Sunday, July 31, 2011


J & the kiddos are true-blue-loyal to classic peanut-butter & jelly sandwiches. There was a possibility of not being able to find affordable peanut-butter here. J talked about smashing and salting peanuts, making his own. In response, all I could ever muster was a giggle. There is a serious need in him and the kids for this combo-pack. In the States, they ate it--daily. My mom made them an extra large jar of her jam to haul along with everything else. It weighs three pounds. When we unpacked the jar, it had lovely TSA stickers all over it. I can only imagine how that conversation went.

We made our first trip to the grocery store. Peanut-butter on aisle three, everyone exhale (And Sweet-Sue, they have Philadelphia Cream Cheese, too). We kept ooohing and aaahing over things we normally just toss into our cart. "They have this too?! This is the same cost as in the States. Its not that expensive." (Gleefully contradicting what we'd been told)  Then, it sunk in. Working here at a full-time job will bring in between $600-800 each month. Seems we may need to rethink a few things. For now though, I'm choosing to live in the honey-moon stage just a bit longer. I tossed the peanut-butter in the cart and went to find some tasty bread.

Turns out, tasty bread may be a challenge. I'm so eager for us to have a place with a proper kitchen so I can cook and bake again. Its a key piece, I feel, to us settling in properly. Until then, stress levels remain a smidge high.

Food may be a challenge for yours truly. We've been advised not to eat vegetables outside our home. There is a serious cholera risk about and unwashed vegetables could do-you-in something fierce. Day three and I'm already thinking it was a good move to bring plenty of stretchy pants.
We went out to eat--as we've been doing frequently--to a local pizza place. Zora ordered "Corn Pizza" (No worries, the corn was from a can). I thought that was a combination only 2nd-graders experimenting in the kitchen put together.
"Well, what's in that cupboard over there?" kid-one would ask, searching for pizza-topping-inspiration.
"Ummm... green beans, tomato paste and corn. Oooh! Corn!" kid-two responds, reaching for the can.
"Yes! I love corn!" kid-one says with a fist-pump.
"Maybe we should put some chocolate syrup on top of everything," kid-two adds, almost wetting her pants in excitement.
And that's the only way that Corn Pizza would ever happen.
Yet, here it was. On a proper menu. In an actual place of business.
Photographic evidence. Mama don't tell no lies.
 Max chose wisely. Just cheese.
 The park near our place.

Buses here are called "gua gua", pronounced "wah wah." Max thinks that's hilarious.
Home again, home again. Bedtime stories. Buenas noches!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When, exactly, is the last time you bathed?

Z awoke our first morning and wanted to immediately meet our hosts' dog, Yoshi, who she'd seen a picture of while we were still in the States. Halfway down the stairs and a well-put-together man about my age looked up from the gate, saw my white face and asked, "Are you related to Josh?"
"I'm his wife," I reached over the gate to shake his hand, "Rebeca."
"I'm Nabil. Allah'u'Abha!" he smiled wide.
My face lit up several watts. The Baha'is have come to visit us! Nabil went back to his car to park it, knowing he'd found the right place.
I ran inside to wake Josh and in moments, having hugged warm hellos and welcomes, we were all sitting in the front room chatting, drinking water and eating airport mixed nuts. When Josh came to the DR in March of last year to scope the place out, he stayed with Nabil. What a gem of a human being! He brought with him two other Baha'is from the area, Ronald and Riaz. They are all students at the university. After all the standard questions had been asked and we answered each one of them, "We don't know," we shared with them our shower-catastrophe-story. Not 24 hours here and, of course, we have a catastrophe story under our belts. We felt obliged to tell them since in the same breath we apologized for our smelly-selves. None of us had bathed since Oregon.
It went something like this:
Josh, the stinkiest of the bunch, was voted to bathe first. Having been given the how-to-use-the-shower lesson not an hour earlier, we felt confident. I'm sure many of us have used an apparatus similar to this one. I had one in Honduras myself (though the one here is far superior as there aren't any coils sticking out).

The idea is: turn on the water, pipe it over some hot coils and the water will fall on you, hot. Can you see the switch on the shower head?

Josh turned on the water and waited a moment. I happened to be standing in the little hallway in front of the closet shown on the right.

Shown here, in order: bathroom, sink, closet.

In moments my feet were cooler than they've been since we arrived. I relished in the fresh, cool...
"Aaaaah! Josh! Turn off the shower! Turn it off! Turn it off!"
...water. All over the floor and gaining momentum as it pooled, sneaked its way into both bedrooms. When Josh turned on the shower, water came gushing out of a hole in the wall eight feet away. No joke. The hole was inside that closet, somehow connected to the shower. Water. Everywhere.
The water is now s l o w l y evaporating from one of our suitcases, my purse, my carry-on and three of our towels. The humidity is working against us.
Our new friends laughed and, every one being engineers, easily explained to us that the closet used to be home to the water heater. Josh had turned the left faucet--the ex-hot one--instead of the right.
The fix: shove a stick in there. Good to go.
Proof: Freshly showered & happy.
The hole + the stick = no more troubles. For now.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I’m 16. Standing on the edge of a cliff, 25 feet high, looking down at the swirling, colored water below. My stomach contracts in knots of queasiness, my mind racing at all the possibilities--ways to die from up here. But I made a promise, of sorts. I climbed up here. Slowly, I carefully chose each rock, my next step, as everyone watched. Now they’re all waiting. Calling to me. Jump.

That’s what it’s like now.

The moment my mind stopped racing, finished carefully analyzing: the who, what, where, when, how (the why we decided ages ago), it rushed in. Uneasiness poured forth as if from a pipe, somehow split and cracked inside me. Keep smiling. Keep waving. They’re all here, watching you, waiting. Calling out their goodbyes. Get on the plane. Jump.

Last time I did this, it was for just under a year. I was 18. Offer my life to my Beloved, in another country. I cried ‘til my eyes bulged red and dry.

“How long will you be in the Dominican Republic?”
I shrug, quite honestly, “We don’t know.”
At least a decade has passed since my 11 months in Honduras. “I” has become “we”. The stakes seem somehow higher. In principle, it’s all the same—leave your home, what you know. Funny thing is, I haven’t felt home yet. Not since I left my childhood home, flew away. That is what’s feeding my queasiness. I’m 30. Every inch of me—inside & out—is ready to make my home, to be home. Here we go. Jump.

 Part of our PDX 'hasta luego' crew.
 'Hasta luego' crew having our last dinner in Oregon (for a while).
 'Hasta luego' crew helping with our mass amounts of luggage.

My clenched stomach loosened significantly as we boarded our plane in New York, after a red-eye flight that our children didn't sleep on. I triple-checked our boarding passes. Nice-Man who said, "I'll take care of you" when we asked about being assigned seats wasn't kidding. We flew first class all the way to Santiago. Thanks, Nice-Man. Water bottles, pillows, blankets and seats so wide both kids and I would fit in one. Hot towels with a hint of lemon just before lunch. Fresh fruit, brownies, turkey sandwich with avocado. Every need catered to. No wait for the bathroom. Z slept through the whole thing.

We landed 40 minutes earlier than expected. Customs waved us through with all of our bags. No questions. Luis, our host here for the first week, picked us up at the airport. Luggage, kids and three adults piled into his Trailblazer and we cruised down the highway to our new life.

 An "acerola" tree just outside our front window.
 The view from our front window.
 M & Z skyping with grandma.
Our belongings. 
 Just outside the 'throne'.
 Our front living area which comprises a kitchen (you have to really stretch your imagination), dining table and chairs.
 Kiddos relaxing under the fan and getting in a Spanish lesson (aka cartoons on the boob tube). 

We keep getting the same question from people we meet. The same one keeps echoing in our heads and conversations: "What are you going to do now?"
Again, we answer, “We don’t know.” Jump, I guess.