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.