Sunday, July 29, 2012

Drinking from a Fire Hose

There has not been much coming from me these days via post.  And let me say, it is not from a lack of material!  In fact, it is more the reverse.  There is so much to write about that I don’t write anything, if that makes sense.  There is an overwhelming amount to learn and adjust to for us here.  The learning curve is steep.  It's like drinking from a fire hose, as a friend of mine here likes to say.  First of all, almost all of my interactions all day are in Spanish.  I think I somehow underestimated how much I'd be needing to speak in Spanish, because I knew we’d be around so many gringos.  But the grocery store, church, travel, my maid, calling for a water delivery . . . all in Spanish.  And somehow speaking in Spanish exhausts me even more than the manual labor.

A steer wandered into the cul de sac outside of neighbor's house.

Daily life tasks take twice as long here.  Our water is delivered in big 5 gallon botellones.  When we run out I call our local Colmado (corner store) and a man on a moto brings it to our house in somewhere between one minute and an hour.  I then have to go downstairs to unlock the two locks on our gate (I always try to make it seem smooth, like I totally know which two of my keys from the ring go to that gate).  Then he comes up the stairs, puts it in our pantry, and takes the old one.  The water is about $.85 unless for some reason you don't have the old bottle to give him, in which case it's $5.00 for a completada.  I couldn't get any today or yesterday from our normal guy, but we had two big ones going into the weekend and I'm trying to hold out until tomorrow.  We did find the fresh squeezed juice section at the grocery store and between that and the limeaid our maid makes so deliciously (called limonada, they don't have lemons here as we know them, limes are lemons) we are drinking lots more juice than we used to.

Not being able to drink the water from the tap and having to treat all fruits and veggies as potential transmitters of cholera means that preparing food involves soaking ingredients in filtered, treated water for 15 minutes.  I have switched from soaking them in Clorox to using Purissimo, a European product (not sure if there's much of an essential difference there, but here's hoping).  The essential problem with the soaking, apart from the inevitable nutrient loss in our food, is that I have to plan ahead and know that I'll need an ingredient 15 minutes before I'm ready for it, which is not the way I work.  I am excited, though, about the greens and herbs I started on my balcony in pots (I'm hoping to avoid that soaking step with those).

I bought some plants and soil yesterday, so now it looks more like home.  I put some bougainvillea (here called trinitaria) and I don't know what the white flower is (it looks a little like clematis, anyone know?) on my front balcony.  And then I put another pretty pink flower (again, I have no idea what it's called but would love to) on the side balcony along with my pots of soil with seeds: cilantro, mint, basil, and arugula.  The "potting" soil was heavy and clayish, but was all the garden center had, so here goes nothing!  The soil here is supposed to be some of the most fertile in the world, so I guess they know what they're doing.

It's funny.  We alternate between working twice as hard to having these wildly exciting tourist adventures.  We took the family vacation I wrote about the other week to Cabarete.  I actually must interrupt my narrative to give some pictures of the drive from Santiago to Cabarete.  We drove over mountains to get there.  I loved the paint colors and roadside stands.  Since we didn't bring a lot of artwork with us, my plan is to paint some of these pictures.  I actually did a small watercolor of one of the roadside stands for the front of an anniversary card for Owen (9 years!).  So here is your picture tour of the drive over the mountains:

Even in the mountains, sometimes you need a basket of fake Gerbera daisies.

A pretty tree here, the one I call the yellow one. 

One of the many Colmados we passed on the way to the beach.  The corner store concept is as big in the mountains as it is in the city.

I know you may hear otherwise, but I honestly can't tell any difference in the taste of bananas here.  But let  me tell you, I never tasted a pineapple nearly as good as you can buy here in the states.  They're not even the same color.  More of a rich yellow-orange color--on the outside!

That dark brown fruit that looks like a potato is called a zapote, and tastes very distinctive.  We're getting used to that and the papaya taste (more acquired tastes than some of the others).

My favorite tree here, flamboyan.

Would love to know what it hanging on that tree that looks like hot dogs . . . fruit?

Last weekend we went on an orientation trip to a tiny sandbar a few miles offshore to go snorkling.  We set out just when the sky was looking especially stormy but it thankfully never turned into anything.  We had fun snorkling, it was pretty shallow at first, so good for getting the kids out.  Even Abigail got to see some fish from above the water.

Micah and Jesse have a teeny tiny spider-sized gecko living in their lego castle.  Oh dear.  They did.  I just went to see if I could get a picture of it and it wasn't moving.  Maybe we should have realized that such a tiny one needed easier access to water and ants.  We were catching the geckos and taking them out of the house until my friend told me the Dominicans send their kids outside to catch some and bring them in for mosquito control.  We are excited about these fun pets.  Jesse is getting quite masterful at the gentle gecko pinch.  We'll have to get some pictures later.

And that's all for the Davis update!


  1. Hi Val, I am so excited for you and your family!! I had no idea you were moving to the DR. I will be following your blog and praying for you all. How long will you be there? This is something I have ALWAYS done with my family but it just did not happen. Gwen Doggett

    1. Gwen! So sorry it took so long to get back to you! Owen agreed to a five year term here, so it should be a while. I'm in a big hurry to get fluent in Spanish, but I imagine I'm improving day by day a little. Thanks for your support and prayers. :)

  2. Hey Valerie,

    Your blog is tempting me to drop out of school and just go back to the DR and sleep on the beach all day! I remember how draining it was speaking spanish for the first few weeks at site, id sleep at least 2 hours every day after lunch! Dont worry, the brain adjusts and you'll be yelling me botaste at all the donas passing by who havent visited you enough in no time! Mark

    1. Mark, crack me up! The sad thing is I still don't know enough Spanish and culture here to understand that last part! How about if I give you a hard time to visit your cousin? :)

  3. The yellow tree? Is that the fruit tree? :)