Tag Archives: electricity

moonlit reflections

29 Oct

There is an eerie vibe to a dim-lit capital city.  There are sounds of motos, distant sirens, and vigilant dogs, but the neighborhood is dark and indiscernible.  Random dull light bulbs powered by generators (read: rigged car batteries) cast exaggerated and misshapen shadows that command both the corners and stretches of streets. There is a rare chill in the air, and my skin tingles with goose bumps rather than beads of sweat. My ears feel large, compensating for my eyes and alert in the stillness. As I write, the moon is by far the brightest and most loyal source of light around. She glows impressively, taunting those of us without luz by illuminating the edges of even the farthest rainclouds that sit plump and squat out on the horizon of the Caribbean. We haven’t had running water or electricity for more than 24 hours.

One whole day really is no time at all, and though this happens frequently, I almost scoff at myself for appearing so dramatic. There are plenty of communities in the DR and beyond that have yet to see an electrical wire installed. Campesinos go MONTHS without seeing a single droplet of water reach their pipes. But often, those people have buckets. And neighbors. Even better, neighbors with buckets. I could buy a bucket and deliberately start storing water like I did nearly every day in the campo, but I haven’t. I attribute this avoidance mostly to laziness (and the fact that I left all of my buckets with my neighbors when I moved to the capital), but the human components of my being regrettably do not want to admit that I indeed should adhere to this ritual once again.

I live in the capital city of a middle-income country. Over 3 million people live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo. Amid the vibrant smiles and picturesque landscapes found across the Dominican Republic, there are innumerable pockets of poverty. However, to those who choose to turn a blind eye or are not willing to wander far, they are nonexistent and irrelevant.

By no means am I living in poverty, but some people around me certainly are.  Illiteracy, teen pregnancy, unemployment, poor waste management, corruption – all issues that are as real as they are rampant.  My feelings of annoyance, bafflement, and compliance in reference to my water situation clash with an ever-present privilege that I guiltily experience but have learned to leverage as an American white woman. Whether it is in capital cities or on the outskirts of the most spectacular beaches, lacking amenities are frustrating but the truly impoverished loom right next door, desperate and taciturn.  I do try to not over look this reality – the persistent existence of poverty and the fact that many just turn a blind eye to it.  So tonight in the chilly darkness, my dogmatism regarding frequent water shortages when others around me face truly dire circumstances is exaggerated but disappointing all the same.

The 193 Member States of the United Nations have agreed upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals to follow-up with the 8 Millennium Goals from 2000 in the spirit of addressing persisting issues with poverty worldwide.  I encourage you to read more about them here.  Though it is an ambitious agenda, will it be enough? What are the measures we are actually taking to make our neighbors happier, our cities healthier, and future generations safer? How do we make these concerns urgent, obvious, tangible for those that sleep soundly, apathetic and oblivious to their shared responsibility in these matters?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Then, in an auspicious glimmer of either sympathy or inspiration, the neighborhood erupts in cheers as the luz has arrived once again, melting the city’s shadows down to bits of darkness that seem small next to the true richness of this bright world.

feliz cumpleaños a mi!

13 Mar

So today I turned 23. Sure, I’m still one of the youngest people in our group, but it’s no ‘milestone’ age. It’s not the first birthday that I’ve celebrated without my family, not even my first birthday out of the country (I turned 20 in Argentina), but nevertheless it’s been quite a special day. Here are some highlights…

  • My host mom greeted me this morning with a huge hug and a felicidades, then served me the biggest bowl of fresh papaya, mango, and pineapple yet
  • As soon as I walked into the training center, all of the other trainees that had already arrived sung me happy birthday! Literally, as soon as I walked in the door – so surprised that people I’m still just getting to know remembered!
  • I got my second Rabies vaccine, and took my chalky, makes-you-have-the-most-vivid-dreams-ever Malaria medicine (happy malaria miércoles!)…not the best part of the day, but figured I’d add it to the highlights considering this is my first birthday to have done either
  • For the first time, we split into our sector groups – community economic development (CED, my sector) and eduction. The 13 of us were officially introduced to our training staff; we talked about the basic logistics and objectives of our community based training (CBT) that takes place in a couple weeks. During CBT we’ll be living in the region of Monte Plata, known for its agriculture, primarily cacao; it’s also where fair trade and organic products really took off in the DR. One of the staff brought us cacao rolled in sugar and a cacao marmalade (YUMMM), both made by a women’s cooperative we’ll have the opportunity to work with. We also received the details regarding our visits to a community of a current Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). I’ve been assigned to visit a girl currently in CED who’s living in the northwest region of Dabajon – more on this to come.
  • We spent our Spanish class cooking! For those of you who don’t know, cooking is one of my biggest hobbies and I find food culture fascinating. Eating isn’t bad either. Today we made arepas and empanadas de jamón, queso, cebolla, ají de morron, maíz, y tomate
  • During the last hour and a half of training, we learned how to play dominoes, a huge Dominican pastime – still figuring out the strategies, but what a relaxing, fun, new, and cultural activity to end a long day
  • After training, a group of at least 20 of us met up at a colmado, which is more or less a corner store where they sell everything from cooking oil to rum (both of which are Dominican staples I might add). We played cards and dominoes (we’re professionals now after all), drank Presidente, enjoyed the afternoon sun, and chatted like old friends – the people that own the colmado even brought me two little muffins stacked together with a birthday candle stuck on top!
  • Even in the midst of a power outage, my host sisters and mother hovered around the stove to make pasta Alfredo and garlic bread for dinner
  • I got to open the envelope my mom had given me the day I left. She told me not to open it until my birthday so that I’d have something to look forward to, even if she wasn’t with me in person – thanks mama 🙂
  • And last, but certainly not least, my sister just brought me a glass of fresh mango juice
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    en realidad, no podía haber pedido un día mejor…