La Republica Dominicana!!

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


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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saludos Familia Y Amigos!
Do you like my Spanish? Well, that is all you are going to get for the time being, so I hope you enjoyed it! I have arrived in the Dominican Republic and wanted to update you all on my adventures. I was feeling a little down and tired when I wrote the last entry, but I am feeling much better now. We arrived in the DR on Thursday afternoon from Miami. And let me tell you, it is like a different world. It amazes me that a country so close to the US can feel so far away. We had been warned over and over again about the sexual harassment that we will receive from Dominican men, and sure enough, as I am going through customs . . . the lady in my line tells me that her coworker thinks I am beautiful, and wants to know if I am single! Another thing we had heard so much about was the power outages. Power is a HUGE problem in this country and there are outages several times a day. And sure enough, as we are waiting at the baggage claim, the power goes out and the airport goes into darkness! I thought it was funny how two of the things we had been warned about happened within my first ten minutes in the country.
After collecting our bags, we went to a retreat center to have some orientation, get our Peace Corps issued mosquito net, and take our first dose of malaria medicine. We had dinner and spent the night at the retreat center, and in the morning we were whisked off to the training center where we will be having our classes in Santo Domingo. Friday consisted of yet more orientations, training sessions, and a Spanish test to see what level we are. I thought I was done with Spanish tests after the days of Senor Malcom at Park Tudor, but apparently not. I dont think I did very well on my test, and I am convinced that they will have to start a special remedial class for me :) Then, in the afternoon, we met our families!!
About my family . . . my Dona, or mom, is named Dona Senovia and I am convinced that she is the best Dona in the world. She was so warm and welcoming and very patient with my limited Spanish. She told me that her home is my Dominican home, and her family is my Dominican family. She is in her 60s, and her husband lives in the States and sends money home to them. She has a huge family and from what I can tell some live in the US, some live in Spain, and some live in the DR. There is a constant stream of daughters in law, sons, grandkids, and nieces and nephews in and out of the house. Her grandson Raoul lives with her because she does not like to live alone, which I thought was nice. He is 12 years old and he told me that he would help me with my Spanish. I am hoping me may teach me some baseball as well, which would be a funny sight for you all to see, Im sure. Lets just say that I was not the first picked kid for baseball teams in gym class.
About my house . . . I think it is pretty nice by Dominican standards. It is very clean, and there is running water and electricity. No hot water though. Dona Senovia takes great pride in the house . . . think embroidered toilet seat covers and things of that nature. The neighborhood is a working class-lower class neighborhood with lots of dogs, roosters, stray animals, motorcycles, barefoot kids in the street, and music blaring at all hours of the day and night. Last night, the reggaeton was blaring until about 2 am, and then the roosters started up when the music went off! I was glad that Paula had the foresight to give me earplugs and a mask or I have a feeling that I would be getting very little sleep. But apparently, according to my Dona, her street is muy tranquila, or calm. I would hate to see what the rest of the city is like!
About the country in general . . . for being a tourist destination, it is extremely poor. There is a tremendous amount of trash, stray animals, broken-down cars, and the like. It is not uncommon to see a large gated home with basically a dump next door. The contrast between rich and poor is striking. Despite all of this, I love it here. I try to avoid sweeping generalizations or cultural stereotypes, but all of the people I have met are friendly and just really happy. Dancing and music are an important part of life here, and people tend to be VERY close to their families. For example, my Dona has children, grandchildren, sisters, cousins, etc all within walking distance of her house. Despite the sometimes extreme poverty, there is a beauty and love of life which I find touching. I hope to learn as much from the Dominicans as I can.
As for myself, I am happy and doing well. My group of 28 volunteers has made fast friends and I feel really comfortable with them all already. We have a range of ages, interests, jobs, but we have all found a lot of common ground and I think we will all be extremely close at the end of this. There are 3 or 4 volunteers that live in my barrio so we are going to try to go dancing and do some things together.
Well, that is it for now. I hope this gives you an idea of what my life is like here. I will post again as soon as I can! I miss you all and think of you every day.

Much love,
Margaret
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Comments

paulakirlin
paulakirlin on

ti amo sisterita!
Maggie!!!!!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog already. It is at the top of my bookmarked 'favorites.' Your entry today literally brought tears to my eyes - it is just so amazing to be able to glimpse your experience through your eyes. I'm going to send you real email in a minute but I was so excited that I had to leave a comment here first :)
Love
Paula

patjannette
patjannette on

hi, margaret !
now that my internet access is up and running, i was delighted to read your blog - it is nice to know what is up with you as you settle in to your peace corps duties. love - mom

smesterline
smesterline on

Hello!
Hi Margaret - I loved reading about your first experiences in the DR. Your Dona and family sound very nice and I cackled when I read about the roosters. Haha! I am so proud of you and I can't wait to read your next entry! For a minute, I acutally felt like I was there with you. :) Take care of yourself, stay away from any DOMs and blog as often as you can - we all love reading it. PS- I linked your blog to mine and I've encouraged my readers to check out your page.
Much love and XOXOXO,
Susie

jfriedlander
jfriedlander on

hey
I googled Dominican rep. and got ur blog but i had a question about the place. Wat have u so far done for fun? and what has been your experience with the people?

maittee on

hi, I just read ur blog,,,i am dominican n yeap, everythin you said it is so right...i just got back from DR, n yeap I almost forgot wht is like to leave there, wakin up wit the rosster, cats n dogs noices. I had so much fun!. N great story to tell. I hope you enjoy ur time there...pps ar awesome there.

Reina on

Hola! Yo soy Dominicana y me siento muy orgullosa de que estes en mi pais....espero que la pases bien!...es una experiencia diferente a tu diario vivir en los Estados Unidos (Yo vivo a dos horas de Miami).
Hi !! Im Dominican and Im sooo proud of having you in my country...I hope you have a lot of fun over there!....Its a unique experience, very different with your living style in United States (I live 2 hours from Miami). Enjoy!!!!

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