Back to Basics
Trip Start Aug 19, 2008
41Trip End Oct 29, 2010
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MY TRIP HOME: was absolutely wonderful and quite the whirlwind. Just getting to the capitol from my site was a production with my project partner saying he would take me to Barahona, then not being able to, then getting his brother to take me in a car packed with 6 other people, getting on the bus, arriving to the capitol, spending the night there, waking up at 5:30am to get the taxi that took me to the airport, finally getting on the plane, and then arriving to the United States of America. Before getting to DC, I had a layover in Miami. My brain was very confused. "I'm in the United States but I still hear Spanish EVERYWHERE." Lucky for me, I know Spanish now and was able to go eavesdrop into spanish-speaking conversations (not as exciting as you'd think). I couldn't help but order food in Spanish even though I feel like I was trying to speak English.
I finally made it to DC. My first thoughts were, "What is that feeling all over my body?...Oh goodness. COLD?!" All I had on was my blue Redlands hoodie that I'd worn all of two times in the DR, so not only did I smell like old sitting clothes, but I was shivering like a wet cat. I left 90 degree weather for this white, freezing stuff that falls from the sky! My girlfriend welcomed me with a coat and coffee and we drove in her personal vehicle to her large home in suburbia. The one thing that I told people in my community that I did not want to happen when I was back home was to get sick and what happened? A 102.4 degree temperature on the third day in DC. Figures that I would live in a developing country for a year and a half and not know the PC medical staff and then the second I get back to the states wish that I could call them and have them treat me. Irony at its best.
BACK IN THE STATES: It blew my mind that not only did people have Internet at their fingertips but that they literally had to be on it 24/7. Iphones, Google phones, Hoodily-Doodily phones (okay, made that one up), it was all a little much for me considering I use Internet once a week. I had to tell two of my friends that I was only in country for 3 weeks so they would have to talk to me at some point and stop texting at the dinner table. Disregarding the slight annoyances, I couldn't believe the coveniences of home. I loved driving my car to the drive-thru Starbucks and paying with a debit card all with smiling customer service. Efficiency? Is that you!? Pero cuanto tiempo!
CALIFORNICATION: Warm air, cool breeze, and palm trees, I must be in California! Coming from the most freezing I've ever been to a pleasant 73 degree afternoon was quite elating. I've always loved California but never as much as I did when I stepped out of the John Wayne Airport and into the temperate OC climate. Being home was nicer than I remember. I spent a lovely holiday season with my immediate family, quaint and quiet and true as always. My brother also came back after studying for 4 months in Austria so the family was reunited and home for Christmas! Home was warm, it was carpeted, the fridge was full, I could drink the faucet water, my clothes still fit, my car sat in the driveway, my dog jumped with excitement, and the Christmas decorations were up and glowing. After being away for a year and a half, nostalgia seemed to have left and when I entered my home it all came rushing back. Sure my brother converted my room into the "Chill Zone" but I made it clear that it was my room until I left.
LAND OF GLUTTONY: aka Las Vegas. When I told my buddies that I had Vegas in mind for our New Year's Eve celebration I wanted something crazy not unlike the movie, The Hangover. Oh did we get it. We jumped, danced, and yelled our way into the new year with a sea of people on the strip, fireworks and blinking lights all over. It was strange wearing nice clothes and polished shoes, going to clubs, taking taxi cabs, and feeling like I belong. The whole time I was enjoying myself while having flashes of people in my community come into my head, shaking their heads. This is what we call in the biz "campo guilt." It didn't stop me from having a good time, I clearly did that, but it's interesting to live two completely different lifestyles and try to separate them from your thoughts; it's not as easy as you'd think.
FRIENDS & MONEY: One of the strangest parts about being home was that it seemed like I never left, that the DR was just a long dream. My friends were happy to have me back more than ever as it had been so long. I saw more people than I thought I would and I'm thankful for that. But one of the things that really was weird was the amount of money I spent. Not that I thought a lot about it because most of it was covered by Mom (love you!) but I just felt like I spent 9 million dollars (don't worry, Mom, it was more like 3). That I was constantly opening the wallet and swiping the plastic. In the DR, I only spend money on food, shelter, and transportation. In the states, you have to spend money to have fun. At any rate, it was all worth it as I had a great time with my friends, falling right back into the sane place where we left off.
BACK IN THE DR: It was actually more overwhelming coming back to the Dominican Republic than it was going back home to the states. It got me thinking why that was and my best answer is that I will always be American and no matter what I do here in the DR, I will never be Dominican. I can eat their food, speak their language, and dance to their music, but I come from a completely different world that I was born and raised in. I've come to terms with that and have started to make that rough transition back to the developing world. However, I found myself smiling when I was laying in my hammock today, looking out into the Caribbean Sea. How is this that bad?
THE QUAKE THAT SHOOK AN ISLAND: As most of you heard, on Tuesday afternoon there was a 7.0 scale earthquake that destroyed much of the capitol of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, because of the total lack of infrastructure had by the island nation. We felt the earthquake here in the Dominican Republic as well, but it was not nearly as strong considering the epicenter was so close to the Haitian capitol. Though on a map my town is close to Haiti, we fortunately did not experience much damage (on the border some objects fell inside houses but nothing ample). The destruction that ensued has been absolutely unbelievable and completely horrific. Since then, I have been to the border to investiate on the side of Peace Corps the type of work that is needed and what volunteers can do in the future. For that story, please check my next update "On the Border." Please keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts as already impoverished country suffers more than they could ever imagine.