Saturday, October 24, 2009
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
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
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
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.