Well here I am… In the country I have waited for months and months to experience. They say that the DR is the third loudest country in the world, and I surely believe it. If people aren’t singing at the top of their lungs, they are shouting for their neighbors to come join them in a game of dominos or to have a little coffee and chat. If they aren’t blasting their bachata or reggaeton, the rooster songs take their place.
The very first thing we learned was how to safely drink the water… Which was basically not to at all. Even when brushing our teeth, we were instructed to spit twice and then come back to the sink later on to spit again just to be sure. So far so good! As long as I fill up my water bottles at the training center during the day, no pasará nada.
I have only spent 4 days here, but I already feel completely at home. Within minutes of meeting my host Doña, I was her son. She took me by the arm and proceeding to introduce me to all of the neighbors that would listen. Then, she asked me if I knew why she would do such a thing. She said that now if anyone gave me any trouble, they knew exactly who they would have to deal with as a result! I will never forget when she asked me which foods I prefer. I told her that I will eat anything that she prepares me and she began to chant and sing and dance wildly, saying “Andrés come de todo!!!!!” Evidently, all of the previous volunteers she has had in her house have been vegetarians… Something Dominicans do not understand well. But I promise you that the food here is FANTASTIC! I have tried yuca, plátanos hervidos, mangú, cacao, and so many new delicious foods that my taste buds are dancing with excitement. On top of all that, they have the absolute best fresh orange juice I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Maybe I will gain weight here after all.
I’m currently living a short 15 minute walk from the Peace Corps training center in the Pantoja neighborhood of Santo Domingo. Perhaps the most difficult thing I have had to deal with so far is simply hanging my mosquito net… Some instructions would have helped! Although everyone keeps remarking at how white I am, I’m confident that once I get a tan and learn to dance, I will fit right in. These are some of the nicest, warmest people I have ever encountered and I cannot wait to see where this adventure takes me next!
Until we speak again,