Full Monte

It’s official, folks. This week I took my oath (the same oath the POTUS takes, mind you) and became a Peace Corps Volunteer. With 10 weeks of training behind me, I am so thrilled to actually begin my service. Just before we took our oaths, we sang the national anthems of the Dominican Republic and the USA and it really hit me that this is my new home. The chills our anthem gave me filled me with pride and enough self-assurance to get through these next two years. It was a very bittersweet moment… Leaving behind the world of training and our gated barrios in the capital to disperse ourselves out into the heart of the country. I have made some amazing and surely life-long friends with my fellow class of 517-13-01 and it’s always difficult to say “see you when I see you” without knowing the next time our paths will cross. And now it’s time to make an impact on my own accord… Time to really integrate and become as Dominican as possible. Although, my bachata is still not up to par!

In case you haven’t heard, I will be living in Monte Cristi which is on the far northwest corner of the country (almost to Haiti). It is a beautiful and sleepy beachside city with plenty to keep me from ever approaching boredom. It is exactly what I wanted in a site and I was just lucky enough to get placed here. There is another volunteer who lives just down the road so when I need to get away and speak English for a bit I have the opportunity. I’ll be working with an Eco-tourism group working to increase the quantity and quality of tourism projects and sites in the area. Specifically, I will be working with two hotels, a restaurant and a boat tour company. So WHEN you all visit me I will definitely be able to hook you up. My host family here has been great so far. I have four (count ’em, four!) siblings and they have already taught me some very useful “Dominicanisms.” I am also blessed because not only did I get a site on the coast, but my house has running water and 24/7 electricity… A rare luxury in a life of a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer). The only downside are the omnipresent swarms of mosquitos that seem to like me way more than everyone else. Thank God for mosquito nets or I wouldn’t be sleeping much.

It’s a very surreal feeling being back at my site knowing that there’s no more training, no more info sessions on how to be effective, no more weekly check-ins about how you’re coping. I hope I paid close attention the last 10 weeks because now it’s just me, my notebook, and my mosquito net against the world. Here goes nothing!

If all else fails, I did eat tacos with the US Ambassador yesterday… So I’m pretty sure we’re best friends now. And it’s all about who you know, right?

Until next time, friends. Oh, and would someone see if Jimmy John’s delivers to here? Thanks.

-Andrés

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