I’m sitting at the base right now getting ready for travel week. In the next few days we will be in Santo Domingo, the capital, going to museums and experiencing a different side of the culture here. We will also spend two days in a place called Los Haitises, which sounds like a time when we will spend outdoors more and some time at the beach. We will be experiencing a different kind of Dominican culture, the tourist side. My experience this far has been as close to regular, ordinary Dominican life as possible. I have lived with a normal family in a city that is exciting, but where a lot of wealth isn’t present. Although I always stand out here as an American, we will stand out in a different way in the capitol, being seen as tourists with a lot of money. I am excited to spend time with the whole group and the opportunity that we have to build different relationships.
Another thing that is exciting right now is that we had our graduation party for Spanish classes. Not to sound too dramatic, I don’t think it had really hit me that we’re done. Spanish class has been such an intense stretching experience. We crammed so much information into 5 weeks’ time and it’s such a relief that it’s over. For the most part, I don’t have a lot of homework left for this semester. Only one more paper is due when I’m here and I’m just excited to be able to spend my evenings from now on enjoying my family instead of working on papers or homework assignments. We’re done!!!! During our end of class party tonight, our Spanish program director Arelis said a few words about our program. It was so nice. She told us that working with students with us is why she is a professor of Spanish. She told us that it brings her joy to be able to help students learn a way to make connections and build relationships with more people. It’s always nice to hear that a teacher or professor cares deeply about the work that they are doing with their students. It’s hard to make that connection with a professor right when I class is over, but she did invite us to spend a day at her cabana!
I have been thinking that there are certain things about my time here that I want to make sure that I remember, like the sound of the frogs all croaking together at night after it rains. It’s kind of a beautiful sound out in the country where nothing else is breaking the dead silence of mountain life. Although I love the way they sound, we had another frog in our house last night, which threw all of the other girls in my house into a panic. Another thing that I love about being here is the way that all Dominicans play their music super loud. If a Dominican has some music on, all of their neighbors can hear it. Maybe they just want everyone to be able to enjoy their music with them J Dominicans also love sitting on their front porches. It’s one of the ways that they pass time with each other. If a family has a few minutes to spend together, they’ll sit outside and watch cars pass. Maybe it’s because they’re a breeze outside, but it’s another example of the way that Dominicans just enjoy spending time together.
I have been noticing some of the differences between my American worldview and the Dominican worldview lately in small ways. One of those is the way that Dominicans are extremely superstitious and have local myths about ridiculous things. For example, last Sunday my sister had a friend over and they were blow drying one another’s hair for the week. Sunday was ridiculously hot so both of them were working outside just sweating. After they were ready to switch, Katherine came inside to get a drink, but she asked me to get the water out of the fridge. I didn’t really think about it while I was doing it, but when I handed her the pitcher, I asked her why she wanted me to get it. She told me that she didn’t want her face to freeze. I won’t deny that I laughed, but I didn’t understand that she honestly believes this. Some Dominicans believe that if your body is really hot from working or exerting yourself, that if you open the fridge and the cold air hits your face, that your face will freeze in whatever position it was in when you opened the fridge. They also believe that if you shower when your body is really hot that you will get really sick. I have a hard time understanding that they actually believe things like this. I want to just think that they just trying to trick me, but the look in their eyes says that they honestly believe what they are saying to me.