Thursday, May 31, 2007

little miss sunshine

Yesterday we all piled into the jepeta (actually its a pathfinder, but everyone calls SUVs jeeps in this country!) and headed into the villages. Constance has been learning how to drive a standard, so I have been on the teaching side of things which has been fun. We dropped off Alexia and Carley off, along with 3 women visiting from Austin (I'll save that for another blog) in Chichigua for English camp. We had planned to return to Chichigua after dropping Drew off at the school land in Montellano to work construction with Miguel, but the car died prior to getting there.

I had thought the night before that we might be short on gas, but then remembered putting $30 worth in two days before so didn't bother with it. Constance had been driving and the car was doing weird things. It died on the main road and so there was nowhere to really pull over.

In an attempt to get the car out of the flow of traffic, Drew and I got out and pushed while Constance steered. A man on a moto pulled up behind us and lifted his foot to the back of the car as he drove to help us push. The car was really picking up speed, and Drew and I were really no longer helping in pushing the car but rather running with it.

Drew suggested us hopping in since the car was picking up pace and see if we could get it started. Not really thinking, I said ok and began to run up alongside the car to the passenger door. As I was doing this, I felt like the family in Little Miss Sunshine and their Volkswagon van. I opened the door to the car (still running with it mind you), and Constance shouted out the same remark about the movie.

Two thoughts on this: (1) trying to get into a moving vehicle is much more difficult than it appears and (2) that the little girl has got some mad skill to be able to do it.

I managed to hop in, but our efforts were in vain because we didn't gain that much more ground. I looked back and saw Drew jogging up back behind the car when we again came to a stop. We weren't sure what the problem was, but the man on the moto drove Drew up to the gas station to bring back some gas. We were all hoping that this was the only problem.

They came back and the guy rigged the tank using a stick and a broken water bottle to pour the gas in. We got pictures of this and also reenactments of our own little miss sunshine. We were able to make it to the gas station and filled up the car and everything ended up being just fine, after of course having a really good laugh!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What’s the deal?

OK, so I realize that I am out of the country and can’t really keep up well with the Astros, but I do what I can. Who can tell me what in the heck is their deal?! I mean really, we are on a 9 game losing streak, apparently everyone has forgotten how to use a bat! I thought we might have had this past game, but it’s not going to happen when Lee hits into a double play in the bottom of the ninth with two on and down by one. Hopefully we can get things together.

Despite this nasty streak, I have been on a hunt for an Astros cap. Baseball is really big in the Dominican Republic and caps are sold everywhere (mainly just the Yankees though), but I am determined to find one. Miguel is helping me with this mission! Hopefully I can be successful, as can the ‘stros.

before and after

Check out the Makarios blog for my most recent post. It is pretty exciting!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

summer fun

Last week came the first round of interns. Monday and Tuesday were my last two days of class. We had a party, complete with juice and cookies. Tuesday morning while I was in Chichigua, Sharla drove the van down with the interns (we have a big van now for groups) and met up with me and Cristina during the second class. Thus far we have: Constance who will be in charge of everything as it relates to the groups, Carley and Drew who are interns, and Barrett who will be helping out with all sorts of things. There was also a guy named Logan also came down for a week, but left today. It has been great fun getting to hang out so far with everyone, and discover the dynamics of the group.

Constance, Jennie, Alexia, and I have been meeting with Sharla to discuss summer plans and the like. While the guys, plus Carley, have been with Miguel working on the land where the new schoolhouse will be. I don't remember if I had mentioned this before or not, but the land has now been purchased in Montellano to build the schoolhouse. They have been using machetes to cut down overgrown grass, plants, and trees, as well as knocking down walls from a partially built building already located on the property.

More summer staff, interns, and volunteers are coming within the week prior to the first group, and then more come throughout the summer. This past week has been great, so I am excited to see the dynamics when the house is full.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

another humorous incident

Today during the break between two of my classes, I was grading exams that my kids took inside the school house (yes, my kids had final exams, and yes, the year is coming to an end! crazy!). Alexia and I were sitting inside, amazed at how calm the atmosphere was around us. When, just then, Yoslena walks in carrying a little friend of hers who couldn't be more than 18 months (both pictured above). Yoslena is about 14 and likes to pretend that she is an adult and doesn't have to listen to the rules we give the kids, but rather enforces them on the little ones around her. Sometimes she is a help, other times a handful, and often times makes us laugh.

Well, she comes in today carrying this little girl, sits down picks up a book and begins to "read" it by saying the words of the pictures she sees. She acts as if she knows how to read, which she doesn't, and then asks the other kids to read the words in the book and laughs when they just shrug their shoulders. (Oh, this book also happened to be in English, which she cannot speak, let alone read).

Yoslena then walked over to the white board in hopes of writing my name out. She asked me to say each letter, and then consequently asked me how to write each letter. As soon as "camila" was written on the board, the easel it was sitting on begins to fall. She picks up the board and holds it over her head as she also trys to straighten the easel so it stands properly. She obviously cannot balance it all and orders Sandi (an 8 year old) to grab the board from her, as it is literally about to fall on the ground.

Alexia and I start laughing at the scene in front of us. As Yoslena is trying so hard so show that she has everything under control, juggling a falling easel and dry erase markers. She then turns to the one year old she carried in who is sitting helplessly on the bench, and yells out, "why are you just sitting there? Get up and help me get this thing straight for crying out loud!" I just loose it and am laughing so hard that I can't breathe. The little girl just stares back at her, too small to acknowledge the problem and hand and to get herself down from the bench, let alone help someone set up a board and easel!

Ohhhhh... I guess you had to be there, and I guess too that you probably need to know Yoslena.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

happy mothers day

I sent a e-card to my mom that had phrases of what the kids say and what the mom hears. You know how it goes, "Why, yes Mother, we would love to clean our rooms, they are very unkept," and what mom hears, "WHAT?! CLEAN OUR ROOMS, AHHHH!!!!" Well, I had a similar exageration today with a couple of my students (not quite to this extreme).

A little girl named Jeidi told me that Gregorio was climbing up in the guaya tree next to the school house in Pancho Mateo. I told her to tell him "no". She then turned to him and yelled out (in Spanish), "Camille said no, get down, or she is going to give you a spanking." She said that exactly! I couldn't help but smile at how she manipulated my words!

Oh, the joys that are to come when I get to experience this regularly when I have kids of my own...

Friday, May 11, 2007

pan con mamba

In Chichigua for the past couple of weeks, Wisly's mother (Guerda) has had homemade bread and peanut butter to sell to people passing by the village on the road. She set up a little table next to the church, which is where we have class, because the church sits on the edge of Chichigua right next to the road.

It reminded me some of kids who set up a lemonade stand outside of their house for the passerbys. 25 cents a cup, remember those good old days? Guerda sells her bread for 3 pesos a piece and her peanut butter for 3 as well. So, a freshly made roll covered in homemade peanut butter can be yours for the mere price of 6 pesos, about 18 cents.

That particular day when she had her bread and peanut butter out to sell, our food program bread was looking a little skimpy. I decided to say all that we had left for the last class in the afternoon in Pancho Mateo, and buy this homemade treat for all the kids in Chichigua to go along with the other food we were to pass out.

This was a huge hit. All the kids were so excited to have peanut butter with their bread, and it also gave Guerda some income to financially support herself. People in the Dominican Republic use the word "mani" for peanut butter, so somehow that transfers to "mamba" when it becomes peanut butter.

Pictured above are some of the kids in my oldest class excited about their pan con mamba.

9 days and counting

For the past 9 days I have had a new friend, a ringworm, that has decided to make his new home on my arm. It is a perfectly circular, bright red, elevated ring that is itchy and peeling and highly contagious. A ringworm is a fungus, and lots of the kids have them. Their's however are white and found mainly covering their heads. It's hard for people to get rid of them, ringworms will often spread to other family members or children in the villages. I'm hoping to rid me of mine soon though, I bought a cream at the pharmacy, and Katy in Pancho Mateo made me a home remedy that she used before when her son Ismael had 2 on his arm.

My friend Kathryn has been in Argentina for the past 8 months or so and has a ringworm as well. Though most people at first ask if I burned myself, people ask Kathryn if she has a hickey because hers is on her neck! Read her story at: