I realize it’s been ages since my last blog post, but we’ve just been so busy I haven’t found the time. I can barely believe that that’s us almost a quarter of the way through the year, it’s scary how time flies! So much has happened over the last couple of months I hardly know where to begin, but I figure a brief low down of my daily life here is a good place to start!
3.30am: My good friends the cockerel and the asthmatic donkey from next door wake and decide it’s about time everyone was up, so begin their morning chorus.
7.15am: The animals decide to shut up, just as I give up any more hope of sleep and get myself out of bed.
7.20-40am: We speedily down some oats and yogurt, jump into the cold shower, layer up with mosquito repellent, and throw on a t-shirt and jeans (proud moment when we realised we were adjusted enough to the heat to wear jeans like a true Dominican).
7.43am: Head out of the house and into the school, which is literally next door, in time for fila.
8.00am (ish, depending on how compliant the children are feeling): All the kids line up for fila, a few words are spoken, and the national anthem is belted out with great gusto as the bandera is raised.
8.15am: Classes begin and chaos ensues! Although challenging, teaching get easier and easier by the week. I have gone from having to spend hours every night planning and writing scripts for all my classes, to being able to plan in 20 minutes and just go into the class and explain in Spanish. To start with, the thought of teaching art was slightly daunting given my artistic ability (or lack of), but actually I’m having a ball. The kids are just so full of joy and fun, it isn’t possible to go through class without a smile (even if that is a smile of pain as you watch your freshly tidied classroom being enthusiastically coated in a layer of paint, glue, and tissue paper…). After almost three months of teaching I can definitely say that children are the same all over the world – entirely insane, but completely unprejudiced and affectionate, and you can stay rest assured that no matter how sweaty or painty you are, the minute you leave the classroom you’ll be swamped with hugs.
1.00pm: Lunch time! School dinner tends to consist of rice, rice, and more rice (occassioanlly some meat and beans to accompany if we’re lucky). This arroz y morros (rice and beans) is a staple here in the Dominican Republic, along with ‘espaguettis’ (spaghetti and evaporated milk – surprisingly delicious) and ‘pollo y tostones’ (chicken and fried plantains). All the food in this country is fabulous, but they really like their sugar, salt and cabs, so in an effort to avoid rolling off the plane next August we try and make ourselves something lighter for lunch.
2.00pm: Afternoon classes start again. That is assuming they haven’t been cancelled for whatever crazy Dominican reason. Since arrival in this country, we have still not experienced a full week of school. Whether it’s been cancelled due to a milk strike (ridiculous, I know), a school wide allergic reaction to the stuff they use to fumigate mosquitos, a death in the village, or even the threat of rain (Dominicans melt in the rain, don’t you know?!), we wait with great expectation to see a completed week!
3.45pm: School’s out! The following couple of hours are used to get laundry done, clean the house, organise tomorrows’ classes, cook tea, and go for a walk around the metro (a super tranquil reservoir on the edge of Bombita, which makes a nice change from the constant noise and bustle of the village).
5.30pm onwards: Generally speaking, we always have a mountain of things to do of an evening. Whether that’s going to youth group, visiting friends in the village for a chat, team meal in Barahona, a sleep over in La Hoya, helping at the nutrition centre, or simply catching up on work, time just flies by.
10.30pm: We fall into bed after a quick shower, and are out for the count immediately.
This is what I would describe as a typical day, if such a thing exists here. Life never get the chance to become boring as the last thing you expect to happen, happens on the daily. Days never go entirely as planned, but this is part of what I love so much about this beautiful crazy country.
At the weekends we’ve done a whole host of different things. Generally we choose to spend a day on one of the beautiful beaches which are only a short drive away; and the other just relaxing in either La Hoya or Bombita, spending time with villagers, heading to the river, or watching a film. We have also had a couple of weekends away, and have visited some of the most stunning places I’ve seen in my life. Last weekend as a pre-birthday holiday we all piled into the gua gua after school and headed down the coast to the border town of Pedernales where we arrived to the most beautiful sunset over the sea. The following day we all woke up early to make the day trip to Bahía de los Águilas, a STUNNING beach in the middle of a nature reserve. A drive along a bumpy road followed by 20 minutes in a fishing boat and we arrived in paradise where we spent the day basking in the warm, magically starfish filled, sea. Another weekend was spent in the capital, Santo Domingo. We tried to fit as much as possible into our three days there, including Colombus’ house, Los Tres Ojos, the aquarium, an open air concert, and a huge American mall. The contrast between the small villages where we live, and the extreme consumerism we saw in the capital was insane, and although it was fun for a weekend, we were happy to get back to our nice slow village life.
Once again, I’m sorry for the excessively long post, but it’s just so hard to condense all the fab things we’ve been doing. Hopefully this gives enough of an idea of the new life I’m leading though!