¡Saludos de la Republica Dominicana!
I have seen so much in only a week being here and I have no idea where to begin. I suppose the best way to start is to show you where I live.
This is my house with my absolutely wonderful host parents. I will tell you I feel like I have regressed to a small child living here. They won’t let me do anything! Sometimes I will come home at night and realize that my bed has already been turned down, there is cinammon candy on my notepad, and a glass of water is sitting on my dresser. Meals are made for me and no matter how many times I absolutely insist they refuse to let me do the dishes. (I won’t give up on that one no matter how long I am here!)
I could tell you all of the monotonous details of my life but that would be dull and a little uninteresting to read, right? Let me begin this blog by telling you some of the crazy differences I have come across here (both the easy way and the hard way!)
- Piropos. This is probably one of the hardest things to get used to for me. Piropos are what you might call “cat calls” from the men along the street as you walk by. For example: “Diablo Mami, Ni cuanta curva y Yo sin Freno” or some of preference (say these in the way you would pronounce the Spanish letter): TBC, TUC, TDG, GGG. I’ve even had people say “I love you” in English as well as some other English phrases. You might think this is a confidence builder, but really you just feel like an object as you are walking by.
- There is no such thing as a line or waiting your turn here. You could have been waiting there a really long time and they won’t pay you any attention. You have to know what you want, tell them, and quickly get the job done. For example: the bathroom. I have seen men go into restrooms clearly labeled “Las Damas.” Waiting is just different here, and the same concept applies on the roads.
- Driving is one of the scariest parts of the entire city. There are almost no rules on the road and you have to prepare yourself that you may die every time you venture out. Pedestrians have no right of way either. Conchos are super useful to get around, but you have to be prepared to share this little bitty car with as many people that can fit. I have already been a passenger in one concho that had nine people inside. Holy moly this is also where I learned my first dominicanismo: grajo. Grajo is what you say when someone has really bad B.O. Needless to say, everyday is a new experience!
- There are different eating times for every person in the house. Nobody eats at the same time and it is considered normal, but they will sit there and stare at you eating (as well as give you SO much food you will never be able to eat it!). People also really don’t talk much while eating here. I will try to fill the silence with small talk and will receive a one word response until the meal is over. This has been hard for me to figure out, but I have brainstormed all of the different ways to describe every bite inside my head! I guess that helps the conversation once the meal is over!
- Batatas are SO good! That is not a misspelling. They are similar to potatoes but they are much sweeter. This (next to the fruit, of course) has been my favorite dish so far.
- Fresh passion fruit juice is delicious! They have people on the street that will just make you fresh juice and it is so wonderful. I love the juices here. I don’t think I will be able to go back to the States’ version of juice.
- Everything I eat here is all natural and fresh. We literally pick the avocadoes off of the tree in my backyard to have with dinner. These avocados are SO much better than in the States. They are massive, green, and probably one of the best things I have ever tasted. I constantly wonder how much more wonderful guacamole would be with these avocados.
- Cold showers. Oy. This one is hard. I thought that being on a tropical island would be hot and sticky and I would be okay with cold showers, but this is not the case. This was one of the things I was least worried about coming here and is probably one of the biggest challenges for me every day. It isn’t that they are cold, it is that I have to take the polar-bear-plunge every time I get in. Luckily, we are getting a water heater soon where I can turn on a switch and at least get a little bit of warm water!
- If you are thinking about coming here, you need to be up-to-speed with the baseball happenings here. My host dad and I watch baseball every night. The team in Santiago de los Caballeros is Los Aguiles. This is very important for conversation with any person you come across here!
- Everything here is open and ready for guests. Windows are left open, doors are left open, and most days you spend outside because it is too hot not to. However, everything has a lock on it. Even in our back patio, we have what I consider a “secret garden” that is outside of my window. In order to get there, you have to unlock three locked gates that are always kept locked. However, it is more than worth the hassle to go back there. There are avocado trees, orange trees, lime trees, and my host mom loves flowers, specifically orchids. I plan on studying out there all the time.
- If you don’t like the weather here, wait ten minutes. There are lots of jariniandos (small rains) that will literally disappear after you have a short meal. They were not lying when they said to keep an umbrella with you at all times.
There is so much I wish I could share with you but risk losing your attention. I have many crazy stories that are sure to come, for example the phrase “Do you gonna get Dengue?” and the “amazing race” around Santiago that resulted in a milk fiasco and “un chin” of an accident, but don’t worry, despite all of the obstacles we still came out on top!
Internet is a bit hard to come by as my host family does not have it in the house, and going to a place where wifi is offered costs money. There are also very few places on the campus that have wifi available. Therefore, blogging may be limited, but I will do my best to keep you all up to date!
For now, Nos chequeamos luego.