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Dave Hotstream in the Dominican Republic
Dave Hotstream in the Dominican Republic
7 Feb 2003 ...and that's when the C.H.U.D.s came at me.
>I know it's been a while. Stop nagging. It turns out that a whole lot of people are reading these things and I've been getting emails from total strangers wanting to know when the next installment is coming out. Which sometimes makes me feel all weird and self-conscious about writing about what I'm doing any more. Is my life really that interesting? Don't you people have anything better to do than read this? No? Good. Because I don't really have anything better to do than write it.
I wish I had a lot of exciting news to pass on, but the truth is that things have been really quiet here and not much has happened worth writing home about. Just the usual stuff. The mayor wants me to start a Boy Scout troop. The President of the DR visited Restauracion last week to dedicate our new high school that's only about half-built. The US marines are still on patrol. I recently spent an afternoon in a boat watching a group of mating humpback whales at close range. Josh is alive and well and back in the DR. Oh, and a shitload of gold has been discovered in our mountains and the government is going to start mining soon. With the help of certain American interests, of course. One of my neighbors is already preparing for a gold boom by converting the big shed behind his house into two apartments. He showed them to me yesterday with instructions to bring any American surveyors who might be looking for a place to stay directly to him. You know. Same old shit.
I watched the Superbowl in the capital with about 30 other volunteers. I think this was the first Superbowl that I've ever watched from beginning to end. It turns out the key to enjoying the Superbowl is the same as the key to enjoying merengue: first you have to get nice and pleasant drunk. While I was in town I also got to see the new Lord Of The Rings movie with subtitles, so I finally know the Spanish word for "dwarf."
The Haitian border has just been reopened and the Dominican soldiers are really cracking down on illegal immigrants. I've seen them drag a few Haitians right off the bus for not having papers. A few weeks ago they even went as far as asking Josh and Chrisie and two other gringos for their passports, which they've never done to any of us before. I was with them at the time but with my near-cancerous suntan and a baseball hat covering my straight gringo hair, I can actually sometimes pass for a really pale Dominican as long as I don't have to talk, and they didn't bother me.
We're trying to get the Dominican Secretary of Education to give us computers and equipment to open a lab in the new high school here. This is something they promised to do in the old elementary school before I was even assigned to this town, but which I had given up on ever happening until recently when the President and Vice-President started to take such an interest in us.
I had yet another college student (an American this time) show up at my door and stay at my house for a few days while she interviewed me and did research on third-world development. I'm still not sure when I became such an authority on this subject, but I am soon to be quoted in two published university theses. I guess it's true: Peace Corps volunteers really are the Green Berets of development work. And so in order to share my accumulated knowledge, and in the interest of fulfilling the third mission of the Peace Corps, which is to promote a better understanding of foreign cultures on the part of Americans, I now present:
THE JOY OF DOMINICAN SIGN LANGUAGE
1. If a Dominican repeatedly scrunches up his nose like someone just farted, it means "I don't understand what you just said. Please repeat yourself."
2. If he taps his raised right elbow with his left fist, it means "You are cheap."
3. If he points his lips at someone without breaking eye contact with you or moving his head, it means "Don't look now, but that person I just pointed my lips at is either stupid or crazy."
4. Pointing the index fingers straight up on either side of the head like horns means "Your spouse is cheating on you."
5. Making a grasping motion with the right hand means "Someone here is a thief."
6. Placing the right hand over the left and wiggling both thumbs like the flippers of an imaginary sea turtle means "Someone here is light in the loafers."
There you have it, straight from the PCDR Volunteer Handbook. Use one of those the next time you see a Dominican and make his day. Thanks again for reading still more crap about me. Please write, as long as it's not to tell me how much fun you're having at Mardi Gras or about the really good pizza you ate last night. I don't need to hear that.
When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:
This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?
Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."
In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.
Read the stories and leave your comments.