Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 - looking for a place to live on this paradise island

Okay so I wouldn't quite consider Consuelo to be paradise..but I feel the paradise island like lifestyle in what will be my new home, especially after such a ridiculously, un-necessarily dragged out house hunt.

First off...an update on the new year...mine started off a bit rough but I guess I finally got my first, long anticipated stomach issue over with - i finally caught up to my fellow volunteers, most of which have already dealt with at least one virus, parasite, fever, etc.

2013 started out barefoot on the beach, surrounded by friends, watching the fireworks over the Caribbean beach! All the volunteers had gone up to Cabarete for 4 days to celebrate and we had a blast. We indulged in restaurant food, beer and being able to just let loose and not constantly worry about cultural sensitivity.
First night back together again :)

Waiting for the fire works

We do what we can with our PC wardrobe... dressed up and ready to ring in the new year!

12 Red grapes for the new year. Tradition originally from spain. red encourages an overall improvement in lifestyle and love for the upcoming year. 12 wishes for the year. O yes and pink champagne!

Our last night in Cabarete...hanging out with my favorite people having some beer.

On the 2nd, we all packed up and headed to the capital where most of us would then head back to site for a long stretch until we see each other again in mid February. A bunch of people were staying in the capital that night and, since they all know how easy it is, they convinced me to stay too. We went out for sushi and to a movie. I finally saw twilight!!! Then we headed back for a nice hot shower and some good rest. I didn’t sleep at all that night. Something funky was going on in my stomach and I was sweating all night long. I finally decided to get up around 6am and everything I had eaten in the past few days had come back up..thank goodness I stayed in the capital – I could go to the PC office and talk to a doctor!

Turned out I had a parasite/food poisoning. Peace Corps DR is awesome because they put me up in a hostel for a few nights to make sure I would be okay to go back to site. They don’t want you having any “accidents” en route – thanks peace corps, much appreciated! My friend Alex was in the hostel for the same reason – so we had some good bonding time making soup, sharing sickly stories and sitting in the laboratory together waiting for blood tests, stool and urine samples to be taken. Finally I felt like I absolutely had to get back to site..i had been away for too long and was suffering from Campo Guilt – this is when you leave your site for a period of time and start to feel guilty that 1. You are able to leave for so long, 2. Your project partner is probably wondering why you aren’t doing your work, and 3. It can effect your integration into your community. So, the doctor called in the morning to check in and see how I was doing…I told her I still wasn’t feeling well and she wanted me to stay another night and take another test (I was so dehydrated the day before that they couldn’t make an analysis on anything). I asked if it was okay if I go back to sight and she was surprised..she said if I can get to the lab before I head out and leave a sample it would be okay. So that’s exactly what I did. I spent the next few days at site downing ORS mixed with Tang to rehydrate myself. 

Once I got back, I continued my house search…which I started in early December. Now, keep in mind that there are no real estate agents, no ads for new renting homes, no marketing and definitely no real estate website…essentially no organization in terms of house hunting. Because I work in 5 communities I had 5 different barrio options. 2 of which are too far and are the barrios I will be focusing least on. I really want to live in one of the 3 marginalized communities I’ll be working in but everytime I mentioned it someone would give me a shpeel about my safety. 

Side note: In the past 3 months I have been careful managing the disappointment that came with my expectation of living in a campo setting. I didn’t feel that I was living in a marginalized community and that, as an American living in a wealthier barrio of the pueblo, I would be put at a disadvantage in terms of integration.  I really wanted something that would give me the campo feel…in the DR there is a different culture in the campo, also more nature and tranquility

I started looking in La 41 – the barrio where I have the most friends and families of confianza. This is the only barrio where I have experience the campo culture – unity between neighbors, peace among families and also a lot of rolling hill! Didn’t find anything…I saw one house which I thought would be perfect but it wasn’t finished yet and it didn’t look like it would be for a while…I was bummed. 

The house i saw that would be perfect but was still under construction....

Entrance to La 41

On to the other neighborhoods…nothing. Here you have to just walk around and ask people if they know of any empty house or apartments… Ended up having to look in barrios far away that have nothing to do with my work. Every time I found something it was either way too expensive or had just been rented.  I finally found one that someone is renting out, near my project partner’s house and somewhat affordable. I saw it at night and liked the security of it. I went back the next day but when looking at the walls, it looked like they were rotting. I would also have to pay electricity…I know I know, big woop. BUT no one here pays for electricity and it comes and goes so often I wouldn’t want to pay a steady fee. So, I thought this would be my very last resort kind of place.

...cute... but with rotting walls, too expensive, paying electricity and too far...

I kept looking and looking, spread the word around that I was searching. People would come to me and tell me about these apartments…again I would go look at them and they would be through the roof expensive. I wanted something simple, with a patio for my dog, some fruit trees…like the half constructed one I saw in La 41..

A friend of mine, who is the president of all youth associations, took a day off to help me out. He took me to all these neighborhoods and, even with his help, nothing. So we resorted to going further down the highway to look at government housing. On the way I was thinking…I might as well just stay with my host family – but I didn’t want this. The government apartments are beautiful, comfortable, luxurious…but so far away. It was my newest option. I guess I could get a bicycle.

I go to my project partners house, sit on her front porch and say…Vicenta, I quit. I think I’m going to stay at my host mom’s house…the second I said this my phone rang. Before I could even saludar, my friend Marian said “guess what?!!? Your house in La 41 is for rent ASAP and I have the owner right here to talk to you!!!” I spoke with the woman and made a plan to go see it the next morning! Once I saw it, I called the volunteer responsible for approving the security – came out that day and approved it!!! I couldn’t believe how this happened! So, I am ready to become an independent Dominican Doña with my own little house. Best part is, I have a big patio, a bunch of fruit trees, including an avocado plant, and space for my new puppy, Zenny!!!  
The owner asked me what colors I wanted inside and she would paint them. I told her a lavender purple and white. She ended up painting it a sherbert pink…hey you know what? I’m not complaining, I’m so happy with the way it all worked out! Not sure when I’m moving it yet but knowing that I will have independence soon is definitely helping to tolerate some of the distress that comes with living with an overbearing Dominican woman who thinks, and tells you, you can’t really do much in a kitchen, re:laundry, or any other domestic task. Don’t get me wrong I love her and will miss her but it will be nice to have some tranquility and silence!
My new house!!!

it has an indoor bathroom and two rooms. small, simple, just what I need.

Possible kitchen or bedroom

kitchen or bedroom

    the past week, the owner has been cleaning and painting it...went to see it yesterday and was shocked by the pink but i know i will learn to love it!

decided this will be my bedroom..i dont think many people would want to do "visita" in a pink room - it's also the zinc roof side, which, surprisingly, has it's benefits.

The kitchen, living room, work space room.

Coconut tree on my patio..i'll probably give my charlas here too!

The view when sitting on my patio! exaclty the campo feel I wanted
My New Community!

What have I learned from this?
1. Miracles can happen
2. If you don't like your current life situation, do something to accommodate it with what you have - it's possbile, I promise. My campo envy was getting to me so much that I took action and found a way to have it even though I am no where near the campo..
3. Simplicity is what I'm striving for

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