Me and my fellow newly-minted PCVs / Domincan Republic...
I am now beginning my fourth month as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the rural mountains of the DR. Hard to believe that I am three months into this experience and have so much more ahead of me... It is both thrilling and imposing at the same time.
I still remember vividly the day I stepped on the plane to leave Seattle to start this adventure, not really knowing what to expect and not really knowing if I'd have what it takes to make it all the way through. In fact, since September five out of 54 of our original group of new Volunteers have decided to leave the Peace Corps early. That made me stop and think at this, my 3-month anniversary: "Will I really be able to make it?"
Luckily, I've had more good days than bad, and have generally been very pleased with my decision to do this. Especially at the very beginning of training, my spirits were always high - being in a new country, exploring a new city, meeting new friends with similar interests and aspirations, hearing the incredible improvement in my previously rusty Spanish... the list goes on of things that made me feel on top of the world when I first got to the DR.
However, reality sets in after a bit and I had a few close calls and a few bad days where I thought about calling it quits and heading home. An example is from my correspondence (and since then, a lengthy entry I wrote in my journal) a few weeks ago, shortly after swearing-in:
I had a major breakdown the other morning (Saturday) after a pretty vivid Aralen dream in which I kept wondering what the hell I'm doing here in the Peace Corps in the middle of nowhere... [Aralen is an anti-malarial drug we're required to take once a week. It often produces vivid, realistic dreams]. I actually even thought about the consequences of quitting early and how that would work. Not just thinking about it, but working out the logistics in my head... packing my bags, explaining my departure to my host family, getting to the Capital, requesting my passport from the office, explaining to the Country Director why I needed to leave, getting to the airport, etc... I ran off to be alone for a while at the top of a hill near my house and just took in the scenery for a bit, trying to think things through. I tried to call a few of my fellow PCVs to throw me a life line, but no luck, just got voicemail. Sat there for a little while longer, trying to calm down and understand what was going on. Frustrated and unsure of what to do, I walked back to town slowly, all the while wondering how and when this situation would improve.
Luckily, once coming back down the mountain, my new neighbor immediately invited me to play dominoes with him and his family and I instantly felt better. The game, the camaraderie, the feeling that I was being accepted helped out so much. I am hanging in there now, knowing that I´ll feel better once I start working on something and getting to know more people... Have to take it one day at a time and find those little things (like a dominoes game with neighbors) that will keep me going day to day...
So, not wanting to end this post on a downer note, I have come to realize that all through my service I'll have to my best to go day-by-day and take things as they come. Finding the little things that keep me involved, engaged, and in this for the long haul... Much like life anywhere, really!
Un abrazo muy fuerte desde la RD...