Posted by: Matthew | March 8, 2010

Week 0

Sorry about the late post everybody. Blogging has definitely fallen by the wayside in the excitement of the past week. Also, I don’t know what Lydia is writing, so there may be some redundancy between our posts. Again, my apologies…

Time is flying by. It’s been almost a week already since we arrived in Washington and there was barely any time when we weren’t doing something exciting, learning new things, and meeting new people. The training staff here in Santo Domingo (ENTRENA) is incredible and very loving of their charges. In essence, we voluntarios are the adopted children of ENTRENA, the Peace Corps, and our doñas; all of whom watch our backs and instruct us on the finer points of our new environment. And so far, training is fun! Almost everything we have learned is interesting and of obvious value, and I’m glad to say we’ve gotten a lot of policy out of the way. Our future lessons/trainings/studies look incrementally more interesting, fun, and valuable. In particular, our technical training (environment) is going to be the bomb-nasty.

My Spanish is rapidly improving. I knew it needed a lot of work before I came here, but how much I wasn’t sure. Now I know. Suffice to say “a lot” is accurate. Sometimes I feel as though there is no way my language level will improve in time for me to use it as an effective volunteer, but when I reflect on how much I’ve learned in just the past 4 or 5 days and that I’m in the hands of very experienced professionals who have already done this hundreds (if not thousands) of times before, I feel as though I’ll come out in good shape. Not having anything else to do helps as well.

Our travels from DC went well. Lydia and I volunteered to be two of the four group leaders for all 37 trainees (2 were delayed in their departure). Lydia was in charge of collecting the tips for the porters at the hotel and I was in charge of passports and tickets, which was a responsibility nobody wanted. We also organized our little caravan, but -honestly- we were a bit superfluous. And anyways, a little chaos never hurt anybody.

Santo Domingo is a loud (!), busy, and polluted city. At first, not knowing where I was in the city or how to get anywhere or any of the important social characteristics of my new community, it felt somewhat hostile. But now I know where I am and a bit of how to get around, and I’ve met a lot of people here, almost all of whom are very warm and pleasant (which is not something I can say about Georgetown, but that’s another story). So I feel much more at ease, but must remain vigilant as tigueres abound as well. Despite its flaws, it is also a beautiful city in its own way. The colors of the barrios are vibrant and cheerful. Lush tropical flora grows wherever there is space and often where there isn’t. Cheerful music BLASTS from every street corner and even the smallest tiendita. Dominicanos sit on their doorsteps whiling away the day with enthusiastic chisme and dominoes. I’m having a great time.

OK, I need to get to bed. I’ll post more later.

P.S. I realize I used a few palabras de español in this post. Sorry to those who don’t speak Spanish, but I am going to continue to do this. Some concepts can only be expressed in their native language. You can find a decent Spanish-English dictionary here if you can’t get the meaning from context: Consider it a bit of self education.

P.P.S. There are no poisonous snakes here (or so I’m told).



  1. Hmmm, what’s with Georgetown?

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