Margarita vs. El Raton

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Apr 06, 2008

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saludos Family and Friends!
How are y'all? I am back at the ghetto internet cafe, which I found out is less crowded and there aren't Dominicans hanging over your shoulder trying to read and see everything that you are doing on the internet!
I am settling into a routine here and am learning to live with the constant sensory bombardment. Today I had the, shall we say, enlightening experience of going with my dona to the chicken stand to buy chicken for lunch. This is how the process works - there are crates of live chickens, and one guy who pulls them out, whacks off their heads with a machete, and throws their squirming bodies into a barrel full of blood and other dead squriming chickens. Then another guy pulls out the chickens and dunks them into hot water to get their feathers off, then plucks them with his bare hands. Finally, the last guy takes the plucked chickens and hacks them into pieces with a machete, and dishes them out to all of the eagerly waiting Dominicans! It's enough to make a girl a vegetarian, I tell you.
Other than that, I have been in a routine of class all day every day and hanging out in my barrio at night. The other day we learned to dance the merengue and bachata, two very popular dances in the DR. We also learned to play dominoes, which is a popular pasttime here, especially with the old men. I have played a few games of dominoes in my barrio with two of the other volunteers and some dominicans. We usually have quite a crowd of spectators around us, amazed the gringos can play dominoes and even win on occasion! I am now known in the neighborhood as "la gringita," the little gringa, by my dominoes fan club. Today is d-day, when my host brother is teaching me to play baseball. I am only sorry that you all won't be there to witness my humiliation at being beaten by a bunch of kids half my age!
So to explain the title of this post, "Margarita vs. El Raton" . . . Before I left, my mom gave me some Harry and David moose munch candy bars, which I have been rationing out and saving for rough days. So, the other night, I wake up from a dead sleep, not by the usual roosters crowing or dogs barking, but by a sinister scratching and nibbling sound coming from my suitcase. The moose munch bars are wrapped in foil and I instantly knew that a mouse was having a feast on the candy bars. I didn't want to get out from under my mosquito net because I was afraid it might be a giant rat, so I decided to start throwing things at my suitcase to see if I could scare away the intruder. I threw a book and the sound stopped, so I thought I had scared away the raton. But no, just as I am about to drift off to sleep the sound starts up again. So I throw a few more things . . . a photo album and a bottle of vitamins, and the scratching sound stops again. This routine went on for several more hours until I finally feel into a sleep, too tired to do battle any more. Well, the next night I moved the candy bars to the top of my armoire, thinking that they would be out of harm's way. I fell asleep, but a few hours later I was again awoken by the same sound! Well, I wasn't going to lose another night's sleep, so I lept out of bed and grabbed my medical kit, which is in a large hard plastic case with clasps, and dumped all my medicine and first aid stuff all over the floor. I grabbed (ok, well really I gingerly plucked for fear of being bitten) my food from the top of the armoire and put in safely away in the medical kit. Take THAT, raton! So now my medicine is loose in my suitcase and my food is safely tucked away.
We have a 3 day weekend because Monday is Dominican independence day, and I am trying to wrangle an invitation to go to the beach with another volunteer's host family. The problem with this scenario is that there are already 5 people going in a Geo Metro, and although Dominicans can pack cars full like nothing I've ever seen, that might be pushing it. So if they can borrow a friend's minivan, I may finally get to see a Dominican beach! Keep your fingers crossed :)
Next week I am going to take public transportation (on my own) to the northwest part of the country to spend three nights with a volunteer. I am excited to see what it will be like when I am actually at my site. I also get to take a "motoconcho" part of the way, which is a Dominican motorcycle taxi where the passenger clings on for dear life while the driver takes you where you need to go. Don't worry, I will be wearing my Peace Corps-issued motorcycle helmet. I will try to get a picture.
Ok well I gots to go. Love you and miss you all. Again, let me just say that I am eagerly looking forward to my first dose of snail mail! Hint hint :) Adios.

Much Love,
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