Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I just wanted to update this to let people know that my life dramatically changed after school yesterday.  To many of you this may not sound like a big deal, but trust me, my standard of living is going up 10 fold.  I bought a motorcycle!  Its a X1000 CG150, so by US standards it is really small, but here it is bigger than average.  I am so sick of walking everywhere and sweating like crazy, as well as having to flag down motoconchos (motorcycle taxi) that I broke down and spent the RD25,000 (roughly $650, the conversion is 39.02:1)  it cost.  I am buying a helmet after school today so I can learn to ride better, a lot of bikes here have a hand clutch which is very different than motorcycles in the states so its funny to learn at first.  Doulos also does not let anyone in the parking lot without a helmet on.
Life has been good and it just got better.    

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mosquitoes, Toilets, and Hurricanes

School started this week amongst a flurry of craziness.  Given the craziness I felt that now would be a good time to make a list of why I think that some people might hate living here.  There are some redeeming things about it that I will make another list for as well.  Also I am making a list based on my personal situation and the same does not go for everyone.

Things that could make you go crazy.
1. If you open our refrigerator the door falls off, and the door doesn't actually close all of the way; this means the temperature inside of the refrigerator is only 10 degrees cooler than outside of it.
2. Mosquitoes live to make your life horrible.  I’m easily over 100 in the number of them I have killed.
3. Cold showers, other people have hot ones, but not I.
4. Regular loss of power
5. More frequent loss of power during a hurricane
6. Loss of water during hurricanes hasn't happened to me yet, but many of my friends are water less right now.
7. You can only drink filtered water, good thing it is cheap.
8. Toilet paper goes in the trash can not in the toilet.
9. You have to wash your vegetables before you eat them or you will get something awesome like Typhoid or an amoeba.
10. No internet at home and when you are somewhere with internet it will probably go out a few times, normally when you are planning school stuff and you need online resources.
11. There is no good beer here; the closest you get is crazy Czech and German stuff.
12. Dominican Spanish is similar to Spanish but with many new words and with a totally different accent than you will hear anywhere else.
13. Anything imported, which is a lot of stuff, is very expensive.
14. Almost no air conditioning anywhere even when you are in a stuffy little classroom with one window and 15 students while it is 95 degrees out.
15. There are no dryers, which isn’t a big deal until it rains for a week straight and your clothes are clean but still wet.
16. Platanos (Plantain), am I the only one that thinks they are disgusting?  Anything turned into something called Mongu is not good.
17. The lady I live with has a dog named Giorgio, Giorgio is the son of Puka and Joanfie, Joanfie is also the son of Puka.  This is not considered weird at all to the Domicans.  It is also normal that every dog in the neighborhood barks at anything in the street no matter what time of night.
18. I’m sure more will come eventually but I will leave it at this for now.

Things that are redeeming.
1. 2 Grande Aguacate (Large Avocado) y 2 Cervezas = 2 US dollars
3 Grande Mangos y 2 Grande Aguacate y 1 Aji Rojo (red pepper) = 3 dollars
When I say large, I mean like 3 times the size of ones you buy in the States.
2. School gets cancelled at noon because of a hurricane!  No school the next day!
3. Climbing a mountain during a hurricane… I mean really, who isn’t trying to check that off their bucket list.  In other news I climbed my favorite mountain 30 seconds faster than ever before, but I threw up at the top.
4. Climbing beautiful mountains with sweeping views of the lush Cibao valley.
5. Waterfall climbing.
6. Jumping off waterfalls.
7. Aguacate y Mango taste way better here than where you are, guaranteed.
8. When it rains the air temperature is the best ever. 
9. It’s weird, but I love rain and it has been raining all the time.
10. The beach is 2 hours away!
11. You can rent a horse here and take it wherever you want.
12. There are Culebras (snakes) but no Serpeintes (poisonous snakes) on Hispaniola.
13. Living with Dominicans has caused my Spanish comprehension and speech to dramatically increase.  Although my spelling of the words is probably wrong siempre (always).
14. A huge double scoop of ice cream at Bon for just over $1.
15. I’ll add to this later also.

Quick recap of the last few days as they have unfolded.  Wednesday was the first day of school, although school didn’t completely happen because most of it was orientation stuff.  Thursday we started having school and then we were told that we were only going to have a half day because the Secretary of Education was cancelling school.  While hanging out with friends last night we found out there was no school today because of the increased concern about Hurricane Isaac.  So what was the best idea, climb a mountain today, best idea ever!  By the time I post this it won’t be Friday anymore because I probably won’t see the internet again until Monday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Two Days Away!

This past weekend we had a long weekend for a couple reasons.  One reason was because on Thursday Danilo was inaugurated as the new President of the Dominican Republic and another being that we are starting school on Wednesday and a couple days of fun and rest were needed.  Because of the time off we had the opportunity to get out and enjoy the land a bit.  One of the Dominicans had a secret river spot she took a few of us to on Thursday which was followed up by a couple days and a night at the beach.  This was a good break away from the planning for school and many hours spent in professional development.  The picture on the top is from our expeditionary training in which we went to La Cueva de las Maravillas for a tour.  We weren't supposed to take any pics but I was able to sneak in one good one of some of the cave art.   The beach we went to is famous for kite and wind surfing so there was a lot of that to be seen.  The last two pictures are from one of the many rivers around Jarabacoa, and proof that I am still alive/tough.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


One of the things I have done for fun every weekend so far is climb the largest local montana.  The name of the mountain is Megote and I have heard it is the 5th or 6th largest mountain on the island at just under 5000 feet.  Today I decided to do it by myself so I could see how fast I could make it up and down, both of which are good ways to make yourself want to throw-up and turn your legs into wobbly jello.  In the end I made it up in just over 54 minutes and back down in another 25 minutes.
Up Megote by djb5w5 at Garmin Connect - Details -hit map and then terrain to get a topo look.
Anybody that wants to visit me in Jarabacoa might take a look at the specs on the climb I posted so you can become familiar with the leg destruction that will happen.  Soon I will get some pics of the view from up top, but it will have to be a day in which the hiking is slower than today. 

In other none climbing life news... I went to the church of my host last week and it was cool, although I don't understand much of what is going on except for when we sing.  Its easier for me to process what is being said/sang when I can read it.  Every day my Spanish grows a bit so life continues to be more livable.  Tomorrow I am planning on going back to the same church and I hopefully can understand a few more words.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dos Semanas

It has now been two weeks here in Jarabacoa.  At this point I am rather firmly planted into life as I will know it for a while although school doesn't start until the 22nd which will change my routines a bit.  For know I am familiar enough with the city and culture to get around rather easily and I can even halfway function without having a very large Spanish vocabulary.  Everything is generally close and most Doulos staff live close to the school also.
My home stay location has been good so far.  I live about a mile and a half from school but it seems a lot farther when everyone else can walk to the school in under 5 minutes. My hosts name is Mariluz and she works for YWAM, which is JOCUM here.  There is an Australian guy staying at the house as well, and it is nice to have someone to speak English with, although it is probably stunting my Spanish growth.
As for the fun times to be had... I have already bagged the peak of the highest local mountain (Megote, somewhere near 5,000 feet) a couple times as the trailhead is conveniently located about 100 yards from the DR's YoungLife camp. This weekend I went into Santiago for a viewing of The Dark Knight Rises and have been able to spend lots of time getting to know new friends.  Many goods times to come I am sure.
I haven't been able to take as many pictures as I would like, but I will get on it soon.