The past couple of months have been full of traveling the country in the blistering, stagnant heat of June in the DR all while a massive epidemic outbreak has taken over the country. I have grown accustomed, unfortunately, to overbearingly loud music on the guaguas, which every passenger seems to love. Kids vomiting? No reason to lower the music. 75% of the passengers have the Chikungunya (Mosquito transmitted virus that has become a wide spread epidemic through the Dominican republic and Haiti)? Not a good enough reason to lower the music. It is as if nothing can function or nothing is alive unless there is music blaring at all times.
Summertime here is interesting. I have met new people in my campo who are only there for a few days to “find” their kids who have been living here throughout the year but go to the capital or where their mom is living for the summer. Once the hustle and bustle of that is over – the town is quiet. Not as many children, not a lot of movement. Mostly because of the heat though – no one wants to move for fear of creating more heat for themselves than necessary. Just sitting down makes you sweat. Because you cannot escape the heat amongst my travels I try to take guaguas with air conditioning which is great BUT it means that it is fancy enough to have a television where all they show are music videos of the most popular Dominican music around. MUSIC VIDEOS?? WOW! You would think, how cool – haven’t seen real music videos since the pop-up-video days on VH1. Well…these aren’t the kind of music videos we are familiar with. These videos, about 90% of the time, focus on sex. They are what I would describe as soft-core porn matched up with a song.
COULDN'T FIGURE OUT WHAT WAS NOT INAPPROPRIATE TO POST AS A PICTURE - CHOSE TO JUST NOT
Most songs that come out have to do with Love, Sex, Some sort of Shovanistic Messages, The girl that got away, etc. So the video usually starts with a gorgeous latin woman and an overweight, cheesy dressed Dominican guy. Then she seduces him and the video is all about their sexual relationship. CON RAZON! This culture is so sexualized. In a culture where music is what keeps people’s spirits up and is always around it makes sense that they buy into the idea that a woman needs to be a sexual object for men here. It was clear yesterday after watching about 8.75 music videos per hour for 4 hours that the general theme in the videos are that If the woman does not give the man what he wants sexually or in the kitchen, then she is not worthy of having him around. As frustrating as it was to see that such a large industry could have such influence on the population it helped me understand better that sexuality is so engrained here that no matter how hard I try in my charlas, change takes a long time. You need powerful people and industries to send the right message in this country – idols, fads, what’s hot now…those are the things that will drive the message home. Understanding this has helped me calm down the idealist in me. Thank you soft-core porn for providing me with enough insight to feel okay about leaving my community in a few months without having changed EVERYONEs life.
|If I want Air Conditioning - AND everything else...|
On to the national epidemic….
A few months ago the news announced a new mosquito borne illness that was present in the Dominican Republic; The Chikungunya. It starts with body aches – not just “ouch I’m Achy” but feeling as if someone stuffed you in a potatoe sack, hung you like a piñata and took a bat to your body (at least that’s what mine felt like). Then comes a ridiculously high fever – higher than any other mosquito spread illness here in the DR and in the final stage an awful rash that is so itchy and makes your skin look like red cottage cheese…it’s gross. To date there have been about 246,244 confirmed cases in the DR, which is a ton. The interesting thing is that Dominicans think it is a government conspiracy or something in the water or air. No one actually believes that it’s being spread through a mosquito. So, when the conversation about it gets going, I take advantage to let them know that this illness exists in other countries, how mosquito transmission works, etc. etc. The talk of the town (country really) is this illness. Because everyone knows that inevitably everybody is going to have it, they do their usual “hi, how are you” and follow it with “did it get you already?” Ask any volunteer around and they will tell you how sick they are of hearing about it.
On to even MORE exciting news…
My brother came a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing. It was really hard having him leave so it left me in the capital recuperating a couple of days. It gave me such a sense of home to have him here. I got the Chikungunya the night before he traveled here – leaving me crippled with a fever of about 102, awful body pains and an inability to think straight. I tried to sleep it off and the next morning I traveled on a guagua to pick him up in Samana where we rented a car and took an insanely beautiful drive to a resort!! We had some solid quality time together talking about life, relationships, purpose, choices, etc. then road tripped it down to my site! He loved it here, the nature, the tranquility, the beaches.
I will be inviting him to write a post on his perspective of the trip as I did with my last visitor – keep an eye out for it!
|Poolside with the best brother anyone could ask for!|
After my amazing SibCation - I officially graduated my second group of Health Promotors! I was so proud that we were able to do their training in such a short period of time (3months). This is the usual time is takes but usually women skip, cant make it, it rains or give 1 of 1928392183 excuses for not coming. But this group made it to every charla on time, participated, etc. So Los Blancos now has 11 Health Promotors, officially and I have given them a Summer Challenge. The first group to complete all of their home visits will get to go to a conference with me in August in a town in the mountains in the northern part of the country. This insentivised them immidiatly! I'm very excited!
|The new, young and hip health Promoters!|