I’ve moved! It’s been just over a week since I packed up my belongings from my host family’s house and settled in to my own. I’m paying RD$2500/month for a 3 bedroom house with a kitchen, living room, and indoor bathroom. There’s a great patio out back that needs some grooming, but I look forward to having a garden and putting up a hammock 🙂
I live right across the street from a small colmado where I can buy almost all the essentials – eggs, toilet paper, coffee, garlic, etc. – and I live less than a five minute walk from La Cabrita. My new neighbors are phenomenal and have already helped me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. There’s always people sitting outside nearby, willing to chat, help, and share or try food. In particular, my community partner Nibia has provided me with a variety of items (most of which were free of charge) to make my house more homey -the dining room table/chairs, two plastic chairs, the table in my kitchen, curtains, bathroom decorations, a fan, sheets, and a chalkboard. I’m also sure that I’ll never go hungry, as so many people have stopped by to give me bananas, plátanos, lunch, dulces, coffee, melon, yuca, and so on.
I feel very safe, and since living on my own, my quality of life has definitely increased. My host family that I was staying with was wonderful – they cooked excellent food, did my laundry, and helped me transition into the community – but they were older and also quite religious, which was a bit limiting. Living on my own allows me to come and go as I please; I can eat what and when I want.
While my independence has been reinstalled, being a doña is not the easiest. In addition to preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the women here are expected to sweep and mop their house daily, and to always have juice or snacks on hand for visitors. It’s also common to bring a plate of the food you’ve made for lunch over to your neighbor’s house – I receive a variety of facial expressions when I share my couscous, omelets, or peanut butter/banana sandwiches. Overall, it’s a fair amount of work to ensure that my house is always spick and span for visitors, but having my own space makes it all worth it.
In other news, I’ve had two successful women’s group meetings. In the next meeting, we hope to establish a name and a directiva. So far, their first priority is to get a community center built where we can hold meetings and workshops (the women have had opportunities to receive courses and workshops from various organizations, but since there’s no physical location in which to hold them, they don’t come). I’ve also helped to get a group of jóvenes motivated to form a formal youth/sports group. We’ve also had two meetings, and are in the process of applying to the program Courts for Kids to get a basketball court built in Pescadería. Now that classes have started again, the participation in my English class is deteriorating. However, the few students that do come get to enjoy more individual attention and also coffee, as we’re now holding class in my new house.
In terms of La Cabrita, we’re focusing our efforts on obtaining the sanitary registration to be able to start selling in supermarkets and marketing. Thanks to my friend Jenn Winkowski from Clemson, we have a brand new logo that, in addition to the label, we plan to use on future marketing materials like brochures, signs throughout the community, and T-shirts.
Last but not least, I’ve got a flight booked to come home (11/23-12/02 so mark your calendars!) I couldn’t be happier with my site placement, work that I’m doing, and new living situation, but it will be great to come home, visit with family and friends, stuff myself with turkey, and take a break from this darn heat!