Luna Pie

So, you all know that Keegan and I got a dog. It all started one Tuesday afternoon when we went to Puerto Plata to buy a washing machine (no, not anything like washing machines in the states) because we had just gotten paid. As we were walking along 27 de Febrero, we saw a vet clinic. We decided to stop in to see if they had puppies for adoption, and what the process is like to adopt. One of the vet tech’s handed us this cute, little pup that resembled a kangaroo and said, “Here, take this one.” We then paid 400 pesos (roughly $10) for a vaccination and parasite medicine and were on our way home.

She is growing fast. We’ve had her a little over a month and she is now almost 20 pounds. With our googling skills, we have concluded that she is somewhere between 4-5 months old, or so we think. Because she was found on the beach and we have no way of knowing what breed’s are mixed into her, or what her parents look like, we really have no idea how big she’ll get. I’m hoping she’ll stay under 40, but who knows. Keegan thinks she has German Shepherd in her…

Luna is learning quickly. Although she has kind of a teenager attitude, she in now fully potty-trained, and knows ven (come), sit, lay down, show me your belly, and dame cinco (give me five). If I am cooking or eating, she usually goes through all of them if I happen to glance at her or look in her direction, hoping for a taste of what I have.

She loves to sleep:
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(With her friend Porter)

She did like to play under the bed (limited now because it’s difficult for her to get under it now):
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And go to the beach:
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Besitos de Luna,
Cait

El Verano

So, we have now been in country almost 7 months now, and in site 4+. We spent all summer preparing a community diagnostic, figuring out what is going on in our town and meeting people. We spent many days compartiring (sharing, chatting) with the community members. Everyday was spent sweating, and all of July we worked in the first DREAM Project camp in our site.

The DREAM Project is starting to work in our site. They had their first camp in our community with 55 kids from the public school, where we are working. For four weeks, the kiddos came from 8:00 to noon to focus on math and reading. We had nine Dominican teachers, three in each class, and then for an hour each day six kids would work with each teachers. Pretty great teacher-student ratio, eh? The kids also had Deportes para la Vida everyday, which is a sports program with related health topics built into the classes.

Our role in the camp? Help out where needed. We spent our days planning lessons and activities to share with the teachers, dealing with behaviors, or working one on one with students who needed an extra boost. It was a great way for the students and parents to get used to seeing us everyday, and start building confianza (trust) with us.

The highlights? We took the kiddos on a couple of field trips. The first one was to the airport. The airport on the north coast is within walking distance from our community (hint, hint). Many of the students had never been to the airport before, although many people in our community work there. It is a more prestigious job, though. Two favorite parts of the day: seeing the kids go on an escalator for the first time and while eating our snack outside, having one of our students ride up on a horse. When we asked him where the horse came from and were explaining to him that this wasn’t a great idea (although trying to hold back laughter) his response was that he asked the owner for permission first. Makes sense in an 11 year-olds mind I guess.

The second trip we took was to the mountain in Puerto Plata. We took the kids to the teleférico (cable car). Many of them (nor the teachers) had never been up the mountain. We spent a morning walking through the trails and looking at the views.

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Justin and María Elena, the camp directors from the states with all of the kiddos.

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Some of the kiddos on top of the mountain.

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A group of girls showing their community map that they created; a diagnostic activity Keegan and I did with the students to learn more about their views about the community(ies), and what is important to them.

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Movie Club with Ivan Herrera (well-known from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations DR episode).

Once camp wrapped up, Keegan and I went to the capital for a week for our 3-month (3-months in our site) training. We shared our diagnostic information with all of the other education volunteers, and heard about their sites. Everyone brought along a project partner, or key member of their community, to help share the information. We learned more specifics and did some planning for the school year. It was definitely quite interesting with the meshing of cultures. The best part? The talent show. Skits ranged from one Dominican giving a speech about education while imitating Dominican presidents with volunteers clapping behind him, a duo singing a song from a musical, to a skit on a Dominican tale, with having a female volunteer not finishing the skit because she thought it was sexist, to cross-dressing and dembow to Amara la Negra (google it).

It was a relief to get back to site and really start working, since the school year started the following Monday. Or did it? More to come…

Les extrañamos,
Cait

P.S. If you have questions or topics you would like to hear more about, like our weekend routine of snorkeling (have you ever seen squid??), let us know! =]

Nuestra Casa

We have now been living in our wonderful apartment for a little bit over a month now. I took some photos to fill you in. We are living in an apartment above a house. We have a shared balcony with the apartment that shares the second level on a very tranquila (calm) street. We are about a block and a half away from the school where we work, with many of our students as our neighbors…which is a positive, but can be a negative.

We have a zinc roof, but it’s closed off on the inside. We have running water, but in order to use the running water we have to plug the pump into an outlet… so we try to only do this once a day, and bathe and wash dishes from our large buckets. Our town has power normally about 20+ hours a day, usually going out late morning until sometime in the afternoon (or not at all!). Aaaaand, as of yesterday, we now have internet. And a puppy. =]

I’ll give you the grand tour:
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Here is Luna! We have had her for about ten days now, and she fits in quite nicely. She is what we like to call a Dominican Shepherd, which is just a Dominican mutt/street dog. I like to think we found one of the better looking ones! Luna means moon in Spanish. She currently loves to run under our bed and dig tunnels through all of our crap we have crammed under there. The number one question we get from Dominicans about her is whether she understands Spanish or English.
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This is the view of our front door/window. The balcony is outside of this door. You can see our beautiful shelf built from boards and cinder blocks.
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Here, I am standing at the front door. Keegan and I built our couch, which comes in handy when having friends stay over (hint, hint)!
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Further along is the kitchen, with the table that Keegan built with some help from some friends. We have started to let people draw on the table, but keep it covered because we get weird looks from our Dominican friends.
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More into the kitchen. Pretty self-explanatory. Luckily since we are the first ones living here it is nice and clean, and not too many bugs (yet?)!
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On to the bathroom. Fully-tiled, can’t complain. In the shower is our large bucket of water for our bucket baths and for flushing the toilet.
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And our bedroom, which we have done the least amount of work in. Basic, but we have a bed!
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Finally, our closet. Pretty overcrowded right now. Our next project is building shelves and possibly a desk in the bedroom that will help with all the clutter. =]
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AND, if you look reeeeeally closely out through the bedroom window, between the two apartment buildings, past the electrical post, you can see the ocean!!!!
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Peace, love, and pickle juice.
Cait