Friday, December 21, 2012

. . . And Back Again

(Yes, that's a Hobbit reference, can't wait to see it when we get to the States)

We're almost packed!  Abigail has checked her plane bag about 20 times to make sure the Hello Kitty pez dispenser and lollipop are still there.

We're heading back to the U.S. for Christmas.  It's crazy, it's going to be crazy.  Drinking tap water, flushing toilet paper, shopping at Trader Joe's and Walmart, loading and unloading the dishwasher, being cold . . .  I'm really excited!  Mostly to see everyone.  The phone and internet make people seem much closer, but it's still not the same as physically being with people.  It's been a long time, almost 6 months, since we've seen almost everyone we've known our whole lives.

I'm excited to talk with those I'm close to about my life here.  In some ways, if this makes sense, going back to "report back" will make my life here feel more real.  Analyzing my life in the D.R. from a distance will I think click my new life into focus.

It's a great time to go back.  God is so good.  I can't tell you how much better I'm feeling this month than last (and all the months before).  As a super honest communicator much of the time, I've struggled with my answer when people have asked, "Do you like it there?"--admittedly a pretty innocent and seemingly non-threatening question.  But in survival mode, I found that question a difficult one to answer.

Life here has been physically, emotionally, and mentally harder.  New language (still wildly frustrating), new culture, new jobs added to the routine (related to a less sterile environment), new worries (Dengue fever, for one), new noises, new bugs in food . . .  And none of that has changed, but I'm figuring out how to navigate my life without expending quite so much of my energy and internal resources.  You don't realize how much of your day you do in automatic pilot until you have to think about each interaction and task for a while.  It's exhausting.

I feel like I'm inching my way over a big initial hump.  Suddenly I'm finding it possible to do some "extras."  I got some editing done, I started a quilt I had meant to make for Abigail, I made a few batches of ice cream, and I did a few other projects I had put off for a "someday" that seemed quite remote.  I didn't see it coming, but somehow I seem to have gotten adjusted enough that I'm able to do a little more than just the daily tasks of living before collapsing on the sofa.

But I started to realize in the last few months that my biggest issue at this point is relational.  I mentioned in a previous blog how I don't have close friends here yet, and my friends from the States can't relate to my life here (though they are still an important part of my life).  But what is so great is that in the last few weeks we've had more of a chance to hang out with friends from our church here, and we are genuinely starting to be real friends with them.  And real friends, to laugh with about the ridiculous things we do here because we still don't know what we're doing, are what I have missed so much.

Feeling like I'm leaving and will return to people who get us and care about us gives me a very different perspective on my life here.  I honestly feel now like I can say, "It's great!  It's hard and we're still adjusting, but we love it!"  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012


It's right around 70 degrees this morning, and boy, it's really chilly.  We all have on layers.  :)  It was definitely in the 60s last night.  We've really adjusted to the temperatures here.  I should add that I'm wearing capris, and say that it's supposed to go up to 80 this afternoon.  Christmas in the U.S. should be a little bracing for us.  I'm really excited to feel wintry, Christmas just isn't the same when it's hot and sunny.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Different Perspectives

We just had some, "Hmm, we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto" moments.  I thought I'd share a few:

Doctor Visit

Owen had to go to the doctor the other day.  His name is difficult for people here.  None of his names seem like first names to anyone particularly.  So the receptionist at the doctor's office had a lot of trouble with his name, even though he showed her on his driver's license.  He told her many times which name was his first, middle and last in Spanish--as did the nurse from his school who went with him as his translator--but she did not seem confident.

When he got back to the exam room, the doctor had trouble pulling his name up.  Owen looked at the computer as the doctor was looking under his last name and saw "Organ Donor" as first and middles.  He said he was pretty sure that was him.

Dinner Party

We were invited over for dinner today after church.  Ice cream here is pretty much awful, so I offered to bring some I had made--I am loving the chocolate ice cream with coconut milk I found on an Oprah website--which I think is infinitely better (mostly because it doesn't contain all sorts of artificial colors and flavors and tastes "real").  So I thought I'd bring it to church with me and stick it in the freezer in the church kitchen.  But when I got there this morning, the refrigerator was gone.  It turned out someone in the church needed to borrow it because they didn't have one.  So then the pastor's wife asked a neighbor who attends our church to keep my ice cream in her freezer during the service.  It felt distinctly un-American, the whole thing.

Then on the way to the dinner party the host of the party asked for a ride to his house.  We checked if he needed us to drive his kids (and wife?) too, mentally trying to figure out how to cram the our two oldest and one car seat into the back (where the boys could sit on pull-down jump seats) and counting seat belts.  He said, never mind, his brother had room (maybe he heard that infinitesimal pause as our American minds thought, "How could he think we have room?").  We followed his brother's car to his house (they made one stop to let out someone who had needed a ride--Owen thinks they had a kid with them, but I cannot corraborate that) and when we got there, five adults and five children poured out of the car.  I told him maybe the expression "has room," which in America involves the number of seat belts in the car, means something very different here.  The meal was delicious!

(Hilariously, when it was time for all fifteen of us to eat, he told us to all sit at the moderate-sized round table with seven chairs.  I asked if he meant just the seven kids, or all of us, and he said we'd all fit.  I told him I think maybe he just has trouble with the concept of "fitting.")  These are some of our best friends we have made here, I'm sure there will be many future chances for us to see from different perspectives.

On a personal note

I'm feeling an unusual sensation a lot lately of needing to call someone but not being able to think who it is.  I think it comes from feeling the need to talk with someone who 1) knows me very well, and 2) understands the context of the story I want to tell from my day.  And while I have wonderful friends in America who know me very well, and new friends here who understand the context of my story, I have no friends who both know me very well and understand the context of my story.  It is a tribute to my wonderful friends in the states who walked so closely with me through my daily experiences how very much I miss them now in my new daily experiences.

I know I will always have those friends, and I know in time I will have close friends here who understand my daily life well, but it's a very wistful, indescribable feeling to not have that right now.

Two more weeks till we visit the states!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Girl Effect . . . in Santiago, R.D.

I went to a fundraiser tonight for a girl's school in the barrio of La Vega (about 30 minutes from where I live) called Nueva Esperanza.  It's an incredible school and has an incredible mission serving girls and families in an extremely poor neighborhood.  They showed a video tonight highlighting the incredible need of pre-teen and teenage girls worldwide.  It was thoughtful and moving and just a few minutes long.  I must share it, click on the link below to watch it:

The Girl Effect Video

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Getting ready for Christmas!

The Davis annual gingerbread house building--these collapsed the next day due to humidity.

The Davis Family Christmas "Tree"

We don't have enough room on the tree for all the ornaments, so we put some on our doorknobs

One more picture!  I took this picture in October, someone's festive porch in the mountains.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hilariously, while we'd never done the Indian and Pilgrim Thanksgiving in the states, we did it here for the kids' Thanksgiving parties the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Abigail joined Jesse's class and went as pumpkin kitty, since I didn't have an Indian costume for her.  Apparently, they sell costumes here of Indians and Pilgrims this time of year.  Who knew?  We did homemade.  :)

I then hosted a Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday evening so we could leave Thursday morning for the beach.  We had a really relaxed, good time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey Slaughter

Today my friend Holly and I went to the open air market downtown to buy my Thanksgiving turkey (because of course I have too many scruples with buying the Butterball turkeys shipped in from the States).  This market is almost impossible to describe, but there are blocks and blocks and blocks of produce stands and tiny open-front stores with dry goods and everything imaginable.  We picked our way through mud and traffic and people, Abigail strapped to my back in an Ergo to keep her out of the yucky stuff, to the poultry area and found some turkeys in a cage.We examined them as they strutted, large as life, around their cage and I pointed to one and said, "I'll take that big one" (that's not exactly how it went, it was in Spanish and my friend was helping and I did have to make sure that I wasn't going to have to carry the living turkey myself to the place of slaughter and find out the butcher's fee--50 cents--but I'm keeping the dramatic flow going).  I got the seller to pose for a picture with me and Abigail, and I must mention that Abigail was awed by these proceedings.  He walked it around the corner to the butcher's, tied it's feet together and hung it from the scale, and then collected the money for it.  Then we shook hands and he left.

I will not even try to explain what it was like in the butcher's room, except to say that the butcher was amazingly efficient (he butchered a chicken and our turkey in about 15 minutes) and at one point I had to avoid stepping on a chicken head.  I will also add that whatever loud machine strips all of the feathers off is quite alarming.  They handed me my turkey in a thin bag that barely covered the bird and I had to get two more bags to be able to carry it with no bird parts sticking out.

However you are getting your turkey this year, unless you shoot it yourself, I imagine it may be a far less colorful experience.  Wish you could have been there!  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Full-Service Food Court

The Davis family hit the local mall to see what it was like and to have dinner at a Dominican style restaurant on Monday night (National holiday, no school).  It was my first experience with a full-service food court.  The waiter was extremely helpful and diligent.  And the food was way better than what I expect from a food court.  And the price was higher than I expected, too.  Not bank-breaking, but not the American food court experience.  They did have a Burger King.  I imagine that would be closer.  :)

They have a movie theater there.  I was shocked to see that The Hobbit is coming soon!  Owen tried to prepare me for the fact that it may already be in the states and back out again before we go home for Christmas (when I told him I plan to see it).  Please tell me that is not true!

Pumpkin Kitty, Bunny, and the Ocean

Happy Halloween from the Davis children!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall is . . .

Just thought I'd put a request out there to my friends in the States actually experiencing fall.  I generally feel nostalgic on Sundays, and think of what people are doing back home.  And especially after posting about Fall, since there really isn't Fall here.  So I thought I'd pitch one to my readers.  Here's my interactive blog topic: When do you really feel like it's fall?  I used to feel like it was fall when I started going to the Friday night home football games in high school, but that was a really long time ago.  Right about now if I was in Philly we'd be going to Farmer's Markets and eating lots of apples and I'd be coordinating my local meat purchasing for our "co-op."  If you want to, I'd love to read some comments with what fun Fall things you all are up to.

Feeling Like Fall

Well, it was 90 degrees yesterday, and we had an awesome time swimming at the club we just joined. [ I know,"Who is the woman?" I hear you asking, "She drives an SUV and joined a club?"  The irony is not lost on me, don't worry.]  Well, the kids and I did--Owen was gone almost all week and gets back tonight, which made the very long weekend due to hurricane days off school a little less bearable.  Anyway, I digress.  The point is that it once again feels like summer.  But for a few days there it was cool, we wore jeans during the day, and it felt like fall.  During the stormy cool weather, the kids decorated for Halloween.  I didn't see that they have imported carving pumpkins in the grocery store ($5 for a tiny one) until we'd already painted pretend local ones.  Ours are some kind of squash (auyama, I think), I picked out the ones that looked the most pumkiny.  The kids wanted to keep going on the pictures, but we're running out of construction paper and I thought a dozen was enough.  

They have their Halloween costumes ready, and I have some expats lined up as trick or treat sites.  No one does trick or treating in this country, a fact of which my kids were informed, but my kids are very committed and unfazed by that knowledge.  I don't have the heart to tell them we can't go anywhere.  Their costumes: Jesse is going to be a bunny (because we already have the tail and ears), Abigail is going to be a pumpkin kitty (because we already have a pumpkin shirt and ears and tail), and Micah is going to be the ocean (because I really didn't think I could make him into a shark, but I thought we could pin his various ocean-related stuffed animals to a blue shirt).  Pictures forthcoming on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mountain Drive

One of my favorite parts of the area we live in is the mountains.  It is about ten degrees cooler at any given time in the mountains.  So while I live near beautiful tropical beaches, what I really crave a day trip to the mountains.  The only problem, as we discovered, is that it's tough to take a day trip there.  The mountains are not filled with paths and parking lots for hikers and there are no trail maps to be found.  So when I told Owen I wanted to go hiking in the mountains--Owen, as lover of maps and guide books and web pages, being, of course, our trip coordinator--he had to rely on descriptions of a hike from a guide book.  We told the kids we were having a hiking adventure in the mountains, packed a few granola bars and water (the guide book promised restaurants and shops near the hiking location), and headed off.

The drive is a mountain road which connects Santiago to Puerta Plata, a nearby beach.  It's a beautiful drive and we had a promising start to our day.  However, the guide book accidentally confused two "La Cumbre" roads and when we turned off of that road we had a terrifying ride straight up a broken concrete road (turns out this one runs on a fault line and is broken up by earthquakes) with an unbelievably steep slope.  I did not get a photo of this one because I was too terrified for photo snapping and we were too busy reading the owner's manual to make sure we had the four-wheel drive correctly engaged and to make sure that the picture-of-the-car-on-the-steep-downward-grade button was in fact the button you push when going down a .

We got back on track, through broken and insufficient Spanish, to find a more substantial-looking "La Cumbre."  When I say substantial, what I really mean is that this one was marked for tourists.  It was still unpaved and tiny.  This one looked more promising, as it led to a memorial to the Mirabel sisters (opposed to and killed by the dictator Trujillo); their death helped to gather even more support to Trujillo's overthrow.  The monument is constructed where their bodies were found in their car, and is truly in the middle of nowhere.

Here is the Davis family at the memorial; three of them have no idea what the memorial is for.

We got directions from there for the mountain hike near the amber mines (as read about in Owen's tour book), slightly vague ones, involving more driving up tiny mountain roads.  People kept vaguely waving us on ahead, and while we grew gradually less hopeful about finding a trail, people did seem to know something of the amber mines.  Eventually, some man looked at us curiously when we said we wanted to see pretty sites and go for a walk near the amber mines and waved us down the road a few feet and pointed off to the side of the road.  It did not look remotely possible that a trail could be where he was pointing, but I got out of the car.  I walked over to where he was gesturing and realized that he was pointing down into an amber mine.  I assured him that we did not actually want to take our walk in the amber mine, but said I wanted to take a picture.

After that, we had a good laugh, broke out the Nutri-Grain bars, and told the kids we'd just go out to eat, as promised.  I got some great pictures on the way down, which I must post here in order to justify making our car ride a little longer (I mean, for a family hike, this was turning out to be pretty sedentary and boring for the kids).

I had no idea that a banana tree flowered until I saw this

We made our way back to the main mountain road, and started to look about us for restaurant options.  There weren't any.  At least, there certainly didn't appear to be, and lots of people were staring at us as though we were a travelling zoo.  I'm going to just take a wild guess here and say that there probably aren't so many tourists going back to see the Mirabel sisters monument.  So we told the kids we'd stop at the "town" on the way down.  But the few stands there offered Snapple and a few fried meat products that looked unappealing and which I refused to feed my children.  So the rest of the granola bars were divvied up, and we started back down the mountain.  Owen wanted to stop at an amber store he'd noticed, so we unloaded the kids and went for a little mini-field trip, as it turned out (perhaps not so riveting for the early childhood age-group).  The tiny shop sold amber earrings and such, but what was far more interesting is that it also purchased amber.  And there were two men there selling amber in rock form to the owner--one of them even had a more rare turquoise-colored amber (the edge was amber, when he put the flashlight behind it it was the familiar golden brown color).  And, thankfully for all of my faithful readers here, they had no problem with me taking pictures of everything they did and all the different forms of amber.

The contender

A rare color of amber

Quality assessment and comparison


Filing it down a little

The merchandise

The pair I liked

Mommy's choice approved by all
Family hike, pretty much a failure.  But an interesting one at that.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Got to Wear a Sweater Today!

OK, only for a little, but it was so wonderfully cool.  It was also a hurricane, and classes were dismissed early and school cancelled for tomorrow.  The cool breeze and wearing jeans and drinking hot tea tonight . . .  I can't even tell you!  So delightful!  And we painted "pumpkins" today.  I'll try to post pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mosquito Attack!

I don't know what is going on, because we have screens and haven't had much problem before tonight, but we just killed close to 100 mosquitoes, literally, mostly all in our living room.  They're landing on the walls, and sometimes we're killing two at a time with both hands.  Our living room floor is littered with mosquito carcasses, and our walls have mosquito marks on them.  We just drained a plant in the corner that had standing water in it, could that really have been the culprit?  The weird thing is that we really didn't get bitten much at all.  And that we seem to have gotten it back under control.  I can only find a few visible anyway after an intensive mosquito killing hour as I search the house.  It's too creepy, though.

Pray for us, that the mosquito infestation ends!

I killed a lot of mosquitoes on this Matilda library book.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Digno y Santo

We found a church we love last week and went for the second time today.  We sang this song there, that I have come to love as we've been living here.  In English it's called "Worthy and Holy" and it's so beautiful.  I'm putting a link to below (because it's the only place I know to listen to specific songs for free), and you just have to click on the first version by Kari Jobe (because that's the best one!):

Digno y Santo

Here are the lyrics first in Spanish and then in English for anyone who's interested:

Worthy and Holy

Kari Jobe

Digno y Santo el cordero
Inmolado en la cruz
Nuevo canto
Al quien su trono esta

Digno y Santo el cordero
Inmolado en la cruz
Nuevo canto levantaremos
Al quien su trono esta

Santo, santo, santo
Dios todo poderoso
Quien fue, quien es y quien vendra
La creacion te canta
Hosana al gran Yo Soy
Tu eres mi todo
Y yo te adorare...

De un arcoiris, estas vestido
Tu voz resuena como los truenos
Recibe Honor y Gloria
Poder y Majestad
A ti el unico Rey


Tan grandioso, asombroso
Con solo decir Jesus
Tan grandioso, asombroso
Con solo decir Jesus
Cristo tu nombre es grande
Fuerte inagotable
Tu misterio glorioso es

Eres santo

Worthy and Holy

Kari Jobe

Worthy and Holy
Lamb, sacrificed on the cross
New song, get up
to that in his throne this /
Holy, holy, holy,
God Almighty
Who was, is, and who will come
The creation sings
Hosanna to the great I am
You are my everything
And I will worship you
In a rainbow, these dress
resuenda Your voice like thunder
Receive Honor and Glory
and Power Majesta you the only king
Holy, holy, holy,
God Almighty
Who was, is, and who will come
The creation sings
Hosanna to the great I am
You are my everything
And I will worship you
So great, amazing
by saying Jesus
Christ your name is great
inexhaustible Source
Your mystery
is Glorious
Holy, holy, holy,
God Almighty
Who was, is, and who will come
The creation sings
Hosanna to the great I am
You are my everything
And I will worship you
I adore

Friday, October 5, 2012

Finishing Touches

This little end-table was refinished to match our dining room  table and given a new top (the other one was lost in shipping), originally made by my grandfather.

Homemade curtains: We need every puff of wind we can get, so the creative twist is the best option.  

My birthday gift, painted by the husband of a teacher at Owen's school.

My other birthday gift, from IKEA (well, we said it was, but we just needed a chair for the living room). 

Mother and daughter craft: My mom bought me the butterflies when she was visiting.  They're a local craft made from coconut shells.  We braided nine strands of twine and hot glued the butterflies onto it.  If my walls weren't all tile in the bathroom I may have mounted them individually, but . . . they are!

It's finally coming together!  I have to say, these little touches just make it so much homier!


Just had to share a picture of this.  These are pinto beans.  Fresh ones from my local grocery store.  Are they not beautiful?  I just don't feel like it's the same experience as getting them dried in a bag.


Micah has a loose tooth that is now sticking out in such a way as to make both of his parents shudder when they see it.  I told Micah that when people start calling you "Tooth" you might want to pull that thing out, and Micah said, "I'm pretty sure that the people I keep hearing saying 'Diente' around me are talking about me."  Si, es posible.  At least he knows enough Spanish to figure that out!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Visitor's Suite

So, though I had my skeptics, I did manage to get the laundry room looking like a reasonable guest suite.  I was given a huge boost by my neighbor who insisted that my parents shouldn't be sleeping on an air mattress.  She felt they'd be much more comfortable on the mattress from her spare room.  Hard to argue with that.  But imagine my surprise when Owen and another neighbor (apparently employed on our block for all small jobs--we've seen him on neighbor's roofs and walls harvesting mangoes and guavas) came in with the bed frame . . . and then the box spring.  Of course, when I asked Owen why he didn't tell her that we didn't need to take her entire bed, he pled language deficiency.  And when I told my neighbor that she didn't need to give us the whole bed, she scoffed (in Spanish) at the idea of my parents bending down to get into bed, thus defeating the purpose of the back support afforded by the real mattress.  Here's a little tour of the guest suite my parents stayed in last week, I forgot to include the pictures on my last post.

The "sans microwave, laundry tub, or washing machine" view

The guest bath

The "reveal all" view (well, almost, the water cooler and microwave are to the right behind that closet); we've getting a really good (and really affordable) local carpenter to make us a wooden screen to hide the laundry tub and washing machine (maybe in time for Christmas)

Had to include the inverter and battery pack on the wall.  I tried to dress them up with hanging baskets and a metal painted crab, but really, back-up energy solutions are just not too attractive.

Hmm, I realize as I label that last picture that I have neglected to explain how energy works here.  So we do have electrical power every day.  But at least a few days a week we lose power for anywhere between a few minutes to 12 hours.  When we first moved here, I thought that the power outages were a result of "Hello, you moved to a third world country, of course you lose power."  I pictured tattered wiring, storms blowing trees over, not enough power to supply the city, etc.  But then I was told that the "brown outs" are actually a retaliatory move from the U.S. and Canadian power plants who are owed around a billion dollars.  Dominicans (this includes me now, of course) pay some of the highest rates of electricity in the world--but since much of the money customers pay is going straight into the pockets of corrupt government officials here, we also have some of the worst service in the world.  The energy providers don't wish to provide energy for "free."

Thursday seems to be a big day for power companies sending the message "Santiago, pay up!"  Most people in Santiago (at least our section of it) do not have electricity (or water, as a result) on Thursdays.  The school Owen works for has provided us with an inverter, so we have battery supplied electricity during those times. We just lose power to the refrigerator, washing machine, microwave or other heating device (use of these would kill the inverter).  We can cook because we have a gas oven.  But it really does affect our way of life, if just because we can't count on amenities like we could in America.  And because we have to go food shopping almost every day.  Food is less chemically treated and often in really hot environments before being purchased, so it already has a short shelf life.  But I can't imagine that the refrigerator going out regularly helps much.  And you don't want much meat in a freezer that goes out all the time.  Our house does get water, thankfully.  I think if we lost power for long enough we'd lose it, but it can handle a half day's loss just fine.  Needless to say that I take the possibility of "National Emergency" very seriously and keep extra bottles of filtered water (and a water filter) handy.

Just a little glimpse into some of the more complicated facets of daily life here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Visit Con Los Padres

My parents just left after a wonderful week-long visit.  They came last Saturday night, we left for a resort nearby in the morning, came back on Tuesday so the boys (and Owen) could attend a few days of school and so we could show them our lives here, and then went to the mountains for two days before they left.  The kids were so excited to see Grandma and Grandpa, and we all just felt it was so, so good to be together.

Abigail was mostly excited to see Grandma and Grandpa--but she was almost as excited about getting the princess dress and Hello, Kitty! purse that she knew Grandma was bringing.

Here's the Davis/Frey crew in Sosua.  You can't see her in the picture, but Abigail is in an adorable fish inner tube that a boy at the beach lent to her.

Here are the Davis boys outside of the national park in Cabarete.  We took Grandpa there for a birthday gift; it was hot we were all tired, and having a power-outage inside the cave made it a different (and more harrowing) experience than when we went the time before.  But it was truly a glimpse of the country!

The beach at Riu Bachata was amazing.

I mean, seriously, is this beautiful, or what?

Beach time with Grandma.

You'd never guess, but this was about the 18th attempt.

The chefs at the restaurant carved local auyamas (pumkins) into cool shapes.

The fam.

Local restaurant--do you know how hot it is cooking here?  Very.

Cathedral in downtown Santiago's Parque Duarte.

Souvenier bracelets from grandma.  A really sweet older woman in a shop gave us these after we bought some Larimar jewelry (a pretty blue stone from the D.R.).

My mom took these pictures of the market at the end of my street where I buy a lot of produce.  I don't exactly blend there or feel uber-confident (where I could start snapping photos myself), so it was great to be able to ask people if my mom could take pictures to show her friends about her daughter's life.  People were more than willing to be photographed.

Coconut stand.  You can get him to hack the top off for you and pour it into a cup or you can be more sanitary and self-reliant and almost dismember yourself in your very own kitchen after buying it whole.

OK, so here you can see chayote (the light green crisp squash), yuca--or patatas (sweet potatoes), it's hard to tell--behind it, platanos (big, green banana-looking fruits that need to be cooked) on the ground, and me, in the distance, buying tomatoes for less than 50 cents a pound.  (Don't worry, it all evens out.  Anything processed or made of plastic costs two to three times as much as in the states.

In the mountains of Jarabacoa: the butterfly house.  Butterflies on the sides of houses are big here.  The smaller ones (not pictured) are made of coconut shells.  I'm guessing the big metal ones are a result of people wishing coconuts were bigger.

El presidente, the local beer.

Tim, the collie who "shepherded" my family the whole time we were in the mountains.  He'd lay beside our table for a meal, supervise our swimming (he almost fell in trying to protect Jesse at one point), and guard our cabin at night (we kind of wished at that point he'd find another family to protect).  We LOVED Tim!

The waterfall we hiked down to after our horseback ride.

The kids with Grandma.  Kids who helped us on the horses were leaping off those cliffs behind them while we took these pictures.

We feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful visit.  And having those we love from America come to see our new life made it more real somehow here, too.  See you at Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa!