Thursday, November 15, 2012

I keep my sheets in the fridge

Literally, in the fridge.

As I fought to find a place to store all the stuff I might not use I realized that the mini fridge in my room which doesn't work, can function perfectly as a storage space. What I didn't realize is how this perfectly reflects something I value – discretion.

As American’s we subconsciously draw a thick line where our personal thoughts, actions, and words begin and end. We keep things to ourselves when we don’t want others to find out something embarrassing, we dance around saying something we don’t want to say “ugh it’s that time of the month”. Really, that is quite nondescript. The motor of our mental filter is constantly at work ensuring that we don’t offend, say something crude, or just be plain rude. This allows our society to function on a level of mutual respect and ease.  We sleep on these secrets and tuck them away in the safety and folds of our minds. Like the secrets, my sheets are hidden away – my sheets are personal, I can finally let go when I’m sleeping and let all my worries and thoughts go. I keep them in the safety of my mini-fridge, somewhere no one will ever expect to find sheets!

Keeping up with the Dominicans has proven to break the barriers of this metaphoric line. Everything from rapid speech, erratic movement of the hips, laughs that sound as deep as drums and nasal sounds to describe different bodily functions. It is what I would imagine it would be like to be surrounded by an African tribe on uppers.  Surrounded by a sexual culture (keep in mind that these are specific observations made in my community) driven primarily by youth, I am constantly reminded that there is no discretion when it comes to expressing who you’re going to sleep with that night and end up “married to” that morning. The youngin’s, both guys and girls, are always grabbing their crotch, pursing their lips and any passerby and throwing you a wink. Now, this lack of respect is only one form of indiscretion. My host mother has been very descriptive about many many things. Always talking about the meats of a woman’s body, both in and out, telling me some of her deepest thoughts, being in the bathroom and telling me that she’s finally evacuating – yes evacuating.
It’s no wonder their sheets are always hanging out to dry!

On to other fun facts and activities!
My host sister and I have been spending a lot of time together. I have gotten to wanting to take care of her. She is always taking care of her mother and the house so, I decided she needed a day off and took her to the closest city, San Pedro de Macoris. It’s on the coast so we went to what we would know as the boardwalk – like – area , I bought her an ice cream and we dipped our toes in the water! You could see it on her face how happy she was! She is starting to confide in me about a lot of things and I’m saving up to take her to get pizza on “Children’s day” – the 15th of December!

Ever since she heard what my three month diagnostic was about, when she gets home from schools she says “Laura, can we go do some of those interviews?” She is so motivated and excited to do the work with me that it reminds me of some of the reasons I’m here! She also helped me with a poster I made for my first group with the youth from all the communities and wanted to help me make a home-made hand washing station for the bathroom! She is also very excited about nutrition and has already started adding one green leaf to her lunches. Every day she asks me something about food, nutrition, health and well-being. Her humility amazes me ; tonight, I was having a cup of my Trader Joes mint medley tea. Per Dominican custom, you make sure you share with EVERYONE in the house. So I poured 5 tea bags, we had company, and everyone asked for it with sugar, primarily because they weren’t used to “Te Chino” – tea that comes in tea bags (remember my host mom is a healer and uses her own concoctions of leaves). So everyone added sugar and my host sister came up to me and said, “I know this is your favorite tea and I’m going to have it without sugar so I can really know what it tastes like”. This is a minor example but she really takes the time to learn things and cares about how she connects with others.  She runs with me in the mornings, does yoga with me AND has attended all of my exercise classes!

I finally made myself a closet! I was living out of my suit cases with the most used clothes on top. I found the ridiculously large roll of twine a brought with me and the two lashes I use to attach my yoga mat to my backpack. I nailed two nails to the concrete wall and hung the twine, the lashes and quite a few pieces of yarn! Tada! A perfectly good closet!

My weeks are filling up and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am lucky to have the support of the people I work with and my host mom. I keep thinking about how much I lucked out with the people I am surrounded with here – the people at the foundation which I am partnered with are great, I have nothing but support and motivated counterparts and my host mother does nothing but care for me.

Hanging out before my reunion with the youth! My project partner being goofy behind me!
This is where I spend most of my days - it's a good meeting spot between all the barrios and is the back part of the Ingenio

The jovenes getting organized for a dinamica

Project partner, me and host mom (left to right). We drove about an hour through nothing but tall sugar cane to a small campo where there was a live bachata band for the inauguration of a colmado

Thanksgiving is next week and I will be heading to the capital with other volunteers. We will enjoy all that is turkey deliciousness, a talent show, a few hours of pool time on the roof deck of a hotel and some sports in the morning!!!
                           Some other pictures

 My home for two years is in the process of being built!

 Walking through my barrio

front entrance to my house during sunset

beautiful - from my front porch

Just another cow hanging out in front of the house

More to come soon!

Love and miss you all like crazy!

Happy Reading!

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