Tag Archives: goats

(los) weschler perspective

10 Oct

As one door closes, another opens. Windows of opportunity continue to present themselves, and the ceiling limiting my options and interests to pursue after Peace Corps grows taller, further away. My blog posts seem infrequent, not because I’m uninspired, but because it’s difficult to transmit all of what I’ve been learning since moving to the capital. My day-to-day life, while its schedule is more ‘traditional’ than it was the campo, experiences a vast array of tasks, locations, and conversations. This third year in Peace Corps has been as invigorating and tumultuous as the last two, but how I’ve developed professionally is incomparable.  This has after all been my first ‘office job’ ever.

Pics from a recent stateside visitor

Pics from a recent stateside visitor

Las Terrenas, Samaná

Las Terrenas, Samaná

It has been six months since most of my friends from my March 2013 cohort left, meaning that yet another group is now wrapping up their service to move on to other travel, work, and study plans. A new batch of trainees arrived to country in August, one of whom is staying with the very same host family I lived with during the six unforgettable weeks we spent in Peralvillo, Monteplata for Community Based Training. Additionally, one of these same trainees will eventually come to serve for two years as a follow-up youth volunteer in Pescadería, my home and ‘office’ for the majority of my time here. The new business volunteers, who I helped guide through their Community-Based Training in April, are now settled into their site assignments, some beginning to move out of their host families’ houses to live independently. I recall this part of my service fondly. It is when I regained a bit of independence, delved deeper into cultural integration alongside my beloved neighbors, and began to take on work projects that would ultimately define themselves as the most challenging yet rewarding parts of my service.

Latest visit to Pescadería with my girls Reni and Juana

Latest visit to Pescadería with my girls Reni and Juana

Omailin and fellow-biker, Angely

Omailin and fellow-biker, Angely

Nothing beats star-gazing in the campo...neighbors watching the eclipse/Super Moon.

Nothing beats star-gazing in the campo…neighbors watching the eclipse/Super Moon.

So, why has this third year so far been the icing on the cake to an already incredible experience? In one word: perspective. Peace Corps service tests all aspects of one’s life. Culture, identity, skills, beliefs, and boundaries. Not to mention patience and willpower. A fellow volunteer mentioned that, as volunteers, there is a thin line between our personal and professional lives; it is our job to make it thicker. The perspective this third year extension has brought to my own service has helped to fill in the gaps where I often didn’t see a line existing – moments where relationships defined productivity; times where only retrospect could offer clearer resolution. Spending time with other volunteers at their sites, investigating sites for future volunteers, talking to locals in nearly every province of the country, staying in touch and visiting people back in Pescadería – it has all helped to wrap my head around the 24 months I spent among the goats and plantain trees.  A big ‘hats off’ to those still out in the field.

YES I still work with these fools.

YES I still work with these fools.

Latest edition at La Cabrita - a reservoir so they can save water and use to irrigate the plantains they are planting to eventually generate income

Latest addition to La Cabrita – a reservoir so they can save water and use to irrigate the plantains they are planting to eventually generate income

By working in more direct contact with the people that function “behind the scenes” of a Peace Corps volunteer’s service, my campo blinders have been removed. I’m seeing the bigger picture, and realizing how we’re often just cogs within a large, bureaucratic machine. Good things take time – both inside and outside of the office. There are no parts of my two years that I regret, but I’ve gained a certain perspective that could’ve helped me navigate my service a bit easier. PCV or not however, I think it’d be hard to find someone who has never had that feeling of nostalgia plus “what if” on their conscience.

Another trip, another roadside stand - this one features mangoes, coconuts, eggs, and avocados.

Another trip, another roadside stand – this one features mangoes, honey, coconuts, eggs, and avocados.

Fellow PCV and my boss, Michael, enjoying a breakfast with a view in Moca

Fellow PCV Matty J and my boss, Michael, enjoying a breakfast with a view in Moca

Avocados and sunsets

Avocados and sunsets

This bathing spot made a long, steep hike well worth it!

This bathing spot made a long, steep hike well worth it!

PCVs outside of Matty J's house

PCVs outside of Matty J’s house

Cacao nursery near Cotui

Cacao nursery near Cotui, visiting another PCV

Hiking with fellow PCV near San Francisco de Marcoris

Hiking with fellow PCV near San Francisco de Marcoris

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Peace Corps will never be the job where you can arrive home from work and forget about your day at the office. Until the move from campo to capitaleña, my home WAS my office. My house in Pescadería was where I learned to prepare lunch the Dominican way and where I taught my chicas sexual health; home was where I watched Omailin learn to walk, where we stored the supplies used to build our basketball court, and where I mentored young entrepreneurs on feasible business plans. Work colleagues are also neighbors, church leaders, and school principals – a complex but wholesome quilt of personal and professional networks that blankets a volunteer’s understanding of the additional threads that hold the culture and community together.

Latest work trip: headed down south to the Barahona region to visit some of the winners of the Construye Tus Sueños competition. This is Raylin's San Rafael Surf School and Eco-Tours business

Latest work trip: headed down south to the Barahona region to visit some of the winners of the Construye Tus Sueños competition. This is Raylin’s San Rafael Surf School and Eco-Tours business

Michael, Raylin's mom, and Raylin's facilitator Jim (fellow PCV and Vermonter!) at his business

Michael, Raylin’s mom, and Raylin’s facilitator Jim (fellow PCV and Vermonter!) at his business

Lunch view.

Lunch view.

Lunch! Jim, Michael, and I

Conch for lunch! Jim, Michael, and I at Raylin’s business – food side of the business ran and cooked by his mom!

What better way to start the day than to watch the sun rise over an endless, ocean seascape

What better way to start the day than to watch the sun rise over an endless, ocean seascape?

Ready to start the mountain tour - note the Clemson Lacrosse shirt and view of San Rafael :)

Ready to start the Raylin’s mountain tour – note the Clemson Lacrosse shirt and view of San Rafael 🙂

CENTIPEDE

CENTIPEDE

views from the tour

views from the tour

Raylin - winner of Construye Tus Sueños and owner of San Rafael Surf School and Eco-Tours

Raylin – winner of Construye Tus Sueños and owner of San Rafael Surf School and Eco-Tours

San Rafael

San Rafael

Michael and I stopping for breakfast on our way to a community meeting.

Michael and I stopping for breakfast on our way to a community meeting.

Visiting a potential site for a future volunteer - an association that makes fruit marmalades !

Visiting a potential site for a future volunteer – an association that makes fruit marmalades !

Ladies in action - preparing orange jam

Ladies in action – preparing orange jam

Another stop to check out the 'gem' of the southern region - larimar

Another stop to check out the ‘gem’ of the southern region – larimar

Larimar - mined ONLY in Barahona

Larimar – mined ONLY in Barahona

I appreciate the opportunity to continue collaborating with Pescadería while not living there. This past weekend I watched one of my chicas graduate from high school – the 3rd graduation I’ve been a part of here. Though still soft-spoken and naive, she’s blossomed into a young leader, capable of commanding a classroom of adolescents while educating them on their anatomy and self-esteem. I also visited with Jonathan, one of my Construye Tus Sueños students, who has seen more than a 150% sales increase since taking the course and winning RD$50,000 to enhance his agro-veterinary business in May. Lastly, my friends who I became close to during the basketball court chronicles, informed me that they had not only bought new jerseys, but that they also had a new team name: The Pescadería Weschlers. Young people that I’ve had the pleasure to work with are becoming catalysts for change, and theirs are the stories that make me feel like I’m still fighting the good fight.

Colorful, festive high school graduation

Colorful, festive high school graduation

Graduation parade

Graduation parade

Odalina (graduate), Grissel, and I at the high school graduation. These two girls were my super-star multipliers for Chicas Brillantes.

Odalina (graduate), Grissel, and I at the high school graduation. These two girls were my super-star multipliers for Chicas Brillantes.

Photo of the Pescadería Weschlers. They captioned the photo:

Photo of the Pescadería Weschlers. They captioned the photo: “this has been done with great motivation for our friend, who helped us achieve what we’ve been waiting for. today with a truly united team, we dedicate it all to you kate weschler. we love and will always remember you.”

winner winner chicken dinner

14 Apr

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing a lot of reflecting, even more so than normal. This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve finally put up my hammock, which has become one of my favorite places on earth.

view from my hammock

i’m not the only one that likes it 🙂

But there’s more substantial reasoning behind it too. I’ve been in my site for almost one whole year now. In the midst of filling out grant information to receive Courts for Kids funding, completing twice-a-year mandatory Peace Corps’ monitoring and evaluation forms, and witnessing current PCVs tie up loose ends in the office while closing out their service, it’d be unnatural not to pause and think about how I’m spending my time here.

My Dominican dad, Pepelo, with his plátanos

My Dominican dad, Pepelo, with his plátanos

Omailin with his plátanos

Omailin with his plátanos

Duck you lookin' at?

Duck you lookin’ at?

Omailin ready for take off

Omailin getting ready for take off

Reni and I

Reni and I

So what do I think? Well, I am learning lot, and am seeing that my presence is actually making an impact. But before I get into, let me remind you what my job is. My mission as a Peace Corps Volunteer is three-fold:

  • To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
  • To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
  • To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans

Facilitating courses/workshops/trainings, attending conferences, empowering community members and leaders, and providing personal and professional support are ways I fulfill Goal 1. Goal 2 and Goal 3 are harder to measure, but are equally if not more important; they motivate us to use friendship and cultural exchange to establish mutual understanding and peace. Yesterday I made French toast and shared it with my neighbors while explaining to them what maple syrup is. That is an example of Goal 2. And lastly, a big thanks to YOU – yes, those of you that read and follow my blog help me to realize Goal 3.

Third Goal: this is where I wash my clothes

Third Goal: this is where I wash my clothes

Third Goal: typical Dominican-style feast when you have lots of people to feed - Esphaghettis and tostones

Third Goal: typical Dominican-style feast when you have lots of people to feed – Esphaghettis and tostones

My sister Reni :)

My sister Reni 🙂

buen provecho!

buen provecho!

While striving to accomplish these three goals, I have learned to become more appreciative, patient, creative, and assertive. I’ve developed many friendships I wouldn’t have otherwise. I go to bed tired but wake up energized, hungry to experience another day ‘on the job’. I have not lost sight of my humor, and am both thankful and proud that I can be myself in my community. Bottom line is that I’m happy I have another year left. I have many things I still plan to accomplish or to continue enjoying:

  • May 4th I will graduate over 40 girls from the Chicas Brillantes group. We have raised over RD$1600 as a group, the majority of which came from raffling off a chicken dinner. We have established a directiva that is in charge of managing funds, keeping track of attendance, announcing and organizing activities, and keeping the group active once I leave. I am so impressed by their maturity and dedication to the initiative, as I know they are not only prepared but also excited to multiply the information they’ve learned in the course within the community.

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the Presidenta of our Chicas Brillantes group leading a charla about the ABCs of Prevention

  • THE COURT. Yes you can still donate, and we need your help!  Courts for Kids arrives June 8th, so by June 15th we should have a fully functioning basketball/volleyball court, si dios quiere.  Learn more about the project by clicking here.  Donate to the project by clicking here.  The mayor brought 5 of us that are working on the court project here to visit a PCV in a nearby community who is also building a court through Courts for Kids – pictures below.

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Joel, Geudy, Regino, the Mayor, Rocky, and me

Rocky, Regino, and Joel in the back of the truck on the way back to Pescadería

Rocky, Regino, and Joel in the back of the truck on the way back to Pescadería

  • Construye Tus Sueños (Build Your Dreams). Currently mentoring 4 youth from my community who are interested in starting a business. I’m teaching them the skills required to elaborate a detailed business plan (marketing, financial literacy, mission/vision statements, cost analysis, etc.). We are participating in the regional Construye Tus Sueños conference at the end of the month.
  • Attending a Somos Mujeres (We are Women) conference in May with 4 women from my community where we will discuss entrepreneurial skills, the importance of saving money, various health topics, and do a whole lot of dancing, singing, and dinámicas. Gotta love doñas.
  • Believe it or not, I’m still teaching English. I’ve got three loyal students who have mastered the present tense. Baby steps.
  • Attending meetings, offering advice, and playing with baby goats at La Cabrita. They just purchased a beautiful, new tractor, which we all took out for a spin around town.
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members of La Cabrita with their new tractor

view of La Cabrita from the tractor ride

view of La Cabrita from the tractor ride

the main street of Pescadería didn't know what it was in for

the main street of Pescadería didn’t know what it was in for

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  • Brigada Verde (Green Brigade). I plan to start this initiative when classes finish in June (and when I no longer have to worry about the court!). I’ll hold co-ed meetings where we learn about a vast array of environmental topics. I hope to organize various community activities with the participants of this group – paint trash cans, murals (here’s where you come in Auntie Mary!), community trash pick up, gardening, etc.       To generate interest in the initiative, two other volunteers and I have solicited grant money to organize an eco-hike along the coast of Barahona. If accepted we will each bring 6 members from our respective communities, facilitating the creation of a network based off of environmental stewardship and cultural sensitivity.
  • Reading and studying. This is where the hammock comes in handy. I’m currently enrolled in an online course called The Age of Sustainable Development, taught by Jeffery Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. We’re learning about the pillars of sustainable development – social inclusion and cohesion, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and good governance – and the importance of acknowledging and understanding the relationships between all four.       I’ve become very invested in this field of study, especially because I’m learning about it while living in an impoverished country, where I’ve been able to recognize parts of the discussion in my daily life. Even beginning to look at graduate school options!
Community field trip to the Catholic basílica in Higüey

Community field trip to the Catholic basílica in Higüey

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can you guess which ones were the tourist busses?

can you guess which ones were the tourist busses?

trinkets and souvenirs

trinkets and souvenirs

so many beautiful candles

so many beautiful candles

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Anyway, those are the highlights as of now. Regardless of the day, be it slow and nostalgic or fast-paced and fruitful, goals are being met, bonds formed, stories shared, music danced, pictures taken, and lives impacted. Thank you for joining me on this journey – I hope you choose to keep learning and growing along with me!

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stones.

12 Feb

Peace Corps is all about the little wins.  That’s how I started my last post.  And I’m finding that the longer I’m in service, the truer this holds.  Without capitalizing on the positive moments, no matter how small or insignificant they may be, two life-changing years of Peace Corps service could easily become a disheartening nightmare.

I continue to stress and embrace the philosophy of realistic-optimism because I’m currently experiencing two frustrating conflicts.  It’s the parts of my day that put a smile on my face – usually lasting no longer than a couple of minutes, and pretty insignificant in terms of what goals I’m accomplishing as a Peace Corps Volunteer – that keep me from getting too deflated, encourage me to stay motivated, and remind me that regardless of the outcome, this is the ultimate learning experience.

Disclaimer: Like it says at the bottom of my blog, these are my ideas and feelings, and mine only.  Also, this post is longer than others (and without too many pictures) because there is a lot of interconnected information that needs to be shared so I can at least try and convey what is going on.  Also because I just had a very large cup of coffee.

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Conflict #1: La Cabrita

Some of you may still be wondering how I managed to end up in Pescadería in the first place, or what I’m actually doing here (sometimes I find myself asking the same question).  Truth is, the Fundación Central Barahona (to make things simple it’s the ‘do-good branch’ of a multi-million dollar Guatemalan sugar company) solicited Peace Corps volunteers to help with various projects they are supporting in the region of Barahona, La Cabrita being one of them.  That’s how I got here.  FCB applied for a Peace Corps Volunteer to be placed in Pescadería to assist the members of La Cabrita, a community project that FCB has helped finance and develop, strengthen their organization, develop business skills, and improve their performance as a business. 

Long story short, FCB and La Cabrita are not on good terms, and actually have not been since even before I arrived to Pescadería in May.  Most of it all stems from lack of confianza (Spanish for trust or confidence, and a key aspect of Dominican culture).  Without being too specific, FCB has said things or acted in ways that the socios do not agree with, so now they feel that FCB or the people that work there cannot be trusted.

The vision of La Cabrita is to become a nation-wide supplier of high-quality goat cheese and yogurt that not only provides the citizens of Pescadería with a nutritional product, but also stimulates economic growth within the community. Unfortunately, the members feel that FCB has ulterior motives for the organization – that the socios are ‘slaves’ to FCB’s grand plan to capture all their profits and take over their project.  If I’m being honest, the idea seems pretty grandiose, but, I have also not been a fan of more than one decision FCB has made in regards to La Cabrita.

So, what does this have to do with me?  To put it short, the members feel threatened when I communicate with the Foundation.  Over time they’ve given me a lot of confianza – at one point knew all their Facebook and email passwords, and had access to documents they were using to applying for various funding projects (including the government loan I mentioned for RD$11,000,000).  All of this information they had provided me with could have made it easy for FCB to meddle with their plans, if they had the intentions La Cabrita believed they did.  After two (and from my point of view, meaningless) interactions with FCB, the members of La Cabrita have decided to put their guards up.  I am not invited to meetings that they consider to be “internal”, and I know very little about what projects they are currently executing.  Why?  Because they’re afraid that I will leak it to the FCB who will use the information against them.  Would I purposefully tell the Foundation information that I think could jeopardize the progress of La Cabrita?  I don’t think I should even have to answer that, but that’s how I have their perspective understood.

How does this make me feel?  Well, frustrated, and kind of sad to be honest.  I’ve given up a life that I was comfortable with to eat every fruit under the sun, to sweat more than I ever could’ve imagined possible, and to make a difference in a group that was provided with the opportunity to take advantage of the skills I have to offer.  I’m sad because I’ve befriended these people, and there has been very little discussion about what I actually did to make them feel like they have to protect themselves from me – and I feel that friends owe that conversation to each other.  I’m frustrated because, without trying to be too selfish, I don’t feel that I’m accomplishing what I expected to, and they’re not taking advantage of a useful resource.

So what am I going to do to fix this?  I think it’s pretty obvious that we have to have a conversation to reach an understanding.  Simple idea, just difficult to coordinate.  I need to recognize why they’ve lost confianza, and what I can do to try to earn at least some of it back; they need to realize that I am in fact not in cohorts with FCB, and that I am here only to help them with what they want to accomplish.  If it’s gotten to a point where for some reason they don’t want my efforts anymore, yes, I will be disappointed.  Bottom line is though, I am here to support people that are looking to be supported; interestingly enough, most volunteers don’t end up working on the original projects they were solicited for in the first place.  I hope that’s not the case with me, because I know that La Cabrita has all the potential in the world to succeed; I believe that I can help them reach at least some of their goals, and they do understand that I’ve done such for them so far.

“Looking-on-the-bright-side” Intermission: My neighbor, Reina, just brought me a ‘tester’ of her new income-generation project – homemade coconut/banana ice cream – and I give it two sticky-thumbs up.

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I can still go to the farm whenever I want, I’m just not invited to some of their meetings, so when I do go I bring my camera and take pictures of all the baby goats!

Conflict #2: La Cancha

Because my efforts with La Cabrita have been on the back burner for a couple months now, I’ve been focusing on other projects to stay involved in the community and still affect positive change.  One of these projects is to construct a basketball court – something that the youth in Pescadería have not had access to in their own community for over 10 years.  As I’ve mentioned, we formed a Youth/Sports group in Pescadería to apply for Courts for Kids, a US organization that brings American youth to other countries to help communities there build basketball courts.  They also provide the community project with US$5000 to purchase construction materials.  In October, Courts for Kids approved Pescadería as one of 7 communities in the DR to build a court, and we’re expecting a group from the States to arrive here June 8th to help finish the construction by June 14th.

So what’s the conflict you ask?  Well, it’s difficult to build a court, or any type of structure for that matter, when you can’t nail down a piece of land to build it on.  Furthermore, as I’ve mentioned but can’t stress enough, politics control (and often ruin) EVERYTHING here.  So, at the moment we have two options:

The “pley” – old baseball field

  • Low-lying area and semi-susceptible to flooding, meaning that if we built a court there the houses around it could fill with water when it rains
  • Surrounded by cow and pig farmers who don’t own the land, but would probably have to be relocated to begin construction = smelly animal poop + disgruntled farmers
  • Pretty central location
  • Rumored plans to use part of the space to build a funeral home – oddly positioned next to a basketball court?
  • PLD (current government/mayor in power) is in complete agreement with this space; mayor has “promised” his support to prepare land by March (sidebar: our mayor was voted as the most corrupt mayor of the southern region)

“Arriba” – next to where they’re currently building the new high school

  • This land was originally donated to the community by former PRD president to build a technical school, but project was never realized
  • Current mayor and the president of the local political party (PLD) “obtained” title to the land and are currently reaping economic benefits from plantains they have planted there – so no, the mayor is not in favor or this site
  • Land to build high school here was originally obtained from mayor because the members of the community held a strike – don’t want that to happen on my account
  • Good walk from the center of town (security of court?), but is the first thing you’d see when entering the community
  • People would regard this space as the “community growing forward”
  • Land is flat, not susceptible to flooding, and would need very little prep work
  • Mayor has said that if we fight to have the court here that he will not contribute to the project financially – what a guy

Basically what it comes down to is, like I’ve said, politics.  The US has plenty of problems to worry about, but political corruption like that seen here is thankfully not one of them.  It’s the PLD (who wants the court built in the old baseball field) versus the PRD (who wants to use the mayor’s land for a community project like originally promised).  And I’m stuck in the middle with an approved project that, regardless of political party, will benefit the community.  I could cancel the project  – not only would Pescadería remain without a court, but Courts for Kids would be very unhappy – but I’m still convinced, though it might not be pretty, that one way or another this can be resolved.

There are two main issues to this court conflict – time, and obviously, location.  Time, in the sense that we have no later than April to start prepping the land so that by the time the group comes, the base and forms of the court are ready.  Time, in the sense that if we do want to go against the mayor and fight for the land that paperwork here can take ages.  Time, in the sense that we still have to raise over RD$300,000 to finance the rest of the construction.

In terms of location, most of my friends and key/responsible community contacts (coincidentally PRDs) believe that the rightful location of the court is where the mayor currently has his crop of plantains.  This is something to take into consideration – have the mayor on our side or listen to the people that truly fight for what their community needs and that have, since the beginning, taken me under their wing (including the people of La Cabrita).

As for the youth/sports group I’m working with, these kids are superstars.  Unlike other parts of the country, the youth in Pescadería are still very safe and sane.  Many are studying or working, and most have found ways to stay out of trouble; despite the fact that there is no official court, playing sports is one of ways they do that.  There are five or six guys (ages 18-27) in particular that have been with me every step of the way, always stopping by my house to share information or to ask what we need to do next.  I try to tell them often as possible that I recognize that because they are the front-runners of this project they are taking a risk, but that I appreciate their dedication and that when this is finished their community will consider them heroes. We have a proposed budget, are working on fundraising (because regardless of the location we’ll need money), and are making the connections necessary to ultimately determine the location of the court.  This is stressful, and not exactly what I signed up for, but helping these kids get justice could be one of the most rewarding parts of my service (once it gets done anyway).

ANYWAY.  I apologize for any ranting or rambling you might have just read, but this is important and this is what is happening.  I am trying to not lose sleep over either of these issues because I know it will all turn out the way it’s supposed to in the long run, but I won’t say that dealing with either situation has been a walk on the beach.  But as easy as it is to feel dejected or deflated when conflicts like these come up, the “little wins” that I keep mentioning are what we as volunteers learn to live for; the photos that I share and/or scroll through when I’m having a bad day; the moments I plan to think of when recalling my service in the Peace Corps.

Omailin helping me water my guandule (pea) garden

Omailin helping me water the guandules (pigeon pea plants) behind my house

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And as my wisest, best, and most honest and loyal source of comfort and advice told me  (can you tell I’m talking about you, Mom?) when I was stressing about these issues: “Kate these are all just stepping-stones on a path.  They are not unimportant, just stones.”

there’s a first for everything…

27 Jun

Welp, I can officially say that I’ve been to a cockfight.  My friend Wandy brought me along to one on Saturday, as it happens to be one of his favorite pastimes.  If it weren’t for baseball, cockfighting could probably be considered the national sport of the Dominican Republic – it’s an integral part of the culture, and there’s even a National Federation!  A fight consists of two roosters, each of which has plastic spurs glued to their legs, and lasts up to 15 minutes in length, or until one is severely injured/killed by the other.  Having always been a huge animal lover, I think the three fights that we watched satisfied my cockfight-viewing quota.  Overall, it’s a very loud and rambunctious atmosphere.  I am happy I went – it was an important cultural event to experience, but given that I was one of three women present and two roosters left blinded, I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be craving to witness again soon.

us at the beach!

the group at San Rafael

I went to the beach on Monday!  I joined up with my project partner, Ronny, and a group of people from his church who were taking a paseo to San Rafael, a beautiful but rocky beach about an hour south of Pescadería.  We arrived around 10am, and stayed until almost 7pm – everyone brought loads of food to share, and it was a great day spending time getting to know people.  The water was warm, strong, and SO blue. We played baseball, swam and surfed in the ocean, and rinsed off in the fresh water pools.  The water from the arroyos comes from an almost crystalline river that collects into manmade pools/waterfalls, and then runs right into the ocean.  Freezing cold, but very refreshing.

snack time

snack time

The County Director of Peace Corps, Arthur Flanagan, visited my site today!  It’s a routine visit to make sure that we’re safe, behaving ourselves, and that there’s actually work for us to do.  Ronny and I showed him around the town, then brought him to La Cabrita.  He got to try the cheese and yogurt, and was very impressed.

 one of the three padrotes

haha, talk about horny – one of the three breeding rams

I’m very lucky to not only have been placed in such a welcoming community, but also to have the opportunity to work with such a cool project.  Though there are still improvements to be made (organizational, marketing, and accounting skills for example), they have a solid two and a half years under their belts.  Multiple national and international organizations have and will continue to support them, especially now that they’re producing a steadier quantity of their yummy products.  Wish I could share samples via Internet!

 

 

 

P.S. La Cabrita is in fact looking to expand the number of French Alpine goats they have, so if you know anyone with some extras lying around, send them our way 🙂

La Cabrita - the stable and surrounding land

La Cabrita – the stable and surrounding land