Tag Archives: yogurt

home grown results

16 Oct

I’ll have to admit that when I was awakened yesterday morning at 7:15 am I was a bit bothered. The sun had just risen, meaning that the tin roof hadn’t quite yet turned my house into an oven. The whir of the fan was comfortable in both the breeze it provided and its ability to drown out the around-the-clock roosters. Despite my slumber caused by a full day of traveling, I had mustered to fix clean cotton sheets onto my queen-sized mattress the night before, and they were still crisp on my skin. I was cozy and protected under my mosquito net, which my kitty has begun to use as his own personal hammock; he seemed to be just as perturbed as I was by the unanticipated alarm.

It was two of my oldest Chicas graduates, Oda and Grissel, calling my name through the window as if not to wake me but with enough angst to get my attention. “Qué?”, I managed, hoping I could answer their proposition from my bed. “Háganos el favor,” – a common Dominican phrase literally meaning ‘do the favor’, and used when someone has to ask or tell you something and they make YOU go to them rather than the other way around. I debated telling them to come back later, but I knew that they were on their way to school so I figured it was important. I shooed Mio from atop of the mosquito net and untucked it, stepping barefoot onto the needing-a-sweeping cement floor and accepting an early start to the day. I opened the window and gave them a sleepy smirk, not even pretending that they hadn’t woken me up. “We need the charla paper you have of the woman’s parts. We are going to teach Gris’s class about female anatomy today.” And just like that, my slumber and annoyance vanished and I felt on top of the world; I was home.

“Where we love is home,
Home that the feet may leave,
but not our hearts.”

I just spent five days surprising and visiting friends back at Clemson University. Clemson was home for four years – a quintessential college experience that provided me with a sturdy academic career and a friend group I wouldn’t change for the world. Now that we’re each living a new chapter, it was refreshing to come back and catch up.

Carrie and I

Carrie and I

Tiger family

Tiger family

My college roommates and I :)

My college roommates and I 🙂

My mom even surprised me!

My mom even surprised me!

“Travel does not exist without home….If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.”

After recognizing a pattern among a few of my friends, I reflected on my time here in the Dominican Republic. Am I happy? Do I take care of myself? Am I loved? Do I love?  Am I giving this my all? How am I helping? What am I learning? What’s not working? What should/can I change? Will I be happy to do what I’m doing tomorrow?

Most recent birthday party I attended...

Most recent birthday party I attended…

...with these cats.

…with these cats.

All in all, life here is pretty dang fulfilling.  So fulfilling in fact that I seem to be abandoning this blog 🙂  Every day is different and unexpected, which is both challenging and liberating. There’s a typical routine, but more often than not I diverge from it, and it’s satisfying to have the freedom to be able to do just that. My projects, in terms of audiences and themes, have been all over the place, and have recently been based around my knack for sexual education (local high school) and slight knowledge of marketing (goat group). I am witnessing and experiencing progress, not just in terms of ‘work’ but also in my level of integration within the community. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not just a Peace Corps Volunteer anymore, but also a colleague, running buddy, daughter, girl-with-the-WiFi, and trusty dance partner.

Sexual Education workshop at the local high school

Sexual Education workshop at the local high school

High school parents at Sex. Ed. workshop

High school parents at Sex. Ed. workshop

process of straining milk before pasteurization

process of straining milk before pasteurization

cheese!

cheese!

yogurt

yogurt

The secretary of La Cabrita and I at an artisan market in the capital

The secretary of La Cabrita and I at an artisan market in the capital

What makes Peace Corps challenging, particularly for outcome-based folk, is that here results come slowly, and typically not in the form that one might expect. They are rarely grandiose in numbers, but rather moments that shimmer amidst frustrating dark ones; results are witnessing a slight but positive change in behavior and recognizing a signal of potentially sustainable progress…The family across the street not allowing the photographer at Reni’s graduation to take the family portrait until I was in it. A student in my environment course commenting that her backpack is now always full of trash because there are no trashcans at school and she feels bad throwing it on the ground. Oda and Grissel stepping up to share what they’ve learned about the human body with their class, striving to protect their own peers from an unwanted pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections.

Brigada Verde (Green Brigade) students at International Beach Clean-Up Day

Brigada Verde (Green Brigade) students at International Beach Clean-Up Day

The beach of Barahona, where there seems to be more trash than sand.

The beach of Barahona, where there seems to be more trash than sand.

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Reni and I at her graduation

Reni and I at her graduation

high school graduation

high school graduation

my family.

my family.

These kinds of results are heart-warming and significant, but they are also the ones that are most difficult to communicate or validate with others. Their attainment is as sweet as it is complex, and can be accomplished regardless of a Peace Corps’ service. They don’t occur within a given environment actually, but rather where the individual that accomplishes such results is in his/her element; where there is a feeling of both ease and motivation; when feet hit the floor once a challenge is accepted; where she is at home.

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”

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gas fuels guaguas, fried chicken fuels adventures

19 Mar

So Monday was one of those you-know-when-you-live-in-the-Dominican-Republic days.  It started how most mornings do here – roosters crowing, kids in uniforms vocear-ing my name while they pass by my window on their way to school, the water truck blaring its horn, neighbors impatiently tapping their pesos on the counter of the colmado to get Pepelo’s attention to sell them a sobre of coffee which they will brew with spoonfuls of sugar and serve in tiny cups, my cat jumping down on top of my mosquito net after having finished his night shift of patrolling the tops of the blocks wall for mice, music blasting too loudly and too early considering the sun is still peaking out from behind sugar cane and plantain trees back-dropped by the thirsty, southern mountains – busy, but still somewhat peaceful.  I’m normally a night owl, but I’ve been waking up earlier here for a number of reasons lately, primarily because it’s simply too hot or loud to sleep any later than 8.  For those of you that read A Day in the Life post, no I’m not still waking up to walk at 5:15.

I made coffee, fed my cat Mio (who P.S. rode in a backpack on the back of a motorcycle with me to go get vaccinated), filled up some buckets to wash dishes that I should have done the night before but had no water to do so, ate a banana, swept my kitchen and living room, and packed a bag to head to the capital.  La Cabrita is promoting their products at an agricultural fair there, so I decided to make the trip to support them and also visit the Peace Corps office.

I gave the keys to my neighbors so they could feed Mio in the morning, and started walking towards the bus stop.  My landlord passed and offered me a bola to the cruce, saving me from having to pay a concho 25 pesos.  I waited at the cruce, chatting with the motoconchos, until a bus heading to Santo Domingo passed by about 20 minutes later.  I got on, saludar-ing a good morning to everyone (it’d be rude not to), and found my way back to the cocina (literally, the kitchen, because it gets so hot).

Not too long into our trip, the bus slowed.  I noticed that a large tree branch was in the middle of the road and thought that maybe it had fallen from the nearby tree.  Then I remembered that palm trees don’t really have branches.  The burning tire it was next to was also a red flag.  A strike was brewing.  Cool.

None of the passengers, myself included, really knew what to make of the situation.  There were only about 4 young-looking guys that were holding up traffic on the main road connecting Barahona to the capital.  But it was no big deal.  People were talking quietly amongst themselves, some closing their eyes and waiting patiently, others shaking their heads at the fact that it had been over a half hour since the strike started and the police still hadn’t shown up.  After almost an hour of waiting, the guagua charged ahead, turning past the angry youth armed with rocks and detoured through a sleepy town whose citizens either didn’t know but most likely didn’t care that a strike with an unknown cause was taking place.

Normal.  A strike, albeit small, sets up camp in front of our guagua, and no one blinks an eye.  But, there we were, on our merry way to the capital, so it was no use dwelling on the matter.  I looked around at my fellow passengers and was both amused and comforted by their nonchalantness.

Public transportation here is an experience.  It’s often crowded, hot, and too long of a trip, but it can get you to any corner of the country and you normally have one or two new best friends by time you get to your destination.  Plus, if you’re on a guagua ride that last longer than a couple hours, you’ll most likely stop for Pica Pollo.  Pica-what?  Pica pollo.  Fried chicken, people; normally served with tostones (twice-fried green plantain goodness).  And let me tell you, Dominicans are serious about their fried chicken.  I’ve been at a rest area as early as 7am, and people were feasting on Pica Pollo for breakfast.

comfy Capital transport

comfy Capital transport

Number 1 guagua rule of the DR: there's always room for one more...

Number 1 guagua rule of the DR: there’s always room for one more…

What are two of a Dominican's favorite words?  Pica Pollo.

What are two of a Dominican’s favorite words? Pica Pollo.

Anyway, after watching the passengers on the guagua react so casually to the strike, I reflected on some of the typical characters that normally accompany you on a guagua:

  • The doña: sweet as sugar but still tough as nails.  This lady is your new best friend; she will expose her life story, help you with directions, and share her pica pollo with you.
  • The tiguere/creeper: stares at you for most of the ride, blowing kisses at you when you look in his direction.  Often carrying a pillowcase with a rooster inside.
  • Young mother with child: if you sit too close, you might be in charge of rocking her baby to sleep.
  • The militar: in uniform, and on his way to guard a building while holding a gun that is way too big for him considering his education level.
  • The singer: can be male or female.  Sings along with the songs out loud (regardless of being tone deaf) for the entire duration of the trip
  • The diva: also can be male or female.  Applies make-up and/or perfume, cuts nails, or shaves beard while en route.
  • The Haitian: might have legal Dominican citizenship, but at a military checkpoint, they are most likely asked for their documents or to get off the bus if they don’t have them because of their darker complexion.  Is sometimes able to offer the policia a bribe to let them continue, otherwise they are left on the side of the highway.
  • The discussers: Often Dominican men over the age of 40, but can be anyone interested in having a heated discussion about any topic (regardless of how much they actually know about the subject or not).  Sometimes interesting to eavesdrop on, but most times I find myself just rolling my eyes.
  • The cobrador: not a passenger, but rather the chauffer’s assistant.  He charges people for the bus fare, and alerts the driver to make stops.  If you give him pesos he will stop the guagua to buy you what you ask him to (a pain in the butt when other people do it, but awfully convenient when you need a bottle of water).

So long story short, these characters and I arrived safely to the capital.  I got off, wishing them a good rest of their trip, and headed to the office where I got a birthday package from my mom (thanks Mindles!!) and found out the Internet wasn’t working.  I had planned on working on the Courts for Kids budget, so I headed over to the coordinator’s apartment to get his help and use his WiFi.  His roommates (former PCVs but now enjoying getting paid in dollars) treated me to an awesome meal, offered for me to crash on their couch, and invited me out for ice cream.  Needless to say, I obliged, enjoyed the conversation, and fell asleep satisfied with the day’s adventures.

I wouldn’t consider myself an uptight person, but this country has certainly helped me to become more spontaneous; I’ve learned to coger lo suave, as the Dominicans say – to take it easy, put it in “God’s hands”, relax, fly by the seat of my pants, play it by ear, and roll with the punches.  I think if you didn’t stick to this philosophy, especially while working and trying to measure progress in the DR, you might drive yourself crazy.  On the other hand, if one doesn’t learn to just “wait it out”, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on some adventurous and/or rewarding opportunities that you weren’t expecting to have experienced by the end of the day.

Yesterday I ventured over to the Feria Agropecuario, an agricultural fair where La Cabrita was showcasing their product.  It was huge!  Much bigger and more professionally organized than I had expected. The atmosphere was not unlike your typical Vermont fall fair, except replace the country music with bachata, fried dough with empanadas or pica pollo, candied apples with homemade dulces (I bought one made with squash and coconut), foliaged maple trees with coconut-laden palms, and Budweiser with Presidente (the factory is conveniently located right down the road).  Both the president and treasurer of La Cabrita were there representing the association, sharing a booth with three other organizations that had also received a loan from FEDA (Fondo Especial para el Desarrollo Agropecuario – Special Fund for Agricultural Development).  Since being there on Saturday, they had sold a good majority of their product; Rosiris, the president, will stay in the capital until Sunday when the fair ends.  The socios and I have finally talked things through and we’ve reached an understanding, so I’m looking forward to begin attending meetings again, continue helping them with their label (they’re still in the process of achieving sanitary registration), and collaborating with them on the commercialization of their tasty (and after witnessing their recognition at the fair, popular!) products.

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Mahi-mahi

Mahi-mahi

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Who would've thought that there were so many types of plantains?

Who would’ve thought that there were so many types of plantains?

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The presidenta of La Cabrita, Rosiris

The presidenta of La Cabrita, Rosiris

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Beta fish for sale

Beta fish for sale

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Rosi and I

Rosi and I

Thankful.

9 Dec

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

Oak Knoll's Goat Yogurt

Oak Knoll’s Goat Yogurt

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.

burgers are good and I missed them.

burgers are good and I missed them.

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.

Catching up with friends and family :)

Catching up with friends and family 🙂

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 🙂

Jackson, my nephew, and I

My nephew, Jackson, and I

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://theadventuringtype.blogspot.com/

http://lewisjw7.wordpress.com/

http://skinneypeacecorps.wordpress.com/   – who I bought the cacao seeds from!

http://pazitivelyloca.blogspot.com

http://caitkeegtravels.wordpress.com/

http://serpasjohn.wordpress.com/

http://Landylamb.wordpress.com

http://susandr.blogspot.com/

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 🙂

Mio and I decorating for Christmas while anxiously awaiting Carrie and Mom's arrival!

Mio and I decorating for Christmas while anxiously awaiting Carrie and Mom’s arrival!

3-Month Mark

12 Aug

The first stage of my Peace Corps service is complete!  Tuesday through Friday we had our 3-month In-Service Training (IST), where all of the Community Economic Development volunteers presented their community and organizational diagnostics alongside their project partners.  It was awesome to see where my friends are living, and to learn about some of the projects they plan to execute during their service.  All of our assignments are very different, but in many ways similar; I’m excited to learn from and collaborate with my fellow PCVs – an awesome support system of some pretty creative, adventurous, and intellectual people!

As promised, here’s a very brief synopsis of how and what I’ve learned about Pescadería since my arrival in May  (the essay I handed in to Peace Corps was over 20 pages written in Spanish!):

  • To get involved in my community and to obtain information, I completed written and oral interviews, did lots of observing, and participated in various community activities: visited four out of the five churches, went to the beach with a church group, celebrated Mother’s Day and Patronales, went to baseball and softball games, learned how to play cards, Dominican bingo, and dominoes, bought used clothing at weekly ‘market’, cooked espaghettis with various groups of friends, helped in the alphabetization class, started my own English class, got my nails and hair did, and joined a group of doñas that walk every morning.
  • In Pescadería there are over 4600 inhabitants and 530 houses.   The majority of people live in houses made of cement blocks, or otherwise wood or a plaster-like material; floors are generally concrete.  Many people have bathrooms inside the house, but few actually have running water; others use either individual or collective latrines.  People cook using gas stoves or charcoal pits/stands; trash is normally picked up by a garbage truck, but also burned and/or thrown in the river.
  • Main sources of income are agriculture, dairy farming, fishing, and motoconcho (motorcycle “taxis”).  Incomes range from below RD$5000 to RD$60000 monthly ($125-$1500).  Main crops are plantains, yucca, bananas, peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro.
  • Pescadería has paved streets and electricity for about 8 hours/day.  There’s a school up to 8th grade and a high school (currently held in the elementary school while a new one is being built), primary care clinic, national police station, and a gym.  There’s also 15 colmados, three butchers, an informal eatery, three furniture makers, three carpenters, one auto and four motorcycle repair shops, three beauty salons, four barbershops, five seamstresses, a place to make copies, three bars, one discoteca, a place that sells electric appliances, and a pigeon in a palm tree.  All other services/errands that one can’t do in Pescadería can be done in Barahona about 20 minutes away – hospital, post office, telephone services, Internet center, library, university, supermarket, pharmacy, hardware store, etc.

Primary projects – how I plan to help my community, CED style:

  • Start a women’s group or association – there isn’t one in Pescadería, and the doñas need to be heard!  Once started, they’d have a place to discuss community needs and development, plan social activities and services, start a savings group, and simply have fun.  As a business volunteer, I’ll also be able to offer the Somos Mujeres initiative to the women that are interested in learning how to generate income, start a business, and/or manage their finances.
  • Teach Construye Tus Sueños – entrepreneurial skills for youth.  Seeing as there are various types of businesses that Pescadería is lacking (bakery, clothing store, pharmacy, deli, fruit/veggie market, cheap eatery, hardware store, etc.) and lots of educated and motivated but jobless youth, there are plenty of opportunities to create a successful business.
  • Support FUNDEPE – local development association that is essentially the umbrella organization for La Cabrita.  They have brought numerous NGOs including UNDP, AMCHAM, AECID and Oxfam International to Pescadería, and currently operate a rotating fund to provide loans to community members.

Secondary projects – out of Community Economic Development framework, but just as important:

  • Help build a basketball/volleyball court – lots of sports teams and kids but no place to play!  Applying to the program Courts for Kids that sends a group from the US to help build and offers $5000 towards construction materials.
  • Chicas Brillantes – literally “brilliant girls” this Youth initiative strives to promote and enhance self-esteem, teamwork, inner beauty, and respect among groups of adolescent girls.
  • Find space to build/create community center – this is gonna be a tough one…
  • Strengthen the school library – unfortunately the mayor is no longer paying the two people that were helping supervise the library, so it’s currently not in use.  There are plenty of educational resources that could be used to transform the space into a functional library and learning center.
  • Paint a World Map Mural!
  • Plan a Field Day for kids
  • Plan activities for Earth Day and International Women’s Day
  • Better the trash service, or at least find activities to do with recycled material – there are women here that make flowers and art from trash, plant fiber, and recycled goods.  I’d also love to start a garden behind my future house, and line the perimeter with glass bottles.

…and that’s just with the community!  Here’s how I hope to help La Cabrita:

  • Complete a priority matrix – we did a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), but because the project has so many different areas, we need to prioritize activities.  Divide and conquer.
  • Go over project plan – although La Cabrita is over two years old, they just started making cheese and yogurt three months ago, and they seemed to have rushed into the process without a formal plan.  It’s important that where their project is headed is in line with their original mission, vision, and objectives.  Seeing as they eventually want to build more structures to be able to accommodate more goats, it’ll be useful to draw a map of the whole project too.
  • Capacity building – they’ve received various courses, but a few more couldn’t hurt.  I hope to give charlas regarding organizational structure, publicity and marketing, accounting, customer service, and planning skills, but there are plenty of other options too – product, inventory, market/demand, quality control, credit, fixed and variable costs, control systems, sales, resource management, price and profit margin, and competition.  The more business skills the better, and their profitability and business know-how will increase.
  • Improve control systems – currently all of the records that La Cabrita keeps are done by hand.  In the hopes of buying a computer, I’ll teach them computer skills and help the members develop a more effective way to keep track of milking, cheese and yogurt production, inventory, bloodlines, medical records, sales, expenditures, and so on.  A computerized system will also allow La Cabrita to more easily monitor and evaluate their progress.
  • Complete cost analysis – this people work their butts off.  We want to make sure they’re making money!
  • Develop marketing and publicity – consuming goat cheese and yogurt is not part of Dominican culture, or not yet anyway.  First, I hope to help La Cabrita find a stable market where they can sell their tasty products – hotels, fairs, supermarkets, etc; and second, to enhance their delivery, publicity, customer service, and product value.  We plan to open a professional email account, improve their current brochures, and create a web page.
  • Plan a community activity to visit the project – improve and increase community support, sales, knowledge, and nutrition.

Plenty of opportunities to keep me busy, but nothing will be possible or sustainable without the support of my community.  Through the diagnostic, I’ve made lots of friends and have learned priceless information about my community, La Cabrita, and myself.  Can’t wait to get started!

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