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ok i lied, no more entries today, however, MAYBE next week... although it's my last week of classes, so no promises!

this weekend i'm going up to the north coast with some friends to go swimming, kite boarding, clubbing, mountain biking... and whatever else seems fun. hope you all are having fun in the cold! :D

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ok, i'd like to briefly apologize for being so darn perezoso - lazy -

but it's not exactly that i'm lazy... i'm just very busy and i put things off until i have too much to write about, and it's too daunting to start.

at any point, i'll get around to doing it eventually, i've done some really cool things this past month... i may write tomorrow, but i probably won't do the picture thing because it takes too long. next semester, i'll try to update every honkin week so i dont' get so far behind... i'll write it into my schedule. anyway, sorry!!


Ok, this one’s for the two weekends before last weekend..., cause the one before it wasn’t really that notable, except for the excessive amount of avocado involved.

2 weekends ago, the program I’m here with had a work retreat in which we went to a small village in the campo (out in a rural area) to do some work with a peace corps volunteer building some latrines for a few families.

We stayed in a newlyish constructed health facility on the top floor out on an open patio, but there weren’t any mosquitoes (unlike Santiago, where I get ravaged every night).

The people in the town were really nice, we hung out with them, got fed by them (including chicken feet in the stews they made because they cook everything….)

Anyway, so we got there Friday to hang out with the people, get a tour of the town and become acquainted with the work we were going to do.
After dinner and more chatting with the people, (WAY after, like, late) we decided to go star gazing, because you can’t really see stars in Santiago, and we walked out into a field with a bunch of people to sit and watch the stars, and shooting stars (there were so many!) and lightning off in the distance, and to play guitar while waiting for it to be too late to stay up any more.

The next morning, Saturday, we woke up sometime around 7 to the sound of what would eventually be our lunch being slaughtered, an (I imagine) 500 pound pig. There is no mistaking the sound of something dying, and if you’re second guessing yourself then it probably isn’t. When you hear something dying, you know. We knew. This bothered me far less than the other kids, because I’m much more connected to my food that most people, in the sense that meat doesn’t come from saran wrap.

At any rate, we ate that for lunch, but not before splitting up into two groups to construct the latrines, which went pretty well… we didn’t do much though, as there were some Dominicans from the town helping us and didn’t really let us do stuff unless we were adamant. Oh well.

Saturday night we all went to the little disco and danced with the locals, and then to a field (the same one as the night before) where we had a bonfire and some more stargazing until we had to go back and sleep… maybe sometime around 3, I’m really never sure of the time.

So that was fun.

Then the next weekend a whole bunch of fun stuff happened! Friday during the day, CIEE went to a Batay (a taino word for community, in reality they’re communities of Haitian immigrant sugar cane workers who live in horrible conditions, both legally and physically. We went to talk to the people, play with the kids, get a tour of the town and have a voodoo ceremony performed for us by members of the town. The people were incredibly nice and the children couldn’t get enough of us, hanging all over us. The voodoo ceremony was pretty much amazing, as I’m in love with African drumming and dancing, and current day voodoo on the island of hispanola is essentially a translation of that.

That evening back in santiago we went to a Fiesta de Palos (a palo is an African style drum), which is an example of syncretism between African religions and Catholicism, where a catholic saint is celebrated though was is basically a modified voodoo ceremony, but in this one everyone gets to dance and go wild… everyone dances like no one’s watching and it’s basically indescribable, but one of my favorite things to do in Santiago.

On Saturday, I woke up reeeeeaaaalllllyyy early to go to an all day rave on the south coast on the beach with some friends, which was also pretty much amazing because I could swim and listen to deep house and trance, and then dance all night….

Sorry for the short descriptions, but this is a WAY belated entry.


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  • Current Music
    People being irritating in the computer lab


OK. Just as a preface, I tried to write this three times last week, and each time was cut short by a power failure or a computer crash.. needless to say, I lost a lot of writing and I’m not going to write it again.

You'll have to deal with a less eloquently worded photo-narrative instead.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just, not what I’d originally planned.

And also, (*ahem* mom&dad), if you have a slow internet connection, I doubt viewing this will be possible. I’d recommend your local library or office or something…

We're talking like 80+ photos.

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fine fine fine... i'll update already. :)

OK, so I know that I haven't updated in a while, but I have been really busy and all. I'm usually not here in santiago for the weekends (and even if I were, I don't think the computer lab here is open.) and then during the week I'm in class or doing homework or eating or something (which takes a substantial amount of time, I walk home for lunch every day and the classroom building is a half hour walk from my house... So i have to walk back and forth twice, once during the hottest part of the day... so like, at least 2 hours of walking every day. it's pretty sweet. or painful, i'm not sure which..)
But anyway, this past weekend was a trip with all the kids from CIEE (my study abroad program) to the Samana penninsula on the east of the Island. We stayed at an all inclusive resort, which I most definitely had mixed feelings about as I'm incredibly disinterested by "touristy" things, most especially those involving 30+ americans in a group, but it was still sort of fun...
There were 2 swimming pools, an auditorium/club type thingy, 2 open bars, and 3 buffet-meals per day. We were right across the road from the water, which made for easy access to the beach. Although it wasn't the prettiest I've seen, it was still enjoyable.
However, we didn't have much free time during the weekend, because Samana is a 5 hour bus ride from Santiago, and there were a bunch of activities that we did while we were there. Friday, a little while after arriving, we split up into two groups and crammed back into the busses to ride for more than another hour... The group that I was with went on a nature walk, which I was less than thrilled about. The last thing I wanted to do after being on a bus for 5 hours was get back on one, especially when there was a beautiful beach about 100 feet from the hotel that I had yet to enjoy. So not only was it the hour long ride there, but an hour back as well, and the nature walk was only about an hour.
Time wise, it wasn't worth it, I didn't learn much, most of the things he showed us I'd seen before... oh well.

so then we got back and ate dinner and got in the pools because by this time it was kinda dark... and then we all started hanging out at the open bars, sampling the plethora of fruit juices available in the Dominican Republic, and afterward a group of us walked into town (we were in Las Terrenas) to go dancing (since it's the off season, no one was at the resort, & consequently no one was dancing at there). I'm absolutely in love with Bachata, and Merengue as well (two types of music from the area). I'm doing a pretty good job of picking up the styles of dance, though it's a little hard because I'm used to the bouncy rhythm of swing instead of the more rigid latin american dances.

After dancing, probably sometime around 2 in the morning, we were walking back to the resort and decided to go swimming, so we just jumped in the water and hung out til who knows when. Overall, it was... interesting.... and quite divertida tambien. :)

Saturday morning found us piling back onto a bus for another hour+ bus ride, and then onto a boat for an hour+ ride to our destination of the Haitises National Park, where one can find excellent examples of Taino cave paintings (the indigenous indians to the caribbean, all but wiped out by the spaniards) as well as the actual caves in which they were done(seems obvious, because you wouldn't fine cave paintings outside of caves, but I just wanted to emphasize the fact that the caves were incredible.
The largest one we went into was at least 70-100 feet tall at its highest, and had some enormous openings to provide some eerie light, although because it wasn't just one cavern and instead had a lot of interconnected rooms, there were some parts which were almost pitch black. Needless to say, my camera didn't quite capture the... essence... of the ambience. I got a few, though.

I forgot to mention that on the way to the cave we had to get into a smaller boat, which took us through a mangrove forest.. possible the most amazing trees ever... they look like they're growing upside down, as if someone took a tree, turned it upside down and stuck its branches in the water... pictures to follow. :)

Anyway, so then another long boat ride, long bus ride....

I also neglected to note that during my time in the DR, my stomach/chest refused to get any color. I had tried to even out my farmers/back tan by not putting sunscreen on my stomach, but It never seemed to work previously at the beaches, so I thought that the skin must just be different than that of my back.
This is true, but after lying in the sun the entire time the I was on the boats with no sunscreen on my stomach (in the middle of the day, I might add), I did indeed find out that my stomach CAN burn.
... but it wasn't THAT bad...

Anyway, so when we FINALLY got back to the resort and had some free time, we got right to enjoying ourselves on the beach, starting up a game of Ultimate Frisbee which including many diving grabs into the water and face first into the sand, SO MUCH FUN! I haven't really done much exercise since I've been here (except all the walking I do everyday) so it felt really great. :)
Then we swam and snorkled and hung out in the water til the sun started to fade and dinner was ready.

Saturday night was essentially the same as friday, same bar, same dancing, same swimming afterwards, same random conversations at 4 o'clock in the morning... overall a good time.

And then of course there was sunday where I tried to do homework and failed because I was so tired, but eventually got around to doing it during some free time monday.

So that was my weekend!

and nooooooooooooooooooooooow here some the piiiictures...

(sorry to those of you who have a slow internet connection.. you may want to hit up a public library or something... I think there are like 40 pictures or something, so consider yourselves forwarned..........)

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  • Current Music
    marley in my head

obligatory update :)

Thought you might be interested in seeing the walk that I take every day to school, takes about 25 minutes to get to the building where i am right now (where most of my classes are and where the computer lab is).
we're also having a serious heat wave right now, it's consistently about 95 degrees with majorly opressive humidity. Consequently I walk sllloooooowwwwwllllyyy everywhere, and i gave up on wearing my euro-trashy pants because seriously who can wear clothes that tight in weather like this? ok, the answer is dominicans, but it was supposed to be a rhetorical "nobody." Oh well, I figure, I get the stares no matter what I wear, so I may as well be getting the stares for my clothes in addition to my skin and hair. It's sort of flattering in a strange way... hmm.
In case I forgot to mention it before, dominicans are all about presentation, and dress to the limits of their means for pretty much everything. PUCMM (the university) is like a fashion show... I definitely feel out of place wearing anything but tight jeans and a collared shirt, but i'm strangely ok with that. :)

Anyway, back to the photos which I sort of promised earlier...

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  • Current Music
    ani - glass house

Still here

Just so everyone knows, I am still alive, I've just been very busy, and it's hard to write a good solid entry in less than an hour and a half... so it's sort of hard to fit in what with the computers being a 30 minute walk from my house and the internet being so unreliable that it takes me 45 minutes to check my mail, and then i have class and then lunch and then homework and.... well, you get the picture.

I will try to update sometime soon about more things, but I don't know when that will be or when I'll have time. Maybe tomorrow? Maybe later? hmm...

But, the point is, I'm having a lot of fun, and learning a lot at the same time, so don't worry :)

Hope you all are doing well too... feel free to email me, my address is:

but all one line and the (at)=@
(for those of who who aren't familiar with that format of masking the address.)

nos vemos ahorita!
  • Current Music
    redemption song - marley

OH me, were there more time in the computer lab....

Sad to say, this will be a far less eloquently worded entry than either of the previous two...

HOWEVER... for your viewing enjoyment i will include a few photos to augment my *incredible* writing skills. heh..

Anyway, last weekend (not the one that ended yesterday, the other one), lots of fun things happened, although since i majorly slacked at updating last week, you'll only hear about one of them :)

last saturday a bunch of the kids from my program went to a river ourside of santiago with a few of our dominican friends. Once the river gets close to santiago it's pretty much disgusting, so in order to actually be able to swim in it, you need to go a decent way outside of the city. We apparently went the loooong long way to get there because it took close to two hours and we were driving through mud and dirt roads that were falling apart, laced with chickens and goats and the occasional barbed wire fence.

once we finally got to where the cars were taking us, we had to walk a long distance over a few hills to reach the river, where there was a hut blasting merengue and selling presidentes, with a whole bunch of dominicans wondering how the hell these gringos found this place... but anyway we set up camp and jumped right in.

We all swam around for a while... most of us, anyway (some were worried about parasites from the river, but i said hey, that would just be another adventure, wouldn't it? heh..) and as it turned out, once you swam to the other side of the river, there was a cliff with trees growing out of it that you could climb up and jump off of... so of course i spent pretty much the entire time swinging around in trees 50 feet above the river and jumping off... we got a lot of people to jump who otherwise wouldn't have, but there were still few who we couldn't convince... oh well.
Because i spent so much time out there, I don't really have any good pictures of the trees or cliff or anything (though some of my friends do). I was the last person to jump, just before we left, and i decided to do a flip from the highest point that i could climb to, which didn't end up TOO badly, although i did miscalculate a little bit and landed on my side.... no broken ribs or anything though, just a little soreness the next day and a lot of fun at the time. :)
That night we went out to a few clubs with our dominican friends, one of which was named Kartuja, where all the waiters were dressed like monks (get it?).

at any rate, that was more of last weekend, see photos for more details..

Then there was the week, where i didn't understand a lot of what my professors said, though it is getting easier, and i played a lot of guitar to help get myself through it.

This past weekend, my friend ryan and i decided to go to santo domingo, the capital of the country, so we got up really really early on friday morning to meet our friend laura at the bus stop and catch the first guagua we could. We got there before 12 and found a hotel to stay in for about $30usd per night, which wasn't too bad, but i ended up running out of money anyway, which was really unfortunate.... but, the good part about not having any money is that you don't spend any of it... :)
so we got the hotel and ate our bread and cheese lunch which i had bought the day before to bring with us, and then used the afternoon to spend 5 hours doing a 2 hour walking tour of the colonial part of S.D. that my guidebook had directions for. We saw one of the best amber museums, as well as an under contruction museum with recovered relics from ship wrecks nearby in the 1600's, we saw columbus's son's house (diego), the first cathedral in the new world (in reality, it just had the first cornerstone, there was a cathedral in mexico that was finished about 20 years prior to the completion of the one in santo domingo... but they still call it the first anyway.), the first hospital in the new world (for sure), a monastary that was converted into an insane asylum (both the hospital and the monastary were ruins), some art galleries here and here, lots of colonial defense structures which were constructed when they learned how to defend the city(remember, sir Frances Drake was made a SIR because he conquered santo domingo, stealing it from the spanish, and then he sold it back to spain... ingenious really).

and that concluded our tour. we ate a dismal dinner of peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches on 2/3 of a hot dog roll, and took off to try to explore the "hoppin" night life of santo domingo (which, at this point, i'm convinced doesn't exist) and only managed to find an awkward festival with bad smooth jazz and lyircs so horrible that i could actually understand them, and also a club full of high schoolers.... yeah.

so anyway, the next day we took off for boca chica, a beach town about 20 miles to the east of S.D. and stopped on the way to go to a national parque, which didn't have a beach, but had the bluest, clearest water i've ever seen, shored by really beautiful rock which contained shells and many things i didn't recognize. I say rock, because the whole shoreline was connected, not made of separate rocks, and it averaged 3 or 4 feet above sea-level, and at some places as high as 10 or 15. We found a little cove and hopped in to dive around and play with star fish and whatever else we could find, getting tossed about by the waves (which weren't strong, just happened to move us around a lot).

We soon decided to check out a spot a little further down where there were colonial walls contructed on top of the rocks, with a whole bunch of dominican boys running and diving over the edge (about 15 feet i'd say). It was apparent in the looks they had that this was not a place often frequented by tourists, and much like the dominicans at the river, they were probably wondering how we'd found it. We of course joined in and dove off the edge as well. Even laura did, which by far drew the most stares and the largest crowd of all (remember that the DR is still a very 'traditional' society, and girls generally don't do that kind of thing, so to see this gringa girl jumping in just like them was obviously quite a sight)

after a little while we ditched and continued to boca chica, a beach lined by vendors selling some of the more disgusting food i've seen, including whole, deep fried fish (they even still had eyes) that had been sitting out in the sun all day.
but we walked past that to the beach which had about the same color as the water at the national parque, but wasn't as clear because of one of the attractions of the beach: a few hundred yards out was an island that was a few hundred yards long (i dont' know how deep because i couldn't see it), so consequently the water never got very deep. it was just a slight dip inbetween the island and the mainland, meaning that you could walk all the way out to the island. we didn't, because we couldn't very well leave our stuff sitting on the beach, but at anyrate it explains why the water wasn't as clear (people were constantly kicking it up and mixing it around).

we hung out there til around 7, and made our way back to S.D. to try to find this elusive night life (it's supposed to be amazing...) and once again ended up in ANOTHER club full of high schoolers.............
i dont' know how this kind of thing happens TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW!

oh well, we had a good time anyway and have some great photos to prove it (although, i don't happen to have them at this time, so you'll just have to wait!)

anyway, that was my weekend! i didn't do anything yesterday except for eat as much food as i could possible fit in my body for dinner and pass out around 9:00. I'm not that much fun on sundays because i don't talk too much and go to sleep early :)

rockin! I have no idea what my plans for this weekend are, though i hope they don't involve spendiong money, because i've pretty much been out of it for the past week and a half... the place to change money near my school hasn't been able to for that long, and i'm pretty much the only person who brought traveler's checks (everyone else just uses their atm cards, which i think i'll do in the future as well because it's *just* as secure as a traveler's check, and the rate is actually better that way (depending on how much you get out.))
so, point is, i don't have any money, i owe friends money, i can't get more money (easily anyway.. i guess tomorrow i'll have to go into the center of the city again) and i can't eat lunch AGAIN because i don't have time to go back to my casa and i don't have any money. :)

also, i have classes from 2-9 today, so i won't get to eat for another 8 hours at the least.
but i guess i'm getting used to it, because that's how mondays and wednesdays are for me...

anyway, i'm doing generally well and picking up a few things in spanish here and there also. if you guys feel like commenting on my entries that would be cool, you just have to click on "leave a comment" at the bottom of the entry, and if you don't have a live journal account you can leave it anonymously (just write your name at the bottom so i know who you are!). It would be nice to know who's reading! :)

and so, until i get a chance to update again... ciao!

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    hungry hungry

El monumento

soooo last night was fun!

Somewhere in the city (I still have a hard time telling what's where because of the necessity to take taxis at night...) there is an enormous monument that has something to do with a previous governmental administration (i'll find out more eventually in my classes, but right now i can't remember what it's for...). it's up on a hill with a road going up to and around it in a circle so that cars can drive around and around and around aimlessly.
On one of the sides of the hill a gigantic stairway leads down to the street below which is lined by bars and what-have-you. I'd been there once before, but yesterday was the first time i'd been there at night, which apparently... is the time to be there.
Remember how I mentioned that most cars have banging soundsystems? Well, a lot even actually have a PA system stashed in the trunk or the hatchback of an SUV...

oh i forgot to mention that on the outside of the road encircling the monument is a near-continuous bench....

so, what all the young dominicans do is hang out there at night, the circle full of cars blasting music so loud you'd think you were in a club while you're actually hanging out on top of a hill looking over the beatifully expansive lights of Santiago.
The ever present young boys wearing rags beg to shine your shoes for $RD5 (15 cents) and countless other people walk around selling Presidente (the most popular dominican beer) out of a cooler, or chips, flowers, food, anything they think people will buy. But of course, people rarely do (except the beer).

I hung out with two american amigas of mine, as well as a bunch of dominican friends that i've made and we drank cuba libres (the most popular cocktail here, better known in the US as a rum and coke) and danced to reggaeton in the eerie shadows of the spotlights illuminating the monument. Since there are really no laws governing the use of alcohol (including while driving... also, no one EVER wears seatbelts, and most cars don't even have them [and all cars are standards]), most people bring their own rum or beer up to the momument to hang out, and when I arrived, my dominican friends already had a 2 liter coke, a bottle of rum, a 5 pound bag of ice and some styrofoam cups arranged in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible, considering that it was a 2 liter bottle of coke and some styrofoam cups .......
(by which i mean to say, they had haphazardly thrown it all in a pile...)

Soon enough though, all my dominican friends had to go home, and the three of us americans were left surrounded by strange crowds with the trash of the bottles, cups and bags that the dominicans left behind in the typical dominican style of throwing whatever trash wherever they want and then complaining later that there's trash all over their country....

We decided to see what awaited us in the bars below, which turned out to be a live band with an empty dance floor and a new favorite drink for me (reccomended to me by a cute dominican waitress, when i asked her what her favorite drink was) called an Alexander, and I had an interesting discussion with our waiter who wanted me to pronounce it in americanese, but i was on a roll with my spanish and rocking the "alejandre."
I have absolutely no idea what's in the drink, an investigation for another night, but it was served in a margarita glass and graced with a handsome portion of cinnamon on the surface. If any of you have any idea of my obsession with cinnamon, you'll understand just how well-recieved the drink actually was...

Entonces, the three of us caught a taxi back to our area of residence (known as "La Esmeralda") and explored the roof of one of our apartment buidlings, in the process probably waking up the neighbors at 1:00 in the morning with our contemplations of life and the customs of the dominican youth in a horrendously butchered language which at one point could have been called spanish.

I also bought a guitar yesterday for my guitar class, so when I got back to my room, instead of writing in my journal i wrote a few lines out loud with the strings instead, and rested my happy head in my uncomfortable bed with my fan on full blast trying to keep as much heat off of me as possible.

Fun night, and not too shabby for a thursday.

Tonight, I'm going to a party at Dahiana's house (spelled as such so that it's pronounced "Diana" in spanish), who's one of my dominican amigas, and I'm excited to be making a strange stab at the dominican social scene.