Come if you want, Leave if you can

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Nov 07, 2007

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Sunday, October 9, 2005

Well, I have survived my first week in Nagua and it has been quite a good one. The title at the beginning of this entry is the motto for Nagua, which I find amusing. I think it will definitely be hard to leave here. Everyone agrees that we are happier here than in the capital.

Matt and I started our second day of our internship, which was amazing. We toured the ecological reserve, about a two hour hike through a rain forset of lush palm trees, coconut trees and other tropical flora. I took many pictures becuase the site was truly amazing. This must be what they mean when they talk about paradise, I thought. We met a few people along the way who lived within a valley of the reserve. They lived in a log cabin with no running water or electricity whatsoever, and shared with us the absolute best coffee ever. The coffee beans were plucked right there from a tree, ground in the house with a large pole with a blunt end in a bowl, boiled with water from the river over two pieces of burning wood and a bowl and sifted through a cloth into our cups. It was the freshest cup of coffee I had ever had! They just dont make it like that at Starbucks, I am afraid.

We forded rivers and waterfalls and saw the dormitory made of wood and solar powered for students interested in studying the reserve could stay. It was so tranquil and clean and natural, I felt very at one with nature. Forgive me for the hippie pc cliche.

The next day, I decided to make a trip to the post office, which oddly enough, is not used by anyone. The town of Nagua has about 200000 people, but they dont send letters apparently. I walked in, and was greeted by one woman at a desk. No one else was in the whole place, and it looked like the inside of a bank. I handed her my letters and she counted the stamps to make sure I had enough postage. She then stamped them, put them in a drawer and smiled and nodded, indicating she was done. So it now remains a mystery if they will get to their recipients. Who knows. On the way back, I got overcharged for my motorcycle ride and then asked if I were married by the toothless brut who drove me to which I replied "Si". I find irony in how you can overcharge them for something, not even know where you are going, and then proceed to ask for a date.

Friday night, the volunteers all decided to get together for some good clean bar hopping, when lack of communication left my friend Cindy and I behind. We decided to see if we could find the others, even though I was paranoid, but Cindy was determined. Even though we couldn{t remember where they were going or even how to get there. It was nine o clock at night, and Peace Corps does an ample job of instilling paranoia in all of us concerning safety (but i would never want to say that this is a bad thing, necessarily). Cindy was determined, and I couldnt let her go alone, now could I? Luckily, in a town where there are only 16 gringos present, it makes them pretty easy to find. I was very impressed with my spanish skills as I received directions on where to go and everyone was very eager to help us out. We eventually met up with the others who had brought some Dominicans with them and we enlightened them on American drinking games which they much enjoyed, and we felt accomplished in sharing our culture with them.

The next day, we went to the beach, which was really a lagoon, hidden away from the mainland. The water was clear and the sand was like powder. The water was only waste high for about 200 yards out. Some people swam out further where waves were hitting the rocks, but it was advised not to go further, for sharks were present. Luckily, no one was eaten. We played for a bit and then ventured back to the mainland.

I have started reading a great book called The Kite Runner, which I recommend to anyone wishing to read something interesting. I read most of yesterday, and it rained all into the night and today, which made it pleasant for reading. When I am not reading, I indulge in a little MTV, or VH1 or ESPN or one of the movie chanels, all in english. It interests me how there is no running water, and most days we have only eight hours of electricity, and a tin roof that leaks when it rains, but I can indulge in cable TV.

I went to mass last night, and it was very different than the other mass in the capital in the shack. The chapel was much larger and had a lot more people. I couldn{t understand the mass this time, with the echoing PA, but I have apparently gotten in good with the community, for I was one of four volunteers that came with their families to the service, and I could tell the other families were disappointed. I had thought of not going, but now I was glad that I did, especially since now I am considered some sort of angel, even though all through mass I could only think of how much I missed my guitar and how much I would like to be home reading my book.

ONe thing I am adjusting to here is not only spanish, but the differences in Mexico spanish. For instance, the word "Bolsa" in spanish means purse or bag, but here, you would not dare use it for it represents a male scrotum. There are new words, like "Chin" (which means a little) and "Para ca" (which means "over there") and about fifty other words you wouldnt find in Mexico for some words. I think that it would be a very interesting experiment to go back to the states and to TJ and try to use my spanish there, to see what would happen. I think I might begin adding a DR word of the day in my blogs. Stay tuned for this exciting cultural exchange!!
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