And the journey begins...
Trip Start Sep 06, 2008
19Trip End Nov 25, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
When I got off the plane, a random man from my flight started asking me where I was going and what I was going to be doing. He was very interested and wished me the best of luck, etc. I ran into this man a little while later while changing terminals, and he just gave me $20 to take with me, to put towards whatever I thought would be appropriate
When I landed, I went through immigration, which took all of 30 seconds. Then it was time for baggage collection...what an experience. They had 3 flights in at the same time, and they decided to put all of the luggage from all 3 flights on 1 carousel - even though there was another one that was empty right next to it. So, as one can imagine - it was mayhem. People were crawling through one another, yelling and screaming at each other, throwing bags to people behind them, smashing into the carts with their carts, knocking other bags over, etc. In this mess, however, I managed to find an open spot, which happened to be next to another very nice man. The bags took forever to come (3 flights worth is a LOT), so he started talking to me in English about the ridiculous set-up. Apparently this guy lives in Boston, and was coming to visit his mother for a week. Then he asked me how many bags I had, and his jaw hit the floor when I told him, "just 5!" Then I explained what was in them, and the jaw came back up off of the floor. He was very nice, and wouldn't let me take them off of the carousel. He asked me how I wanted to stack them, and he arranged them all for me (yes, it was a precarious tower on 1 little cart) and sent me on my way, wishing me luck.
So, off I went and cruised along up to the line for Customs...but the tower gave - and the bags went flying. So, I had to pull off to the side and re-arrange, strapping one of the duffel bags to my back and my backpack on my front, which made everything way easier. Customs took maybe 45 seconds, and then I was heading towards THE DOOR...the exit to craziness and people lined up all around on the other side. There were people yelling and whistling and hugging one another, and I was getting worried about how I would find the guy who was waiting to take me to Consuelo. Finally, near the end of the "red carpet" walk, I saw a little guy holding a piece of paper that said MY NAME. At this point, I was never so glad to see my name in all of my life! Off we went to the minivan, threw in the luggage, and began the drive.
The roads were very good, lined, divided, and marked in most places...a few large potholes, but much better than I was expecting. Consuelo was about 45-50 minutes from the airport, which went by quickly. The driver put the weather channel on, and I was actually able to understand some of what was being said about Hurricane Ike...rain was expected in the morning, but the hurricane was very north of the island. Suddenly, we were in Consuelo, which seems (from the small section that I've seen so far) nice. The elementary school is across the street from my family's house, and it is a very nice little school - unlike the one I had visited in March. The convent is behind the school, and that is where we dropped off 3 of the 5 bags, as they were filled with donations supplies for the schools where I will be working.
Then it was off to meet my family. Senora Elena is very sweet. She is 76, and her granddaughter lives with her, who is 20. She is in her 4th year of medical school (they start right out of high school, and she skipped 2 grades when she was younger). There is also an aunt and uncle who live that the house, and 2 other uncles who are always at the house, and another aunt who comes 4 days a week when she works at the hospital. At this point, I do not know all of their names...just Elena and Cindy, the granddaughter. I met most of these people after supper (pasta, chicken, and fries). My room is a good size, with a queen bed, an armoire, a dresser, and bedside table. But it is H-O-T!! Luckily, there is a fan attached to the wall, and I have been taking full advantage of that. There is already a mosquito netting in my room, which is hung every night on 4 nails in 4 corners of the room, with an elastic that goes around the bed. There is lots of room under it, and I think I will use it instead of the one I brought. I slept alright, but it took me a long time to fall asleep - good thing I brought my earplugs (dirt bikes, roosters, dogs, etc.)!!
Some cultural observations to date:
- the guest of the house is called for the meal, and eats alone, and is not allowed to help with the dishes.(this makes me very uncomfortable...I am determined to help - maybe when she is not looking!)
- extended family members and friends come in and out of the house all the time, as if it were their own home. They stay for a few minutes, or a few hours, have very fast-paced conversations, laugh a lot, and eventually, make their way somewhere else.
- Dogs can be pets, but not like we would think of in Canada. There are also many wild dogs. My family has a dog, but he doesn't have a name. The men yell at the dog a lot, and the dog puts his head down. No one seems to like the dog in the house, but, naturally, he likes to come in the house. He is very sweet little dog - some sort of beagle mix - and he is 8 months old...maybe I will come up for a name for him (for reference purposes).
- The police have pick-up trucks, and do not bat an eye to the 4 people without helmets piled onto a dirt bike, driving down the road, nor do they notice the 20 guys piled in the back of another pick-up truck..
- People park their cars in the middle of main roads - get out, visit friends on the side of the road, and pay no attention to people honking to move the car out of the way.
- The family is very religious. They did not feel well enough to go to church this morning (Cindy has a bad cold, and Elena has a very sore hip), but the aunts and uncles gathered in the living room with Elena and conducted a little prayer service amongst themselves, and then turned on the TV to sing some hymns. It was very nice to listen to them praying, although I didn't know what they were praying for...
What I need to work on:
- NOT throwing the toilet paper in the toilet. The septic systems here cannot handle TP, and so there is a little garbage can with a lid next to the toilet, which is where you dispose of it when you are done. I forgot to do this last night, and the flushing did not go very well...this morning, I forgot again, but managed to fish it out before the whole thing became saturated in the water (don't worry - I was getting in the shower next).
- my Spanish!! I feel very uncomfortable that I do not understand much of what Senora Elena says to me, and she is a very sweet woman. I did have a bit of a conversation with her last night before bed (I showed them some pictures of my family and of Pollett's Cove), but when she got really excited about what we were discussing, I could no longer follow what she was saying...
I have not heard from Sister Catherine yet (the lady I will be teaching with), but apparently there was some delay in her flight. I suppose I will speak to her later on today...aaaaaaaand the power just went out, so I guess that is my cue to sign off. I may be venturing to San Pedro (town 10 minutes down the road) with Cindy (don't worry Scott W - I'm not going alone!) to get a SIM card for my phone today - which will be very exciting!
That's all for now...this was rather long, and I apologize if I bored you! The next installments will not be so long-winded.