There are a numerous amount of things that have happened, and I have been slacking on keeping up with this blog. Even though I decided early on to keep it as a photo blog, today I am interested in writing about National Coming Out Day.
Coming out is a challenge all in its own. I remember the day that I came out to my parents in 2007 like if it were yesterday. No essence in my being was prepared for the outcome, but every part of my soul knew that it was time to come out. I was one of the fortunate people to not be kicked out, however, my parents still prefer to ignore the fact about who I truly am.
Does that make them horrible parents? Not at all, I know that my parents love me immensely, but there are certain ideologies that hinder their view on this topic. For example, my parents grew up during a time in Mexico that was difficult on any family that lived during that time. And they grew up in Catholic homes, which has a great deal to do with why they choose to avoid this topic altogether. Religion, sadly, dictates a lot of this worlds misunderstanding.
So not to steer off in a religious tangent, because I can say that I have a lot of ideologies about religion myself, I want to now talk about what this has to do with my current life as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. In meek terms, I am NOT out. This country is a reminder of my parents, (and that’s definitely not to say it in a bad way) but rather religiously, coming out in this country would have a far worse outcome than back home. By this I mean that I would more than likely have to be placed in another site for safety purposes (and I love my site too much to risk that).
But do I plan to come out sometime later in my service, possibly? But for the time being, back to the closet it is…
However, this isn’t the end of the world for me, nor was it the hardest decision. While it does suck (for the lack of a better word) to be somewhere where I can’t express myself in ways I could back in the states, I decided to join Peace Corps in a selfless manner. I decided to join Peace Corps because I wanted to make a difference. I joined Peace Corps because the world is bigger than me, and who I am. And while I am hiding a part of my identity that is of great importance to me, I am more than just a lesbian. I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a learner, a friend, a lover, a fighter, a realist, and so on and so forth.
So with that I say, Happy National Coming Out Day; to all that have the courage and strength to come out, and to those that are still in the closet for reasons that only they know why, I stand with you all.
"Reading and writing fascinates me" Camp
Today was the final day of camp, and heres the long story short type of version.
This 2 week camp was mandated by the Sosua school district. The sub-director and a teacher assisted a 3 day workshop to prepare them on the materials that were meant to be presented to the students, and then they went back to our school to present it to the rest of the teachers. Basically, the entire camp was already planned, and all teachers (that were selected with low reading/writing skills) from 1st to 4th grade were required to do this camp.
I assisted on the last day of workshop, and thought that this camp is definitely a step in the right direction. The fact that the school district stepped in, seems to be a first, from what my sub-director told me. But it was direly needed because most if not all of these children in my school lack the basic tools for reading and writing.
Now bringing it back to the school was a completely different change in mood. I noticed a lack of motivation from almost every teacher that had to participate. The students had too much down time because most if not all teachers came to class unprepared for the lesson plan. And to top it off, most children were misbehaved and therefore irritated the teachers, which then made moving forward in the day extremely difficult.
Ultimately, Peace Corps volunteers come to their sites to help develop… we are in the work of development. I would not be here in this site, if it were already developed. So even though this camp was honestly frustrating (and then some), I prefer to look at the bright side and say that it has allowed me to see what we can work on together as a school and community to make things better. I see so much potential in these teachers, students, and administrative staff and at the end of the day I can only hope that they eventually see it too.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a numerous amount of great ppl in my site, but this here, I can actually call my “first” (besides my host fam) real friend. Madre (what ppl in the community call her) also happens to be my in-site project partner, bc she holds a desire and passion to make the community better. When we first met, she made sure to come and find me, and that’s just how she is; she gets things done. I know that she can only push me to be better and I look forward to having her there with me along the way. SN: I died of laughter taking this photo bc it looks like she’s all in love, but she’s hilarious about everything, that she jokingly made it look romantic. Lol
What a great weekend! Spent time with other PCVs that came to visit the area. Toasted to our 1 month in site. Definitely spent a bunch of time on the beach. Watched a beautiful sunset in Playa Cabarete (these photos don’t give it justice). Did some hoodrat things (lmao). And got to speak to my family on Sunday for Father’s Day. I am one happy girl!
Now time to gear up for 2 weeks of literacy camp with my school in Cangrejo. Hope it all goes well!
Summer time, and the living is easy. Peace Corps- Dominican Republic is easier with your government issued friends around. And as you can see, there is a lot of homemade juice drinking and chancla wearing that go along with the job. #roughlife lol
There’s a PCDR saying that goes something like this: “if a family offers you juice, you drink the juice. Diarrhea may last a few days, but confianza (trust) lasts a lifetime!” Lol. So as I’ve been working on my community diagnostic, every single house I’ve been to, “me brinda una bebida.” They give me whatever their “best” drink is in the house and a snack if they have one to offer. I’ve had some of the best juices (and worst) with some families. And here’s to hoping that I don’t get sick! Lol. Also, total coincidence that I was served in that cup, bc I’m a Pisces myself!
I am about to hit the 3-month mark in country, and I have been in my permanent site for about almost 3 weeks. Thought I would update my packing list for any FPCVs heading to the Dominican Republic. I would like to note that I actually did pack bracing myself for being in a site that would be remote and secluded, but I was very fortunate to be placed on the north coast, where almost everything is accessible.
Toiletries <— All of this is accessible in this country. Of course bring a bit to start, but you can go out shopping while in training if you need anything, so don’t take up too much space in your luggage. However, if there is a special particular brand of things that you like, then maybe you should consider bringing it.
Toothpaste (travel size, purchase more in country)
Summers eve (1)
Female sanitary wipes (2)
Deodorant (2- roll on)
Towels (2 shower towels, beach towel)
Razors (1 pack, buy more in country)
Shorts (dress and swim) <— definitely bring a lot of shorts!
Pants (Jeans and dress slacks) <— I have yet to use my slacks, but maybe some day, when I have a business meeting or something. Appearance is everything in this country!
Dressy outfit for swear-in <— definitely good to think about.
7 t-shirts/ everyday shirts <— I feel like I didn’t bring enough because you literally sweat through all your clothes. Obviously ppl have different styles, but definitely bring some tees and tank tops!
1-month worth of underwear/bras/thin socks <— Sweat, so yeah bring lots of under garments. Not so many socks, I brought like 5 and don’t ever run out because I don’t wear shoes as much.
Wife beaters<— personal preference, but definitely great to sleep in.
Pajamas (2)<— just one pants, helps with the mosquitos at night when you’re talking to the host fam. But mostly basketball shorts as pjs.
Sweaters (2)<— more like a cardigan and a wind breaker. I have actually used them, but the cardigan was to cover my shoulders and the wind breaker was for when it rains, but its still hot when it rains, FYI. lol
Raincoat (1)<— didn’t pack it.
Sandals (2-3)<— DEFINITELY! Sandals all day, every day. haha
Shoes (1-2 comfortable tennis shoes) <— have used my comfy shoes when I know we are going on long walks, lot of that during training.
Dress shoes<— flats and dress boots. I have used them, but not too often. Good to have nonetheless
Water shoes<— yup! Idk about you, but I don’t like going into water and feeling weird stuff on my feet. Maybe its just me. Haha
Belts (2)<— yup, I feel like I’ve lost a bit of weight… it has to be all that sweating!
Computer (power cord, case)<— yes! Its been my life saver to do presentations or if I am having a hard day, watch some orange is the new black or any other movie.
IPhone (power cord, case, waterproof case)<— yup! This has also been a life saver bc it makes it easy to keep in touch with family back home without having to carry my comp around.
Kindle (power cord, case)<— so far, I actually haven’t used it much. But I think that’s mainly due to the fact that I grabbed some books from our pack shack. You newbs will know what that is soon enough.
Nikon (bag, lenses, battery, battery cord, SD cards)<— surprisingly, I haven’t used my camera. I am kind of hesitant to bring it out. But hopefully I will be using it soon!
External hard drive<— DEFINITELY bring one! Preferably a 1 to 2 TB because then you can swap movies or whatever with other volunteers.
Headphones (extra pair just in case?)<— haven’t used the extra pair but that’s probably due to the fact that I still have the first pair.
Surge protector<— this can be bought in country if you don’t care for a fancy one. But should definitely get one because the luz goes in and out throughout this whole country.
Bluetooth speaker & cord/charger<— personal preference, but has definitely been a life saver for me. I love music.
USB flash drive<— personal preference.
Card reader<— also personal preference.
Food<— definitely packed all these, had to happen because I wasn’t sure if it was here, but this is all available in the country.
Peanut butter/Strawberry jelly
Duct tape/sharpie (to stick to bags and label with my name)<— when you roll in with 40+ people going to the same place, this just made it much easier to pick out your stuff and no one can mislabel it either. Make sure duct tape is a distinct color if you can too. Mine was turquoise for example.
Pocketknife<— haven’t had to use it, but it’s definitely good to have for when in need.
Queen size sheets<— I got sheets for when I moved out, which is kind of stupid because I still have a ways to go. But beats having to go out and buy them when I do. But again, this can be bought in country and save luggage space.
Sunglasses/case<— it’s the Caribbean, enough said.
Sewing kit<— theres a doña everywhere that can saw something for you! Haha. But always good to be safe about it!
2 water bottles<— must bring! You will drink more water than you ever have in your entire life. It is so hot here! Lol.
Traveling backpack & Regular backpack<— definitely.
Pillow<— if pillows are a big thing for you when you sleep, as they are for me, then I definitely recommend bringing a pillow. The ones here suck!
Lightweight sleeping bag<— again, thought I would be in the mountains, cold area. When I went on my volunteer visit, I actually used it. but haven’t used it much since.
Laundry bag<— personal preference.
Small locks for luggage<— better safe than sorry.
(Print) Pictures to hang up and show<— great to show host fams and other people.
Ziplock bags<— good to have just in case for packing certain things.
Can opener<— this can be bought in country
Flashlight/lantern<— great for when the luz goes out.
Rechargeable batteries<— for flashlight, great because batteries are expensive here
Solar power lamp<— don’t need it bc of my placement
Stationary<— great if you want to send letters out.
Pens<— need them in training, but they also give you some. good to have in general.
Journal<— personal preference.
Playing cards, Loteria, spelling card games<— great for playing with the kids in neighborhood
California republic flag<— personal decor
World Map and San Diego Map<— definitely recommend it. some of my host families haven’t ever seen a map in their lives.
SN: you’ll get a DR map in training.
Host family gift ideas<— you don’t need to have gifts, this was my own personal preference. It was a hit though, my host families have loved them.
SD Padres stuff
SD key chains
SD postcards<— these are more for show and tell
Hair bows for little girls
Lesbihonest, I am not going to be able to keep up with this blog, seeing that its been a really long time that I’ve been on this thing! SO I figured that I would be turning it into a photo blog, because then I can write a long description if I care to or not.
Plus I take pictures of EVERYTHING, so really, its quite fitting to my personal being. So here we go, a recap through photos.
It’s 1130pm here (730 back home) and I was just asked by my host family to go to church tomorrow at 7am! I can’t even remember the last time I even went to church, let alone that early! Lol. So in any other situation, I could have easily said no, as many can when it comes to things like these back in the states; but I think that it would be very disrespectful to say no, especially when I know this is a huge part of their culture. If I am meant to fit in, I think it’s good to see what it’s about. And maybe next Sunday we can negotiate from there. Lol.
That was fresh on my mind, so I thought I would write it first. I left the last entry with my first night in Santo Domingo, and my little party crasher in the shower. Well I knocked out that night and had to be out of our rooms by 7am in order to eat breakfast and get on the bus at 745am. While at the dining table, some people said happy birthday because they remembered me mentioning it. Well the person on our PCV staff overheard and made me stand up and everyone sang happy birthday. And then she said something about pealing a banana and clapping. I have video that I will hopefully post soon because it’s actually pretty funny. Fast forward to our actual training center, it’s pretty awesome. It’s a gated, very well maintained area, with a lot of green. We have our class/presentations in small and big pagodas outside, and it’s quite beautiful (pictures will hopefully be posted of this soon too). So it was pretty basic stuff to prep us for our host family and what not and then at the end of the day, I meet a cute old couple named Doña Nena and Don Negro. They are sweet and boy can Nena talk! She said, “I prayed to God that he would send me someone who spoke Spanish, so we could communicate with each other.” Sweetest little old lady, but you definitely wouldn’t think it, she looks pretty young. We were told that the man of the house typically doesn’t say much, but Don Negro always has a lot to say too!
And well the first night was pretty “strange” (don’t know what word to use) since we were trying to figure each other out. Nena asked me questions and I asked her. What’s great about them is that if they say a word I have never heard before, they explain it to me as best they can. They’re real awesome about that! Well the next day (Friday) was another training day, had to get up and get ready at 645 and be out by 730 because it starts at 8am. Luckily the training center is literally around the corner, like a 10min (if that) walk. Our host moms took us because that afternoon we were going to have a presentation on transportation. Clearly, since we’re around the corner, we really don’t need to take transportation. But what we did with one of our professors was walk about 4 or so blocks down to a different volunteers house and then took what is known as a carrocoche. The best way to describe this, it’s like a mixture of a bus and taxi in which it has a set route on most big streets (avenidas) but you can say whenever you want it to stop on such said street. AND it’s like a regular old beat up car (80s-90s Honda or Toyota that I’ve noticed) that would normally fit 5 ppl but stuffs in 7 including the driver. It cost 25 pesos (roughly like 60cents) to stuff yourself into that thing and get where you need to get. Luckily it was just our group in the car, so it was just 4 of us. I did however see another PC group come out like a clown car with 8 people in it! I bet that was an experience for them!
So far I’ve been enjoying myself and I’m sure I can say so much more, but time is scarce because I’ve been compartiando with my host family. Hope I can write again soon.
* I don’t have wifi at my house, so my entries will be dated at this point. And there has been so many other things that have happened at this point, but I’ll try and update soon!
Since my internet access will be limited, I will be posting predated entries, such as this one, whenever I have the chance.
And before I explain the title of this entry, I’m gonna brief everyone on what has happened in the past 3 or so days.
Staging (first PC meet up before getting to country): well the night before staging I went out with some of my friends for a last hoorah. Didn’t wanna stay out too late because I had a 7am flight. Well we ended up staying out to about 1am, and in San Diego we know that is perfect burrito time! Lol. Definitely had to grab one before I left Cali. So when we get back to my friends house (who was dropping me off at the airport) we ate, and my girlfriend had a surprise for me; she made a video with all of my friends wishing me good luck and saying goodbye! It was the sweetest thing ever! I have some pretty awesome friends! But yeah, at that point I didn’t go to bed until about 230am… And I had to be up at 430am! So you can imagine how exhausted I was going to the airport.
Well I flew out to Miami on Monday (3/3) because I’m on the west coast and I’m not allowed to take an overnight flight. It sucked having to say goodbye to everyone sooner than expected, but the bright side was being able to spend time with my friends Maggie and Mike in Florida. So got in about 430pm, checked into the hotel and explored Miami a bit. Also had some Cuban food, awesome deliciousness! Got back to the hotel about 1030pm and my roommate for staging got in a few minutes later. She’s cool people and we def vibed well. Stayed up pretty late just talking about all kinds of stuff and getting to know each other. Luckily our staging check in was pushed back until 145pm the next day. Fast forward to check in for staging, it consisted of a bunch of info on PC core expectations and ice breakers such aspirations and hesitations (totally not named that but since I’m lacking in sleep, I’ll just call it that). In that session we were meant to list exactly what we were hoping to achieve during service and what we were afraid of all through pictures and no words. I def drew having to go to an outhouse in the middle of the night and handling my business, in turn finding some bugs/snakes/lizards etc. It was great to know I wasn’t the only one feeling that anxiety! Haha. We had to present them and basically staging was just get to know what is known Peace Corps Dominican Republic group 14-01! There are 43 of us from all parts of the US, but Cali is def representing in this group, which is pretty legit! But anyways, staging finished roughly around 730 and we had the night free to go grab dinner. My roomie and I along with 2 other volunteers decided to go to the mall and grab some food there. Time seemed to slip away because by the time we got back it was already about 1015/1030 and we still had to repack our things, make phone calls to loved ones and prep for a 4am wake up to be checked out of the hotel at 5am! Needless to say, we didn’t go to sleep until about 1am, so we only got about 3 hours of sleep.
Fast forward to the airport, everything went smoothly. For a huge group of 43 people I was quite surprised but thankful. We managed to get everyone through by about 745ish and our flight wasn’t until 10/1020, so we clearly had a lot of time to kill. I totally could have slept but I wasn’t comfortable. Even on the plane I felt exhausted, but I couldn’t get myself to sleep for the anxiousness of being in the DR already. At this point I think I’ve only gotten maybe 12hrs of sleep in total in the past 3 days! The time difference definitely didn’t help any either! I was 3 hours ahead in Miami and now 4 ahead in the DR.
We arrived at the airport roughly at 130 and were greeted by our country director and some other PCDRV’s! It was pretty awesome to have all that hype welcoming us to our new home. Once we got out of the airport, the humidity got real! Lol. But this is nothing compared to the summertime as I kept being told/reminded during Pre-service training (PST). Once we all were on the bus, we headed to the retreat which was roughly an hour away from the airport. We had a light snack, our photos were taken for our ID badge, and then we began our PST meeting. They briefed us on what we will roughly be doing in the next 10 weeks and then we had a medical presentation letting us know that we were getting the first set of rabies shots and a mosquito net, on top of other PC paperwork that needed to be done. We were done at 6 and dinner was at 7. I’m sure you can imagine that by this point, I’m pretty much ready to pass out! I could barely stay awake in the PST presentations. But within that hour I had to figure out, along with my new roommate, how the heck to put a mosquito net up! Lol. I’ve never had to use one in my now (since my bday is today, and I started this entry last night) 27 years of life. So it was definitely something to figure out, but we got it done! Had about 20/25mins to relax but def couldn’t take a nap or I know I would have missed dinner! In which case, that consisted of potatoes, veggies and baked chicken. Ate dinner, came back to the room and decided to take a shower before bed I be ready for our 7am breakfast. Side note, I don’t think PC believes in the notion of sleeping in! Lol.
So, this is where the entry title comes into play. I get back to my room. Lay out what I’m gonna wear tomorrow (or today), get my pjs and prep to go into the shower. In taking a cold shower while listening to Beyonce (flawless!) I feel something crash into my leg! At first for a quick second, I thought maybe my roommate was messing with me, but I look down and it was definitely an effing gecko! Of course I screamed like a lil girl and needless to say, decided to finish my shower in a different stall because I definitely wasn’t going to share it with that little shiet!
If we back track, we know I said during staging that I was afraid of something similar to this happening… So it’s just my effing luck to have it happen the first night in country! Lol.