Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bibliotecas and carnavale!

Bienvenidos a 2009!!! Greetings and salutations from the DR! Needless to say its been awhile and its still mindblowing to think that it is 2009. More mindblowing that Feb 27th I will have completed 1 year living, working and playing in the DR. As always, let's play catch-up: The Baseman family brought a lil slice of America to me here in the DR por La Navidad. I brought Alan, Lil Jo and Aaron to Fantino, where they met Daniel (novio/boyfriend) which went very well minus the whole language barrier and showed them around town (what there is to show for that matter.) We went to the house where I lived when I first moved to site. Like all good Domincan Donas we were promptly served coffee and like all good Domincan cafe it was super sweet although she thought she made it amargo (bitter). Alan, Jo and Aaron all concurred later, that no, in fact it was quite sugary. After an afternoon of Fantino, we went to the Church of the Holy Game of Baseball: went to a ballgame in Santiago which was lots of fun and ironic because the other "gringos" we saw there happened to be another PCV on vacay with her family. After an Aguilias victory we bid Daniel adios and made our way back to the beach in Puerta Plata and stayed there and enjoyed for the rest of the week. The hotel was incredible but it was kinda weird because I kept finding myself speaking Espanol to people who I know speak English, therefore I kept getting: Baseman family member: Ari, you go talk to them, explain etcetcMe: They speak English.BFM: Yea but...Me: Ok. The week's end came too quickly and with a few tears I said adios once again to mi familia and headed back to reality (well my reality) in Fantino. I rang in the New Year with some other Volunteers in Cabarete Beach which was awesome, watched the GATORS win ANOTHER BCS CHAMPIONSHIP and perhaps most important of all got goosebumps and slightly choked up watching Obama take office. Now that February has rolled in, I am trying another round of proyectos. I have ditched the English classes for now as well as the Newspaper. However, I have found a GREAT project that I am very excited about: Renovating the Municipal Library here in Fantino. The library here is right next door to my house and while there are books they are from 1492. The paint is terrible, the doors are roted out and people barely know that the place is open for bizness. SO, I met with the main "librarian" and he, myself and another gent have formed a Library commitee. We had meeting this week to discuss goals, needs and an action plan if you will. This Monday we are going to attempt to meet with the Mayor and present our project and hopefully really get the ball rolling. My hope is to get some new books, fresh paint, paint map murals of the DR and the world, get new doors and few other ideas that will take time and money...but we have a start. As far as my work in informatica, we are trying to start with classes in the beginning of March and if I can work it right I won't be teaching, but rather facilitating the teachers and doing some managment if you will. I was hopeful to commence with try numero dos in regards to the youth group but since the highschool teachers aren't being paid, they are on break right now so for the moment so is my youth group. I got some other ideas marinating, but I'm trying to focus on the two projects ahead of me now and put all my esfuerzo (effort) into them... Also exciting about Febrero: Febrero equals Carnavale! Therefore, every sunday different groups dress up in various costumes and dance around and drink lots and lots of Presidente and Brugal...this all comes to a head Feb 27th Independance Day with a HUGE parade with said groups and said intoxication...should be an interesting month. Hope this finds everyone well. oh yea...write me people! Much love,A


Hola my fellow Americans, As always it has been too long and I have botared (cast you off, thrown you out) you, not really but this is always the reaction after I haven't seen someone in my community for 2 days or 2 weeks....go figure. Well much has happened since we last "talked". I was still the la lucha and Barack Obama had yet to crowned the savior of America. As for my lucha, we'll get to that, but allow me to digress for a minute here. As Volunteers we are told to stay apolitical in our views so that we do not alienate community members as well as to avoid further suspicion that rather than tree hugging hippie Volunteers, we are in fact government spies (more on that later too). Well my friends, let me tell you during the DR election cycle it was one thing to stay apolitcal and play dumb as to the differences in the candidates and such, but this was different, this was/is way too important to keep my mouth shut. Therefore, when asked Local Fantinoite "Quien quiere ganar? " (Who do you want to win?)Me "Que tu piensas?" (What do you think?) No, this was not sarcastic, it was real!LF "Obama, el negrito?!" (Obama, you get the rest...however please note this is not rascist here...they just call it like they see it)Me "Claro que si!" (Of course!)Juntos (together) OBAMANOS! Then, depending on who I was talking with there would invariably be a dicsussion on how Obama was new, different full of esperanza (hope) for not only America but the world. The DR is counting on Obama in so many ways and they can't get enough of was so interesting to see how involved and interested people were here in our elections when then can't vote. Sometimes its hard to remember to not get frustrated at the stereotypes of Americans and teach and share myself as a "different" American, different in the sense that I am not here on vacation (well at least not here for 2 weeks), I'm not a rica americana, I'm not a Bush supporter, nor am I here to llevar (bring) someone back to the US aka Visa w Boobs, I'm not driving a fancy jeepeta nor am I a spy. However, I must say that this election filled me with pride, pride in my country, pride in my fellow citizens, pride in the young people of America who ROCKED the vote. I felt so proud that we didn't let pettyness and racism and open face lying close our eyes to what is happening not only in America, but to the world and our place in it. I don't and won't wax on poetic that Obama is the answer to all the problems that face our world, but I believe he's a start and that's more that I can say for the other politicos... Ok lets move for my lucha with what I came here to do: work, well everything right now is taking a descanso (a rest). Why you ask? But you haven't even done anything yet to be taking a rest! Yes, partially true. I tried twice to have cursos de ingles and not one person signed up. My other class with the two university students lasted one week and I have yet to see la muchacha since. My Escojo Mi Vida (youth group) held strong for 3 meetings and then everyone dropped off the face of the earth and when I see some of my muchachas they are sin verguenza (shameless) and don't even try to give me an excuse or an apology. My newspaper is still on hold and I am waiting to go the water filter work shop sometime in Dec or Jan. Once I go to the workshop, I will then bring this information to the "people" if you will and get the ball rolling. As for computer class and the like, I did have a mini presentation with my counterpart and while I worked for two days on a power point presentation, finding games and uses of technology in the classroom, it was all put by the wayside by another website found by my counterpart morning of...but I guess in the end it was fine, bc the teachers left "motivated" and excited to go to the AVE and use Information Technology to better the world (ok that one was sarcastic!) The biggest project however, is to self-motivate again and again and again. So after New Year's I will, as they say, be hitting the groud running AGAIN! As for El Dia de Accion Gracia aka Thanksgiving, some of the wonderful PCVs organized a huge event at a fancy country club in the Capital, where we swam ate and drank and watched a rediculous "talent" show put on by our fellow PCVs, not too mention a meregue and bachata contest. This was interesting as it was my first Thanksgiving away from the rents as well as, gasp, a vegetarian! Yes, friends, for those who don't know or don't remember I have converted. But let me say this, while the food at the country club was quite delish, the turkey was not inticing at all...I mean had there been an Alan Baseman turducken or something I might have instead I ate veggie lasagna, veggie stuffing, salad, potatoes and sweet batata (a starch veggie here that is similar to yams). Que mas? While chisme (gossip) is the national sport here in the DR, not to be confused with the national religion baseball, I am fairly certain that certain South Floridians take part in their fair share too. With that said, to clear up any confusion, I have in fact become a statistic. Yes friends, I have found my Dominican Novio, in one fine young man named Daniel. He's 25, plays guitar, has taugh me to cook (mostly Dominican fare) and I occasionally teach him English and last night I brought tofu into his world! So there it is...he keeps me sane in Fantino when I wanna bang my head against the desk both literally and proverbially and the Donas feel much better because I am not sola anymore. Hope this finds everyone well and in the fiesta spirit! much love,A

A lil cultural exchange

I felt the need to share my latest in cultural sharing and teaching: the young English teacher in my school Ramon, always likes to practice English with me and most days I indulge him. Today was one of those days.
Ramon: Oh, your sweating.
Me: (sweaty and annoyed) Wow, thanks.
Ramon: (looking slightly confused) Huh? but...?
Me: Yes, I was using what we call sarcasm there.
Ramon: Yes I thought so, that was what i was thinking.
Me: (still sweating) Yes, it is very rude to tell someone to their face they`re sweating.
Ramon: Yes, but its culturally ok in Spanish.
Me: Yes, but we`re speaking in English and its still offensive.
Ramon: You know your sarcasm could be rude in Spanish.
Me: I know. But we`re still speaking in English.
Ramon: Ok, I have an article at home about sarcasm, I am going to study it.
Me: Ok.
While this exchange might appear rude and impatient I felt it necesary to share my cultural feelings of the subject of constant comments on my pituary glands. I am in fact fulfilling a goal of PC by sharing and teaching what it is to be an American and this American can be quite sarcastic (as you all know) and is always sweating as there are no fans, if there are they do not work because usually there is no electricity and there is no breeze, if there is it dies in the CB builiding that is my school.

hasta luego

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hitting the ground running

Ok people I´ve been getting alot of flack for what appears to be all fun n games here in the DR (and a good chunk has been) BUT I have also been working, BUT the real work is just beginning. Once I got back from IST and hung around Fantino a bit, but then peaced out to the Capital again for PC Comite Weekend. During this other respite from site, two of my friends got married and I served as a witness...can i get a witness, sing it with me now....OK. so there were some meetings discussing all things IT, where at one point I felt like one of those gophers in the arcades that you have to hit over the head and win a prize because everytime there was a suggestion by a so called ¨newbie¨aka me, one older PCV in particular held the stick and kept hitting me on he head ¨Wrong newbie, stupid newbie¨ But maye this was just the scene in my head..but I digress...Also during my time in the Capital I ran into our contact with the Sec of Educacion and she told me that I will be waiting much longer for computers which is totally frustrating, so in efforts to get something going and give the gente what they want I will be starting cursos de Ingles next week. This may sound like a simple thing to put together, but in fact I searched high and low for the Director of the Cultural Center in my town to put a schedule together for almost a week! But as luck should have it, on my last (not really) attempt last night I found him and vamos a ver...I am becoming an english teacher. One friendly chap here asked me if I was qualified to teach Ingles. This is ironic seeing as how the majority of english teachers here who are Dominican in fact DO NOT speak to his question I responded ¨Bueno, yo hablo ingles.¨Our convo ended shortly after that. What else? Last week I went to the highschool and had a great meeting with the Director and told her about the Youth Group Escojo Mi Vida (all about AIDS/HIV education, raising self esteem and self awareness, making healthy decisions...) that I want to start and asked her to send me 10 muchachos who are strong, smart students to start with and after we´ll ¨mulitply¨ the info on a broader sense. So she was stoked and this Wednesday I´m going back to meet these said muchachos and pump them up for the first meeting this Friday! Last week, while preparing for said meeting, I had a visitor: my good buddy Ramiro (you may recall this muchacho from the pictures of a hike to some caves near my site..) Anyway, I had mentioned awhile ago my desire to start a newspaper here in Fantino and he asked ¨K lo k con el periodico?¨ (whats up w the newspaper?) I sadly explained nada, mainly because the people who said they wanted to work on it were always busy and I obvioulsy can´t do it sola! So he said, well lets just do and you! So we sat for two hours formulating a plan of action, a list of people in the community who could be part of the team as well as businesses and the like who we are going to beg for pesos from to get started. The following day we put an invitation together for this meeting with the selected people and this thursday Ramiro and I will present our vision for a proper newspaper here! So I think that lays a pretty clear idea about what I am actaully doing when Im not falling out of rafts and such...However, never an email without a humorous anecdote! So last week I was rummaging around in the closet and found ants...a friend lovingly refers to them as diablos...I agree with this sentiment. So I huffed and puffed and walked across the street to buy something to kill these diablos, but no luck, However I did meet Gladys. Gladys is my neighbor and asked if I liked cafe? Do I like cafe? Thats like asking if the sky is, of course I obliged to her kind invitation and went to her house to tomar some cafe and give my story. While sitting there chatting, another vecina, Lydia came over. Pleasantries exchanged and another invitation to go across the street to tomar cafe and see her house. She asked me if I like pancakes? Do I like pancakes? Thats like asking if Russians like vodka...I happily told her that I looove pancakes. To this, she was very happy and excited and said ok, vamos a cocinar... We went into the kitchen and Lydia started laying various ingredients used to make pancakes. Once all were out she told me to start cooking! Um what, something must have been lost in translation as they say! So there I was in my neighbor´s cocina, sweating my ass not only because its crazy hot, but because there I was about to cook pancakes...yes, they are not hard, its not rocket science, but when put on the spot things get a bit hairy. So I took a deep breath, grabbed Aunt Jemima´s friendly face and sighed a deep sigh of relief when I saw that good ole Aunt Jemima was in fact, en Ingles! Therefore, I enjoyed some yummy whole wheat pancakes with syrup and explained to Lydia´s husband that syrup is not honey, but in fact a type of honey (i felt this was an appropriate connection) that is sweet and comes from trees en un estado cerca Nueva York! Ah, as for the crazy hurricanes that have commenced, all is well here (so far) just lots of rain and apparently more to come... paz afuera (peace out)A

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Something about a new apt and a river...

Mis panes! Como estan??? Well like always it has been awhile since my last update of life in the DR and like always there is much to report. First, panes as in breads, are also slang for friends, so there is your spanish lesson for the day. Also, as of now there is lots of rain but nothing major...yet. re: Tropical Storms. Hmm, where to begin? I believe as when we last left off I was working on my diagnostic and drinking lots of cafe. Well, my diagnostic has come and went and I presented the finished product with a member of my committee. Originally I thought was going to go sola mission as my project partner is forever "ocupada" with something and while she talks a good talk there is very little time for her to actually work with me...also something about a language barrier...anyhoo, I was sitting on my new galleria (we'll get to this part soon) playing in with my flashlight when Felipe and Leo suprised me with a visit and told me that Felipe would join me manana for the day...they also apparently needed to investigate my new place and be sure to inquire if a)can i cook and b)when will i be having them over for dinner? Well they are going to be quite suprised because I still dont have a stove and I am not cooking rice and beans and carne! Ok, so Monday morning rolled around and after a long weekend of waiting the rain, bargaining with my new landlord and moving! I met Felipe and off we went to IST in GuaGui, La Vega. This is a town close to my site mas o menos, however after the carro publico ride we had to take a taxi up the mountain which was a little bumpy to say the least, but very very beautiful as we looked down on the valley and city below. After pleasantries and many tazitos of cafe later, we commenced with IST and Domingo, my APCD (Director of my sector) introduced IST and asked everyone to BRIEFLY go around and describe their site and project status. Well, being at the beginning of the table I started, stating that Fantino was great blahblah and that we are STILL waiting on computers from the Sec of Education so for the moment we are at a standstill as far as computer class goes...well then Felipe felt the need to pipe in. Chatty Cathy over here went on for 15 minutes about his 21 years in education, blahblah...with all my friends' eyes on me thinking "What is this joker talking about and is he finished yet?" Well after Felipe talked about how bonita PC was he finally signed off. Then onto the diagnostic presentations which were very boring and said the same thing basically each time around...well that is until I went (last) and made the mistake of asking Felipe to give a BRIEF history of Fantino. I even gave him a written out paragraph of exactly what to say. Well chatty cathy over here once again was quite verbose for no reason and took up at least half of my 15 minutes to present! So I was rushed through my presentation which was fine...I bid Felipe adios and went to a friends room to have a long awaited Cuba Libre! As I have referenced I have moved! Por fin! While me and Milagros (my dona) have become pretty good friends and I genuinely feel like she's my family here I was more than excited to get to my own place and have some peace and quite and alone time in a room other than my bedroom! Well, my new casa is in reality an apartment over a colmado. It has water and light (sometimes). But since I am on the second floor there is mas brisa so sleeping sin fan isn't too too bad. When I was looking at the place, my friend who helped me find it and my new landlord assured me that the calle is muy tranquilo. Well, while I am no longer living right next to that blasted moto repair shop the street is not quiet and there are many many gallos that wake me up at all hours of the morning, BUT there are NO screaming kids and no dona looking at me to finish every grain of rice so all is superbien! In an effort to keep this corto, I will depart with this final tale...yet another of my spazzyness that I'm sure will provide comincal relief in yor day (at least thats the goal). So, after my IST I went to Jarabacoa, which is the Swiss Alps mountain town version here in the DR to meet up with the Enviroment kids to go white water rafting. So, Sunday morning we go up and out and off to the place to gear up TK is the enviro trainer and I asked if it was really neccesary to wear the wet suit as it is hot and how cold can the water really be in the middle of August in the Carribean? While I did not don the wet suit, the helmet and life vest were a must. So off we went down the river with Juan as our fearless river guia. All started out well and my friend Anne fell out a few times which was HIGHLARIOUS but apparently a sign of things to come. On one of the big rapids I was on the low side of the boat going down the big rapid. Well I fell out and at first I was thinkng "hey i'm cool, I can swin and Juan will save me" Well, how wrong I was. All of sudden everything went into highgear and the next thing I knew I was pinned in between a rock and the raft watching my friends jump of out of the boat, shouting "Where is she"? Then I was under the boat, in between the boat and rock. Next thing I knew my friend Joel, gracias adios, pulled me up by life jacket and into the boat after I popped back up on the other side. However, as you may recall we were still in the middle of the rapids and once back in, we were still fighting our way to calmer waters. I gave Juan and all my friends a good little rattle and a little while later we stopped for a snack and a rest and TK came up to me to inquire if I was ok. TK: Well, how ya doing?AB: Um, ok I have a big bruise here on the back of shoulder and few others but I'm goodTK: yea, thats why I wear the wetsuit, It protects from that.AB: Uh huh, thanks I'll keep that in mind next time. I didnt know that wetsuits also kept you from falling out of the raft?! But hey what do I along the river we went sin incident. After we disembarked I had a much needed cerveza! Anyway that is the lasted cuenta...tommorow back to site to begin work!

Hope all is well much
love A

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jugo, mormones y volibol

10 de Julio de 2008

Greetings and salutations from the DR! As usual I fear it has been quite sometime since I have last written of my daily trials, tribulations, spastic moments and the like. For starters: Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone spent it with a cold cerveza and a beach…or something close. Last we left off, I was being stalked by creepy Pablo and on the brink of beginning my community diagnostic. Well, I can happily relate that as we speak I am working on the finishing touches of my power point presentation of said diagnostic and feel seemingly content with it. What does this diagnostic consist of, well as I explained earlier, I was waiting to andar (walk/visit) with Antonia from the school in various barrios in my town to meet the gente and ask questions about informatica and their opinions…Antonia and I started out late in the afternoon when it was ¨mas fresca¨. Antonia would introduce me: Hola, ella es Arianna, gente de Cuerpo de Paz. Ella va a trabajar con nosotros en la escuela y ella esta haciendo un trabajo. Me: Si, hola. Como esta usted? Mi nombre es Arianna y yo soy una Voluntaria con Cuerpo de Paz, un organización del Gobierno en los EEUU SIN afiliación religiosa y politica. Voy a trabajar en Proyecto Ave con computadoras y informatica. Pero, ademas de informatica yo tengo mucho mas interes en la comunidad enterro and me gustaria hacer otros proyectos sociales. Tiene tiempo por algunos preguntas porque estoy haciendo una encuesta para conocer y entender la gente y Fantino mejor? (Basically, hey I´m with Peace Corps anda m trying to get to the people here and the town better, going to work with comps but wanna work within the community also. Do you have time for a few questions) However, even after this little speech, the EXACT same thing was repeated by my Dominican counterpart as was about every single one of my questions. Pero, after my intial frustrations, I just had to laugh at it and realize that while I feel ridiculous and a little annoyed because I know what I´m saying is in fact in Spanish and is in fact correct, this is the way its gonna go and at least I´m getting to spend time with the people in my community and on occasion get some sweet, free coffee. But on the other side, there were occasions when I was talking with people and was actually, gasp, complimented on my Español and circumvented the parroting. Yet, in the end, I bid almost every household adios with a big hug and an open invitation to return whenever as Dominicans are always ¨A sus ordenes¨ This frase doesn´t really translate perfectly, but the gist is ¨whatever you need¨ This point has in fact been proven to be so true, that I have been asked by at least 3 ladies when I was coming back to tomar café and ellas estaban un poco guapa conmigo (they were a lil mad with me…also guapo/a here means mad) because I hadn´t been back to visit them again! So next week, I need to make my rounds with the ladies who lunch (not really) but to drink café, maybe talk a lil chisme and most likely after the intial pleasantries and bitching about the heat we´ll sit in awkward silence for enough time for my bladder to fill with the said café. On the note of the heat, it is incredible and mas mas fuerte than the heat in good ole SoFla, also in SoFla we have this magical device called A/C or at the very least 24hr electricity and fans. Therefore, it just gets my goat that almost every day I have a conversation similar to this one: Dominican amigo: Ah Arianna, tu estas sudando. (Oh, Arianna, you´re sweating)Me: Si, yo tengo mucho calor y yo llegue a pie. (Yes, I´m hot, I walked here)Dominican amigo: Ah, ya, que calor eh? El sol me pica mucho. (Oh yea, its hot. The sun is really bothering me too.)Me. Si. Siempre. (Yes, always) Yet, they know its effing hot and feel the need to comment on my sweat, yet they appear cool as cucumbers…go figure. What else? I have made a new friend: Julio. Julio has a juice tienda and I have been spending lots of time there as every time I´m there he gives me free, delicious, fresh juice. But even better, I sit there and shoot the shit with him while every other customer that walks in is invariably introduced to me with a nod of the head, lip point and an obligatory ´un amigo´ o ´un primo, tio, etc¨. So therefore, I have been meeting a lot of people and not having to walk in the crazy sun, showing up to their homes like a Mormon with my survey and explaining that, no I am not a Mormon. So, one day while enjoying my jugo de melon and chatting with Julio, un amigo showed up…I was introduced to him and Julio explained that he is some pastor of sorts with the Mormon church. Said pastor and I exchanged pleasantries along with my customary story about PC. Then onto the subject of what iglesia I´m with…I explained that, no I wasn´t with an iglesia, but was in fact a Judea and that no, I didn´t believe in Jesus Christo (pero, claro que is yo tengo mucho respecto por el). I also, then explained that there are many other religions and people in this mundo who do not believe in JC as well…pretty sure I blew his mind. In fact I know I did, because he exclaimed ÁH! Yo no sabia esto, incredible!) Oh, I didn´t know that…incredible! I felt that I had done my part of sharing culture and knowledge about others…I ran into him yesterday and he was intent on making sure we were amigos. I assured him we were and with a firm hand shake, I bid him adios until next time at the juice stand… One last quickie cuenta before I leave, as I´m sure you will all enjoy it. Yesterday, I went over to the cultural center, hoping to find people attending the Brigada Verde meeting and more importantly I was hoping to find the muchacho who had some of my surveys. Well I encountered neither. But I did encounter an ongoing volleyball tournament and un amigo who told me I should play with the muchachas as they were missing players. ME? Seriously? I know I think people here are slightly delusional when they tell me I look Dominican, but surely he can see that I stand a mere 5ft tall (Yes, I said it and let me live in my delusion of 5ft ok!) Well, after much nay saying and fear of embarrassment, I agreed and went home to change. Returned and told myself the whole way there that I need to embrace the awkward and put myself out there, step out of my box. Essentially make an ass out of myself for the greater good?! Well, I warmed up with some of the AWESOME muchachos and actually played ok. Even was asked if I play?! Can you believe it! We lost, I have a pretty sweet bruise on my wrist, but just this moment was told that I´m losing weight, so maybe there is something to this volleyball thing afterall… Ok, I fear at this point, if you´re still reading you´re wondering when it will be over…its over!

Monday, June 16, 2008

No, Pablo, I won`t be your novia

Aye aye...let that title sink in a bit. Last entry referred to SKIM ICE which I cleverly forgot to explain. Skim Ice are those frozen icicle treats that are in plastic tube / wrapping, you snip the top and enjoy a frozen treat. Well, it can get a bit tricky at the end when you have a long slender plastic tube and a little liquid that you just wanna finish so badly bc it is so insanely hot, so you push it up only to have it explode all over your white shirt...le sigh.

Entonces, Friday afternoon I was supposed to begin my community diagnostic with Antonia, a teacher at my school. She told ^muy muy temprano^ because its so I get to the school promptly at 8am and who`s not here? Yep, true to form. So I waited until she arrived and then she told me she had to go home for, didn`t you just leave your house? Obvioulsy I did not ask this obvious question, but rather Bien, I`ll continue to wait. In the meantime, I helped the secretary make an end of the year document, that since I am in fact a trained computer expert should have taken me 20 minutes instead of the 1.5hrs it really did. But, before taking forever on said doc, Antonia returned in a completely different outfit only to tell me 15 minutes later that after discussion with another teacher, they felt it was better for me to attend the PTA meeting and go in the afternoons as it is so hot and many people are at work in the morning and we don`t want to disturb them. OK, I get, I really do, its ungodly hot, BUT there is ALWAYS someone home here, usually the woman, or at least one of the many possible women who live in said casa. Also, I have never been to a house here where people are not welcoming to a pop-in visit, especially by someone they know ie Antonia. So, I sighed and said ^Bueno^. Monday it is then. After of course my presentation to the PTA. Well, the PTA mtg was that afternoon and the entire gym was filled to the brim as I made my way to the front to give the classic:
Buenos Dias, Mi nombre es Arianna, soy de Florida, soy una Voluntaria con Cuerpo de Paz, blahblah...I also cracked a joke, something to the effect of `don`t be scared if you see with papers and surveys..`not so sure how it went over, but I did get a fuerte aplauso. After the meeting conclued a few people approached me, said hello and the like, but nothing prepared for me Nelli. Nelli was a whirlwind of a lady and scooped me up bc she had heard that I was looking for a casa and or room and she had just the thing! Well, within a 10 minute walk we arrived at her two story casa and I met her husband and they kids and their tienda in the casa and almost all of her paintings as well. Then upstairs to the roof deck while we waited for the room in question to be unlocked. During this time, she asked me 20 preguntas about my current living situation, essentially bad-mouthing the Dona I currently live with, only to say that she (my current Dona) is a `muy buena persona.` Well, the room in fact turned out to be a room and a bathroom and that is just not going to happen...thats what I got now...mama needs a little more space and a casa sin ninos!!!! After the real estate adventure, the heavy questioning began: do you have a boyfriend, do you have a husband, do you have kids, what do you like in men...oh well then I have the perfect chico for you; PABLO, my brother in law! This was my inner monologue: NOOOOOOO! But, my friendly PCV face said, ok to dinner the following night where a meeting with the infamous Pablo was more than assured. The following night Nelli and her esposo picked me up and took me back to their casa where I immediatley met Pablo. Nelli took me into the kitchen and held up various food items, asking me
N: Tu sabe? te gusta? (she was holding eggs.)
Me: Si., Si yo se. Huevos.
N: Y esto, que es? Te gusta? (she handed me a can of pumpkin puree from 1975.)
Me: Ay, esto es puree de pumpkin, es bueno en biscocho. ( Its good in pie)

And on it went, until her husband thought it would be better to go upstairs to the deck, of course with Pablo. Not 3 minutes after we sat did the hubby ditch me to converse with his bro. So Pablo and I began with the status quo preguntas about Peace Corps and the like. Then, 15 minutes in

Pablo: Nelli me hablo sobre ti. (Nelli talked to me about you)
Me: Ah, uh huh.
Pablo: Si, tiene un novio?
Me: No (I don`t wanna get caught in a lie if another Juan, Pablo, Carlos,etc catches my fancy)
Pablo: En serio, como una linda mujer como tu no tiene un novio? (Seriously,how can a pretty girl like you not have a boyfriend?)
Me: Ha. Uh, ahora yo estoy enfocando en mi trabajo. (Tehe, right now I am focusing on my work)
Pablo: Bueno, cuando nosotros vamos a estar novios? ( Ok, when are we gonna be boyfriend/girlfriend?)
Me: Um, nosotros solemente conocimos este momento. Esperate. (Um we just met. Chill out)
Pablo: Tu crees en amor en el primer vista? (Do you believe in love at first sight?)
Pablo: Pero, tu crees in quimica? Tu piensas nosotros tenemos quimica? (But you believe in chemistry, do you think we have it?)
Me: Uh, yo tengo hambre.

Yes, this is casi (almost) word for word. It did not stop until I went home and not without Pablo wanting to meet Aaron, because he was to be his future cuñado (brother in law). So, finally after I couldn`t take it anymore, I said I was tired and needed to go home. Pablo, being the gentlemen that he is, took me home and I swear I sat so close to the door that I was ready to do a duck and roll at a moments notice. Gracias a dios, my casa is not far and I flew out of the car and bid Pablo adios!
A rational human being might get the picture. No, yesterday afternoon while sitting, sweating on my porch, who rolls by? Pablo. Pablo inquired if I was going over to Nelli`s house...nope, Yo voy a quedar aqui. (No, I`m staying here.)

In other news: last week I played dominos and made good with the family of my project partner and essentially have an open invitation to their casa anytime I want (without fear of Pablo types).

Today I am once again going to attempt my community diagnostic with Antonia. As well as trying to press the Se of Ed to change out my broken computers and maybe get a committee going for the newspaper project I wanna start. Also, going into the Capital this weekend for some R&R, English and a dip in the Embassy pool for a friend`s bday!

That`s the latest cuenta!

hasta luego