Posted by: Lydia | May 14, 2010

Finalmente, empezamos (mas o menos).

Well well, faithful readers, it certainly has been an eventful and telecom-free couple of weeks.

Our site is truly way, way out there in the wilds of the western DR, however the borderlands (at least up nort) are nothing like what most people make them out to be. La frontera tends to have a reputation for being a dry, dusty and horrendously impoverished ghetto, and while this might be true in some parts of the province of Elias Pina, our area of the province of Dajabon is a lush mountain valley straight from the pages of Marquez.

I am not a creative or descriptive enough writer to do our site justice, however to give you an idea of what it’s like, while walking along the flower-lined switchbacks you are constantly surrounded by yellow butterflies that rise from watering in the road to greet you. Also, to further bolster my belief that we were placed in Magic Land, DR, there is little to no trash in the streets, they aren’t racist against Haitians, and our community groups are *gasp* apparently very well organized. Our community has so far requested that we assist them with their fruit-tree reforestation project, getting organic certification for their crops, and building a hydroelectric generator. Considering that we already have this much on our plate before even starting our Community Diagnostic, I think this is going to be a tremendously productive two years.

So, it seems that the major lucha for us during our service is not going to be convincing our community to get their act together (as it is for many other volunteers), but the fact that internet is a 30-minute motoconcho ride away. Why is this important? Searching for grant money (which is going to be a huge part of our job) requires major internet time… motoconcho rides are expensive, and Matt and I due to our campito location are on the lowest end of the pay scale. However… the campo up the loma from us (with whom we will also be working) that already has 24-7 luz because of their UNDP Hydroelectric Power Station wants to get an internet center, so if we can somehow convince an NGO or Indotel (a Dominican telecom organization that frequently works with the Peace Corps) that this village of around 100 inhabitants needs a computer center, internet will only be a 20-minute hike away.

These are minor problems compared to what many PCVs have to endure (particularly those in the Water sector who have to rely on drinking rainwater until they get their projects underway), and Matthew and I are tremendously grateful that we were preceded in our site by volunteers from the water and health sectors. Projects in the environment and IT sector start to happen once a community has their most basic needs already taken care of, which makes for a much more pleasant and diarrhea-free Peace Corps experience.

I am also excited to announce that Matthew and I have now finally completed our training and were sworn in on May 12th as Official Peace Corps Volunteers. Our wonderful Doña Julia spoke at the Commencement, and the brindis (hors d’ouvres) afterwards were surprisingly delicious, considering the proportion of them that were made from yucca.

Other than the initial shock of finally getting to our site and meeting our project partner, the most exciting thing we’ve participated in lately was watching our community whoop the sorry, sorry asses of another community in softball last Saturday. Both teams were Los Rapidos of their respective communities, which of course necessitated many bad jokes como “vamos a ver cual es mas rapido,” etc etc. It turns our campo has extremely rowdy fans, so as a Philadelphian I feel right at home in their loud, disrespectful midst. The Doña cheerleading section included several heavily pregnant women who neither sat nor went to the bathroom during the entirety of not one but two games (I swear Dominicans never use the bathroom, even at 8 months). As we neared the end of the second game and it became clear that the menos Rapidos were going to lose yet again, a member of their team absconded with the trophy on a moped and despite my greatest hopes everyone just shook their heads and went peaceably home in the back of a camioneta going 60kph through the lomas. I guess the similarity to Phillies fans only goes so far, but I think I’m going to introduce my campo to throwing batteries at the opposing team….



  1. Congratulations!! This photo will go right along side your various other graduation pictures! Busy here too; good news regarding the outcome of G’ma’s bi-pass procedure. More later.

  2. You’re a wonderful writer, Lydz, I can picture your mad journey through the rain so well!

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