Thursday, January 10, 2013

End of 2012 Travels

Since I had not posted the past few months, I had very much neglected to write about my recent travels. There have been a ton of travling these past few months, but I realized that most of it has been to the capital, which is nothing new for me. However, I have had a few pretty cool new trips!

In early November, I did my first Medical Mission. I served as a translator for the ILAC Hernia Surgery Mission. It was an absolutely amazing experience - I helped with pre-op, post-op, and even in the surgery room! I would translate patient histories, describe care instructions to the patients and their families, and even translate during surgeries, since many were performed under only local anesthesia. These doctors that came were so selfless, and the difference they made in so many people's lives here in the DR by providing free surgeries is overwhelming. They performed over 100 surgeries, and afterwards, they invited us translators to go to the beach for 2 nights! We headed up to Puerto Plata to a fun resort, which was a much needed break for me.
I look pretty good in scrubs!
Translators and med students
For Thanksgiving, we had a big volunteer celebration in the capital. Even though the Capital isn't a new place for me, I wanted to highlight this trip because it was a really special trip for me. I have only spent one Thanksgiving alone, so it was very hard for me to be away from my family. However, it ended up being awesome - we went to a swanky hotel to swim at the pool, gorged ourselves on american thanksgiving food, and had a talent show of amazingly talented volunteers and a great dance party afterwards. I am so lucky that I have made so many amazing friends to spend the holidays with. I really couldn't make it these 2 years without all their support!
The gorgeous pool!
Kati, Jeff, and I
Happy Thanksgiving!
In December, we had a party at the Country Directors house, which was a lot of fun. The following day, a large group of volunteers headed to the Romeo Santos concert, a major Dominican singer. After those 2 days of craziness, Missy and I headed with my friend Ginny to Pedro Santana, her site on the Haitian border. It was really interesting to see a volunteers site so far from mine and so different as well! I stayed there for 3 nights before heading back home.
My girls!
Some of my favorites
At the concert with friends
My first Pilgrimage in Pedro Santana
I chose to spend Christmas in my campo. While at times it was hard, I learned a lot about the celebrations here. And my Dona, Ramona, made an absolutely amazing (and huge!) Christmas Eve dinner. Even though I couldn't be with my American family, I'm glad I got to spend the holiday with my Dominican family
The insane table spread of Christmas Eve dinner.
That takes us to my last major travel event of 2012, New Years Eve, We headed up to Cabarete, a really nice beach on the North Coast of the island for a 4 night stay. It was so relaxing, and tons of fun. We spent a good amount of time playing on the beach and had quite the New Years celebration. I would love to go back and spend more time on that beach - maybe if I get some visitors? 
Love my friends!
So that about sums up my 2012 travels. I am sure 2013 will have plenty more travels to come!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Long Overdue Post

I'm embarrassed - I haven't blogged now in over 4 months. Things have been both crazy and dull at the same time, so I didn't really feel I had a lot to write about. I also got in a little bit of a funk in November and December after some tough events, so I couldn't get back into the swing of blogging.

However, one of my New Years Resolutions is to start blogging again regularly! I didn't really define regularly - I had tried to blog every Friday, but the lack of internet in site made a set schedule difficult. I am going to try to blog twice a month, which I think is reasonable, and more often if I have a busy month with lots to share.

In the past few months, a lot has happened. I did not begin construction, unfortunately, due to delays in my funding. That isn't surprising, but because of that, things on the work front have been rather slow. Good news is that money should be coming in the next week or so, and I should begin either January 22nd or January 28th, depending on when money actually comes through and when materials make it out to my site.
Me and Candi
I also had the horrible event of having Candi, my dog die. I won't really go into details, but she died at the beginning of November, which led to me having a very hard two months dealing with that and the holidays. My neighbors, in an incredibly sweet, yet misguided attempt to cheer me up, got me a new dog - a chihuahua puppy. She was only 22 days old when I got her, but I took extra good care of her and she made it through just fine! Her name is Missy, and I am a lot more comfortable with her since she is very much an inside dog. Since she's only about 4 pounds, she is also easy to travel with. She has been to Santo Domingo and Pedro Santana on the Haitian border, and is currently with me at Playa Juan Dolio. My cat also ran away the first week I got him and refused to come back because of Candi. I hope to get a kitten soon, to deal with mice (which I have already had and killed one).
Missy, only 4 weeks old!
Merry Christmas from Missy and I!

I had 2 visitors during the past 4 months - My mom came in mid-October, and my sister is currently here with me for this first week of January. It's been wonderful having visitors and getting to show them my community and friends. In February my mom will come again with my Dad for over a week, where we will visit the capital, my site, and an amazing resort in the Samana peninsula. It's a huge understatement to say that I can't wait!
Mom and I during her visit in October
That's a fairly brief summary of how the last 4 months have passed, and I promise to not go this long again without updating. I'm sure once I start construction and have visitors and camps in the coming months, I will have PLENTY to write about.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Catch up or "The First Six Months"

I know, I've been awful at writing lately. My Top 5 Fridays kinda came to an end, and I've had problems being motivated to write posts. In order to catch up, I am going to write a list of interesting things that have happened in these first months!

  • I actually learned Spanish!
  • I completely designed a water system that is 8 kilometers long and will serve over 50 families
  • I secured funding for over half of my aqueduct
  • I got a parasite
  • I've visited the Capital, Manabao, Santiago, Jarabacoa, Las Galleras, La Vega, and Cotui
  • I've read 30 books
  • However, I also managed to break my kindle
  • I've watched Game of Thrones,
  • I built my own house (or, my community built me a house, but almost the same thing!)
  • I moved into said house
  • I survived my first tropical storm in the campo, including crossing a waist high river to get to my house
  • I was gifted a kitten (Tiguere) and a puppy (Candi) in the span of 3 days
  • I got Dengue Fever
So yes, I have had an adventurous first 6 months in country. It's crazy how fast the time here is going. The new volunteers came into country about a week and a half ago, so my group is no longer the newbies! Things are going fairly well - I'm still in the capital recovering from Dengue, which wasn't too fun. I'll be returning to site hopefully tomorrow to get settled in and start taking care of my babies, Tiguere and Candi, once more. I've still got another almost 21 months to go, so there is a lot of time for things to get done. I'm hoping to maybe begin construction on my water system before the end of this year, but for that to happen, I have a lot of hard work ahead of me!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Top 5 Friday – Top 5 Most Useless Traits brought with me to the DR

I've talked a lot about items that I did or didn't bring with me to the DR, but I thought it would be fun to talk about the personality traits that I brought with me that haven't been so useful. So here are the top 5 most useless traits of my personality that I brought with me to the DR!
  1. A fear of insects, especially cockroaches and spiders. There’s no way to not have them in your house
  2. VergΓΌenza, or embarrassment. People laugh at me all the time. You just have to accept the fact that you are going to mess up and laugh with everyone else!
  3. A lack of Spanish skills. The first few weeks in country were really hard. I’m getting a lot better, but I still wish I had studied Spanish more and had a larger vocabulary
  4. Light sleeping habits. With all these roosters, dogs, and early morning work by Dominicans, the ability to sleep through noise would be amazing
  5. Independence. It’s funny, because to be a successful volunteer, you would think being independent would be extremely useful. Dominicans don’t want me to live alone, walk alone, travel alone, sit alone in my room, or in general do anything alone. If I was less independent, my life would be so much easier here!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Top 5 Friday - Top 5 Items I wish I had brought with me to the DR

To finish up this series, I figured I would talk about what I wish I had brought with me. It's impossible to bring everything that I wanted, and there were a few things that I did not bring that I really wish I had. So here are the top 5 things that I wish I had brought with me!
  1. Rolling luggage. Basically anywhere you can roll a suitcase. While my duffel bags are super nice at times (shorter trips in particular), they are super heavy to carry long distances when others have rolling suitcases.
  2. More photos. I don’t like to bring out my computer that often, and the only printed pictures I have are of me and my sister. I think the Dominicans might think I have no friends.
  3. Yoga Mat – I had a yoga mat in my pile of things to bring, but due to space constraints I took it out. When I’m doing crunches or yoga in my room, that yoga mat would have been perfect. Definitely would have gotten more use than a lot of other things I brought!
  4. Nice flats – I brought a few pairs of nice heels, but in a lot of situations they aren’t practical. Some pretty strappy flats would have been perfect to bring
  5. Hanging organizers. I haven’t managed to find good ones here in country, and space can be VERY limited at times. Some good quality hanging organizers would have been amazing to put all my folded clothing in, rather than the crappy ones that I have now that are collapsing