Feliz Navidad

Current Read: Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosofal by JK Rowling

Happy Holidays from the sunny, warm Dominican Republic! We miss you all back home, and wished we could have been back in Nebraska for the holidays.

We’ve had a couple busy months here. November was filled with mini-vac in Punta Rucia, Language Training, and Thanksgiving in the Capitol. Mini-vac is a time for volunteers living in the same region to get together and talk about policies and happenings within Peace Corps, a time for us to get our voices heard to administration, anonymously, through volunteer representatives. Conveniently, we live in the best region in the country and spent the day after our 1.5 hour long meeting snorkeling around a small island we had to ride a boat to get to. We’re really roughing it down here. Language training is a week long training session for those of us that scored lower than a 7 on the ACTFL (a 1-10 scale with 10 being a native speaker). This scale is internationally known, which is great because when we leave country we’ll get tested again and will be able to put our exact score on our resume. Anyway, we had a week long training with intensive classes from 8:30-3:00 each day. Keegan and I were split into separate classes which was nice to get some practice with other volunteers and our local language instructors. For Thanksgiving, PC goes all out. This is our one holiday that PC actually has an official “party” for us. The day started at 6am with a 5k Turkey Trot for those who wished to participate. We then played some sports (football and volleyball this year) as swear-in classes. My group did pretty well… Then, we went to a fancy hotel to a rooftop pool to hang out for the afternoon. Finally, we had an AMAZING Thanksgiving dinner. There is a baking crew that makes homemade pies and stuffing, and the hotel makes the turkey and other goodies. Each table of 8 shared a full apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie. It was amazing, and such a great taste of home. The dinner was concluded by a talent show put on by volunteers ranging from comedy skits, spoken word, to singing.

After November came December, which meant my parents came to visit! I miss them already! After some flight delays due to the winter weather in Dallas, they finally made it about 18 hours late. We had an amazing time, and Luna got to meet her maternal grandparents! She loves them, by the way, and can’t wait to see them again! We stayed in Cabarete, the nearby surf town. We got to experience a lot: walking the town, watching the kite boarders, visiting our site a few times, hiking a fellow volunteers mountain trail, visiting Dudú Lagoon and Playa Grande, and eating lots and lots of good food. My favorite? The whole, grilled fish. Eyeballs and all. Their favorite? It might have to be the giant avocados we made guacamole with every night, but you’d have to ask them to be sure. Luna’s favorite part was Playa Diomante, where she ran around with a beach dog in the water.
Photos:
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Here we are, getting ready for a night walk along the beach with beer, rum, and wine.

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A waterfall we visited on our day long tour with our trusty taxi driver Danny.

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Luna thanking her grandparents for such an amazing week.

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Photo from the blue lagoon. Photos don’t do it justice. Keegan braved the zipline into the water, as well as a 30+ foot cliff jump into the water. Dad decided to get in and swim around also!

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Playa Grande… About 1.5 hours from where we live.

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Mom and dad at Playa Grande.

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The end of our whole, grilled fish (caught that day) meal, with avocado, rice, and tostones.

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Of course dad and I found time to do our annual Christmas puzzle. =]

So how was our actual Christmas? I can’t complain. School ended the week after my parents left. We finished up our literacy groups and the school had their Día de los Niños on the 19th. Since then we’ve had some free time. We’ve been hanging out with our neighbors, as well as visiting the beach. The night of Christmas Eve we went to our neighbors across the street. Her brother had roasted a pig, so we enjoyed puerco asado as well as rice, beans, potato salad, green salad, grapes, apples, sweet plantains, roasted mixed vegetables, bread, and much, much more. One things I missed was some frosted Christmas cookies. Christmas day we went to the beach. We found a local beach where we can get internet from a local resort, so we were able to Facetime with family while at the beach. You can’t get much better than that. Although we weren’t physically with family this year, we were able to communicate quite well due to this great thing called internet. =]

I’ll post again soon about what we are actually doing here, which I think I keep missing. I just post about all the fun stuff we get to do. Trust me, we’re doing a lot of work down here! =] We’re also making sure we find time to stay sane and have fun, as well.

Love and holiday wishes to you all,
Cait

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