Posted by: Lydia | November 20, 2010

Post-Tomas Update

Matt and I were finally released back into the wild as of Sunday the 7th, not a moment too soon as we were starting to feel the adverse affects of hotel buffet food and the $200 peso vouchers for the hotel casino only go so far to provide an evening’s entertainment. I did manage to win 20% of my monthly salary (this isn’t that impressive, as I earn very little… in pesos.. whose value continues to slip against the dollar), however I spent the majority of that on sparkly taupe pants, jeggings (glorified denim pantyhose) and a lace-front shirt cut to my navel in order to better integrate with Dominican society. This is what happens when you let campesina volunteers out into the big city.. we make it rain like hurricane season because we know when we are stuck back in our campo without cash for transportation we won’t be spending a thing.

Not that we don’t live pretty rica by campo standards on occasion… the afternoon we were consolidated Matt made baccalao (salt cod) risotto using all ingredient available at your local rural colmado, excepting the canned clams that we bought in the big city.

In other breaking campo news, our village was mostly spared the brunt of Tomas’ force, the only major casualty (aside from people losing a lot of banana, plantain, and rice crops due to high winds) being the electrical tower for our “street.” In a blinding show of Dominican efficiency, the people who came with a crane to fix the pole (who amazingly arrived the SAME DAY as the tower was knocked down) could not, for whatever reason, reconnect the electricity, so everyone had to wait another day for a separate team to come to reconnect the power, which the community ended up doing anyway. The great thing about countries where nothing works is that everyone, by necessity, develops a great mechanical aptitude so if the officials who are supposed to take care of the utilities don’t pull through, people can generally make things happen on their own.

Speaking of cash-money and self sufficiency, at the beginning of our service, Matt and I taught all the regional Clubes de Madres how to make Mistolin, the local preferred, heavily perfumed all-purpose cleaner (for the rest of you hispanohablantes, this is the Dominican version of Fabuloso). As you had to go all the way to Santiago to get the ingredients to make the cleaner, it took a while for the project to actually get off the ground, but finally this week one of our clubs managed to get all of the ingredients and we had a fabulous time this Tuesday evening playing with dye and caustic chemicals and we made our first batch.



  1. Lydia, could you send me your email address- I’m at

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