Tuesday, July 14, 2009

El Cumpleaños fuera del país

The photos you see above are from the recent weekend trip I made to Playa Rincón and an island named Cayo Levantado this past weekend. It was pretty awesome! And yes, that is a Piña Colada we are all drinking, and, yes, they were amazing.

I hope all of you have had a great past week! I recently spent my second consecutive birthday out of the US. I’ll be honest though – it was quite possibly my most uneventful birthday ever. It happened on a Thursday, and the only thing different about the day was I got a happy birthday phone call from my parents. It was great to talk to them – but after that, the day was quite “blah”. I did my normal work, went home, read a book, and fell asleep.

Exciting fiesta for one’s birthday, eh? Thankfully, this past weekend, some other interns came up here to Samaná, and we had a fantastic weekend hanging out at local beaches and towns on the peninsula. We actually were lucky enough to find a driver who took us place to place all weekend (for a price of course), but in the end it really didn’t cost us much. The beach we went to (Playa Rincón) is so secluded that you really either need to take a boat there from where we stayed the night, or you need to hire a taxi driver who stays with you all day and then drives you home when you’re ready to go. We opted for the latter option – and it really only cost about $8 a person. Gotta love the prices here!

The weekend was a great time to just unwind. I work quite a bit here (in the office from 8am to 6pm daily), and the weekends are a chance to “cargar las pilas” (recharge the batteries). It’s quite convenient that there are some of the most beautiful beaches within an hour drive of my house here!

Changing subjects, my friend Triller offered me his ukulele to borrow while I’m here in the DR, and I’ve taken full advantage of it. I love playing it at my house, and it provides entertainment while we are taking weekend trips. I’m learning a few songs on it, and I hope to have a larger repertoire by the time I head out of the Dominican. In fact, it’s one of the best ice-breakers that I have when going into the field. I bring it with me into the field to the loan repayment meetings, and it usually sparks some conversation with people there. I don’t even have to play it – people just have never seen a ukulele before. They call it “la guitarrita”, which is just “the little guitar”. Several people have offered to buy it from me – and I always ask them for a million dollars. No one’s taken me up on the offer yet.

Oh another point: please, please please know exactly what your shirt says when wearing it around, especially if it’s in another language. I absolutely died of laughing when I saw a shirt that a 60-ish year old Dominican man was wearing. In big print it said “Pornstar. Get some”. I was unfortunately not around any other Americans who could appreciate how funny this was – and I struggled mightily to try and translate “get some” into Spanish so that everyone else could know why I was laughing so hard. At the very least, I let them know that they should be aware of what their shirt says before wearing it outside, lest you be the source of some hearty laughter from someone who understands the language.

I am also planning on perhaps going to Haiti in 2 weekends. There are a few people going there, and I think that the opportunity is so unique – and the group so small – that I need to take advantage of it and just go. I really want to visit Haiti, and we wouldn’t be staying in a nice hotel somewhere far away from the poverty. I’d possibly be staying with one of the Esperanza workers who lives in a “small apartment with an outdoor bathroom”. We’ll just say that I won’t be in a touristy area of town. We’d be staying in Cap Haiten from Thursday-Sunday, and hopefully we’ll have the chance to attend a repayment meeting on Friday with some of the loan officers in Haiti. I’d love to have an opportunity to see how microfinance is working in Haiti. Unfortunately, the language barrier will prevent me from having conversations with individuals there like I do here in the Dominican, but it would still be a valuable experience. I feel a strong need to go to see Haiti, especially when I am on the same island for a period of 2 ½ months.

I’ll add another post this week with some thoughts I have regarding microfinance, the Dominican culture, and about my office here in Samaná. We’ll just say that where I am is in turmoil – largely the result of mismanagement. There are some fairly major legal issues here, and I’ll forward some information to you, though I want to first see what I can and can’t post on this public forum. Regardless, the next post should have some interesting thoughts! Keep posted.

Again, I hope you all have a wonderful week – it looks to me like at least Seattle will have some wonderful weather!! Check back in for a blog in a few days.


Ps – YES I am allowed to wear shorts in the office now. The heat has become infinitely more bearable now that I can wear shorts. :)

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