Monday, July 16, 2012

En Casa (At Home)

We moved to the Dominican Republic a week and a half ago.  It is very beautiful and very overwhelming so far.  We had a very stressful week of unpacking and staying up late (and getting used to roosters, dogs barking, and our new neighbor's car alarm).  Cloroxing lettuce and many other veggies to make salad or stir fry (soup or something to be boiled doesn't need it) is not an easy adjustment, nor is the concept of "dirty" water coming out of the faucet.  Kitchen tasks are taking literally twice as long in trying to adjust.

We're on vacation right now in Cabarete and just went to a national park with cold water in a cave that we could swim in and a tour that contained cotton plants (the size of small trees), almond trees, mahogony trees, avocado trees, cocoa plants, coffee plants, coqi frogs, etc.  Yesterday I went with two other friends who are visiting to 27 waterfalls, a Dominican attraction just like a natural water park, with "slides" down rock and jumps and amazing views.  It was incredible.

We go home tomorrow to our beautiful apartment and lots of hard work.  :)  I do have someone come to help me twice a week (a concept that I will admit is very difficult for me to get used to, but was very strongly recommended to me by people I trust; a new relationship and power-sharing opportunity that I hope to get more comfortable with as the weeks pass), which means that I don't have to ignore my children all day long in order to do what I now realize I was able to do fairly easily in the states by comparison.

I got my cell phone the other day, and it took, literally, the day.  Lots of standing and negotiating and ridiculousness and waiting.  :)  And an intriguing plan it is, too.  For example, I get three people that I can call up to 500 times per month (total).  However, each call must stay under 5 minutes, because the calls to those people cannot come out of my total number of calls for the month.  If I go over 5 minutes on a call to one of those people, I will have to pay extra per minute over per call.  I can text 2 people a ridiculous number of times per month (I forget the number), but they cannot be people that are already on the frequent call list (which means I cannot make Owen a frequent call and frequent text guy).  If I need to make changes to my account, I need to find the man (in person) who I worked with all day on it.  He will remember me and allow me to make changes.  Anyone else would not allow it since it has to be in Owen's name since I am "extranjera" (foreigner) with no proof of income for me personally.  And I spare you some of the other complicating details.  I have to go once a month in person to pay my bill, and it has to be on time to avoid late fees, but apparently I will have to just remember on my own since I will receive no bill.

The kids are loving the beach and will, I imagine, be little fishes within a year or two, given the amount of in the water time they've had even since we've come a week and a half ago.  They've adjusted well, overall, and were thrilled to have their toys again (they were waiting when we arrived).

I have been amazed and excited by the amount of Spanish that was apparently stored away in my head.  I read some books before I came on Spanish verbs and I tried to review a lot over the last few months, and it was all worth it.  I'm able to understand a lot of what is said to me, a church sermon, some of what Dominicans are saying to each other, and am able to get across my ideas/comments most of the time.  I actually have the most trouble understanding the woman who comes to help me twice a week, b/c I think my education's emphasis was more on public life than terms used in the home--words to help you more when traveling or studying or out with others to travel or hang out.

My biggest frustration so far, which may or may not be surprising to those who know me, is how difficult it is to do things "naturally" here.  Everything that can have a fragrance, sugar, chemical, etc. added, does.  Toilet paper even has fragrance here.  And to buy otherwise is to be "elite" and to pay really high prices.  I'm searching wildly for sources for more natural living.  I will give more specifics on this later.

Water is delivered daily when I call, and is less than a dollar for a 5 gallon bottle.  Most of our other purchases are significantly more expensive than in the US.  We hope to become more informed consumers, because we can't afford to live this way long term.  Somewhere, I'm fairly confident, we'll find what we need, but we may need to shop in many different places to pull it all together.

Pictures are coming, I don't have the cord with me on vacation, but I have taken many, and they are so beautiful!  :)

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