Not too much has happened since my last update. Oh wait, I VISITED HOME!!!! 10 days sure did fly by, especially because 2 of them were spent traveling, but catching up with so many friends and family was priceless. Some highlights include:
– Speaking at Woodstock Union High School to various students and teachers about Peace Corps, culture in the Dominican Republic, and my life as a PCV in the DR so far – very rewarding, and I was thrilled to share my experience with so many eager listeners. Thanks guys 🙂
– Sharing all the Dominican goodies I’d brought home with my family. Before I left, my neighbors and I made pan de yuca and pan de maíz, both of which I fit in my suitcase; they totaled about 20 lbs. I also brought various dulces home – banana, coconut/pineapple with raisins, and tomato (yes, you can make tomato dessert, and it was actually the favorite of the three!). Lastly, I brought home three big bags of tasty sweetened cacao seeds made by a women’s association where my friend Sam is living and working.
– Seeing my family and friends after so long, but particularly my niece and 2 nephews. It had been almost a year since I’d seen them, and they’re growing up so beautifully!
– Thanksgiving dinner. Who doesn’t love it? Plus it had been 9 months since my last bite of turkey.
– My dad got married! Congrats Tom and Mary – love you both very much.
– Visiting Oak Knoll farm in Windsor, VT. This place has over 800 goats (!!) and they produce milk and yogurt. I took advantage of living so close by and took a tour of the farm. I plan to share pictures and what I learned with members of La Cabrita
I got back to site on Tuesday, realizing that I’m thankful for an infinite number of things. Visiting home was such a blur of mixed emotions. Culture shock. Hugging family and friends that I hadn’t seen in way too long. Freezing my butt off. Being able to plug in my electronics whenever I wanted because I didn’t have to worry about there not being luz. Speaking in English. Nature. Mescaline lettuce, and not having to soak it in bleach before eating it. Trash cans. Realizing how great my high school education was. Drinking pure Vermont water from the tap. Wearing a seatbelt. Having all my friends telling me that I look pretty because I’m so tan. Coming back to the DR and having everyone tell me that I’m prettier because I’m whiter. Culture shock.
But I’m thankful for it all, and I decided that I’m really happy with what I’m doing. Not every day is comfortable or uncomplicated, but that would take the adventure out of this whole experience. Overall, life here is pretty dang good, and I’m thankful for so many things every day…How easy it is to clean cement floors. How badass I feel while riding a motorcycle, even if I’m always the passenger. My health and safety. The kids’ eagerness to learn, play, and give hugs. Fresh fruit, and the infinite number of tasty juice combos one can create. Saludar-ing. The determinedness of the members of La Cabrita. Having my neighbors bring me lunch every single day and not expecting anything in return. My mosquito net. Recognizing how much less water I use by taking bucket showers. The crunch of perfect tostones. The fact that no one does anything when it rains. Bachata. How accomplished I feel after finishing my laundry. The stars on a luz-less night.
One thing that I don’t express enough though is how thankful I am for all the other volunteers. It’s one thing to go home and “explain” to people what your life is like. That’s even what I’m trying to do by writing this blog. But no matter how many details you give, gestures you make, or pictures you share, you just can’t do it justice. Life here is too different. Good and bad different. So that’s why I’m thankful for other volunteers. They’re living here too. We all have different sites, but we share similar frustrations and break-throughs, failures and triumphs, goals and dreams, and digestion problems. And from Day 1 we’ve been able to talk about it all. And I mean everything – I’ll spare you the details 🙂
So here’s a list of some fellow PCV-DR bloggers, most of who arrived with me in March (more than nine months ago!) All of them are doing great and very different things, and are those who make this whole experience that much better. Thanks guys!
http://skinneypeacecorps.wordpress.com/ – who I bought the cacao seeds from!
Really important P.S. – Two weeks from today I receive my first stateside visitors!!! Can’t wait to see you Mom and Carrie, and to show you what life here is really like 🙂