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Emails from the Peace Corps, No. 15

  • Nov. 4th, 2008 at 6:13 PM

To the coolest kids on the block,

Hi.

I hope that everything is going well state-side. My favorite senator from Illinois is looking good at the moment, eh? I keep questioning McCain or the Republican Party for their choice of vice presidential candidate – but at least she's giving Tina Fey something to do every week – all that Katie Couric/SNL stuff has been seeping down the grapevine and made it down here to us in tropical paradise. I also heard about this thing that Stephen Colbert did at some sort thing for the press at some sort of dinner with our current president which resulted in our current first lady to tell Colbert to go "fuck himself" or something? This political drama is amazing. We're sitting here, in Santiago, waiting for the power come back so that we can glue ourselves to CNN and watch this young man take all those electoral votes. And I bought champagne.

And USC lost to an unranked team. That's amazing too. But that was a while ago.

So things here, in the good ole Peace Corps, are still repetitive. I still have my nutrition group one hour a week at the alcalde's house. They really drive me into a depression most of the time because of their lack of devotion. But enough of that poopering about; I seem to be doing that a lot in these emails. I think I'm going to do a garden project with the women that remain but I really don't want to invest my time into them because I have this feeling about what a giant failure it'll be. I'd much rather focus my attentions elsewhere.

 

So, here's a story, hot off the press. Like, last night hot. So, I always try to cross the river before it gets dark (which means around 6:30pm… we don't do silly things like fall back or spring forward). I stopped at a neighbor's house to hang out because I hadn't for a while and people were starting to call me privona and such. So, whatever. Hanging out. Then I decided to go back to my house while there was still electricity so that I could pack up. It's pretty dark out. I get to my house and the neighbor's cat followed me into my house. I turned on the light in the living room/kitchen and I looked under the table where my stove sits and there was a tarantula the size of my face. I immediately freaked out – no screaming this time. I left my house and went looking for my favorite 9-year old boy. I found him, his name is Harry and he has glasses. I said, "Harry, do me a favor, get a machete." His eyes widened and asked me why. I said we're going to kill a tarantula. I got a group of six 9-12 year old boys to follow me to my house. They came in, chopped the bugger up and I made them sweep that monster out of my house. They, of course, decided to shoot the thing with their new beebee guns before sweeping the bugger out. It was great. Only in the Peace Corps would pre-teen boys be sought out to save me from monstrous arachnids.

My youth group is still going strong. They meet for an hour to an hour and a half a week to talk about self esteem, reproductive organs, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol, etc. Your basic sex-ed/intro to the teenage years class. This is my second group and keeping with Peace Corps' idea of sustainability it's the youth of my first group that are now giving the classes and I'm trying to sit back and just watch. I've failed so far in the "just sitting back" part but I think I'll get better. Tomorrow they're supposed to give an HIV/AIDS charla to some representatives from the Secretary of Education and on Saturday they've planned a raffle/dance activity to raise money. One of my boys is up for being a regional coordinator for the youth groups in our area who are new or currently without volunteers. He's really my favorite.

My kids want to have a friendship bracelet shop – I don't think they realize how much patience they need for a project like that. That'll be funny.

I've contacted an NGO about building a bridge or a couple bridges over the river that zigzags through my community. I live on the other side of the river, as does about half the community. On a normal day this is fine but once the rainy season begins the river rises and displaces the sand bags that have been placed in the river as stepping stones and adults must wade in thigh deep water; it's even deeper for the children. When the river is high the children have two choices A) stay home from school or B) take their shoes and socks up, pull up their pants and wade through contaminated water to get to the paved road. Neither of which are very good options. So we'll see if this NGO thing works out or not – I think it would be awesome if it did.

I'm also working with the community center group to see if I can raise funds to finish the community center/library/clinic that has been "under construction" for the past five years due to being on the end of a string of broken promises by the local politician. So, I might be begging for money early next year – prepare yourselves.

I solicited children's books from a foundation here in the Dominican Republic that will be placed at the school for the use of the children during their recesses and whatnot – I'm thinking that I'll go to the school once a week once the books get there and do story time with the kids. I'm not so sure that the "checking-out" and "returning" of books would really work… more the returning part that I have doubts about. But, we'll see. I hope story-time is a hit.

 
I'll be around today waiting, hoping, and wishing for "that one" to be elected president.


Loooooooooooooooooove!

Maryam

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