Gustov and Friends

Trip Start Aug 19, 2008
Trip End Oct 29, 2010

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Friday, September 5, 2008

This country is beautiful and dirty, joyous and depressing, warm and kind, and has a very unique culture within a deeply rooted history.  So far, I have survived a couple of tropical storms and a hurricane (with more on the way!).  The Peace Corps is very good about ensuring our safety by keeping us on "standfast," which means that we have to stay in our barrios when there is a storm alert.
National Religion: is baseball.  Baseball is the topic of many conversations here, especially when I wear my Boston hat (it's a big hit).  Most of the men where some kind of team cap, mainly Boston & New York, but it's amazing how I can walk into someone's home and baseball will be on the TV or radio. 
National Sport: If baseball is the national religion, then chisme (gossip) is the national sport.  All of the doņas and vecinos (neighbors) of the barrios can talk for hours about other people and the latest news.  This is anything in terms of talking about politics to relationships, once you say it to one person, everyone in the barrio knows about it because we are the Americans, the new hot topics of conversation. The Peace Corps told us that as volunteers it is our responsibility to not get involved with chisme in our barrios.  However, most of us have already, by accident of course. Don't worry, I haven't gotten myself into any trouble thus far.  Chisme.
Water: is a precious commodity.  We are not allowed the drink the water or eat anything (mainly lettuce) that has been washed in it.  Most toilets do not flush without you dumping a bucket of water into it, most showers and faucets only work a couple of times a week, and we must seek out purified water.  
Dominoes: are not played as they are in the states.  Sure, there are many different ways to play, but here (especially when the rules are told to me in Spanish) it is a little more difficult to understand.  It is fun though to just sit around the dominoes table for hours and play countless number of games - men yelling about the scores, slamming down the winning ficha, or tile, and egging on our opponents.  I want to learn some trash talk, but my Spanish isn't there yet.
FRIENDS!:  I have them!  I know I talked about my best-friend being a 10 year old boy who loves El Hombre Araņa, but the other volunteers are moving up in the rankings of the best-friend title in the DR.  I have met some incredible people so far; eccentric, flamboyant, down to earth, passionate, caring, and motivated could describe most of them.  It has been nice to start relaxing more with them and being able to just get to know each other - our hopes, dreams, and aspirations that we wish to reach within these two years and beyond.
I haven't been taking that many pictures, although, I finally brought my camera when we went to La Zona Colonial (The Colonial Zone) last weekend to take a tour of the part of the capital that is the most famous in Dominican history.  I am able to find my way around the capital much easier than before now and I can even tell my Spanish is improving (little by little, that is).  At least I tested into the Spanish level that I need to have in order to swear-in to be an official Peace Corps Volunteer, since now I am considered a "trainee."  Next week, we should be visiting a current PCV and then leaving for CBT (Community Based Training) in el campo (the rural interior) for 5 weeks of technical training. I will try to get pictures up as soon as I can.
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kaitlinmei on

Miss you
Hey justin. I am proud of you. The other day I was walking through SU campus and all the undergrads were on the quad and they were blasting Breakfast at Tiffany's. I called George but I couldn't call you b/c you are in the DR.

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