Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh sure, Oprah! I'd love to be on your show!

Okay, so maybe that's a bit much. My friend Kerry and I have been doing a project with our students where they write pen pal letters back and forth to each other, and the Monroe News wrote a story about it! Sadly, my name is not mentioned in the story but know that I am the Ashton School of Santo Domingo teacher. Here's the link.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back in Santo Domingo

Hey all,

So we're back in Santo Domingo now, JP ended up feeling worse, not better, today so we decided to head back to the city and at least deal with boredom in our own apartment and not on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. We took a taxi back from the ranch because I thought the guy said that it was $1200 pesos, which is around 35 dollars, but actually he said $2200 which I realized only when we got here, worst. I am now feeling a little ill myself, which I can only hope are sympathy pains and not the onset of whatever JP has. More on that later...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rancho Wendy

JP and I are on a ranch right now in a city called Bonao. It's "rustic" which basically means that all of the buildings are constucted out of poured cement and little else. It's super cheap though which is nice. JP and I got the deluxe room ($20 per night) and it has air-conditioning (sometimes) and a tv and dvd player, which has been nice because there is little to do here after dark. We did play some games of pool last night though, and discovered that we have almost matching talents (or lack-thereof). We came here because we wanted to do some hikes up into the mountains, but JP came down with some mild food poisoning, so we are hoping to get started tomorrow. It is really beautiful up here, but unfortunately much hotter than we thought it would be. There are mountains all around but it isn't high up enough to mediate the temperature. There is a pool in the back yard though, so JP and I got in there this afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to hike up to the waterfall and swim and cool off. We might ride around with the owners a little later and check things out. It's a little awkward because we are the only guests here and it's kind of like staying in someone's house, but it's also nice for that reason. Also, the food has been delicious. Pretty good Semana Santa so far, not including the food poisoning.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Student and JP Trash Talking Each Other

There is a kid at school (6th grade) who JP constantly trash talks. He played basketball with the kids a couple times and beat them, and then tormented them about it. This one kid keeps telling JP that he is friends with Shaq and Kobe Bryant and that they have taught him a few tricks and that as soon as he gets taller he will "win" JP. It's really funny. Yesterday JP was swimming after school in the school pool and the kid left him a note that said,

Mr. Severin,
Im' Better than you much Better twice Better triple Better

with hugs, (kid's name)
ps. Im better than you
ps. again: Happy Holy Weekend

This kid is my student so I guess I need to work a little with him on punctuation, and I guess he didn't get much out of our apostrophe unit, but the note was hilarious. Later when we were all in the library he and JP were showing each other pictures of different animals and saying it was each other's family photo album. He then showed Mr. Severin a picture on the computer in the library of a hideous monster and said he didn't know that Mr. Severin was famous.  It was pretty funny.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Morning

I have been waking up at 7 or 7:30 on the weekends lately. This is sort of annoying because I want to sleep in, but it has also been really nice because I am awake before everyone else in the city (it feels like), and I have some time in the morning to laze around and look things up on my computer. Today I tried to make reservations for JP and I for Spring Break. We are going to try to go to this place called Rancho Wendy up in the mountains. They have super cheap rooms and lots of hikes and stuff. It sounds awesome. Hopefully they aren't full.

JP heard back from Nokia on Friday. His start date is May 3rd, so he is going back to Michigan on April 19th. We bought his ticket yesterday. I am really happy and excited for him and really bummed for me. Brigitte, Bastien, and I looked at other apartments in the building yesterday. We are all thinking about moving in together. We found one but then found out it had been rented. We are also supposed to give 2 months notice before we move out, so I don't know if we are even going to be able to  move out of our apartments without losing the deposit. Everything is very up in the air right now, JP says it's like we're in a pinball machine, and I think he's right. It will all settle down soon though hopefully. At least we have tentative Spring Break plans now, baby steps.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Or should I say Just A Normal Wednesday In The Dominican Republic. Lame. I wore green to school today and was literally the only one. Bummer. I said happy St. Patrick's Day to the kids and they responded with things like, "Wow, is it St. Patrick's Day?" Clearly they have never visited Michigan State University. I was missing my East Lansing friends today. I remember walking to my car last year at 6:45 a.m. to teach and the bars had lines down the block. Those people knew what St. Patrick's Day was.

Anyway, rant aside things are going well here. We are trying to figure things out for next year which is a pretty slow process, and kind of stressful. The focus at the moment is here, Mexico, Ecuador or Brazil, in order of probability. What do you guys think?

Monday, March 1, 2010

El Cabito- Las Galeras

Hey all,

This week I started tutoring a kid who is trying to take his completivo exam in order to pass 10th grade (he is now in 11th). On Friday after tutoring Stacy, Doug, JP and I got on the road to Las Galeras, a city where we have gone before in Samana. When I say got on the road what I mean is that I went to Stacy and Doug's to wait for them to get back from the rental place, then we went to the grocery store to get snacks and use the ATM, then we realized that our bank was not working, then we went to another store to visit their branch of our bank, then we realized there was a 2 hour line, then we tried calling the bank to no avail, then we took stock of the cash the 4 of us had, then we decided just to go anyway, then we got stuck in traffic, then 2 hours later we were out of the city and on our way.

We got to Las Galeras around 12:15, after having left school at 4:45. Worst. We stopped on the way for dinner in Samana, at a place called Mini Restaurant La Carpa, which was an RV serving burritos very cheaply among other things along the side of the main road. It was actually amazing and was right next to the water. When we got to Las Galeras we had to go down some windy roads and then up some very sharp hills to get to our hotel, El Cabito. The advise we were given by the owners of the hotel was, "Whatever you do, don't stop on the hill." When we got there we realized why they might have said that, it was treacherous. We basically collapsed into bed when we got there. Here is the cabin we stayed in:

We woke up to Doug talking to their cat on the balcony, calling her a baby actually, and Stacy and I went for a run/walk and the boys went on a run together too. We came back and ate a delicious breakfast, and also realized that one of the tires on the car was flat. JP fixed it, almost single-handedly, despite never having repaired a flat before. I must say that he did an amazing job. The people at the hotel were so nice, they took the flat tire into town and dropped it off at a repair place, and hired someone to deliver it to the house, so by the evening we had the original tire back and repaired. All of this cost roughly $8. It was pretty awesome for having a flat tire.

We didn't really do much the rest of the day. We read and hung out, and JP scared me half to death and all the way to rage with his swimming antics, which you can read about in his blog. Mary Lou, imagine triathlon nationals minus the rescue kayaks plus huge surf and cliffs and coral, awful. Luckily he survived. We had a really good dinner together and met a kid who is going to medical school here in Santo Domingo. We went to bed at 9:30, we are becoming old people, and woke up at around 7:30 to the dulcet tones of the cat mewing from her bathroom prison.  Stacy and I went for another run and laid on the beach for a little while, before packing up and coming back to the city.

It was a really relaxing weekend, minus the hour when JP was swimming, and I was actually rested for once when I went back to school today which was nice.