Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Guaguas, Cucarachas, and the new director of Peace Corps
Hola! We're well into week two and I'm starting to fall in love with my new home--although certain challenges still face me from time to time. My spanish is improving un poquito, and riding public transit is getting easier. But that said, I think I should enlighten all of you to the delights of the guagua.
A guagua is one of the most popular forms of public transportation in this country. It's bigger than a mini van but smaller than the short bus and it can hold a whole lot of people. My first guagua ride was last week and we had approximately 54 people packed into this thing including the drive, the cobrador (money taker) and three people hanging off of the outside. In short I would like to give you a description of the situation. I understand most of you won't know the people I'm talking about but you'll certainly hear more about them later. So: 20 or so people are sitting in the five rows of seats, about seven or eight of these are volunteers, then it starts to get tricky. Phil and Alaina are sharing one seat (this is common), Shannon is sitting on Phil's lap, I am leaning into/on Shannon, Justin is standing/leaning back to back with me, Eva is sitting/laying on my butt/back, I have my left arm around Jose and my right arm braced on the headrest behind Phil, my right leg is not on the ground but wrapped somewhat snuggly around Eva's left leg, Meg is behind me to the right also standing on one foot, Eli (or Dean, I'm not sure I remember) is standing in the stairwell surrounded by volunteer armpits, I lose track of where everyone else was but there were about twenty more people beyond this. When asked, Dominicans said that this situation is pretty normal with the exception of our hysterical laughing at the absurdity of it all.
Cucarachas. I do not like Cucarachas. My Doña does not like Cucarachas. But cucarachas tend to like us, or at least my bathroom. The other night we found three dead and two still alive in my bathroom but Doña went in and ruthlessly slaughtered them because she is the best Doña ever (sorry PETA members) and it´s true, she really is the best Doña ever, everyone in the barrio thinks so.
Finally, we had the incredible opportunity to meet the brand new last week Peace Corps Director appointed by none other than Barry Obama. The new director, Aaron Williams was a volunteer here in the DR in the 1960's and decided to make this his first spot. Thus we were the first traning class to meet the new director. He's a great speaker and has had an awesome life, you should go to the Peace Corps website and look him up. So I will leave you with a photo of his visit...which ended up at the top of the post. (Also in the photo from left to right are: Jacob from Portland as well, Amy from Maine, and Peter from Chicago).