I don't know why I've been putting off the website for the past month but for some reason, this thing has felt more like a responsibility than a hobby as of late. Certainly enough has happened since the last entry to warrant an update.
As you know (if you even skimmed the last entry), Corey came to visit me for a couple of weeks and my parents and sister came around the same time such that their visits overlapped a few days. The time with Corey was nice though it didn't start off in the best of ways with 4-5 days of solid rain. We were able to make it to the capital where we saw the Colonial Zone and the Peace Corps Office before the rain started up again. We made it out to Cabarete and then Sosua where Corey managed to get a sunburn walking in the fifteen minutes of sun that shined down that day. The next day, in Cabarete, we both baked ourselves on the beach during the first day of real sun. But we made it out OK, Corey utilizing the aloe plant in my front yard.
More than anything, however, Corey stayed with me at my house in Veragua, dealing with everything I've learned to deal with over 14 months under the especially difficult circumstances of heavy rainfall. Using the restroom and bathing outside is no small adjustment under normal circumstances, but adding pouring rain and mud to the mix is enough to stress even me out. But she lasted a week, enough time for my family's arrival and a rejuvenating stay at a real hotel.
My family arrived just as the weather cleared up leaving them six days of unbroken sunshine. We spent some time at the beach in Cabarete and Sosua and made a failed attempt at visiting Puerto Plata on a Dominican national holiday. Otherwise, the time was spent relaxing by the pool, in restaurants, and sniffing out good drink specials. We made a trip out to Veragua where we had a nice lunch with my host family. My parents still haven't told me what they really thought of my house, but maybe one day. We also hiked the "National Park" in Cabarete where the "Park Guide" prepared me a hand-drawn map of the trails which was no more than a long vertical line with five diagonal lines jutting off from it. But we didn't get lost and I think everybody had a good time, after we put on bug repellant.
For me, the highlight of the trip had to be convincing Leah, Corey, and my dad to take wind surfing lessons with me. Unfortunately, my mom failed to capture a photo with all four of us standing on the boards at once. But there was no lack of "in the water" shots, for those interested. Leah was doing quite well by the end and I had to respect the persistence demonstrated by both Corey and my dad. No injuries!
I like to think everybody had a good time, including me. We certainly didn't see even a fraction of what the DR has to offer, but for a vacation, I think we made out alright. Next time we'll go to the real beaches and national parks.
So those were the visits. They passed far too quickly, like most things I suppose. The following week I had my One Year In Service Training outside of San Cristobal in the Southwest where volunteers from the Education sector met to discuss progress, failures, projects, planning, and lessons learned after a year of work. It was a sort of re-energizing session for everyone and a point in time where each of us could focus and refocus our energies for the year to come. But I say a year and I'm realizing now that it is really just 9 months...
Back in Veragua, we've had a bit of success. The graduation went off, and without a hitch. It occurred still later than the postponed date, planned in 4 days, but it was a definite success. We had 20 students at the ceremony of the 35 or so who graduated their courses. A local public access show filmed the ceremony and played clips later that day. I was on Dominican TV! They even mentioned my name! But new found fame aside, I'm glad, and relieved, that the graduation is behind us and I can now move on to other things, namely the restructuring and reforming of the committee.
School is over, the students are all on vacation, and I'm taking a forced vacation as I have to give my students their deserved rest. I'm not trying too hard to avoid boredom but I've managed to stay busy since the visits. Since I have the introductory lessons out of the way, I decided to give wind surfing a real go. I've been back twice already, and I've been promoted to a smaller board that goes much faster. I just need to learn how to use the back harness now, and then I'm off into the world of real wind surfing. My plan is to go once or twice a month for the next 9 months. If I can get decent after three trips out, I figure 9 months should leave me a seasoned pro!
Anyway, things are going along here. There's still hope of making this summer a productive one, so I don't despair. I've been healthy and active and the constantly growing kitty keeps me sane. I've finally named him. Chuqui (pronounced "Chooky"). I'm looking forward to the wedding at the end of the month. I haven't seen the extended family in a few years and it will be fun to catch up.
I really should keep up with this page, if only to avoid writing entirely too lengthy entries such as this one. Hope everyone is doing well. Take care of yourselves! Peace.