arrow1 1/25/07: Winter In Paradise

Update: Some New Photos

I've had a pretty productive week which is funny for me to say because nothing has really been done. I picked up my class again this Monday and we've been messing around with Linux and the whole idea of a command line interface. I will be starting an English class in the next two weeks for a group of 15 or so college students who want a more personal approach to learning. I know most of them from around town.

Looking ahead a little further, I'm having a new volunteer come visit me in early March, which I can hardly believe seeing as how I myself was just doing my volunteer visit what seems like yesterday. Finally, I'll be putting together a couple of presentations for the new volunteer training in early April. My time is mostly spent on lesson plans these days and I feel more and more like a teacher, which isn't such a bad thing at all. All in all, I've readjusted to life in Veragua. I knew it was only a matter of time.

arrow1 1/09/07: A Break And A New Year

Least Favorite Chore: post-vacation house cleaning

We never really think about what can happen in a month and, at least in my experience, a month away from home rarely means coming home to a vastly altered landscape. But then again, I shouldn't have expected life in the Dominican Republic to be within my previous experiences.

I left my house here in Veragua for the capital on December 10th and for lovely San Antonio, TX on December 16th. After spending a wonderful Hannukah with my parents and sister and an incredible and very relaxing Christmas and New Years with Corey, I returned home on January 7th, almost a month away in all, to find things a little "out of order."

It had rained for a solid 3 weeks before I returned and everything was damp and smelly. My pillow and sheets had molded along with several articles of clothing in my closet. Termite-like insects thought they would keep an eye on the place while I was gone and decided to have a bite to eat while they were at it. An unpaid phone bill means the Internet at the lab has been cut and the lab's bank account has suddenly dwindled to almost nothing. This happens as 8 of the inverter batteries are acting weird and urgently need a look from a technician. My well-intentioned landlady sent the gardener over and he trimmed 3 large bushes down to little wooden nubs and ripped up my stone walkway while pulling weeds. It'll be a fun 2 hours putting that back together. Lastly, and certainly most tragically, my dog Bebe died a few days after what was described as a bad birth. Of the 5 puppies she had, 3 died at or soon after birth and the other two died lacking their mother. Very sad times here. I was barely getting to know her. She was one of the nicest and most deserving doggies living here in Veragua. Life for dogs here is no "day in the park." Not for one moment.

After two full days here, I'm still not in anything that could be considered a routine. School starts for real next Monday and the constant rain has limited any non-critical errand running. I think what has shocked me most of my vacation is how quickly I fell back into what could be called American Life. In just three weeks I had found my old comfort zone and, shamefully, a certain complacency for things I was hoping to lose for good. I say complacency but perhaps I mean just the kind of care-free laziness one should expect from a vacation. I tend to be hard on myself.

In any case, the vacation and subsequent return have certainly proved to be cuisine for thought. Tender, delicious thought. As will the many books I've brought back with me, I would hope. But if I have to ingest and digest all of this stuff: experiences, weakneses, conflicts, powerlessness, then positivity has to be the water between bites. Without it I wouldn't be able to breathe.

More coming soon. I promise! Take it easy and have a great New Year. Peace.

arrow1 12/02/06: Thanksgiving And The Holidays

Update: some new pictures posted
Taking: Tylenol and lots of liquids

I wanted to post an entry after returning from the Thanksgiving festivities last week but a bout with the flu has kept me confined to my home and far from productive this past week. I'd like to blame the Peace Corps issued flu shot I received the previous Friday as the culprit, but shouldn't that give me a "mild" case of the flu? This thing knocked me out! I'm still running a mild fever today but I feel a little better regardless. My energy level is still low today, but I guess I should try to be a little more active this weekend.

Thanksgiving was a nice little vacation for us volunteers. The Peace Corps Office in the capital puts together a party for all the volunteers at a country club in one of the wealthier neighborhoods of Santo Domingo. There was a Thanksgiving luncheon and a swimming pool with a genuine high dive as well as a variety of sports and gaming tournaments. The new group of volunteers (52 of them!) had sworn in as volunteers the previous day, so all of us were able to get to know each other a little bit.

Traditionally, on the day after Thanksgiving, Peace Corps Dominican Republic puts together what's called the All Volunteer Conference where volunteers come together to meet with colleagues in their specific sectors and participate in a number of project building workshops. I had a good time speaking with some of my fellow IT/Education Volunteers about problems and projects they've been engaged in the past 6 months. I came away with a few new ideas and a fresh pair of eyes to see the advantages I have here in Veragua.

I'm proud of all 8 of the students in my advanced computer course, each of whom passed the exam I gave on the basics of computer hardware and architecture. They didn't even cheat! I hope one day some of them can use the computer as a tool in bettering their educational and job opportunities. Unfortunately that's no given here in the DR.

Besides these things, November was what I'd call a "normal" month. My afternoons and evenings are still mostly spent in labs and I don't have any problem with that. The technology committee here in Veragua petitioned the local government representative for scholarships so that poorer students can attend the technology courses. We received ten, year long scholarships! That's not bad. Finally, the high school students who graduated last June had their ceremony last night and I attended, putting on a tie for the first time in what has to be 10 months. Yippee.

That can't be everything, but it will have to do for now. I'm going to start work (one of these days) on a "glossary of terms" to post here on the site. I want it to be an easy way for everyone who visits the site to learn a little about some of the Dominican tidbits I get to enjoy every day. So look for that. Oh yeah, I'll be in the States in a matter of weeks now, spending the 16th-24th in San Antonio and the 24th-5th in Chicago. We've got to meet up one of those days. I probably won't be back for a while!

Hope everybody had a nice Thanksgiving. More importantly, hope everyone is staying warm! It got down to 73 degrees here last night. Chilly! Take it easy, and have a happy holidays. Peace.