Saturday, December 19, 2009

Close Encounter with the Mother Ship- Atlanta Airport

JP and I landed in Atlanta about an hour ago and made our first contact with US soil in 4 and a half months. I was so jarred when I came back from Ecuador having never done this before that I was sure I would have almost no reaction this time; having spent all the shock I had over my own country a few years ago. Also, the DR is a lot more similar to the US than is Ecuador. However, I still was extremely surprised by how weird it is to come back to your own country and have it feel unfamiliar. When we got onto the plane all of the flight attendants spoke English as their first language, which was weird, and then when we landed all of the people we have seen in the Atlanta airport (obviously) also speak English as their first language. It is so weird to be able to use my own language to communicate with service people. It’s like planning to go through an obstacle course and then realizing that it is just a plain soccer field. “It was brighter, shinier, and cleaner than I ever imagined Atlanta being. I have always thought of Atlanta as an armpit of America, but after Santo Domingo I realized that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Those are JP’s very offensive words, not mine.
Once we got into the airport we had a burrito (amazing) from Qdoba, and the lady behind the counter was super friendly (service with a smile is something I forgot existed). I thought, “What an extraordinarily friendly lady!” and then I went to get a coffee and that lady was also super friendly. I then remembered that in the US people are encouraged to act that way to customers. I also used US DOLLARS for both of these transactions, which I fumbled awkwardly trying to be sure I counted it right. It’s better than when I came back from Ecuador though and tried to pay at the Dunkin Donuts in the Miami airport for a bagel they had already made for me with the only money I had, Ecuadorian change, without realizing it.  Now I am sitting waiting for the plane and JP is getting his calves massaged by a chair in Brookstone or something. I really didn’t expect to be surprised by anything here. I am a little glad that I am.

Murder Mystery, Last Day of School, Spilling Coffee of Bedspreads, and other updates...

Hello all,

The last few days have been pretty crazy with finishing up school for break and all. On the last day we decided to turn our classrooms into specific activities and the kids chose which one they were going to go to each hour. It was pretty cool. My classroom was "Murder Mystery" we did a mystery where Santa was killed and someone in the room did it. They had to draw a picture of their character and go around interviewing people and trying to figure it out. While they did that I read them clues. It was pretty fun. The first round was all sixth graders, and they got pretty into it, and the second round was a mix of sixth and seventh graders. In the second round someone told a bunch of people who the murderer was about 20 minutes into the game, so that was a lot less fun. After working with seventh graders for an hour I was very very happy to be a sixth grade teacher.

After the activities all of the kids in my homeroom came back to the class, opened their construction paper stockings, and we had a "shared snack". More delicious food brought right to me in my classroom. We listened to Michael Jackson, ate, cleaned up, and then the kids went home for the day. After going to pick up my check which included a 2 hour wait we came home, paid our rent, enjoyed the warm weather for the last day, and then went to Stacy and Doug's for dinner. After dinner Stacy foolishly gave me some delicious coffee and then invited me to sit on her white bedspread so she could show me the Christmas presents she had bought for people. I should have known better than to agree, but in less than 5 minutes I had successfully dyed their bed tan and it had to be immediately washed and bleached (Sorry about that guys).

This morning JP and I woke up, finished getting everything together, JP worked out, and then we came to the airport. We were promptly told that our flight had been delayed. We have been wandering around the airport for awhile shopping and poking around, but we still have another 2 hours at least until our flight leaves. Worst. I went into Duty Free, which oddly enough is called "Dufry" here (for those of you who don't speak Spanish this is not Spanish, just a perversion of English). To be fair it says on the sign "Dufry (D) Tax and Duty Free Shops". Weird. Anyway, I found some really nice perfume there and you can buy it in regular sized bottles or in a box of three small bottles. I thought that was the most brilliant thing I had ever seen so now I am looking them up online to see if they are ridiculously over priced. If anyone is dying to buy me a Christmas present let me know fast before my boredom leads to impulse buying. Anyway, hopefully we'll get home tonight at 11:45. I'll see you guys very soon!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Underwear Pockets

School today was a bit of a nightmare, I don't know who is more ready for break, me or the kids. I gave out an obscene amount of punishments because of the way they were acting.

After school JP and I came home, I bought a zipper so that I can make some kind of pouch to keep my money in on the way back to the states. I am seriously considering sewing a money pocket into my underwear\ (paranoid? I think so). We came home and now we're watching Ray on tv. That's right folks, the power is back on. Later tonight I am going to clean our apartment and pack my bag to come home. I would estimate that I have about 6 articles of clothing to bring home that will keep me at all warm. I gave all of my winter clothes at home to my sister too, so hopefully she will lend me some or I am going to be an icicle. I think I'll probably have to sleep in all of the clothes I own to stay warm. That aside, I can't wait to come home! See you guys on Sunday!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

JP's Triathlon in Las Caletas, Market, Power Outage

Hi all,

This morning JP had a triathlon in Las Caletas (as seen in post heading). It started at eight and it was around 30 minutes away which meant we were out of bed at 6. Yuck. We called a cab and JP's friend Jonathon came here to ride with us and we drove over to the race site. The cab driver happened to be a cyclist named Jose so when we got to the race he stayed there with us to watch. It was kind of a weird race because it started at Las Caletas, but ended back in Santo Domingo, so JP biked home but the taxi driver took us back for free, which was awesome because it was pretty expensive to get all the way over there. JP had a great race (seizure free I might add) and ended up coming in second place by only a few seconds. He said that he lost the race in transition, which is a huge bummer, but he did really well.

When we came back we went back to the Parque to get some final Christmas presents and souvenirs, and after awhile JP came home to go biking. He is crazy. I stuck around because I knew Doug and Stacy were going to be coming to our part of town. I ran into Sean, Sarah, Matt and Becky also. We all wandered around the market together and then went to lunch at La Cafetera, which has delicious and cheap sandwiches.

After that I came home, JP and I watched the tail end of Twilight, and then the power went out. We have spent about an hour trying to occupy ourselves with one computer and not enough candles to really see with, but I think we'll make it.

The biggest thing on my mind right now is COMING HOME! I can't wait! I love it here but I am so excited to see everyone. I have all of my Christmas presents laid out on the floor and I keep looking at them and getting excited about giving them to everyone. Love you all, see you in 5 days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taking Out Stitches (Not for Weak Stomachs), China Town, Joey Verge

 The other day JP asked me if I would take his stitches out 2 days early. The stitches are holding a cut on the top of his head together. I said no for two reasons. 1. I don't know how to take out stitches and did not feel comfortable making a first attempt on JP's head. 2. I thought that we might as well leave the stitches in the full time to be safe.

 JP asked me several more times to take them out and each time I said that I did not want to for the above reasons. I suggested that he have the school doctor take them out if he wanted them out early because at least she would know what she was doing. JP had asked me earlier in the day on Thursday, and then in the evening he disappeared upstairs. He came down about 2 minutes later and said, "I started taking my stitches out and I can't finish it, can you do it?". He sat down at the kitchen table and handed me my manicure scissors. I had glanced at the cut on his head when he first got it, but I hadn't seen it quite so up-close and personally.

Not only was I having to look directly at it for an extended period, but I was prodding it with scissors and I could smell it. It smelled like when I was a kid and my dad used to hunt pheasants and then hang them up to drain in our garage. I tried to take them all out but when I got to the last two I asked JP if I could take a break for a second. I sat down on the couch and tried to regain my composure. JP was like, "Are you okay?". He said that all of the color had drained from my face and that I looked like I was going to pass out. Honestly I thought I was going to throw up. After that brief intermission I went back and finished taking out the rest. It was a horrifying experience and I am very glad that I chose teaching instead of nursing because after that I realized that I am really not cut out for it. It makes me nauseous just writing about it. I didn't want to take them out because I was afraid I would hurt JP, but I had no idea that I was going to get so sick. I felt like a big baby.

Yesterday Doug, Stacy, Sean, Sarah, Becky, and Matt came over. We hung out here for a second and then walked to Parque Colon. They are having some kind of artisan craft festival there, so we wandered around and shopped for a little bit. It started to close down so we went up to China Town and had dinner. We sat at an enormous table with a lazy-susan in the middle and ate some delicious Chinese food. We seemed unable to talk about anything but school though which I think we were all bummed about, but try as we might we couldn't seem to change the conversation.

Today Stacy and I are going to go shopping for some final Christmas presents. We are going to look around in that market again and see what we can find.

The reason that Joey Verge is in the title of this blog is that he told me about this program where you can make photobooks, and I downloaded it on a whim. Normally I make books with iphoto, but this program is amazing. The best part of it is that there is an option to turn your blog into a photobook. You just type in what website you use for your blog and your user name and it fills the book with your blog entries and photos, it's awesome. Tuli, you need to look into this. Anyway, thanks Joey, good suggestion. I hope you all have a great week and I'll see you next week when I COME HOME!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Episodio Epileptico

Yesterday morning JP biked to the pool early in the morning to swim, and then came home and we went Christmas shopping. I am getting close to finishing my shopping now. We were out for awhile and it was really hot (89 degrees). When we came home JP went for a run. We were planning to go to a play at 6 at Casa de Teatro which is near our house. I started getting ready to go while JP was gone, but at around 5:30 I started to get a little worried because JP is usually really punctual and I had no idea where he had gone running or how to get ahold of him. I thought that maybe I hadn't told him what time the play started and that he thought it started at 7. At around 5:45 I got a phone call on JP's phone from some woman who asked me if I spoke Spanish and then told me that she was calling from Centro Medico and that JP had had a seizure and was there. I ran downstairs and got into a cab, calling Stacy on the way to tell her that we actually probably would not be having people over later that night because JP was in the hospital. She asked me what hospital it was and then met me there bringing water and a book for me (good friend).

JP had hit his head somehow and had been given stitches. They also said that he had been really aggressive and they had to strap him to the hospital bed and sedate him. He has bruises now all over his arms from that. When we came to the hospital JP was in a tiny room with blood on the wall which at first I thought was leftover blood from the last patient (gross/unsanitary) but soon realized that it was from JP's own head (scary). I had to go to the pharmacy and get an injection for him and bring it back to the hospital for the nurse to give him.

 Once all of that was done the three of us got in a cab and came back to our house. JP went to bed and I woke him up every 2 hours to make sure that he didn't have a head injury using questions that his mom gave me. He is much better today and doesn't have a closed head injury. He feels fine now but a little sore from all the bruises and the head wound. All is well now, thank God, but I just wanted to let you all know what happened, and that everything is fine now.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Classical Guitar is Nice and Other Revolutionary Thoughts

Last night JP, Brigitte (I recently learned that I have been spelling her name wrong this whole time, no "d"), and Bastien went to a classical guitar concert at the Teatro Nacional. One of the guys playing is a cuban guy named Ruben who Brigitte has guitar lessons with once a week. They played some of the most amazing music I have ever heard. I have never seen anyone playing a guitar and felt like it was an art form rather than a hobby, but in this case it was. They played extremely complex pieces and it looks like it was the easiest thing in the world. Ruben played a couple of songs about his daughters who are still in Cuba who he is trying to bring here and they were so beautiful and sad. I was really glad we went because I have never seen anything quite like that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nuestra Señora de Altagracia

Two days ago the principal came to our class and asked me to choose 2 students with the rest of the class to go on a field trip the following day to an all-girls orphanage to interview some girls. We held democratic elections including campaign speeches, nominations, and a secret vote. Two great kids were chosen. Later that day my principal asked me to let her know if there were any teachers who wanted to go and chaperone. Naturally I wanted to.

Yesterday at 10:45 I took about 20 middle schoolers down to the cafeteria to eat lunch and we went with a few parent drivers to the orphanage. It was about a 20 minute drive and we went into a not-so-nice part of town. We got lost on the way, but we finally found it. When we walked in there were 65 girls sitting at long cafeteria tables in blue shirts with khaki skirts on. They seemed to be sitting according to age with the youngest girls in front and the oldest in the back. The kids were asked to interview 4 girls and ask them questions about their lives and Christmas wishes. At first they were really nervous, and none of my little sixth graders wanted to work with the high school girls, but finally we walked over together and they got started. It started out with all of the Ashton School kids on one side of the room and all of the girls from the orphanage on the other, but shortly after the kids starting interviewing the girls everybody was talking and laughing and mixing together. It was a really cool experience for the kids and for me.

We are supposed to be going back later in December or in January to give them some things, and I am really excited to go back with the kids. It was such a good experience and all of them really seemed to enjoy themselves. I'll try to post pictures on my blog soon.

Love you all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2.5 and the Afterparty with Diddy

After I wrote you all yesterday we went over to Sarah and Sean's for Thanksgiving 2.5. It was amazing. Sarah made an enormous turkey and there was so much food it was ridiculous. We had about 2 entire dishes per person and I think I ate my body weight in dinner and pie. After dinner we talked and played Wii for a few hours. When I say "we" I mean the boys and there were some fightin' words flying around about Mario Cart. Apparently JP is getting quite the reputation with the other boys for being a trash talker (no surprise there). While they played I drank coffee after coffee and ate piece of pie after piece of pie and chatted with the other girls. Great Thanksgiving.When we left at around 8 we came back to Zona Colonial to go out. Stacy, Doug, Brigitte, Bastien, Nick, JP and I all hung out here for awhile and had drinks/coffee. We decided to go out (Stacy, Doug, Nick, JP and I) and we went to this bar called Doubles.

When we walked out of our apartment a car smashed into another car right in front of us, which was kind of scary, but everyone seemed to be alive enough to get really really mad at the other car so I think everything will be okay for them. 

Usually when I go out dancing here I try to go to Dominican places that play merengue and bachata and other forms of Latin dance music, but we were meeting up with a girl that Nick wanted to see who was at Doubles. Imagine The Post in East Lansing type of music. Lots of techno mixes. It was amazing. When we first got there JP and I were doing the shopping cart and the fishing pole and other dances of that sort, and we were getting a lot of weird looks from the Dominicans which made it even funnier. I would like to think that they thought that was how gringos dance. We ended up staying at the bar until around 4 a.m. It was a great Thanksgiving. Delicious food, good company, and ridiculous dancing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 1.5

You probably all thought that because I am out of the United States that I would miss Thanksgiving this year since it is an American holiday. Well the joke's on you people because I am celebrating it two and a half times. At school on Thursday we had a "shared snack". There are a lot of things that rich kids do that is annoying, but bringing bad shared snacks is not one of them. We had every kind of delicious fried Dominican food that exists in miniature, cupcakes from people's parent's bakeries, and everything else a greedy teacher could want. It was nice because we went around the circle and all of the kids said what they were thankful for, and almost all of them said their families (one said money, but there are always a few bad seeds).

On Thursday night JP and I wanted to celebrate on the actual day so we planned on having dinner at our house. We invited our neighbor and then Doug and Stacy, so we ended up having a mini-Thanksgiving party here. We had wine and rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and stuffing. It was delicious. Rebecca, our neighbor, brought this pumpkin cheesecake which she had half-frozen which was amazing. We ate on our balcony. It was a really good Thanksgiving day. Because we didn't have school off for Thanksgiving all of the Americans at school decided to celebrate Thanksgiving together today, Saturday, so that we could devote the entire day to the festivities as God and the Native Americans intended.

I am currently making mashed potatoes to bring over there and JP woke up early and make cinnamon corn pudding which I snuck a bite of and it is delicious. I will let you know how Thanksgiving 2.5 goes afterward, but there is going to be a turkey and a Wii, so I imagine it will be pretty good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Life in Ruins (The movie, not my life)

Today after school JP and I went to the grocery store and then took a taxi back towards Zona Colonial. I dropped him off at Centro Olympico, which is where he uses the pool, and then came home and took a short nap, which was delightful. When I woke up I was planning to go to this talk about Egypt nearby. This entire week there is a big film festival happening throughout the city. I have been wanted to do more in Spanish (which, lately, I have been succeeding in) and so I thought going to some of the workshops would be a good idea. I walked over to Bridgitte's apartment to see if she wanted to come, but realized after talking to her that the talk was not, in fact, in Spanish.

She and Bastien (her boyfriend) were planning on going to a different theatre and seeing "My Life in Ruins" which for some reason is a part of the film festival, so I decided to go with them. I don't know how many of you guys have seen it, but it is a little bit on the stupid side. What made it amazing though was the audience. We were probably the only people in the theatre who were over 17, and many of them were in school uniforms. It was free to get in and it was in this really nice cultural center, but it was in a pretty bad neighborhood. It was the loudest theatre I have ever been in but it was hilarious. Every time the main character talked to the man she liked the crowd whooped and yelled. They laughed hysterically at the smallest jokes, and basically screamed throughout the entire movie. I thought it was great and by the end of the movie I was having a great time.

When we left there was a random fireworks show outside which my mom would have thought was very dangerous (because it was). It was about 50 feet from the building and it was so close that ash was raining down into my eyes and got into Bridgitte's contact. It was cool nonetheless, but we had to go to a colmado to get some water to flush her eye out with. Worst.

Great night at the movies.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Long Absense

Hey all,

I haven't posted in awhile for 2 reasons. Kind of a good news, bad news situations. First, on Monday night I watched Walk the Line dubbed in Spanish. It is called Johnny y June when it's dubbed apparently. Anyway, I was coveting June Carter's clothes and I started obsessively looking up 50's and 60's patterns on the internet so I could make my own. Unable to order anything online and not in possession of a sewing machine I couldn't sleep that night because I was plotting ways to make clothes. Those of you who know me well know that sometimes my brain gets on one track and will not get off it until I have accomplished whatever it is (such as move to Latin America).

Anyway, by the next day I decided that it would be kind of ridiculous to buy a sewing machine without making a single article of clothing first, so I went to the store near our house after school and bought some fabric and a sewing kit. When I say sewing kit I mean a glorified version of those little emergency sewing kits that my mom is always trying to force me to take with me wherever I go, "Just in case". With scarcely enough thread I made an a-line skirt from directions I found on the internet. This took me two days. I basically haven't seen the light of day since I started this little project but I have been happy as a clam. After I finished that I started working on a wrap dress because I bought way too much fabric. I also found a store that sells thread and zippers and the like about a block from my house which was very helpful when I ran out of red thread. I have a bunch more material now and I am going to start working on another skirt later today.

The bad news is that I was so wrapped up in sewing that I didn't realize that damage I had caused to my computer by trying to "fix" the internet connection at school. It wasn't connecting to the internet but in my sewing frenzy I didn't even notice. JP and I were a tag team of destruction on my poor, unsuspecting computer. After I had destroyed the internet connection JP took his turn to try and fix it. In doing so he somehow deleted Safari, which is my sole internet provider, and so I had to reformat my hard-drive. I had everything backed up so this wasn't a huge problem, but I am still working out some of the kinks that this caused. But now, obviously, I am back on the internet writing to you all so life is good.

JP and I stayed in town this weekend to relax because we have been traveling so much and because we just bought our plane tickets home so we are trying to save a little money. We have the day off school tomorrow because of some Dominican holiday, so we are enjoying the weekend here. I feel like we are the only people in Santo Domingo though because everyone left for the three day weekend which is nice during the day and bad for going out at night. I think it is high time you all come visit. Thanksgiving anyone?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Coming Home

I bought my plane ticket to come home for Christmas! I'll be there December 19th- January 3rd! I can't wait to see you all!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


So the last week has been crazy. JP had really bad food poisoning (he has been kind of a sickling ever since we got here), but luckily he recovered in time for us to go out of town for the weekend. To be honest, I kind of wanted to stay in town this weekend, and by the time Friday rolled around I was feeling so worn out that I wasn't sure that I would make it to Constanza, but I am so glad that I did because it was the best place I have been so far in this country. We ended up going in a taxi instead of a bus, it was a little minivan taxi, and for only a few dollars more each we were way more comfortable and they picked us up right from the supermarket where we were. The ride took about 3 and a half hours, and the driver was getting really irritable on the way and started saying things like, "How much are you guys paying?" (something that had been agreed upon between his company and us before hand) "I won't do it for that much." At this point we just stayed quiet and pretended we didn't understand because we were three quarters of the way there and that was a ridiculous thing to say. It was really dark by the time we got there though and the roads are really windy and dangerous so we did end up giving him a little extra money for his troubles.

Constanza is a little city up in the mountains which has waterfalls and beautiful green forests all over the place. It is where most of the potatoes, strawberries, and flowers are grown for the whole country. It is fairly high up, which was delightful because the air was cool and dry as opposed to the hot wet air of Santo Domingo. We went to this place called Rancho Macajo, which is a little ranch owned by a lady with a little restaurant and a bunch of cabins. We rented one of the cabins which had two bedrooms and a kitchen and was $60 a night. Not too bad. The lady who owns it makes delicious food and also has a bunch of random animals around, including a caged monkey named Lupo.

We ate dinner there on Friday night, and were thrilled when we got cold enough to put on jeans and sweatshirts, and watched part of a movie and went to bed. Saturday morning we got up, JP, Stacy, and Doug walked down to the colmado to get supplies for breakfast (a walk which turned out to be about an hour long) and I stayed back at the cabin to boil water. I didn't mean to be the weakest link in that job list but it turned out that they had to hike down quite a ways to get food, and then an equal distance directly up hill to get back while I wrote in my journal and read and made sure the water didn't boil over.

After they came back and we ate we all pilled into the ranch's pickup truck driven by a friend of the owner named Amauri. We headed another hour or so up the mountain to this national park with an enormous waterfall called Aguas Blancas. It was amazingly beautiful, and I'll post some pictures on here so you guys can see. JP and Doug climbed around on the rocks for awhile and then Stacy and I started to climb up the trail. We were just trying to get a better view but it turned out to be one of the most intense hikes I have ever been on, which, of course, thrilled JP to no end. There were parts of the trail where we had to use rope to climb up and down. It was very very steep and had been created by nothing more than other hikers in most parts. There was a lot of climbing over rocks, hopping small streams, and holding onto branches to avoid plunging to an untimely death involved. Moni you would have been right in your element. I did alright but as you all know I tend to be a little skiddish about hikes of that caliber.

Once we got to the top though the view was amazing.  There was a small pool that JP immediately jumped in, and Doug was right behind him. The water was freezing. It was raining a little bit but it was nice because we were hot from the hike. We stayed up there for a little while admiring the view, I almost slid down the rock into the waterfall but JP caught me, and then we started hiking back down. The hike down was easier than the hike up in terms of physical exertion, but it was much more nerve wracking and the rain had made the traction even worse. I hiked down behind JP though so I wasn't very nervous.

After getting back from our hike we were starving. We ordered some food in the restaurant at Rancho Macajo and then headed back to the cabin to take showers. Once I learned that there was no hot water (I was already really cold) I decided against it (big surprise). I was the only one not to shower. As you all know, Monica, again, you especially, I do not like to shower if it is going to make me cleaner but colder. This is why I was so filthy throughout all of Bolivia. Anyway we went back up to eat and I had rabbit for dinner. I had never had it before, I felt a little guilty eating it because Stacy has a pet rabbit at home, but that didn't stop me from cleaning all of its little rabbit bones of meat. Even though it was Halloween night we decided to go back to the cabin, drink some tea and go to bed. We are getting more and more boring as we get older I think.

This morning JP and I made the walk down to the colmado for food, which we did fairly early and it was really nice. We came back, made breakfast, and caught another cab back to Santo Domingo. This one was a much more experienced mountain driver and we got back in record time.

Constanza reminded me a lot of being in Ecuador in the Andes. It was so beautiful. I think JP and I will definitely go back there soon and stay in the same place again. Those of you who are planning to visit and want to hike that would definitely be some place we would take you.

I hope you all had a great halloween, miss you all and love you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Adventures wandering around

Yesterday J.P. and I both missed school because he needed to go to the hospital for a check up after all of the weird health things he has had lately and I needed to translate for him. We had some trouble getting the day off and then even more trouble when we went to two hospitals and were not able to be seen in either of them. The first hospital looked like a U.S. hospital. It was big and clean and had plenty of nurses working information/appointment desks.

The second was like falling into the third world. There were a couple of information desks which were behind glass so you had to ask your questions through a small hole at the bottom like you were at a high security bank or a convenience store in Detroit. We were told there that we could not be seen until Monday unless we wanted to go into the emergency room. We decided to go just to see if we could get in (sorry Lucy, we were being that drain on the system that you so hate).  In the U.S. when you go to the "Emergency Room" you go to the waiting room, wait forever, and then finally get in to see the doctor. Silly me, I assumed that was what this was going to be.

We walked into the room and there were about 6 beds which did not have curtains around them filled with very very sick people and then chairs lined up against the wall with more sick people waiting to be seen. The doctors were going from bed to bed to check out the patients while everyone else watched and heard everything that was said. JP and I quickly realized that our emergency was not like these people's emergencies, so we got the hell out of dodge. On the way out JP said, "I didn't want to stay in there because I thought we both might get really sick." Very wise, JP.

After that little hospital adventure was over we picked up our missing laundry from the lavandería (laundry mat meets dry cleaners) and walked home. JP went to swim at Centro Olympico and I went wandering around. I did a little bit of shopping with no luck, and then I found a used book store. I went in to see if they had any books in English but there were about 6 of them and they were all terrible looking. I started to browse the Spanish books then this guy came up to me and told me that he worked at the store too but he also sold some face cream that he wanted me to buy. His exact words were "The cream would take those little marks on your face right off." I don't know what marks he was talking about but I do know that after that I was far less inclined to buy from him. He then told me that he did  massages to remove fat and cellulite and relaxing BATHS in the back of the store and asked me if I would be interested in either of those. I said I would not. He then asked me if he could have my phone number. I said he could not. He then asked me if I would like to go to church with him. I said I would not. I told him that I had a boyfriend and he asked me if he lived here in the Dominican Republic. I said that he did. He finally relented and went away. Good Lord. I have never been so annoyed in my life. Also it's too bad because I really liked the book store (I bought Gulliver's Travels in Spanish, "Viajes de Gulliver") but I will definitely never be going back there again lest I get offered another relaxing bath.

After that I went in search of coffee. I found this place that I want to take everyone who comes to visit out for a nice meal. It was this two story place with really beautiful french/italian music playing and delicious food. Unfortunately I don't know what the name of it was, but it was one street east of Duarte and two blocks north. I had eggplant and rice and beans. Yum.

After that I decided to go to the salon to get my hair straightened. This is a cultural experience that I thought I should have. All of the Dominican women I know go to the salon at least twice a week and get their hair blown out. Any time they are wearing their hair down it's because they have gone to the salon. It's sort of strange, but I felt like I should be a part of it. The whole salon process was nice, I got my hair washed and then someone went to town on straightening it, but basically the second I walked outside it began to curl again. It is just too humid here. I guess I won't be doing that again.

I met up with Stacy and we went to a mall to shop (Acropolis). We didn't really have any luck so we went back to their apartment, picked up Doug, and went to get a beer and some cheap Mexican food. The best thing about this city is the number of restaurants where you can get pretty cheap food. After dinner we all came back to my side of town and hung out at our apartment with JP and Bridgitte. Overall, a very eventful day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday- School, Laundry, Red Tent, Walk

The kids were behaving so badly last week that it has been all I can do this week not to tell them that the reason that Ms. Dark is suddenly mean is because nice Ms. Dark is dead and they killed her. I keep these things to myself and I just give out a lot of recess forfeits. Ah well. Hopefully it will improve their behavior. In school today they did pretty well, peer editing in English and answering some review questions in Social Studies, but they still need some work.

After school JP and I headed back to our side of town and got dropped off in Chinatown. We ate at that restaurant again (Restaurant Dragon I), and as usual, it was amazing and our final bill between the two of us came out to around 7 dollars. I love that place. They have Dominican side dishes too which I think is funny, like fried plantains. As we were walking home from the restaurant I found a watch that I had to buy, which some of you may see because I am going to buy some for you for Christmas. When we got home we dropped some clothes off at the laundry for the first time (we have been doing our laundry in the sink and hanging it on the balcony from the windowsills).

 I finished The Red Tent today (if you haven't read it please do it's amazing) for the third time. I love that book. When I came home from work yesterday I made some tea and sat on our balcony and read for awhile. Life is good.

After JP came back from the gym we went for a walk around the city for an hour or so and looked for places to eat in the future. Not such a great idea probably because we were walking so that my pants won't feel so tight from all the delicious food I've been eating here. Ah well. If I walk far enough to get the food I figure it's fine.

Tomorrow JP and I have to stay after school late because we have to go to this thing at school called a Hamburgada (if that's not Spanglish I don't know what is), which is a night for the parents to come and eat hamburgers. It's a fundraiser for the school and all the teachers are required to attend. Fun fun. At least I'll get a free hamburger out of it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Conference and Las Galeras

Hey all,

So Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I went to a work conference here in Santo Domingo instead of going to school. It was perfect timing because I really needed a break from the kids and I think they needed one from me too, and I got some really good ideas for how to make my class a lot more engaging. I have been having some problems with classroom management lately and I have been getting really angry at the kids about it but when I started thinking about it I realized that I have been a pretty boring teacher lately, so I think that we are both to blame. Anyway, I hope that this week is better. Speaking of which, are any of my teacher friends interested in having our kids be penpals or epals? The letters would have to be in English but they could be about Dominican culture. Webconferencing between classes would also be an option if I can figure out how to get around the school's security.

So after the conference on Friday afternoon JP, Bridgitte, and I headed for the bus station and we met Doug and Stacy there. We were running a little behind and JP was feeling like a bad athlete because he has had Dengue and I was feeling like a bad teacher so we were both in pretty stressed moods. To be honest I was a little nervous that the trip was going to be really bad because I had such a storm cloud over my head, but 2 hours and a bus nap later I was a new person. JP ran the next morning so he felt better then. We got off the bus in a city called Samamá and had to transfer to a very small bus/conversion van called a guagua. Guaguas are a very cheap way of getting around but the drivers pack as many people as possible into them to maximize their profits and they generally do not have air conditioning. This was no exception. In a bus that is supposed to seat 11 there were 20 of us and very loud bachata music. Stacy was recovering from a bout of food poisoning so she was very uncomfortable but I had a great time. The view from the guagua (pronounced wa wa, like the sound a baby makes) was amazing and I happened to really like the bachata band that they were playing full blast (Aventura).

When we arrived they dropped us off at the hotel where Stacy and Doug had made reservations. They had read about it in the Lonely Planet (hollachagurl and give her a job) and had talked to the lady on the phone, but Bridgitte, JP and I hadn't decided where we wanted to stay yet because we were going to try to find a cheaper option. We got to this hotel and the lady showed Doug and Stacy the room while we all waited. We were sitting and chatting when Stacy and Doug came and had just enough time to say "The room is really small and we don't want to stay but she's saying we have to pay her." (This place was called Villa Casa Lotus if you're wondering where not to stay in Las Galeras.) Sure enough, the woman came storming in behind them and started saying that because they had called ahead whether they stayed or not they had to give her the full amount in cash. She was being very aggressive about it and they told her that they would not give her the money, and that the room was much smaller and worse than the one she described to them. At one point during this discussion either Brigitte or JP asked her how we could get back to town and she shouted at us, "That's not my problem, that's your problem." It was all very weird and we ended up sneaking around her out the door. She had her main henchman, some Dominican guy, follow us into town to try to get the money, which he could not. We went into the hotel where we wanted to stay and sat down at a table to get a drink and he continued to sit at the bar for around an hour before he finally went back to the hotel. It was an adventure for the first hour in Las Galeras.

The hotel we did end up staying in was called Gri Gri, and it was the most backpacker place I have seen so far. It was a hotel/bar with really good food and drinks and really cheap rooms. Perfect. The next day we went to this little beach next door to the hotel swam around a reef (which, unfortunately, was dead) and had lunch in a glorified tent. Lunch was fish that we had seen being brought up the beach an hour or so before with tostones, (fried plantains, what were those called in Ecuador again?) fried eggplant, rice and beans. It was so delicious. The lady that served us had curlers in her hair and opened our beer bottle (I swear I am not drinking all that much here) with a strategically placed nail in the side of a tree. I wished so badly that it would be socially appropriate to take a picture of that to show you guys.

That night we went back into town and ate (actually for the second time) at this place owned by an Italian lady that had homemade everything; pasta, jam, butter, bread. Yum. I think this was the best food weekend of this trip so far. We ended up eating at this place a total of 3 times. It was so good. We sat around and chatted for awhile and went to bed early. The town was really peaceful and didn't have a lot of people, so it was a really nice relaxing weekend.

This morning we had breakfast at that same place and then wandered down the beach. The water here wasn't as clear as in Sosua, but the beach itself was the most beautiful I have seen so far. There are a bunch of little islands with palm trees on them just off the shore that I am going to swim out to next time, and you can see the mountains from pretty much anywhere on the beach. I will post my pictures so you guys can see. We came back on a bus that was pretty much the same situation as the guagua on the way, except for it was supposed to be a regular bus, and it took us 4 hours instead of the 3 it should have to get back because we kept stopping to cram in more passengers.

When we got back we went to eat delicious and ridiculously cheap chinese food and then came back to the apartment. I got some work done and now here I am. I am starting to really love it here, it is so beautiful. As you can tell from my blog though, I am going to need to start going to the gym way more often. Yikes. I love you all and miss you!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Time Traveler's Wife, Roof Party, Otherwise Lazy Weekend

Hey all,

So this weekend may have been the laziest weekend of my life. I feel like I have just discovered television and already it is ruining things for me. Our apartment has tv and about 90 channels, and since I basically haven't had a tv in a year and a half all of a sudden I realized that I can watch it instead of do anything else. This is a less than positive development in my life which I will have to fight against. On Friday JP and I came home from school and he was feeling really sick (he talked to his mom and she thinks he has dengue fever, worst). We just hung out around the apartment all evening and watched movies that we bought on the street on my computer. I got some really good movies here. If you guys haven't seen Lymelife or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas you should. On Saturday I woke up and watched movie after movie with JP again stopping only to go to the store for supplies. Finally, some of our friends called and I went with them at around 10:00 to our friend Nick's house. He was having people over to drink and listen to merengue on his roof. It was really fun and I spoke a lot of Spanish. I ended up coming home at around 5 a.m, which is the first time I have done that here and it was lovely. Today JP was feeling better and I was feeling not so good from last night, so we hung out for awhile, walked around on El Conde, and then went to see The Time Traveler's Wife (just came out here this weekend) with Doug and Stacy. It isn't as good as the book of course but still was really well done. Go see it everyone and read the book too, it's amazing. Love you all and I hope that your weekends were slightly more eventful than mine.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back to School Night

Last night at school was Back to School Night. This is when the parents of all the kids come to school and go to each of their kid's classes so that they can figure out what it is their kids are doing all day. I decided to do mine in Spanish, which I was nervous about for about a week in advance. I went through my syllabus and translated the things I needed to beforehand which really helped. When the parents first got to school they had a presentation about the new things going on in the middle school, and then the seventh and eighth grade parents went upstairs to start the class rotation and the sixth grade parents stayed for a welcome-to-middle-school-type presentation. Some of our kids had been chosen to be guides, I think they were calling them edecanes, and they dressed up and escorted the parents around. They were so cute I could have puked. Anyway, when the parents finally came up to my class I had to firmly grip my syllabus to keep my hands from noticeably shaking, but the parents were very patient with me and laughed politely at my jokes and everything. Thank God. It was the second time since I've been here where I have really felt like I stretched my Spanish abilities, and I felt really good about it. Thankfully, I found some vocabulary and verb tenses that had been lying dormant in my Spanish lexicon for a long time and it came in very handy. Overall the Back to School Night went far better than I expected.

Today we went to school and reviewed for our upcoming language arts and spelling exams. The kids took their social studies exam and they did amazingly. I was really happy with their results. We played some review games during which I pretty sure the other teachers throughout the hall thought I was murdering my students from their screams. JP has been coming to school all week this week sick as a dog. He had a bad fever a few days ago and spent a round 13 hours at school for his own Back to School Night. He is feeling much better now though. When we came we watched a bit of Harry Potter and wandered around on El Conde for awhile. I think this weekend we are going to go out around here which I am really looking forward to. Hopefully I can use some Spanish, we'll see. I am working on sending emails, please keep them coming I love hearing from you guys!

The Tale of the Mysterious Bug Bite

I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday night to a sharp pain on the third toe of my right foot. After 2 seconds or so it started to itch like crazy, so I reluctantly got out of bed and went to the bathroom to see what it was. Being half asleep I couldn’t really see it, but decided it would be a good idea to scratch it as much it felt like it should be scratched, which was a lot. This resulted in me spending the next half an hour awake lying on top of my own foot to try to soothe the pain/itching that was radiating throughout it. When I woke up in the morning it still itched, but having learned my lesson I left it alone. During school it was bothering me under my shoe so when I got a chance I took it off to look at it. My toe was bright red and had swelled to twice its natural size. I was on my lunch break so I went to JP’s class to show him. He tried to get me to go to the school doctor, but when I got down to the infirmary she was outside lounging in the sun with some of the other staff and I felt weird pulling her away or worse, whipping my huge swollen toe out in front of all those ladies. I tried to ignore it.

That night we took a bus to a city called Cabarete. Doug, Stacy, JP, and I were going to catch the 4 o’clock bus, but Doug and Stacy had an electricity bill to pay so they followed us at 5. Here they cut off your electricity (I have heard) the first day that your bill is late. Also, you can’t pay online or mail in your payment; you have to pay at specific locations around the city. You also have to know where those locations are and be able to speak Spanish. Not super efficient. JP and I took the bus to Sosua (National Prostitution Capitol, remember?) and then got on the back of a mototaxi and rode the 14k to Cabarete. There we found our hotel, checked in (the hotel was called Tropical Beach Hotel, not a terribly imaginative name but pretty nice), and scarfed down some last minute dinner before they closed. Stacy and Doug arrived not long after and we went to a pizza place so that they could get something to eat too. We saw some prostitutes in the bathroom (unisex, weird anyway and especially weird in an establishment with prostitutes) and on the street, but not nearly as many as in Sosua. There were actually women in this city who were non-prostitutes (although most of them were sunbathing topless by day).

We wandered around for a bit after the pizza place and went down to the beach, where I indulged myself for the first time all day in scratching my foot. I tiptoed around it (no pun intended) and then vigorously scratched it by digging it down into the sand. It felt good and then horribly, horribly bad but the salt water helped. After the beach we were all really tired from the 4 hour bus ride, so we went to bed pretty early.

The next day I woke up and my foot was a swollen as ever, but there was a distinctive bulge/blister on it. Get ready, this is about to get gross. Being me, I tried to pop it, which didn’t work. We all went to breakfast and then down to the beach. There I finally just got on with it and scratched my toe, because it was itching worse than ever. It broke open and then after a few seconds a liquid oozed out. The magic of all of this was as soon as that happened it didn’t hurt or itch anymore. My body was right the whole time, it really needed vigorous scratching to get the poison out. While I was satisfied by that I am still wondering what on earth the bug was that bit me, and what was it doing in my bed? I think it might be time to consider sleeping with the windows open. I consider this event the first good one of a great day.

Next I settled in to reading Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I have read one and a half of his books before and I have never really gotten what all the fuss is about, but now I see. I read it cover to cover sitting in that chair on this lovely beach. It is excellent. Read it if you haven’t. I think it converted me to a new, made-up, religion.

After that I got some free piña coladas from the bar, went to one of the pools and played with a beach ball with Doug while JP ran and Stacy got a massage, and then showered and went to dinner. We had wine and a really good dinner (served with a side dish of sneaking the Haitian kids food through the railing) and then dessert and coffee (without which no great day would be complete) and then sat by the pool and waiting for the night show of African dance to start. We sat at the edge of the pool with our feet hanging in the water and watch as the dancers ran around the stage to various Lion King and other miscellaneous songs wearing next to nothing (think zebra thong for the lead) and screaming Hakkuna Mattata and cracking a whip. I could not figure out if any of them had actually seen The Lion King before. The dancing itself was pretty cool, and there was a fire breather, but the lady in the zebra thong gyrating to “He Lives in Me” was a little off-putting, especially because I think that song is about God.

After the show we had some last minute free drinks and then went to a bar. We had consumed enough where Stacy and I felt certain that we could get the whole club dancing. After two hours and a lot of sweating we had not succeeded, but we had fun trying. We went down to the water and then back to our hotel rooms for the night. It was a simple day that included everything I like. It was amazing. Not to mention I was no longer thinking about my toe, which was nice.

Sunday we ate breakfast, sat by the beach for awhile, swam, wandered around the city, went back to Sosua, got on another bus, and rode 4 hours home. When we got back I went running with JP which was really nice and something I really needed after the amount of food I consumed this weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Boring me

Hey all,

I haven't blogged much this week because I have been tired and my life has been pretty simple and boring. After all the craziness of the last few weeks this has been a delightful and welcome change. This week with the kids has been particularly bad, their behavior has been an all-time low, but otherwise everything is going really well. JP and I are loving our new apartment and neighborhood. JP joined a gym down the street and I am thinking about doing the same because the ol' work pants are getting a little tight. Notice that I am thinking about it, and not actually doing it. I don't want to do anything rash. If the gym sounded unappealing in Michigan you better believe it sounds unappealing here with the constant heat and humidity. I'll sleep on (and eat on it) it for another week or so before I decide.

On a less than positive note for my already too-tight pants, JP, Doug, Stacy and I are going to an all-inclusive resort for the weekend to celebrate Stacy's birthday. Those of you who know me know that I am not a huge fan of the all-inclusive thing, but I am actually really looking forward to it this time. I am not looking at it as a chance to venture out into a new city, but instead as a chance to do nothing and to have piña coladas brought to me while I lounge by the beach and read. Does this mean I am getting old? I promise that I still really like to venture around new cities! Please don't disown me as a friend, Moni.

Last night JP, Bridgitte, and I went with Nick to his two friends that we met last week's house (Harris and Mike). Was that sentence grammatically correct? Anyway, we stayed for a few beers and I met some more people. I am so happy to be meeting people that I feel like a middle schooler all over again. Like me, please like me! I got a couple girls' phone numbers so hopefully I will extend my network here. If I can be half the social butterfly I was when I was actually 12 (or 1/4 the social butterfly my sister is) I should be in good shape.

This was kind of disjointed. If my students turned this in I would make notes about structure and transitions. Sorry. Hopefully they don't read it. Love you all.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stacy and Doug's Apartment, Wok, Tangerine

So yesterday after I blogged I went to the ATM, and then with JP to the gym down the street that he is joining to help him sign up (totally unnecessary, he did it all himself anyway, his Spanish is getting really good). I wandered around on El Conde again trying to buy some dresses that I would be cooler in. It was scorchingly hot yesterday. I felt really thrifty by the time I got home, I had gotten 4 dresses for a little over $40. Even though you would think things like that would be super cheap here most clothes are imported so they are really expensive, I'm going to have to stock up when I get back. I came back from the after a couple of hours of wandering and read for awhile and hung out at our apartment. Bridgitte was allowed to move in yesterday at 5 so we moved her stuff down the hall into her new apartment.
At around 7 I headed towards where I used to live to go to a night out with Stacy, Melissa, Alex, and one of the other teachers I work with, Zara. We went to Stacy and Doug's house and had some beer while Doug politely listened to his head phones and sat on the deck to give us space. We left after an hour or so and went to dinner at a restaurant called Wok. Really delicious chinese food, pretty upscale restaurant. We chatted and tried to avoid talking about work. After dinner Melissa and Zara went back home and Stacy, Alex and I tried to find a dance club to go to.
You don't really appreciate how bad driving in the city is until you are with someone you know driving. Alex drove us last night. With cab drivers you don't really think about it, but Alex was having to dodge holes and had several narrow misses with other cars. Finding parking is also nearly impossible. The first club we tried to go to had boards over the doors, so we tried another which had kids around our (their) students' ages in line, so we tried another near where my old apartment was which had around 100 men in the same striped button-down shirt and gelled hair. This one was just right. Well actually, the music was pretty bad and the drinks were expensive (for here, $15 for two drinks) but we had fun. They played a remix of Will Smith "Miami" which brought back good Ecuador memories of Moni, and some other equally bad stuff, but we danced around for awhile and then called it quits and went home. Overall it was a good night.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Morning in Zona Colonial

Hey all,

So yesterday we went back to school after our day off on Thursday, which confused most of my sixth graders into thinking it was Monday and many of them asked me for the homework for the week, which they received on Monday already. I had to explain to them that it was not Monday. Sad. After school I went to get a sandwich and coffee with Stacy at this place near school called Sonoma, which is delicious. JP met us there after his run and we went over to Stacy and Doug's apartment where they showed us pictures of when Doug went through the window of a Ford Explorer on his bike, this really weird but funny video on YouTube called Waxinpoo (has anyone seen this?) and fed us delicious burritos. Overall a very good trip to their apartment. After about 3 hours there we decided to go to La Sirena (Target/Walmarty store) to buy food since we were already having to take a taxi back to Zona Colonial and Stacy and Doug came with us to buy wine. An hour later we had a cart full of groceries, seeds, and contact paper for me to do projects, and we left and came back to our apartment. We were both really tired but Nick had called and asked if we wanted to go out. We decided to go out and have a drink, and ended up having one of the most fun nights that I have had since I've been here. We got back and set our groceries down, and then went for a walk on El Conde, which is a street that cars can't drive on one block from our house. It's the main street for wandering around in Zona Colonial. We met him there and he was with this girl named Camila who also lives around here. She was here doing an HIV/AIDS/Syphilis project for Harvard Medical. Hopefully we'll see her again because I really liked her. Anyway, the four of us went to this Reggae bar and when we got there some of Nick's other friends were there and they brought friends. For the first time since I got here I was in a crowd of people to talk to. I loved it. Two of the guys, Mike and Harris, were also working with HIV/AIDS through the Clinton Foundation, and they had some Norwegian couch surfers with them and a Dominican girl named Miriam. It was really nice to meet some new people. I feel sometimes like it's hard to do here. We had a few drinks and chatted at the Reggae bar, which was called El Espiral (Moni you would love this place, picture lots of dreads, live reggae and jewelry stands). I really liked it because it was divided into two rooms, one was indoors and had the bar and the jewelry stands, and the other was a courtyard with the live music. It was great because it was quiet enough in the bar room that you could hear each other talk, and in the courtyard it was all people dancing. Best of both worlds. After that we went to this bar called Parada 77 (I put these names in for my own memories and also so I can be discovered by Lonely Planet) which was a small dance club with lots of salsa, bachata, merengue and reggaeton. Awesome. JP and I danced for awhile but then got into an argument about what kind of dancing we were supposed to be doing (I though Salsa he though Merengue... gringos), and we stopped dancing. I think JP was right though and I just don't know how to dance Merengue. Right after that they started playing reggaeton and they played Atrevete and after that there was nowhere to go but down so JP and I went home and went to bed. We felt like we were being lame because it was still a big party but it was already 2 and we had gotten up at 5:50. Great night. I think today I am just going t lounge around and walk around the city, and then later tonight a bunch of the girls from school are going to go out to dinner and go dancing, which should be a good time. I am in the process of updating my photosites so check them out.

Love you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Hello Loyal Blog Followers,

So JP and I resolved our housing situation. We have moved in together! We are living in the Zona Colonial in this amazing apartment. It is two stories and has two ocean view balconies. Ridiculous. Not as enormous as the last apartment but it makes up for it in character. Sorry I didn't tell you all before, I felt that it would be best if our families didn't hear about it via blog. It ended up making the most sense to live together because of financial reasons, plus we like each other.

That announcement out of the way we had the day off of school today. It's really nice having all of my friends be at the same school sometimes particularly when we have days off. I woke up early, ate some delicious oatmeal and drank coffee (JP made both, I think I am going to like living together), took a shower, and then wandered around the city for awhile. I was lured into some souvenir shops and bought some postcards and some amber earrings. Amber is really big here, so is another stone called Larimar, which is a little lighter blue than turquoise. After wandering for awhile I bought some flowers for the apartment and some fruit and came home, and then left right away again to meet up with Stacy and Doug. The three of us wandered all over. We went to this place called La Cafetera where we had a ridiculously cheap and good breakfast. I guess a lot of musicians and artists hang out there too so I am going to go there all the time, it's right by my house. We went around to some more tourist spots (I really wanted to be super touristy for the day) and went to this huge market called Mercado Modelo. There I was enticed to buy more jewelry (a pair of larimar earrings and a larimar ring) and Stacy bought a painting. There were chickens in cages sitting in front of freshly cut chicken breasts, fruit and vegetable stands, stands with crafts, and a bunch of places with Haitian Voodoo things. I told Stacy and Doug that even though I don't believe in any of that stuff I wouldn't mess with it either. It looks really intense. Lots of good luck charms but scarier things as well like potions and voodoo dolls.

When we came back we had a beer and wandered for a bit more, and then Stacy and Doug went back to Paraiso to go home. I walked around for a bit and then I came back and JP and I went up to the next block to watch a religious procession. It ended up being impossible just to watch because of the number of people so we ended up being part of the procession and singing things like Ave Maria and yelling "Que Viva!" to things that a guy in the crowd said that we couldn't hear or understand. The holiday today was the saint day of La Virgen Las Mercedes. There was a huge statue of a virgin being paraded through the city lead by hundreds of people and the army and navy bands. We marched along with them for a few blocks and then ducked out of the crowd to make our way over to the fruit market and buy some bootlegged DVDs. Sacrilege? I think so. Anyway, we bought both and we just got home a minute ago. Our home! Together! It's great. Bridgitte is staying here too while she gets ready to move into another apartment in our building. We are going to be one big happy family around here. I love you all. I'll give you the address as soon as I know what it is. As far as I can tell the apartments don't have numbers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you

Hello blog followers,

Sorry that it has been so long since I have blogged, don't worry, everything is alright, although it concerns me that only my aunt and uncle (Kris and Chris) thought to ask. For future reference, if I don't blog it's a sure sign of trouble in paradise. That's right folks, prepare for a tale of woe, misery, and limited access to the internet. Okay, I'm still in the Caribbean so not really (the internet part is true though). Here are some of the major events since I last blogged.

I don't know if I told you all before or not but I decided to move out of my lovely apartment near school and into the Zona Colonial where I spend most of my time. JP has been living here for a little over a week now. He was staying in an apartahotel called Serena (if you're interested in coming down for a visit and you have really simple taste you should check it out it's ridiculously cheap). I have been spending most of my time down there because JP was there and Bridgitte was literally a block from him. We've been doing a lot of wandering around and drinking liters of beer on Bridgitte's massive balcony (sadly she is also moving). I came down one night and JP was cooking dinner with the man who guards the street who seems very nice and terrifying at the same time. Mostly because he is really friendly but has a huge scar from having his cheek cut. I didn't really go to my apartment at all this week except to change clothes, and then this weekend JP and I decided to travel to the beach. Lucky for us Sarah, Sean, and Bridgitte were also interested in the idea. We went to a beach about 2 hours from Santo Domingo called Bayahibe. It's low season right now so there weren't a lot of people except for some coming in on boat tours from bigger towns. It was a little town with some nice beach and a lot of fishing boats. Far fewer prostitutes than last week also which was refreshing, we did, however, see some male "escorts" escorting some overweight European women. Nice. We just relaxed there, we stayed in a hotel called Villa Iguana which was off the main path and was really nice for around $40 a night, not bad. We just played cards (I learned a new game called Golf) and ate and laid on the beach. It was just what I needed after a stressful week of looking for housing. 

Okay, I'll admit, it wasn't exactly a tale of misery and woe. The real reason that I haven't been blogging is that I haven't been to my apartment in awhile and JP's hotel didn't have internet. Email me anyway though! Love you all! I promise to give you better blog posts in the future.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thursday through Sunday


I went to school as normal, and then afterwards I went into Zona Colonial with Bridgitte to look at apartments. It was Bridgitte's birthday so we were really hoping to find something for her as a great birthday present. She has been looking all over town for an apartment with a big balcony, and she found this apartment that is basically a balcony with rooms. She loved it and decided to take it. She moved in over the weekend. After that she, JP, and I went out for a few drinks at this restaurant by the ocean and then for a few more at a colmado. I think Bridgitte had a really good birthday and when she came home she found a present outside her door that JP had left for her. It was a basket of delicious foodstuffs. That boy is so thoughtful.

JP took a job at the school! He is going to be a permanent substitute, and he is going to be filling in for a third grade teacher for 3 months while she is out on maternity leave. For now he will just be subbing for different teachers around the school. He signed the contract on Friday and immediately began work. We had a half day of school for the kids, so they were wilder than normal for a Friday, but we had a good class in Language Arts and then in our shortened Social Studies class we discussed 9/11 and the impact that it had on them and their families which went better than I ever could have expected. After the kids left all the staff stayed to work, and I didn't get as much as I wanted to done because I spent a good deal of my time talking to my roommates, so I think that I will be staying later than I would like this week. After school I rushed home to pack a bag, talked to Alex, and got in a taxi to go to the beach. This whole week we were planning on going to this city called Constanza, but then Friday afternoon we realized that the bus left at 3 and we got out of work at 2:45, so we just went to the bus station to pick something when we got there. We packed beach clothes. Things like this make me love life. We got to the bus station and aided by Lonely Planet and the information desk we decided to go to a city called Sosua. We got on the bus at around 6 and took off for the beach. We stopped somewhere to pick up more passengers and JP, Doug, and Stacy got off to buy food and use the bathroom and the bus pulled away and almost left them but finally heard me and another guy on the bus shouting to the driver. When we got to the city we overpaid for a cab ride, booked a room, promptly found bugs in the bed, unchecked out, searched for a new hotel, got lost, overpaid for another cab ride which took us back to where we started, finally got to the hotel we were looking for and realized that it was no longer operational. By this time it was about 11:30 at night. We wandered down the road and found another hotel, but it was too expensive. We found another one that was just right (get the goldilocks reference?) and we stayed there finally. Once we got settled in our rooms we went out by the pool and played cards for a little while, and went to get some food (curry sausage at a German restaurant at 1 a.m. very weird but delicious). While we were out we started to notice an inordinate number of scantily clad women. After watching them for awhile we started to realize that these women were finding men that they seemed not to know, sitting at their tables, laughing overly hard at their jokes with their heads thrown back, haggling over prices, and then leaving with them. These women were prostitutes! And not only were there prostitutes out that night, but we were the only people who were neither prostitutes or men looking for prostitutes. There were so many prostitutes that we were getting weird looks for being so out of place. This was going on at every bar all along the main road of the town. It was so strange I didn't even know what to think, so after sausage and a good hour or so of people watching we went home to bed. 


We all slept in on Saturday morning and then went down to the beach. We stopped at the non-operational hotel which was a functioning restaurant overlooking the water and had a delicious breakfast. We went down to the water and booked a little snorkeling tour (Stacy and I had bought snorkeling equipment on the way down to the beach) and rented an umbrella. We swam around for about a half an hour in the most amazingly clear water that I have ever seen and then got into a glass-bottomed boat and went out to a small coral reef. We got in the water and swam around for an hour looking at beautiful fish and coral while our guide fed the fish in order to encourage them to swarm around us. This was admittedly a little inauthentic but very cool and much appreciated. After that we went back to the beach and splashed around for awhile and laid under our umbrella. When the sun set we sat on the deck of the same restaurant where we ate breakfast, The Waterfront, and had drinks and appetizers. It was a pretty perfect afternoon. We went home after that, took showers, and then went to eat dinner at a restaurant across the street where we spent the vast majority of the time trying to figure out if our waitresses were prostitutes and if the overly friendly chef was a pimp. For some reason they were speaking to us in English so I do not think they realized we could understand the heated prostitute/pimp argument they got into 20 feet from our table which confirmed our suspicions. After dinner we went back for awhile, chatted by our pool, met a guy from North Carolina who was working in the Virgin Islands and no doubt in Sosua for the sex trade, saw and old man and a scantily clad young woman come back to the hotel and then  leave again 45 minutes later, and decided maybe it was time to leave. We went out to a bar where we almost immediately received our bill, a surefire sign here that they wish you would leave, people-watched for awhile, and then went back home to bed. Before we did Doug, Stacy and I decided to walk down to the beach. We stood there for a minute, realized the beach at night in this city was probably not a good idea, and then turned around and almost tripped over a sleeping homeless man that we hadn't seen on the way in. We decided that the day had been eventful enough and we decided to turn in for the night.


In the morning we went to the beach and swam for awhile, I read the Agatha Christie book that I stole from the hotel, and then we ate a delicious breakfast (more prostitute people watching) and checked out of the hotel. The bus ride back was about 4 1/2 hours, and when we got back we went to the store, JP came to my house to pick up some stuff, and he went back to his. This was one of the more eventful and interesting weekends of my life. On one hand it was a really tranquil weekend at one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been with great company, and on the other it was a social research project on prostitution. Seemingly an incompatible mix it made for a great weekend. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

JP Moved Out Yesterday

So yesterday in school my first two hours were hideous, and then my third hour came in super prepared, they all had their materials, and they got right to work. They made my morning. I gave them all a present of a homework pass. 

After school I came home for awhile, chatted with Alex, and JP gathered his stuff to move out (worst). So when we were ready we got a cab to Ciudad Nueva (close to Zona Colonial) and unloaded a backpack and a suitcase and moved JP into a little apartment there. It's a studio, and it's a lot more like what I imagined living conditions would be in the Dominican Republic. It is clean, and it has everything he needs (water, light, refrigerator, tv, fans) but it is a little bit dingy. The refrigerator is kind of rusty and there is a plug in stove-top to cook food on, there is no hot water, and the bathroom doesn't have a door, so it's definitely a little more rustic than the apartment that I am staying in, but I actually really like it there. It feels so much more Dominican to me (not because it's dingy). 

There is a lot more going on on the street, and yesterday we walked up and were next to the motorcycle that was bringing the water we had just bought from the colmado, and as we were unloading it this guy I have seen around there a couple of times just walks up and starts helping us get things off the motorcycle to take in. So far, that has been how people are here. When we bought the water we asked a guy on the street if they sold the big bottles of water in the colmado behind him. He not only answered our question, but went inside, checked, and then ordered the bottle for us. He didn't work there he was just sitting outside reading the newspaper. So far the people that I have met really go out of their way to do nice things for others, even if they don't know them. It is really refreshing. Like Stacy, for example, lost her luggage on the way here, and two separate people at school brought her bags of their own clothes to school the next day so she would have something to wear. It's so ridiculously nice. 

Anyway, I really like JP's new apartment, and I think I will be spending a lot of time there. It feels more real there if that makes any sense, where I am living I feel like I'm living in a bank or a mall or something, it's kind of a sterile neighborhood. Well, as sterile as a neighborhood with dead dogs and begging children on the street could be. I'll try to remember to take pictures of the apartment and my classroom and post them so you guys can see. Love you all!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Solo Adventure in Town, Big Bummer

Today at school was one of those days. The kids were going wild, and by the end of the day I didn't have the energy to keep up with them. I doled out a few punishments and was relieved when lunch time came and I didn't have any more classes for the day. 

I came home, got some money, left the apartment, bought a phone card because I had run out of minutes, and took the cab downtown to the Gazque area, which is the part of the city that Bridgitte is going to live in. Then I got a phone call from this guy who owns an Apartahotel in Zona Colonial where he rents out really cheap rooms long term. JP wasn't sure when he was going to be able to move into his apartment so I went to see if he could rent a room until then. This place is super close to the ocean, like half a block, and they rent out studio apartments for ridiculously cheap prices to foreigners. I think he is going to take a room there for awhile, because it looks like his apartment will not be ready as soon as we thought. 

When I came back to the apartment we ate dinner and then Mitch, the guy who wanted to rent JP a room in his place, came to pick us up and we went over there to check it out. When we got there though, something didn't seem right. That something turned out to be that all of the bedrooms are filled, and JP can move in when someone moves out, but no one is sure when that will be. Tight. 

Anyway, the day turned out to be kind of a bummer in the end because we thought that JP was going to be moving to this fabulous apartment a few blocks from here, but now he is going to be moving pretty far away. Don't worry all, we still like each other. Love you guys, email me soon!

Monday, September 7, 2009


That's "yo" as in "what's up" not as in "I" in Spanish. I got home awhile ago from school for the day, and I realized that I forgot to blog yesterday. Sin of all sins. Are those called cardinal sins? I'm a bad Catholic. Anyway, I have spent the last hour (I wish I were exaggerating) trying to buy skype minutes and then call people on a very weak internet connection (by weak I mean weak and stolen from neighbors). No one answered their phones, probably because it looks like a crazy telemarketer number, but really it's a crazy ex-telemarketer's number. Get it? Hollaifyahearme Tuli, Shannon and Ann (sound that one out guys). So school went really well today, the sixth graders are starting to be manageable for me, and we have been doing really cool stuff lately. This week in Language Arts we are talking about eating bugs, which is fun with 11 year olds. I realized the other day that I could be their mothers. Weird. They are little free-thinking people. Granted, I would be a very young mother, having had them at the age of 12, but nonetheless, it's possible. It's been a pretty uneventful day so far, I did have a discussion with Melissa and Alex on the merits of castrating sexual predators, a cause I stand behind, but I think I may have really alarmed Melissa with my radical, and borderline violent and vengeful, political views.   

Yesterday morning JP, Bridgitte and I went wandering around from this place called Ciudad Nueva near the colonial zone to where Bridgitte is going to live next year. It was a very long, very hot walk, and we stopped at a colmado for a beer on the way. It was the first time I have done that, and we sat in lawn chairs that said "Presidente" which is the biggest beer here on them. I felt very Dominican because I see Dominicans do that all the time and I want to be in the club. Granted, we were basically all by ourselves at this colmado (reminder, colmado is kind of like a partystore but it is open to the outside and people sit there and drink) so we were definitely not part of any club but I think it's a baby-step in the right direction. 

After that we went to this place called Plaza de la Cultura, but everything seemed to be closed, so we took a cab home. I watched the better part of "Changeling" with Angelina Jolie, and then went out for Sushi for Sarah's birthday. We went to this restaurant called Aka where I have been before and it is really really good. Best miso soup ever, I think I have told you that before. Anyway, it was nice to get out and we didn't even talk about school which was even better. We came back, I finished Changeling (so good) and then watched half of The Reader. I think I am going to start watching half of movies at a time because it makes the end so much more interesting.  Anyway, good two days, sorry to keep you all in the dark for so long about what I did yesterday, I'm sure many of you had trouble sleeping last night. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tropical storm, shmopical storm

Hey all,

So this whole weekend was supposed to be this big tropical storm, and all it did was rain for awhile yesterday. We probably could have gone to the beach and had a lovely time. Actually, to be fair, it was only a tropical depression, but still, when you stay home for the weekend you at least expect a cool storm to watch. Anyway, today Bridgitte, JP and I went to this city near Santo Domingo called San Cristobal. It was pretty cool, and I was really happy that we went because it was off the tourist path and reminded me what I like about Latin America once again. There was a market there that was not a handicrafts market, but a fruit and clothing market for Dominicans, and it stretched for blocks and blocks. To be honest, I felt a little like an intruder there because it was so obviously not geared toward tourists, but I am really glad that we got a chance to see and experience it. The only thing I bought there was a bootlegged CD, as if to prove that I am, in fact, a tourist. 

We ate lunch at this really fancy looking restaurant overlooking the plaza which looked very expensive and turned out to be about $5 per plate, which is amazingly cheap by any standards and much cheaper than Santo Domingo. We took a little bus there and back which I haven't done all that much and I was glad to not be taking a taxi. We got dropped off back in the city in Chinatown, which I always forget is here, walked around for a second, and walked through Zona Colonial. We got a little lost and ended up asking a bunch of people on the street for directions, and they were so so nice and helpful. JP thought they were as nice and polite as in the midwest but I thought they were nicer. 

After that we had a drink at a little restaurant by the Malecon and took a taxi back home. JP and I went in the pool and in a little while we are going to watch some stolen movies online. It was a really good day and I am really glad that we got a chance to see San Cristobal. I think I would like to go back there again and check out some of the museums and things like that. 

Most importantly of all, our girl, Monica Hamlett, is finally fulfilling her dream of living on a beach and selling her jewelry on a blanket. The beach is called Los Angeles and the blanket is called the internet. Check it out, she makes really beautiful stuff. Tell your friends. Check out her website. I already bought this one below. The top one is for you. 

Tropically Depressed

Tropical Depression Erika (spelled wrong in a previous post) has rained on our parade. Get it? It's a pun. Because it's a tropical depression and that means lots of rain. Oh you got it right from the beginning? Sorry. ANYWAY, so we were planning, for the second time, to go to a city called Cabarete which is in the north part of the country and is apparently a really cool beach town. However, because of the inclement weather we decided to stay in Santo Domingo for the night, and maybe go on a little adventure tomorrow. We may either go to a city called San Cristobal, which I guess has a lot of historic sites and was also where Trujillo, the ex-Dominican dictator, was born. Another option is to go to the interior of the country and see some waterfalls or cave paintings or something like that and stay the night. I'm not sure which we'll do this weekend but I guess we have plenty of time to get around to all the cool spots. It is Bridgitte's birthday next week and she wants to go to San Cristobal, so I think J.P. and I might go there for the day with her and check it out. 

School went really well today, I had a really good social studies lesson where the kids had to pretend that they were dropped down into a landscape with nothing and they had to figure out how they would survive and make a poster. It was pretty cool, we are going to finish it up on Monday. I am starting to feel very sorry for J.P though, because when things go badly for me at school I talk on and on about it, and when things go well I talk on and on about it. I guess that he'll be a teacher too before you know it (at the language institute) and then at least we can swap stories. 

Okay so I abandoned my last post to talk to J.P. and Melissa, and then Doug and Stacy came over and we wandered down the street and got a drink with them. We had a hilarious conversation about Doug's first grade class (Doug, forgive me for publishing this). Apparently the other day one of Doug's first graders had a 5 peso coin and he was showing another first grader, and the other pulled out a 10 peso coin, and another pulled out a 50 peso coin and they were all showing each other their money and being impressed. Doug thought that it was ridiculous, and knew that he should tell them to put their money away, but realized that he had about 2,500 pesos in his pocket, so he did an "Oh yeah kids, well what do you think about this" (He, of course, did not actually say that) and pulled out his money and flashed it at them. He said that after he did pretty much every kid in the class got out their money to show and he had to send them all over to their backpacks to put it away. He said that the next day there was a noticeable rise in first graders bringing money to school and showing each other, and he had to make them all put it in their lockers, and he didn't tell his assistant anything had happened the day before. Hilarious. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Japer got a job!

Hey everybody,

So today I went to school, had my classes (who behaved much better than two days ago), got fruit from Sergio at lunch (I think he is a little mad that I haven't been coming more often lately), met up with Melissa and got coffee, came back to school, did my planning for my SUPER COOL Social Studies project tomorrow (there is a chance that I am going to be the only one who thinks it's super cool), went shopping for some supplies for my classroom with my own money (bummer), and came home. 

When I got here Japer told me that he got a job! He is going to be working at a language institute where the technology teacher from school works also. He is going to be giving English classes. It is about a block or two from here and very close to where his new apartment will be as well. Did I tell you guys that he found an apartment? Well, he found an apartment with two other guys and he went out to lunch with one of them (aw) and they really liked each other. The apartment comes with central air that he doesn't have to pay for, a full-time maid that he doesn't have to pay for, and at least one roommate that he likes. Pretty good deal. Job and an apartment for J.P, things are moving along nicely. He also is speaking a lot of Spanish and doing really well. 

After I came home I cooked some dinner which consisted of rice, beans, and beef. The beef tasted like Ecuadorian beef (not a compliment, a close relative of shoe leather), but the rest of it was pretty good. Supposedly there is a possible bus strike this weekend as well as "Tropical Depression Erica" so it is not looking good for the beach. Our numbers for the trip are dwindling fast. I think J.P. and I might go anyway, but I'm not sure. On that suspenseful note, I am going to bed. Keep checking my blog to see what happens to me. 

Love you guys.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ms. Dark- Disciplinarian

Today I wore my business attire to school instead of my uniform (white polo and khakis). This is what I do when I know that I am going to lecture the kids about their behavior (a.k.a. yell at the kids). For some reason, I can't imagine them taking me seriously lecturing them in a polo shirt. Anyway, with any luck by the end of the year they will be nervous if they see me come in dressed nicely. So I told the kids about the State of the Union address in the U.S, and I told them that I was going to give them a State of Our Classroom address. I told them about all the things they are doing well so far and all the things that they are not doing so well. It was a good little lecture and they behaved better for 1 hour, and then when they came back later they were misbehaving again, so they ended up doing silent book work. It actually was a pretty good day at school though. I felt as though the kids learned something about social studies because they were more focused than normal. 

After school I went with some other teachers to get a drink and something to eat, and J.P. met us there. We talked about our trip this coming weekend and gruesome injury stories that everyone had (I didn't have any I just sat there and grimaced). I don't know how we got on that topic but some of the teachers had some really funny stories. After that J.P. and I went to the grocery store, came home, and now we are sitting around (not just J.P. and I, but everyone in my apartment) on our respective computers. I thought I would blog to you all and pretend to be working like everyone else. Anyway, love you all. Write me some emails!


Yesterday was J.P. and my three year anniversary. His parents actually have the same one I think, so Happy Anniversary Severins if you are reading. Anyway, we celebrated it with such romantic endeavors as meeting for coffee after school so that I could talk about frustrations, getting frozen yogurt at the Walmarty place, and having a handstand competition in our apartment complex's pool, which we had to enter by climbing over the fence. While we were in the pool we saw our friend the squirrel-sized rat for the second time. It was actually probably our best anniversary yet, particularly the handstand competition. Unfortunately, I had so much work yesterday that I had to bring some of it home and go in early this morning, so I didn't get to enjoy it to the fullest, but I think we might go on some sort of trip together next weekend. Those of you who have been to the D.R, do you have any suggestions? This weekend is Sarah and Bridgitte's birthday so we are all taking a trip to Cabarete to celebrate. It should be really fun. Cabarete is the surfer beach that I thought we were going to a few weeks ago, when we ended up in Las Terrenas. We'll see where we end up this week. Love you all! Keep the emails coming!

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Bad Case of the Mondays (Beware of Too Much Information)

By the Mondays I mean food poisoning. I decided that it would be a good idea to make oatmeal in the microwave with tap water. As many of you probably know, when you heat water in the microwave for three minutes it gets very hot, but it does not boil. As many of you also may be aware in order to kill bacteria you need to actually boil water. I did not do this, and in about 12 hours I made three bowls of oatmeal. Melissa yesterday said, “Are you sure you should be using tap water for that?” and I responded that I thought it was probably fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong about that. I went to school today but spent a very long 50 minutes with one of my classes waiting for a window where I could sprint to the bathroom (too personal?) and then left as soon as my last class left for the day. I came home and took a long nap which really helped, but since eating dinner my stomach has started to hurt again so hopefully it settles down. What a lovely post this was. Sorry.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Japer's Race, Zona Colonial, Being Chased by Wild Dogs

We woke up really early this morning to go to J.P's Triathlon. Somehow he managed to find one within the first month of coming here, another in three weeks, the national federation of triathlon, and a team to train with. I think he was a bloodhound in another life. Anyway it was shockingly well organized and setup and it was on this really pretty beach inside the city. The beach inside the city normally is quite dirty and the waves are really rough, but this was inside a little harbor with blue water and no waves. It was really nice. For those of you who are interested in the details you should read J.P's blog, which is The name is because he gets honey all over things, not because we call each other by disgusting pet names. 

Anyway, after the triathlon we came back to the apartment, showered, I scoped out my redneck sunburn, and we went to wander in Zona Colonial. I know you guys probably think we never go anywhere else in the city, and the truth is, you're right. We still haven't really figured out where everything is. You know how when there is a flood or a storm or something you are supposed to follow the rats or the little animals to higher ground? Well, in Santo Domingo we are basically doing the same thing only the rats and little animals are other gringos and higher ground is pretty buildings and places to buy souvenirs. We tried today to wander a little bit off the beaten path though, and we ended up in a residential neighborhood where we were followed down the street by a snarling female dog (those of you who have been to Ecuador may be able to guess how we knew she was female, hint to the rest of you, unspayed dogs eventually develop something akin to udders) and J.P. picked up a rock to throw at her if she got too close to us. Unfortunately, he kept the rock in his hand after we went around the corner and a Dominican guy who was sitting on his steps ducked and covered his head, thinking that J.P. was going to knock him out. J.P. surrendered the rock after that. I showed J.P. that cool restaurant where we went the other night, and we found our way back to the gift shop part of the city. The gift shops are kind of cute, but there is a really good restaurant near there where we had dinner, and then wandered around some old monuments. It was a really cool trip because we saw some parts of the Zona Colonial which were less touristy and a lot cooler, and also got delicious food. 

After that we came back, I did some grading and lesson plan writing, and our power went out 5 times during that time. I am quickly learning to charge my computer whenever I can, and preferably at school where we don't pay for electricity. I have also been trying to satisfy my craving for airconditioning at school, hoping that if I use enough there I won't need it when I get home, but so far that hasn't been working out so well. Overall, except for the sunburn, it was a really good day in the city. I told J.P. that instead of teaching here I would just like to go to the beach and have weekends. I wonder if I could get paid for that? If you hear of anything let me know. 

Oh yeah, he also wanted me to blog about a story I told him today. So a couple of weeks ago Melissa and I went over to the botanical gardens in the city to wander around. We were right outside the gardens about to cross the street when a funeral procession drove by. As many of you probably know catcalling is incredibly common in Latin America, and women are constantly accosted by a deluge of calls by nearly every man they pass. If they are not actually called to they are at least stared at. Well, as Melissa and I waited (respectfully I thought) for the funeral procession to pass none other than the hearse driver rolled down his window and called "Hola rubias" (which here means any white person) or something to that effect in a creepy voice. Now the catcalling is normally annoying and at times very uncomfortable, but never would I have thought that I would get it from a man driving a hearse leading a funeral procession. It was amazing.