It’s been altogether long. I’ve missed you, blog world.
The Peace Corps makes you homeless.
A lot of life has passed me by since I last wrote, but I’ll let you in on the little bit that I have slowed down enough to experience. I was “consolidated” during Hurricane Emily, follwed by a week-long training near Santiago in the mountains (far away), followed by an unexpected trip to the states. SO, I have spent a lot of time out and about this last month – much more than expected. When I returned to Las Barreras after all of this busyness, several of the families I am closest with joked with me about how I had “botar”ed them, though I’m not sure if it was completely a joke. In other words, I think they have missed me.
I’m coming to realize that the nature of my work makes it hard to live completely where I am. Let me clarify – my inverter for my solar panel has been on the fritz, leaving me utterly helpless as a computer/cell phone dependent white American. Utterly helpless is not completely true, but at a time where I feel pressed to finish my system design and budget – it is a problem. Therefore I have found myself in the lovely oasis of Los Rios, where I have two wonderful Peace Corps friends who let me stay here while I bask in the wonders of the technological world.
The transition from collecting data in my diagnostic stage to now “working on projects”, soliciting money, looking for materials, etc, etc has been a bit difficult. My job was to spend time with the community and get to know them, their needs, the way they function, their ins and outs. Now that I have crossed into a new official phase, and all the promises to start the project “soon” have become promises past… I guess what I am trying to say is that I really want to provide my community with a chance to do something concrete toward this water system. The enthusiasm will otherwise only last so long.
Being in my community recently though, aside from all the “yes we’re looking for money right now” and “we’re redesigning the system because for some reason it is just way more complicated than anyone could have ever thought” to explain to community members why everything just takes so long, has been terrific. I brought Jenga back from the states and its been amazing playing with 50 year old dudes to my 4 year old host brother. Who knew little wooden blocks could be such an inter-generation, inter-cultural experience? Also, Michlet and Wilson, two young Haitian men (18-ish), have been staying in our kitchen while they work seasonally for a few people in town. Its been really nice, especially for the new perspective they bring since they are not only from Haiti but from a larger town. Its amazing how two very well educated, smart Haitian men find themselves illegally crossing into the middle of nowhere in the DR to work so they can pay for their books for high school. It has been cool watching them interact with my host family and build a great relationship there, since Haitian/Dominican diplomacy has been essentially nonexistent up to this point in my mind. It’s also been fun hearing their opinions on Haitian politics, talking about Aristide and practicing a bit of Creole. Makes me miss Haiti and think about her a lot for sure.
Home was incredible. As I mentioned, the trip was unexpected. My grandmother, Nana, past away at 82 years of age after suffering lung and heart complications for the last several years. She passed on much quicker than we expected, but she did go peacefully. At first I was filled with regret as I had wanted to spend more time with her before this happened, but I felt a good amount of closure as I shared some words during the memorial. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have been able to share her love on behalf of my sisters and I. Spending a solid chunk of time with the family having BBQ’s, croquet matches galore was also a blessing after being away already. The unexpected nature of it all made the whole trip quite surreal, and by the end of it I was very prepared and I think my heart was almost longing to be back with the community, getting on with the work at hand. I think maybe that was my need for a sense of fulfillment kicking in, but who knows.
I miss everyone more now, thanks to a wonderful reminder of the beauty of Washington, my family and my friends back home. It’s definitely difficult being surrounded by the people you love most one day and then sitting on a plane and realizing that your time in the middle of nowhere is far from over. But, as my wonderful girlfriend reminds me, I am where I am, and the place I am just so happens to be freaking amazing. I am incredibly blessed with the way God has melded my gifts together with my projects and my community.
Lastly, the beard. Everyone sees it, comments on it, gawks at it, laughs at it, things its hideous and and often confused by it. I personally am indifferent about it at best. Maybe leaning more toward the hating of it. But one thing, a few simple comments made by children in this very house a few weeks ago, keeps the dream alive. In fact, people often tell me to my face that I need to get rid of the thing – that is, before I mention the idea to them. Then their faces light up. I’ve even pulled out a few supporters. I’m gonna find a suit, fatten up, and grab some hair dye. Four months from now, I will be Santa Claus.
Love, hugs, and prayers to all.