Monday, October 30, 2006

food program

Last week we started a food program in the two villages. We don't have much to offer (so we thought) because it gets expensive trying to feed around 75 kids two times a week. After each class we pass out one hard boiled egg to each student and a glass of milk. We now have the kids bring a cup to each class. Milk is pretty pricey, so kids do not get it that often (if at all I'm guessing). It was pretty funny, whenever we first started doing this, one of the kids asked if we had a cow! Because, of course, how else would we have so much milk?!

It now makes our nights and weekends a little bit more eventful (if our days weren't enough already) by extra grocery shopping and boiling all the eggs. More students have also started coming to class (so we expected), which is good and bad. A lot of kids equals a lot of chaos.

However, things have really improved so much. There is now a new fence that goes around the school house and a lock on the gate, which eliminates SO MANY problems. No more leaving the classroom, no kids right outside the door being noisy and disruptive. However, recently there has been a few kids at random hours during the day standing by the gate once a class is finished with empty cups in hand. It has been great trying to teach the kids responsibility of coming to the right class and on time.

Cristina is also wonderful. She is my teacher's aid in the classroom. We now have enough funds which allows her to come to every class with me. It is so wonderful and she is great! It would be difficult trying to manage the classes on my own, not to mention now trying to do this food program!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I realize that I have not been posting as regular as I would like to, sorry about that. There actually have been some pretty exciting things going on here. Twins were recently born in Chichigua, it was really exciting. The mother had some complications and was in the hospital for a week after the delivery, she is doing better but is still weak and cannot afford proper care. Her name is Francesse and her husband's name is Wisly. I can really only communicate with Wisly because he can speak both Kreyol and Spanish. He is a very great guy with a big heart. He was sad though and a little concerned about money since all of his earnings from working at a nearby hotel went towards hospital expenses, they didn't even have a picture of their newly born babies.

I quickly told him that I could fix that and take some pictures for them. I ran and got my camera and took some pictures of the babies and of them holding the babies, I even got a little video clip. The next day I went to Chichigua I brought the pictures I had printed, and they were overjoyed. Wisly told me that words could not express his graditude. He went around showing the pictures to other people in the village so proudly. I'd tell you what the twins names are, but honestly I don't remember. I need to get them to write them down because they are pretty different.

Another little baby was born in Chichigua a week or two later. I have not had as much interaction with this one, but hopefully will find out more soon.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


On Thursday Miguel came to the school in Pancho Mateo along with another worker to rebuild the fence that goes around the school. A guy named Fernando who lives in the village also helped out. Whenever I am at the schoolhouse, kids come all the time and hang out in front of the building. They can be really loud, and sometimes will run in and out of the schoolhouse. Very disruptive, I know. I have had to close the front door of the schoolhouse before so that the class won't be interupted. With no air circulation though the heat is nearly unbearable. Here is where the idea of the new fence came in. Now we have a fence around the area with a gate that can lock. Woo-hoo!

On another interesting note about this day, I was offered a marriage proposal by one man and was asked to be in a relationship with another! Oh dear, sometimes the culture here just makes me laugh. The older woman Vilila, that I visit nearly everyday in Pancho Mateo, told me that she had a grandson that she wanted me to date. He came over to her house that afternoon and tried to get my phone number and kept saying that I was hermosa.

Just before this, Vilila's son in law (who is married to her daughter Andrea, the woman who is mute) was hypothetically asking about marriage between me and a dominican. Saying that if I married him (for example) that he could therefore have access to traveling to the United States. I told him yes that would be true. In which he preceeding in saying that we should get married so that he could have a better life and be provided for. (Because you see, he is blind, his wife is mute, and his mother in law is cripple. Janibel is his daughter, who is in my class). I tried explaining to everyone that they are my friends and nothing more, and tried to quickly finish up the conversation so I could be on my way.

The culture here about love and marriage is very different. Everyone cannot believe that neither Alexia nor myself are not married and without children being the ages that we are. Many people here are 'married' by common law, in that, they move in together and start having kids. It is also common for men to have multiple 'wives.' Very few people actually go through the process of having a wedding in the church (like Jennie and Miguel are doing in January and like my friend Katie who owns the colmado and her husband did).

So Thursday was an eventful and interesting day for me to say the least!

Friday, October 13, 2006

a quick rundown

So, I realized that it had been about a week since my last post. Each day, something great or funny or interesting happens and I think, "Oh, I should post this." However, by the time I actually sit down at a computer and have time to go to the blog, my thought escapes me. So, here goes a rundown of a few things that happened this week.

I have befriended a woman named Katie (said with a Spanish accent of course), who is the mother of two little boys I teach. Ismael is 6 and Carlos Alfredo is 3. Carlos Alfredo is really shy and doesn't speak much, everyone in the village calls him Bebe (baby). He's super cute. Whenever we sing songs he doesn't say the words, he simply sways his body from side to side with a huge grin from ear to ear. Whenever I see him at his house (which is connected to the colmado) he either won't stop saying hi and waving or plays a game where he hides his face from me.

Anyway, Katie owns a colmado, which is basically like a convinience store in the middle of the neighborhood. Everyday this past week it seems like, whenever I have walked up to say hello, she offers me some sort of treat from her colmado. Some kids brought her a bag of fruit they had picked from a tree from an abandoned house. She gave them 10 pesos and then uses it to make juice. I don't remember the type of fruit, but it was good.

I always ask her what things are and inevitably, she will hand me a little piece to try. I am always learning new things, and sometimes get laughed at for not knowing them. For example, a common thing here is to take black beans and make them sweet. You cook them with a few other things then add sugar and it becomes almost like a milkshake, (yeah, who would have thought?)

Dona Mercedes (or Vilila to the people that know her) is so generous as well. You remember Vilila, she is the older woman who always has a chair waiting for me on her porch to sit and visit. I continually say to her and her family that I don't need to sit down or have a cafecito (little coffee), but its as if they never hear me say it. She will also sometimes bring me a glass of freshly squeezed juice or a piece of fruit recently bought. She calls me 'mi hija' (my daughter) as do many of the women in both villages (don't worry Mom, this is simply a term of endearment!) And of course, her granddaughter Janebel is still dancing and her daughter Andrea (who is mute) still tries to tell me things all the time and I just smile and nod.

Sidenote- I told Katie this week that with learning all about these new foods of her's that I would need to start going to the gym, which I joined last Tuesday. Which brought about another instant where I found myself grinning and laughing on the inside, as the class started doing pelvic thrusts led by our instructor. (no joke).

There is another group of adults that I am starting to befriend. They all know my name (because of their kids) which is so great, but I have yet to ask for theirs. Every afternoon a game of dominoes is played in front of the house, which is across the street from the school. EVERYONE in this country plays dominoes. I had mentioned that I wanted them to teach me, and then on Thursday watched them play a few rounds and even kept score. I never knew dominoes could be so intense!! They throw their domino down with authority when it is their turn to play, and get so excited when they win they begin to bounce in their chairs like little children.

It is fun getting to see the character come out in the villages. The hospitality continues to overwhelm me, a chair is always offered and conversation is always had.

Tomorrow morning I am headed off to Santiago for the weekend which I am really looking forward to. So, hopefully another update will come soon!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Due to a car malfunction I was not able to go to watch the Texas-OU game (like I did when Texas played Ohio State). It's no fun not being able to join in with the crowds of Texas fans and cheer on McCoy and the rest of the team.

Sometimes you just have to settle for asking the waiter at a small pizza restaurant that has a television set up near the kitchen if he can change the station to a game that he has no interest in watching, and for yesterday that was not even possible.

Oh well, the only time I went to out to watch the game we didn't win, so I guess it's ok.

Just missing Texas (...and all that encompasses).

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Yesterday afternoon we went to Angelina's graduation (Miguel's sister). It was outside though it had been pouring earlier. For whatever reason an 'in case of rain' location was never established. They moved all the chairs under a covering and had the ceremony outside nonetheless. Before the ceremony begins, there is a parade where all the graduates walk around the town. Each graduate is escorted by a padrino or madrino, even during the ceremony when receiving his/her diploma. The attached picture is of Angelina and Miguel parading in before the ceremony began.

christmas in october

So, it has been difficult trying to teach without any Spanish teaching books as a guide. Last week though Jennie bought 3 books for me. It was so wonderful! Hopefully it will be a huge help in the classroom starting this week. On the same day, Jennie also went to a market to try and find a suit for Miguel to wear to his sister's graduation. She brought back a pair of tennis shoes for me. (Mine were stolen off of our front porch a few weeks ago). It was so exciting coming back from teaching and having 3 books and a pair of shoes waiting for me!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

the amazing race

Last Saturday was great fun. The 3 of us girls here at the MAK house, plus a peace corp. volunteer, along with 4 other volunteers, Miguel (Jennie's finacee), all of his family and a handful of his friends split up into teams and had a carretera (race) starting in a village called Caraballo and finishing at a river several miles away. Each group left every 15 minutes or so and set out on the trek.

I was in the last group that went, the last 2 groups combined forces because the Dominican in my group didn't know the course very well. We set out running; down paths, over rocks, down streets, we passed a cemetery, several cows, a herd of pigs, men on horseback (the list goes on). We got a lot of looks as our group ran past the people we saw. Towards the end we had to jump into a river and swim across it, run a little more, then walk through another river (that was shallow enough to walk through it). The whole course took over an hour. It was great fun.

I was glad to combine forces with Miguel and Jennie's team because we were all really into it. We ended up finishing in 2nd place. I blame it on the size of our group. It was all in good fun though! :)

Once we got to the end, everyone jumped into the river. We tossed a frisbee and even tried playing baseball with a stick and a rock. Miguel's mom was at the 'finish line' all morning cooking lunch for all of us. (we all chipped in some pesos).

That morning we woke up at 6am to get out to Caraballo early enough for the race because it gets HOT early. We were out there literally all day. It was great to be able to hang out with other Americans, and at the same time Dominicans and Haitians. If the tv show 'The Amazing Race' is as fun as the race we had, then sign me up!