Sunday, January 5, 2014

Finally, a Visa!

     Ramon can officially enter the United States!  When we were told everything was in order and they'd be sending his passport with the visa to our house within 3 weeks we were grinning.  It felt as if a weight had been lifted and we could both breathe easier. The process wasn't necessarily difficult, but it was confusing and stressful.
     Ramon and I handed in our (mountainous)visa application at the consulate here in Santo Domingo on August 21st, 2013.  In November, we received news that our application was approved and we had our interview on January 3rd,2014. A packet of information and an essential letter with your interview date is supposed to be mailed to your house. Well waited and waited for it to be delivered, but (surprise!) it never came. I contacted the consulate, and after turning in a circle and jumping though a hoop, they emailed us the information we needed on December 26th. Then it was a mad dash to get government papers, legalize them, translate them, print this, go pay there, get an official medical check up, and overnight papers from the US, all during the holidays.
     Wow, thinking back it was one stressful week. I tried to stay calm and think positively. I was a little nervous when we went up to the first window at the consulate, but after they told us everything was in order I felt relieved and knew things were going to work out.
    The next steps include English classes, getting a driver's license, buying one-way tickets(!), packing up the most essential items and giving away the rest. It's still 6 months away, but we are so excited!
     I get (really)impatient and want the time to fly by, but I was talking with a friend and she reminded me to be happy in the present, don't wish things were as they used to be or hope they'll be better in the future. Just live in the now. So with that in mind I'm going to enjoy the time I have left here. A beach vacation would really help me accomplish this.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Teaching

     Teaching is a special profession. I once read that teachers are superheros because they are nurses, mothers, police officers, psychologists, coaches, and referees everyday.  No wonder I'm so tired at the end of the day! 
     I teach 18 fourth grade students at a bilingual school here in Santo Domingo. The school is amazing. (Apart from not having air conditioning on a tropical island. You can imagine how I look and smell at the end of the day.) I feel very free to be creative with the way I teach, which is great, because some times my method is trial and error. I am still learning everyday.


Our classroom.
     I have learned so much about children and teaching and parenting since school started. It really has been eye opening. Some of my students spend more time with me in a day than they do with their parents. I feel like that puts so much pressure on my shoulders to be a great role model and guide to help them grow and learn. 
    All of my students have such unique personalities. I truly enjoy being their teacher. That said. I don't think teaching is my life's calling. I feel like teaching consumes your life. If I'm not at school I am either thinking about students or school or making lesson plans or researching or reading. 

We have 3 walls and a fence.
     I don't know if every teacher thinks this but, I want to be the best teacher these kids have had. I hope that they go home and say they had a great day at school and they look forward to coming into our classroom in the morning.
     Now, if they could just all get along and be friends and always say kind things life would be perfect.
     

Looking Back on 2013


     Wow, it's been months since I've posted. I have been busy with school and life in general.  I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on the last year as we count down the days until 2014. I like the above saying. It's neat to look back and see how much has happened in a year.

     A year ago Ramon and I celebrated Christmas in the campo. Then I spent NYE alone in an embassy employee's house(I was house sitting) with a nasty case of food poisoning. My parents came to visit in April and we had a wonderful vacation in Las Terrenas. I officially became a RPCV in June, and Ramon and I moved to Santo Domingo. In August, Ramon and I were married and turned in our visa paperwork. I started working as a 4th grade teacher in August too. After 7 months of searching for a job, Ramon stated working at the beginning of December. We had a quiet, relaxing Christmas at home.

     I think 2014 is going to be even more life changing than 2013. In January, Ramon and I will have our final interview with the consulate.  They will tell us whether he will become a permanent legal resident of the US! We plan on moving to the States in July, which right now seems like so far away. We are so excited and like to imagine all the things we'll do once we get there.

     Take a moment to think about where you were this time last year and all the things that have happened in 2013. I can't wait to welcome 2014!  Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect

In the campo, the women say that you can't get married until you know how to cook.  They are mostly concerned with staples like beans and rice.  I am embarrassed to tell you that I did not know how to cook rice.  It turned out mushy or burnt or under-cooked.

Since moving to Santo Domingo, Ramon and I have been cooking lunch together.  We dance around each other in our tiny kitchen preparing our half of the meal.  Ramon was always in charge of the rice.

My perfect rice.

The day came when he wasn't home and I was in need of some Bandera, urgently.  So, I repeated the steps I had seen him take countless times and crossed my fingers.  And what do you know?  I made perfect rice.  It was fluffy and not clumpy or mushy.  Ramon was super impressed.  And according to the Doñas I can now officially marry.


Which is exactly what we did.  
Andy surprised us with champagne!
Instead of a courthouse wedding, we had a strip mall wedding.  The office where you get the license was located inside a mall full of character.  We went there Monday morning with two witnesses, waited for our number (8) to be called, said "si!", and signed on the dotted line.  That was it.  We are now officially married!  Our friend Andy brought along some champagne and we toasted right there outside the office.

Luckily, the strip mall also had a pizza place.  We ordered one to go and enjoyed it at home with some celebratory Presidentes.

Yum!
Even though it wasn't sparkly or picture perfect, it was a special day.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Being a Tourist

Last weekend, Ramon and I decided to check out this new city we live in.  All that happened was pretty spur of the moment.

We have been to the colonial zone, but never really done anything touristy.  We went inside the cathedral for the first time.  It is the oldest cathedral in the americas, completed in 1540.  I wonder how much of what is inside is original or true to the time.  I had to put on a sarong over my indecent shorts.
my new skirt

We had some coconut popsicles in Plaza España before going into the Alcázar de Colón, which I believe is a replica of the house where Diego Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus, lived.  It is filled with pieces from the 15th-17th centuries.  You get head sets to use on a walking tour.  
Ramon in the Casa de Colon
Saturday night a fellow RPCV texted me about going to Juan Dolio on Sunday.  It was Ramon's birthday and we didn't have plans, so Sunday morning we packed a backpack and headed to the beach.  The bus ride is only 45 minutes long and RD$70, which is around US$2.  We checked into our hotel and walked to the beach.  Being a special day, we immediately had a beer and busted open the cheetos.  We waded in the water, sun tanned, drank more beers, ate limoncillo, chicharones, and had pizza for dinner.  

What a great weekend!

Peace Corps, check.

On June 10th I officially became and RPCV(returned peace corps volunteer)!  When I finished the giant check list they give you I felt free.  I wanted to get on a moto without a helmet or take an over night trip without telling anyone.  Instead I quietly celebrated with roasted chicken and yuca.

The very next day Ramon and I moved into our new apartment.  We did a TON of scrubbing, unpacking, and organizing.  The landlord had the place painted so we are feeling fresh.  Here are some pictures.
Our living room.

The little porch.

It feels so great to have our own space complete with running water and electricity (almost) 24/7, and a couch, and TV!

Just a few days after moving in I started working at a summer camp.  It was a 5 week camp here in the capital.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Double Digits

We had our COS conference this past week.  I honestly can't tell you the exact number of days we have left, it's less than 90.  On one hand, I want them to slowly go by allowing me to soak up every minute and enjoy the little things, but on the other hand, I am ready to move on to the next thing.

The plan for now is to stay another year.  I will most likely be working outside of Peace Corps.  Nothing is set in stone yet, I don't know what I'll do for work or were we will live.  It is all still a surprise!  I am trying to stay calm and be patient, but the clock is ticking.

I am not a very reflective person.  Other people can usually formulate what I am thinking and feeling into better words.  All I know is that these past 27 months have been unexpected.  I'm met some life long friends, Dominican and American.  And met a very special someone who will always remind me of my time in Peace Corps.

I am looking forward to living in the city and all things that come with that; eating out, going to the movies, shopping, and a constant supply of fruits and veggies.  Sounds expensive, right?  I'll have to pick up a second job!