach town in the south near the city of Barahona. The beach was beautiful but the water was really rough and the beach was made of stones and not sand making swimming very uncomfortable.  I had to use my life guarding skills with my friend KT when we were having trouble getting out of the ocean, luckily another volunteer who is an experienced surfer was there to help her get out safely. 
February 18-20 I took two girls from my community to a girl’s camp in Campeche.  There they attended different charlas (talks) and were able to make masks for Carnaval and one night we even made smores.  I think they had a good time.

On the 25th Eileen Ward came to visit me for a few days.  I was so excited to have my first visitor (especially one I hadn’t seen in two years!) Eileen was one of my roommates senior year at Miami who now lives in Chicago.  The first day she got we went out and had hamburgers then went to a hookah bar in the capital and stayed at a hostel.  The next day she went to the Embassy and hung out at the pool while I attended some meetings at the Peace Corps office. Then we went to Supermercado Nacional.  For me it was as if I had been transported back to a Whole Foods in the states. I hadn’t seen such gloriousness in so long.  Eileen bought sandwich fixings which I couldn’t dream of being able to afford and I mooched off her delicious turkey and cheese!  The purpose of our visit to Supermercado Nacional was to buy Shakira tickets!  Yes… I am going to see The She Wolf herself March 30th!  That night we went home early from being out with friends because we were tired from the night before.

On Sunday Eileen and I went with Libby, Phoebe, Dan and Sarita to Juan Dolio (a nice beach east of Santo Domingo).  The beach was pretty crowded because it was Carnaval and independence day.  That night we went to an Italian restaurant and watched a movie. The next day we spent on the beach.  It was much less crowded and the water was amazing. That night Eileen treated me to a romantic dinner on the beach and we watched another movie.  The next morning we went back to the beach for a few hours before she had to get to the airport.  It was so nice to see her I only wish she could have stayed longer to come see my site. 

Now I am going to talk a little about what it is I am working on here in the campo.  First up is my new house!  I have spent the last month paining (thanks Dad for teaching me the correct way to paint because no one here knows how and they all think I’m some sort of master painter).  My house is half cement block and half wood with a tin roof.  I bought a bed, a dresser, a stove, a plastic table and four plastic chairs and a gas tank.  Then I also had to buy dishes, pots, pans, gas, silverware, towels, cups, etc.  Still missing a mini fridge which is 8,000 pesos so if anyone wants to be Dominican and send remittances that would be great.  (“Tens and twenties… all I want is what I have coming to me… all I want is my fair share”)

My doña came over for the first time yesterday and helped” me organize.  She made me promise that I wouldn’t leave the house at night to go to the latrine (about 15 yards away) and she took one of my empty paint cans and used a knife to scrape out the old paint and told me I had to pee in the bucket at night (which I did last night…twice!)  It was pretty weird to carry a bucket of urine to the latrine in the morning.  The dueño of my house still needs to fix the light fixtures and install a light switch. Right now I have to unscrew the lights to turn them off at night. 

On Tuesday I had my first Club Tecnológico meeting with 12 boys.  They came to my house and we built newspaper towers.  They had to compete to see who could build the strongest highest tower with just newspaper and masking tape.  They learned that a triangle is the strongest shape.  Next week we are going to build bridges out of Popsicle sticks.  Thursday I had my first Chicas Brillantes meeting with 13 girls. We made friendship bracelets to represent the group.  I made a list of characteristics and each girl had to chose the four that they felt best represented them.  Then I told them that each characteristic had a corresponding color and they were to make the bracelets out of those colors.  Some of them did a great job and others couldn’t get the hang of the stitch.  I will be repeating this activity with 60 girls at the Chicas summer camp in June so it was good to have a practice round.  

I have given up on baseball since the only place to play is in the street which is not only dangerous because all the motos and trucks speed by, but also the ball frequently gets hit over the cliff.  I have switched to soccer which has been awesome.  I try to do a little bit of drills before we scrimmage but the kids get restless.  (The Dominican Republic might be the only country in Latin America that plays baseball instead of soccer so I have been really interesting to watch the kids learn to play.)  I use old field hockey drills since I can’t remember my middle school MSI days very well.  We play every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from .  Monday- Thursday from 6-7:30 five of my neighbors (boys 7-12) come over to draw me pictures. 

Anyway hope you feel updated.  Thanks to Eileen for coming to visit!  And for everyone who has sent packages! (It’s like Christmas once a month!!)

Love to all!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas- New Year’s Eve- Present

Christmas Eve was very eventful.  I played some baseball and hit some “ron rons”.  Then Martha called me in to help with dinner preparations. This meant making a delicious seasoning to put on the chicken.  I mashed some garlic with lots of other campo spices and had to put this all over three freshly killed chickens (not something you’d find a Giant nicely cleaned and in plastic wrap).  Martha wanted to bake the chickens and as it turned out had never prepared chicken this way before.  So I turned on the oven… and a mouse crawled out.  Martha proceeded to grab it and kill it then grab my arm.  I was more horrified at the fact she had raw chicken hands.  The chickens took forever to cook but the dinner was delicious.  I baked some chocolate chip cookies.  Later that night I went to the gift exchange where I got a purple shirt with rhinestones that is way too tight (super Dominican).  The next day (Christmas Day) was just an ordinary day here in the campo. In the morning I Skyped with my family while they were opening presents and having breakfast.  I felt more as though I were watching a movie than missing out.   For New Year’s Eve I went with some friends to Cabarete in the north of the country.  I spent NYE day sailing a catamaran and drinking Cuba libres on the beach.  That night there were tons of tents set up on the beach playing music and at midnight there were fireworks. 

I got back to my site on the 2nd and on the 4th my host dad was rushed to the hospital with high blood pressure and might have had a minor heart attack.  He and my host mom are still there and gracias a dios he is doing much better.  I went to visit him yesterday.  The hospital was a total disaster.  There had just been a car accident and there were people in the waiting area bleeding and there were blood stains on gurneys and every time one rolled down the hall everyone would rush to the window to see if the person was dead.  Every five minutes a new evangelical person would come into the room and try to save our souls.  I was ready to leave after thirty minutes but we stayed for over five hours.  My host parents expect to be back tomorrow.  I have had the house to myself for the last week.  The first few days I was taking care of my host brothers but they went to stay with their mother.  The neighbors bring me food and are super concerned that I am sleeping alone and keep trying to send some neighborhood kid to come stay with me.  Dominicans do not sleep alone.  Not just in the house or even in the room.  They sleep 2-3-4-5 to a bed because they don’t like to be alone.  I on the other hand HATE sleeping in the same room as people (loathe hostels).  I have to keep reminding everyone that I lived on my own before I got here and I will live alone in two or three weeks.  Speaking of!  My house is coming along very nicely.  As soon as my host family situation is back to normal I am going to go buy everything I need. 

I am headed to the capital on Friday to see Harry Potter finally.  The first week of February is my three-month in service training where I will be giving a presentation of the community diagnostic I have been conducting the last three months and when we learn about all the grants available to volunteers.  English class has been going well. Everyone can introduce themselves in English which is a good place to start.  Other than English all day Sunday I play baseball all the time and have actually convinced the boys to let the girls play too (since I refuse to play if they aren’t included.. and well I’m pretty much an All Star). I’m getting over my third round of gripe and am making good use of the Smart Wool socks Nana and Poppy sent!   Hope all is well and everyone had a nice holiday and Happy New Year!  As always, keep sending updates. I love getting mail electronic and snail even if it takes weeks to arrive.  

PS: Host family just arrived home.  There are a million people in the house but glad he is ok!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Goes Down Must Come Up…

Today (12/6) I went on an epic hike to the river Sumbi with my host brothers Acxel (12) and Hansel (11).   I had a “wow I’m old” moment trying to keep up with them.  We started out going DOWN a dirt path that was pretty steep.  Then it turned into climbing rocks through the underbrush of the mountains.  We finally got to the “river” which was more like a creek with a small waterfall and a swimming hole.  I had another “wow I’m old” moment while we were swimming and I was concerned about them diving off the ledge and hitting the rocks below.  We hung out until the sun went behind the clouds and it got cold.  Then was the climb back to the house.  Needless to say I will sleep well tonight. 

Yesterday I had a meeting planned to discuss my English course.   The meeting was set for 2pm. I made the trek to the high school and was there by 1:45.  No one showed up until 3:15. This is pretty typical “hora Dominicana” but I tried to make it clear that class was going to run on “hora Americana” from then on.  As of now I will be holding two courses; Sunday from 9-12 for beginners and from 3-5 for the more “advanced” students.  I also have finally started a volleyball team.  We have yet to practice with the net but since the only experience with volleyball I have consists of summers at Bethany, we are starting off slow until our forearms get used to playing.  I have a meeting with Adele, my supervisor and my project partners on Wednesday to discuss my community diagnostic.   

Other than that things are going well.  Thanksgiving in the capital was a lot of fun but the pumpkin pie just wasn’t the same. We went to the country club where there were lots of sports games like basketball, soccer and an IM relay.  I swam the breaststroke for the “freshman” team.  (We are the newest in country volunteers).  We won our first heat but lost in the finals. Not bad since I haven’t swam competitively since high school and considering it was after the huge Thanksgiving lunch! (And the fact that Bambi showed up the night before ;-) ) I have received more marriage/novio proposals and because of this, half the men in my campo now think I have a husband somewhere who is going to come live with me.  If anyone has a solution to this problem I’m all ears.   My community also thinks I’m a “tigra” (in Dominican “tigres” are gangsters/thugs) because of my card shuffling skills and magic tricks. 


Adele’s visit went well. She brought me some packages from the capital from Elana and Meg. THANKS!!  We discussed my diagnostic and she checked out the house that I want to move to in January and talked to the owner and told him what he needed to fix before I move in.  Friday I went to the capital with Iris my project partner for her birthday, where we stayed with her two older brothers.  One of the brother’s took me for a SAT in his supped-up Honda. It was nice to be in a real car for once but he kept driving me to all the colmados and calling me his future wife.   We made some brownies for Iris and I went back home.  

I had my first English class.  I gave a test to see which levels everyone should be in.  Once again half the people showed up an hour late.  But since I had a book to read I didn’t mind.  Only six people of about 25 will be in my “advanced” class. 
This weekend (12/17) is the Christmas party at Romeo’s condo in the capital.  There are lots of celebrations planned for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) in the campo.  Christmas Day isn’t really celebrated.  I’m sure it’s going to be weird not being at home.

Friday, November 26, 2010

End of training...start of service

Oh, hi there! Remember me?  There isn’t much to write about.  I’ve been here in El Guineo a month (minus swear-in and hurricane consolidation which I’ll explain later) and in-country for three!  My site is really great except for the fact that my community is along a long-twisty-hilly road.  It takes me forever just to walk to the school.  It’s very inconvenient that PC doesn’t let volunteers drive.  A moto would be ideal! I have lots of free time without TV or a job… I have read lots of books and completely revamped my iTunes music library. I’m really good at spider solitaire, minesweeper and dominoes.  To help with the initial boredom I have decided to start an English class and a girl’s volleyball team. We aren’t really supposed to do anything the first three months at our sites.  This time is meant to be spent working on our Community Diagnostic which is getting to know people, the community, and its needs. 

My Dona is awesome, her name is Martha and she is 56 but has two great-grandchildren (one born just the other day). My room is small but nice; I have built some shelves and figured out ways to save space.  My bed is a mattress that is very worn down and is held up with pieces of wood underneath.  Martha and her husband Cristobal harvest coffee, so the house is always noisy and full of workers.  She also has three grandkids that live in the house and are always screaming.  She cooks for at least fifteen people everyday.  At first the food wasn’t so great but I made banana bread and guacamole and hinted that I looooove carrots and eggplant. Haha I was getting pretty sick of rice and beans. 

I have already found a potential house to live in, and am thinking about getting bunk beds for all of you who will be visiting J.  It’s a wooden house with lots of holes in the siding and no kitchen or bathroom. A true fixer-upper.   Depending on how it turns out maybe when I get back I’ll audition to be on the show about “flipping houses”. 

I won’t lie to you, the campo is pretty lonely.  It’s hard to speak in Spanish all day, and I haven’t met anyone my age (that’s not entirely true, but all the women 20+ have husbands and kids and high school educations so it’s hard for me to relate).  Other than that I’ve been spending most of my time with my neighbor Stacey (13) and her brothers Armando (19) and Fraimer (17) and her sister Yohanna (8).  It’s hard to wander around the community because of the hill situation.  And no, it’s not me being lazy... it’s a serious hill. 

The director of the elementary school and the director of the high school both have internet at their houses but the service is terrible (it wouldn’t even connect today 11/18 when I tried to get on to post this). And the same goes for my cell phone.  I will be in the capital for Thanksgiving (mmm pumpkin pie!!).  PC rents out a country club and there is tons of food and sports and a talent show.  During consolidation I participated in a free-style competition.  I’m not from 8 mile or anything but I won three ‘battles’. 

We new volunteers have had a lot of quick changes of scenery (culture) in the three months we’ve been here.  When we arrived in country we lived in the capital with host families, then went to different sites to visit volunteers, then I had training in the mountains of Constanza where there was great food and running water, then back to the capital a few days, then off to visit our project sites, then back to the capital a few days, then we went to our sites on Saturday October 30th only to be brought back to the capital on Tuesday the 2nd because of the hurricane.  We stayed in a five star hotel for a week.  Free all you can eat buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner (create your own pasta! and 20 different types of bread!!!) hot showers, huge bed, air conditioning and a swimming pool … then we had to go back to the campo- rice and beans, bucket showers, small bed with crappy mattress, no electricity and we have a river but you can’t swim in it anymore because of the Cholera outbreak.  Not that I’m complaining ;-) Just hard to keep switching back and forth between developed and developing… 

Some people have been asking me about what they can send.
Here is a small list.
  • dvds DVDs DVDS!!! (anything really, but would be awesome if you could find Disney movies that can be played in Spanish)
  •  tea!!
  • candy (that wont melt)
  • fun jewelry
  • nail files
  • art project materials like gimp, colorful tissue paper, colorful string, pipe cleaners, feathers, sequins, glitter, paint brushes, stuff to make fun jewelry
  • “Just-Add-Water/Eggs/Oil” cookie or muffin mix (only if it can be made in something other than a muffin tin- unless you want to send that too…), other food mixes (Thai)
  • random things to decorate my new house with J

And of course, come February, yourself! 

Send email updates, and call me because I miss you, and English. But don’t you dare tell me how Harry Potter was… too jealous already.  Hehe <3   

Friday, October 29, 2010

Official PCV

Hello!   Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.  Things have been crazy here.   Let’s see…   CBT in Constanza was amazing!  It was such a beautiful city and I miss the fruits and veggies.  We Youth volunteers had a great experience, our technical trainer, Emily, was incredible.  It was her first training group and we all thought she did an outstanding job.  She was a volunteer here a few years ago and decided to come back and do training.  She was so honest and supportive through out the entire process, we all hope she gets offered the job for the next session so she can stay in country.  We came back to Santo Domingo on the 16th and that night we all met up at the Carwash (carwash by day, discothèque by night) with the other training groups.  It was so nice to see everyone again after five weeks.  I still think the Youth sector had the best training experience.  That night Kaila slept over and we woke up at 5am to go to Isla Saona with some other volunteers.  No words can describe that trip but I will try just to make you super jealous.  We rented a guagua and drove to a port on the east side of the island which took about two and a half hours.  Then we got on a speedboat that took us half way to Isla Saona.  The boat stopped and let us get out and swim in the shallow waters.  We got some cuba libres (drinking at 9am… this is how PCVs become alcoholics) and we swam around in the ocean which seemed more like a sandy swimming pool.  We found some beautiful giant starfish!  After about an hour we got back on the boat and continued to the island.  When we got there, there were not even five other people on the island. We ordered more rum and cokes and played cards and went swimming.  After lunch I decided to swim out toward a catamaran that was anchored further out.  The guys on the boat were diving for conches and they let me get up on the boat and dive off… they also gave me one of the shells after they cut the critter out. We hung out on the island until about four then we all got on the catamaran and went back to the main island.  The boat went slowly so we could all dance and enjoy the view.  Overall it was a perfect day.  Check facebook for the pictures!

On Tuesday we had Project Partner Day which was nerve-racking and awkward.  We went to the retreat center that we spent the night in on the first night in country.  There we met our key contacts from our project sites (thank goodness I speak Spanish or it would have been even more uncomfortable)  After an hour or so once everyone arrived we started a few “getting to know you” activities and we went over a little bit of what our site visits were about.  After lunch my project partners, Santiago and Iris, and I went to my project site!  It is about two and a half hours from the capital.  To get to El Guineo I have to get a guagua from Santo Domingo to San Cristobal, and then in San Cristobal find the stop for Los Cacaos.  On this first trip we found a guy with a pick up truck then strapped my bags to the roof and rode in the back with six other people.  It was a great way to see the view going up the mountain.  My house is on the top of a mountain and my community grows coffee beans.  In the five days that I got to visit I went all over the town meeting people and I had to awkwardly introduce myself at the schools to every single classroom.   I have noticed I have no fear of public speaking when it’s done in Spanish which is really interesting because had I had to do that to groups of teenagers in the States I might pee my pants.   Wednesday the Pastor of the Evangelical church gave me a surprise spaghetti dinner for my birthday which was super nice and also extremely awkward.  He brought me to his house on the back of his motoconcho where there were fifteen people I’d never met waiting for me.  They sat me on the couch and just stared at me for a while…again, super thankful I know Spanish!  The spaghetti was an awesome change from rice and beans.  Saturday I went to the rio for a little while then learned a new card game called Briska.  My community in El Guineo is very poor but there is sometimes luz (light/electricity) and running water.  There is a lot of potential to work with the youth in the town and luckily there are three schools (in most towns there is not even one and the kids have to walk far distances to get to school everyday… one day I might write a post about the Dominical school system but I’m not in the mood to be depressed right now).   On Sunday I had to get myself back to the capital which was quite an adventure but I managed. 

We had our last two days of training Monday and Tuesday mostly just administrative things like opening bank accounts, last minute reviews of Safety and Security, and filling out the Emergency Locator Form. I was sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer yesterday!   It was a nice little ceremony with all the volunteers, training staff, the Country Director, Chris Lampert, and our Donas.  Afterwards we went to a bar in the city where we had PC Homecoming which is a party for the volunteers who are COSing (close of service) and the newbies who just swore in.  It was hard to talk to anyone because it was so loud but coincidentally due to the horrible situation in Haiti all the PCVs in country are being consolidated (one of the steps in the Emergency Action Plan, Alert-Standfast- Consolidation-Evacuation).  Consolidation usually means everyone is to go to a predetermined hotel in their region.  But this situation is serious enough that they are bringing us all in to the capital.  We are not in any immediate danger but the Country Director wants to be sure everyone is fully aware of how serious Cholera is so we can protect ourselves and pass-along the information to protect our communities.  He calls Cholera the scourge of god; it really is something you only hear about in the bible… it kills a person in 24-48 hours and there has not been an outbreak in the Caribbean in a century.   However, it is very preventable and treatable if you get proper medical treatment in time.  Cholera is a bacteria that is spread through contaminated water or anything you put in your mouth.  Since none of the water in this country is potable we just have to continue monitoring where our water is coming from, then boil or purify it. It kills through severe dehydration.  It can be treated with something as simple as Cipro to kill the bacteria.

I am in the capital until Saturday then head back to the campo. I have no internet close by and cell reception is poor but I can get texts!  Email me if you want my phone number.  I am over an hour from the closest volunteer from my swear-in group and 45 minutes from two volunteers in Cambita so I can imagine the campo could get lonely so call me anytime even if its just to say hi!.  Thanks to everyone who texted/called me on my birthday, they were the best presents.  Speaking of presents, don’t send me big packages because they charge me to get them out of customs.  And don’t send anything that can’t sit in mail space for a few months.  Ok I think that’s all for now, I hope you feel caught up on the last month’s goings ons. I miss you!