Feliz Coffee-Años

Coffee. One of the basic necessities of my life. Thus, one of my biggest disappointments in the DR. Oh sure, they drink coffee. It’s usually nice and bold and piping hot. So why am I complaining? Unless you buy it at a restaurant (and sometimes even then), the coffee is served as a tiny splash in the bottom of your cup. How on Earth does anyone in this country get motivated to do, well… anything… without at least a full cup of joe in the morning? As far as I can tell, they are all just naturally morning people. People are routinely out and about, up and at ’em, twisting and shouting starting at about 7. I imagine the main reason behind the eagerness to get out of bed is because it is by FAR the coolest part of the day, and any self-respecting person would like to get all of his or her errands done before 10am when the sun starts to really get in the way. Quite a smart plan if you ask me, because afterward they Doñas can relax at home with plenty of reason to take a nice long nap after lunch (but only if there’s electricity and you can use your fan).

Aside from being severely under-caffeinated, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the rest of my service here. My project partners are great and very well-connected and have taken me in with open arms. Plus, I set up wi-fi for my office. (Yes, I have an office.) What’s not to love about that?

I’m getting started on my Community Diagnostic, which is a volunteer’s first responsibility. It entails getting as much information as possible regarding the different aspects of the site by interviewing, chatting, sitting and observing with your neighbors. On the surface it sounds like a great way to get to know more people and the lives they lead, but more often than not it turns into them asking me to fix their garbage collection schedule or complaining to me about the neighbor they had 30 years ago. It’s a very slo o o o w w w w w w process since to get them to really open up to me, I’ve got to spend a few afternoons just sitting with them and taking the tiny coffee shots they make for me before I can begin to ask them about their income and what they would like to see developed in Monte Cristi.

It is ONE WEEK until my birthday. Most of the volunteers in the DR all meet up to celebrate Independence Day so I will get to be with some good friends when I cumplo años. Where are we meeting you may ask? This year we are going to the Samaná peninsula… Supposedly the most beautiful part of the island. Getting there will require no fewer than 4 buses as I am located on the exact opposite side of the country. All I know is that based on what I’ve heard from the locals, this trip is going to be well worth it.

I suppose I should get back to interviewing… I’ll write again soon. Promise.

Happy Early Independence Day friends!

–Andrés

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