Movin´ On Up
I grappled with the mixed emotions for about a month, but I finally came to a decision. I felt bad leaving my site, thinking to myself that I was just giving up and putting myself ahead of the kids I left behind. But as I trudged into work everyday with my eyelids heavy from no sleep, and dreaded seeing the kids who had attacked me (and didn’t even care) while I went to work or Chuch, and felt unsafe being outside at night, I realized that I couldn’t live that way for another year. I’m a volunteer, after all. And you can’t help other people if you’re not taking care of yourself, right?
So, when I came back from a short trip I had to the States before Easter, I approached by APCD and the Safety and Security Director and told them that I wanted a site change. Flash forward to a month later (after avoiding my site as much as I could), and I find myself in San Jose de Ocoa. It’s a small city, nestled in the mountains in the southern region of the island. (So I’m still in the DIRTY SOUTH!) We actually get rain pretty often, which is quite a change from the desert I used to call home. And it’s not soooooo ridiculously hot here, at least not yet. But everyone says it will get to be the usual scorching temperatures by July and August.
I plan to move into a place of my own, but the school that I am working at arranged for me to live with a Dona first. Her name is Cruz, and she is a super-spunky partially-senile little old thing. When I get up at around 8 every morning (I have been so relaxed about getting up now that I am not actually teaching classes, but just training teachers), and Cruz we be bouncing around with coffee in her hand, telling me she has been to every side of town and back when I am just waking up. She’s a go-getter.
For a while I was quite frustrated with her. When I first moved in, I had more stuff than would fit into my one room (since I was moving from a house, not just a room), and she said I could store my extra things in a room that she uses for storage. Later that night, as I was settling in, she casually mentioned that I would need to pay $500 more pesos since I was using an extra room. Had she mentioned this from the start, I would have just dealt with a mountain of crud in my room, but she didn’t. And the Director of the school I am now working at was in her living room at the time, and he insisted that this was quite reasonable. I was so frustrated because it was the high prices around here that kept me from moving into a place of my own right off the bat. And I assumed that this ridiculously high price at least included food, but she was only cooking for me once every two days, or so. Other times, I was left to fend for myself. Now, you all know that I love to cook, but not if I am paying out the ear to have someone cook for me!
But in the long run, it has been a fairly good exchange. She has started cooking for me since my birthday. (I think she really liked my friends and that somehow broke down some walls.) She has introduced me to her family members, so there are more familiar faces around town. She let’s me know where things are and how much things cost so that I don’t get ripped off. And when I go to the States in 7 days (7 days!!!!), I can leave my belongings here locked in my two rooms, knowing that they will be well-cared for.
Um, did I mention that I am going to be in THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in seven days?!?!? Yeah, I am really freakin’ excited about that!!!