Frustrations & Free Rides

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

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BOLA RACE 2009:  It has been a Peace Corps DR tradition for the last 3 years to have a hitchhiking race from one part of the country to another.  In teams of two and with a costume and back-story (Kelly, my girlfriend, and I were singers trying to make it to an International Singing Competition dressed as pop-stars), all of the 46 (23 teams) gringos raced as fast as they could to get to a location that we found out right before we started without paying for transportation.  Kelly and I got 6th place, which we were glad about since apparently we went the long way to get there.  We met some interesting people along the way, like an old man who actually wanted to give us money (we clearly did not accept) and a guy who raised gallos to fight and wanted to show them to us).  Although we are here to work and serve our communities, it is kind of nice that there are little activities like these throughout my service to keep me balanced (and have some fun!).
MEETINGS:  Starting at least half an hour late, the meeting begins.  Sometimes it has an agenda, sometimes it doesn't.  More than half of the group members did not show up (or clearly showed up late) and they talk about where those people are; the excuses of why they are not here are along the lines of, "Ahh, Fulana?  Hmm, she had to prepare dinner. Ya tu sabes."  After nearly every absent member has been accounted for we discuss something that doesn't relate to the group for an hour.  A group member then stands up and offers his philosophical perspective on the matter at hand, which happens to be the construction of the new high school.  An applause.  Another group member stands up and basically says the same thing as the man before him but just in different words.  Another applause.  It's been two hours and people are getting restless.  "Oh, a cookie and juice?  Gracias!"  We start discussing pertinent issues for 15 minutes then end the meeting. "Ay, pero discutiramos a la promixa reunion" (We'll discuss it at the next meeting).  A quick group prayer to end the meeting and we're off.
FRUSTRATIONS:  occur pretty regularly here in the Dominican Republic.  Of course I'm enjoying my time here, but there are always things about this culture that aggravate me from time to time.  For example, the other night I came back from a day of meetings (see above) and my youth business course, where all I wanted was to enjoy my night in my house, watching a movie on my laptop.  Well, la luz se fue and my laptop doesn't really function as a laptop (lasts 25 minutes when not connected to a power source).  "Okay," I thought "it's going to be a night of reading and writing in my journal."  I lit my gas lantern and laid in my hammock reading.  I turn and see the flame in the lampara de gas is out of control so I tried to turn the fire down and it just went out.  I wanted to wash out the lantern because it was all black from the flame so I put it under cold water and it shattered, of course.  It just seemed like with everything I did there was this other force that was against me that night.  Maybe it was grounding me to realize that I'm still in a developing country and shouldn't be watching movies, on my cell phone, or depend on electricity so much.  At any rate, it is frustrating sometimes knowing what you once had and gave up by coming to a foreign place with drastic differences.  Yet, it is also comforting to have left those things behind and experience another way of life that in some ways is more real.
CONSTRUYE TUS SUENOS (BUILD YOUR DREAMS): is the youth business course that I'm teaching currently.  We started 2 weeks ago and things are going pretty well.  The course started with talking about leaders and entrepreneurs, along with having an idea and pursuing what you're passionate about.  I enjoyed the material because I got to here inspiring comments from my students (ages 16-25) about what they want to accomplish.  I had them write down their aspirations and goals in their notebooks, but didn't have them share because I wanted them to reflect on them at a later time.  The course is fun and we're going to get into feasibility studies, community demand, and project ideas, which should seize more interest from the kids.  It is also funny teaching a course and having the complete respect because soy licenciado (I have a college degree).
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mattmmatt on

Keep at it
Any pictures from the Bola Race? That sounds like a blast!

I know things can be frustrating sometimes, but keep at it. You are making a difference!

Thanks again for letting us all stay at your house!


roadkillrick89 on

With You!
I love you Justin!
The Meetings sound a lot like last years meetings with RYG! Good thing we got over that! :)

All my love,

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