Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick update before I go to the Motherland!

So this will probably be my last blog post for a week or two and I'll warn ya, the next post will be all the food I eat in the US...

It's weird, a week in half ago I was totally checked out from work and all things Peace Corps related because I was so excited to go home. Then I started making a slideshow of pictures from my service so far and it almost brought me to tears!! Wtf!!!
No but in all seriousness I do love it here and my new site is totally to thank for that. I had dozens of people tell me that everyone who gets a site change loves their new site and I somehow couldn't believe them. Guilty.
I am nonetheless ecstatic to be going home even though theres a lot of snow. It's only 2 weeks, right?! and then I'll be joining all of my fellow PCVs in Cabarete for a few days at the beach to ring in the new year.

So real quick, on Thursday we participated in an activity in Santo Domingo put on the PNUD, which is the United Nations development agency. The objective of the activity was awesome- instead of just throwing money at what they thought was necessary, the invited actual cacao producers, the farmers, to the activity to get their opinion on what is needed to make the cacao industry successful and sustainable. In addition to producers there were buyers, development workers (like myself), cooperatives and management companies, among others. We chose what theme we wanted to work with, broke up into groups and created objectives, goals and indicators. I obviously chose social and economic sustainability. At the end, we presented our findings and agreed to continue meeting monthly in Santo Domingo until July in order to put together the framework for the platform of the project. Super exciting.

Andres, Ramon and Juana (cacao producers) participating in the activity.

Frank (the new president of the cooperative) and Angel (our accounting/sales guy and my project partner) participating in the accounting activities. 

That night I stayed with Lucija, our FSO that we stayed with on Thanksgiving. With the little time we were together we went down to the park on Bolivar to check out the Christmas lights. I have NEVER seen lights like this!

Obviously Presidente sponsored like, all of it. And what DOESN'T a giant can of beer have to do with Christmas?! 

blurry iphone pics. always a treat!

Happy Holidays!! Kaley

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mayuli's visit

Mayuli is the safety and security coordinator for all of the peace corps volunteers in the DR. I think it's safe to say that her job is extremely important and let me tell you, she does it well. 
If it wasn't for how she handled all of my security incidents, I probably wouldn't still be here, even though sometimes I wanted to scream. Sigh. 
Anyway so her plan was to visit Jackson on Thursday and to do so she has to pass thru my site, so naturally I went too. Jackson lives in a small campo called Vuelta Larga. By chance, my host dad is his project partner and my host family is from there. So we have some good connections going on, plus my pueblo is the closest civilization to Jax. 
To get up to Vuelta Larga is not exactly easy. It's about 45 minutes into the mountainside crossing 5 rivers that do not have bridges and then one hell of an uphill climb. For Jackson to come down he has to walk about an hour and then get on a motorcycle for another 30ish minutes just to get to the highway. 
The first time I went we had to walk (about 2 hours) because the road wasn't in any condition to be passed. I woke up Thursday morning multiple times between 3am and 7am to pounding rain. When you have a zinc roof it gets pretty loud. Hard rain in this country means 2 things. Rising rivers and mud. Since there is zero cell phone service in Vuelta Larga, I called Mayuli to let her know that I doubted we'd be able to get up there because of the rain. She said they were coming anyway. 15 minutes later a drenched Jackson arrived to my house on a motorcycle. Shortly after Mayuli arrived with the peace corps driver and we decided we were going to give it a go, much to my host family's dismay. Mayuli shared with us tht recently in another Latin American country two piece corps volunteers and 2 staff members were killed after being swept away while trying to cross a torrent river after heavy rain. It was going to be an adenture! 
The boss inspecting river #1 to be crossed. 
This is probably the easiest one we crossed. I'm not posting the pics of the last one because I don't need to worry my mother who religiously reads this blog (probably the only person). 
On the way up!
Yes, that pile of rocks is what the entire "road" looks like. 
I will tell you, it sure is pretty up there. But this has got to be one of the most desolate volunteer sites out there. 
Main road through the community. 
Jackson's host family's house an my host family's old house. 
Looking at the river below that was extremely swollen. 
Mayuli and Jackson 
Peeling me an orange like a pro. 
View out Jackson's back door of his new house! 

Each time I go up to Vuelta Larga I appreciate living in a pueblo oh so much more, but I give Jackson a lot of credit. No electricity at all, no cell phone service and basically no way to get out. 
I will admit as will other volunteers and Dominicans alike, sometimes you just have to escape to the campo!

That's all for now, kaley 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


So I hear the selfie is like a thing in the developed world too, in fact I think I saw the Today Show hosts taking selfies one morning while I was in Santo Domingo, proclaiming that the term "selfie" has been added to the dictionary. 

Dominicans have taken the selfie to a whole new level. We'll wait let's back up. For me, when I arrive to a new place I gravitate to the pop culture. I did a post about Dominican fashion awhile back and I think I'm due for a music post. This post however, will be dedicated to the (tackless) art of selfie taking and photo posing. 
First thing a guy asks you when he's hitting on you? If you have feyboo. Also known as Facebook. Why? Because what better way to get to know someone (and not waste cell phone minutes)?!

So this post could get real interesting because all of the photos you are about to see are straight off my feyboo news feed. But these ppl are my friends (including my boyfriend and that of another volunteer, host sisters and coworkers) and I'm merely complimenting them on their impressive ability to take a photo of themselves. Duh. 
We can start easy with a selfie of yours truly taken in true Dominican form (no smile). Why do I have this photo? I think you already know why. 
Yep. Putting myself on blast. 
But then we have a few different kinds of selfies. Those taken with mirrors, but the catch is most Dominicans don't have mirrors in their house so this means the pics are taken at someone else's house or in a bathroom usually. Exhibits A:
So there's that. Then there's the sans mirror variety:
Then there are the pics that are not selfies for the sole reason that their pose will not allow them to take the selfie because their arms are not like gumby's and the whole body needs to be seen. Thus, the help of someone else is solicited. 
And they learn young, let me tell ya. 
Look at the left foot all popped for hip emphasis. Sheesh. 

I'll end the post with this and my greatest appreciation to this culture and their love for photographing themselves.