Backpacks and Bucket Baths

Beginning to wrap up other eventful day here in Peralvillo. Every Thursday we give a presentation to local women who are looking to start up income generation projects from their homes. The program is called Somos Mujeres (We Are Women) and it has become a very interesting event every week. Today we made liquid hand soap and taught them basic accounting to make their projects feasible. While I think it would be difficult to facilitate this group at my permanent site, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with these women.

After this charla, a few friends and I decided to go on a hike. Off in the distance, we could see a giant hill, or really more like a small mountain, and wanted to see what the community looked like from up there. So, we waded across the Ozama river and began our ascent. After about half an hour, we realized the quickest way would be to (carefully) cross the barbed wire and trespass our way up to the top through some pastures. And that we did. Even though it was a short 2 hour excursion, it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had in this town. When you’re up top with the cool breeze at your back you start to realize how small you are… And then you look at the community and you feel so connected to the rest of humanity in such a simple yet profound way. One thing is for sure… That I really hope I never get used to how stunningly beautiful this country is; the lush greens, the deep reds of the cacao fruits, the bright orange of the tierra, the endless blue expanse of the sky all swirl together and form this paradise.

I can tell that I love it here because I’m even starting to enjoy bucket-bathing. It takes a lot of careful planning to know when the best time to bathe is… You want to do it as close to daytime as possible because that’s when the water is warmest since it’s been in the sun. However, you have to consider that you will definitely continue to sweat post-bath so you may as well just wait until before bed to avoid that mess entirely. Night showers are usually the best option, and once you get over the first few seconds of near hyperventilation, it’s all downhill from there. You end up using muuuuch less water, and you get really strategic at figuring out how to get the cleanest. Don’t get me wrong though, a long hot shower sounds like heaven right about now.

10 more days left in Peralvillo, then back to Santo Domingo to get the permanent site placements! Eek. I’m closing in on two months here, with 25 left to go. Giddy up!

Les quiero mucho!
-Andrés

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Peralvi-Bro

I’ve officially spent as much time here in Peralvillo than I spent in Santo Domingo, and yet the time has gone by twice as fast. It seems a bit counter-intuitive that in such a tranquil, relaxed town that time can somehow speed up, but time flies when you’re… You get it.

My new host family is AMAZING! My Doña runs a cafeteria out of the house and so I am consistently getting force-fed some of the best food available in town (lucky me!). Across the street from is a big colmado, or corner store, with tons of tables to play dominos and a never-ending stream of bachata flowing from their huuuge speakers. So naturally, I have no option but to play (and lose) dominos and dance with the neighbors every night. This place has me feeling more and more Dominican… Even if I am still the only gringo in the neighborhood. Peralvillo is a tremendously beautiful town in the interior of the country and the economy here is based almost exclusively on cacao. Yes, that cacao. The one chocolate comes from. Never have I ever had such rich, natural, flavorful chocolate! The fruit itself is also quite tasty, and they use it to make cacao wine… Also delish. And strong. It’s almost as if they decided to make our training site based on a list of my favorite things. So before you get carried away, we really do have work to do here. Between our technical sessions, Spanish classes (and projects), community diagnostics, and business interviews, we have been quite busy. A few of us are enjoying ourselves here so much that we are taking our business training and turning it into an excuse to open a business of our very own after our service. Good thing we still have 25.5 more months to brainstorm!

We find out our permanent sites and our projects in 17 days, not that I’m counting or anything. The suspense can be kind of overwhelming, but we have had several meetings with our CED director to figure out our skills, projects of interest, and general desires for service so I’m confident that I will get placed in a site where I will be successful (and hopefully beachside). In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter where I’m located because I haven’t stopped sweating in 6 weeks. They say that you get accustomed to the Caribbean heat and humidity, and I sure hope so. It doesn’t matter that you’re wearing business casual clothes if they’re drenched anyway, right?

This week I got my first package from the states (thanks Mom!!!!). Some clothes, shoes, candy, but most importantly, hand sanitizer! I never knew I could be so dirty all the time and that shit is like absolute gold here among us volunteers.

As frustrating as it can be sometimes to be constantly so busy (and don’t forget sweaty), all I have to do is look outside my window at the palm, mango, cacao, and banana trees swaying gently in the island breeze to remind myself of how truly blessed I am to have a chance to take part in this adventure. Speaking of trees… Gotta go get some firewood for our bonfire down at the river tonight!

I can’t wait for some visitors! (Hint, hint)

Until the next time, everyone. Besos y abrazos,

-Andrés

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