Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Numbers

Hola mis queridos amigos de los Estados Unidos...

, I admit - I really stink at keeping up with a blog. Unlike mi amigo Egan and others who post to their blogs frequently, I am not so diligente about keeping up with my posts. However -- please keep in mind that I have NO ELECTRICITY where I live and getting to a computadora with internet connectivity means a two-hour jeep ride down the mountain at the hefty cost of RD$140 (that's about US$4) one-way.

So, a new post once every two months seems about the average for me. In fact, it has been so long since my last post that several of you, my dear friends and family back home, have written to me via e-mail to ask if I'm still alive, and if so, asking what's new in my life since my last post in May.

I am alive and well and enjoying my time here in the DR imensely. I will admit, I still have days in which I often wonder: "what the h*ll am I doing here?" But, overall, those moments are few and don't often last long.

Short story is that I have been busy with work in my community. My biggest work so far has been with my youth group. In addition to putting in several weeks of training and meetings, my youth group and I are working on pestering the Secretary of Public Education to get a volleyball court built in our local high school. We have written letters to the local Síndico (like a county executive or mayor) and to our Senador as well. The kids and I will also be hosting 25 other youth from other parts of the DR for a three-day long summer camp at the end of this month. Our agenda includes lots of information about what they learned in the course on HIV/AIDS prevention, several trips to our river for swimming, and a volleyball tournament to end the weekend of fun and learning.

As for other more poster-child "Peace Corps-ish" type projects, I am working with my Community Council to get money and technical help for a latrines project (yes, latrines!), as well as money for the construction of new and more fuel efficient wood-burning cooking stoves, and a major reparations project for our water system. Updates of these and other events (including everything I've promised in past blogs) to come soon. Stay tuned!

Anyway, inspired by friends of mine who have done so in the past, here's a quick and dirty list of random numbers about Peace Corps life that I thought might be interesting:

months since I first left home to join the Peace Corps
months in service at my community
Dominican families I've lived with since coming to the DR
Months that I've lived on my own in my own house
Volunteer trainees who started with me in September
Volunteers who've quit the Peace Corps since September
Number of visitors I've had since starting service (thanks, Mom!)
Number of fellow Volunteers I've visited in their communities since starting service

Number of youth groups I've formed in my community
Weeks my youth group spent learning about HIV/AIDS prevention, avoidance of teenage pregnancy, alcohol, and drugs.
Kids who started in the group in March
Kids who completed the 10-week course and "graduated" in May
number of grant applications for projects I've submitted since starting work in my community
number of my grant applications that have been approved and awarded so far
Dominican pesos earned for projects in my community by the above-mentioned approved grants
(about 1500 USD - your tax dollars at work -- Gracias!)
Dominican pesos I hope to earn for my community if the remaining two grant applications are approved (about 5000 USD)

Creepy Critters:
Bats who have entered my house in the middle of the night, flown around my room for a while, then exited -- the whole time watching me cower under my mosquito net praying for them to leave
Number of above mentioned bats who visited me at the same time. Yes, imagine 3 bats flying around the inside of your house, and now you'll realize how freaked out I was!
Number of rats I chased and killed with a broom in the middle of the night, after I found the little diablito eating my bath soap
Times I've found spiders and cockroaches in my shoes in the morning since coming to the DR. Always shake out your shoes before putting them on!
Number of live tarantulas I've seen since coming to the DR (not at my house, thank God!)

Number of details I'm giving out as to my luck with the dominicanas - Sorry!

Un abrazo muy fuerte desde la RD...