Archive | September, 2013

a “day” in the life

17 Sep

Although it might sound contradictory, living on my own has allowed me to experience Dominican culture on an even deeper level.  How many people can say that they’ve watched a cockfight in their own backyard?  I have (unfortunately).  In addition to my Peace Corps duties, and aside from having children, I share all the responsibilities of a typical doña – cooking, sweeping, mopping, doing laundry, etc.  Being in charge of my own space has earned me some street cred too  – “Ah the americana knows how to clean” or “oh she can actually cook!”  In fact, my neighbor Pepelo who owns the colmado across the street is officially addicted to my coleslaw.

my friend Onario fishing

my friend Onario fishing

By no means do I have a ‘typical day’ or a 9-5 work schedule (Peace Corps is essentially a 24/7 job), but here’s a general idea of how how my day’s split up – also, the schedule of these activities can change depending on whether or not there’s luz or agua:

5:15 – wake up to walk with a group of ladies (unfortunately too hot and too many catcalls to do it any other time of day)

6:45 – come back and start oficios – sweep outside (yes it’s expected that you sweep outside), clean bathroom, sweep and mop inside, water plants, etc.  I wash my clothes 1/week in my neighbor’s washing machine depending on when I have time/when there’s luz

8:00 – cook breakfast (coffee, eggs, boiled yucca, fruit, or peanut butter), eat, and wash dishes.  Lots of people pass by every morning selling food too – corn bread, sweet potato bread, milk, avocados, chicharrones, cassava bread, bananas, cabbage, tomatoes, ice cream – so I’ll buy from them if I need ingredients for lunch/dinner or don’t feel like cooking

12:00 – cook lunch (rice, chicken, salads, or whatever my neighbors bring me), eat, and wash dishes.  Now that I have a fridge, I’ll be able to cook more and save leftovers

1:00 – nap (only and if only there’s luz so I can plug in my fan, otherwise it’s way to hot to sleep)

7:00 – eat dinner (leftovers, avocado, bread, fruit, or peanut butter/banana sandwich) and compartir/pasear with neighbors

10:00 – sleep

in the meantime…

  • Mondays @ 3 – English class for kids
  • Tuesdays @ 4 – Women’s group meeting
  • Wednesdays @ 10 – English class for jovenes/adults
  • Lots of people watching, sitting, chatting outside my house
  • Nail painting
  • Work/meetings with La Cabrita
  • Helping kids with homework
  • Making espaghettis with friends
  • Trips to Barahona – grocery shopping, buying supplies for work/house, meeting up with other volunteers, using the Internet
  • Meetings with jovenes/sports group
  • Walking around to visit friends/host family
  • and I’m about to start Chicas Brillantes (youth iniciative where I’ll meeting weekly with a group of girls to talk about gender roles, self esteem, healthy living, etc.)
making espaghettis with some of my chicas

making espaghettis with some of my chicas

Like I said, this is just an idea of some typical activities; no two days are the same.  Some days I have very little work to do, others I’ll spend the whole day away from my house.  It also depends on the ever-changing schedule of electricity and water.  Power outages are more common than not.   The luz often goes out around 5am and will return anytime between 11 and 2.  It will then last for a few hours, shut off, and come back on again around 8.  Other days the electricity will last all day, and others it won’t come at all.  A good amount of families have generators, but I’ve learned how to get a long just fine with my headlamp.

inauguration of the World Water Relief purified system at the school

inauguration of the World Water Relief purified system at the school

Although it’s technically rainy season here, the south is pretty much a desert.  There’s a slow-running spigot right outside my house that has water for about 3 hours every day.  I still don’t have a tinaco on top of my house to store water, so I use two large buckets, one for the bathroom (bathing, flushing toilet, cleaning) and the other for the kitchen (washing dishes and cooking), that I try to keep full at all times because who knows how long it will be until the water comes again.  It’s been two days now since I’ve been able to fill them so I’m definitely learning how to budget my resources.  I buy drinking water at the colmado across the street (RD$30 for 5 gallons).

photoshoot while walking through my neighbor's conuco

photoshoot while walking through my neighbor’s conuco

Things I love about Dominican culture:

  • Hospitality – never have I met a more generous group of people; they will offer you the shirt off their back and the food off their fork.
  • Dance – these people know how to move, and it’s intimidatingly beautiful to watch
  • Fruit – unlimited, and fresh from the tree
  • Solidarity
  • Family – everyone is related, and everyone looks out for each other; kids under the age of 7 are already master babysitters
  • Patience – there is a lot of waiting that goes on in the country, plus it’s friggin’ hot here
  • Faith – caution to the wind, and God willing, things will go as planned
  • Simple pleasures and entertainment

Things I could do without:

  • Gossip – secrets and rumors spread like wildfire; the first to know ‘new’ information wins
  • Nosiness – people will ask you about anything and everything, especially if it has to do with money
  • Child and animal abuse – throwing rocks at your kid does not solve the problem
  • Noise levels – you need to make an effort to find a place to hear yourself think.  Often I think people are fighting but in reality they’re just having a passionate conversation
  • Laziness/dependence on outside assistance – sitting around and playing cards does not get a community center built
  • Trash – people throw it everywhere, or burn it
  • Mosquitos – not cultural, but this country would certainly be a lot better without them
fishing with Onario and Caesar

fishing with Onario and Caesar