I didn't sleep. It could have been the "sandwhich bed" I shared with Max while frequently checking for openings in our mosquito net after a 108 F day. But it could have been just nerves too.
I dressed in my teacher-finest and called the kind soul who had offered to drive me to my interview.
"Be there in five minutes!" she said. Now, I've been in the country just long enough to know a few things about that phrase:
1. Five minutes = 15 minutes
2. Five minutes = 45 minutes
3. Five minutes = sometime in the next three hours
This time, option two was the winner. I had already sweat through my shirt by then. Not a good sign, I thought. Turns out, there was some crazy traffic in the city as most vehicle-wielding locals were protesting the sky-high gas prices (despite the government's contract with Venezuelan oil). We arrived just in time to wait for my interviewer to finish her lunch. I sat, uncomfortably hot, but poised with my super mask of confidence (one of the few things I excel in--conjuring up a sense of false confidence). "Five minutes" later, Younger-Than-Me-Interviewer-Lady asked me to step into her office. A step was, quite literally, all I could take. 'Twas a closet with a filing cabinet. It went downhill from there, but not how you think.
I must have used too much avocado conditioner because Interviewer-Lady thought I was the bees knees.
"Oh my. A Masters in Teaching. We've never had a teacher with a masters degree before."
Oh. Oh my. I was ready to leave then. Not to say that this extra piece of paper I have entitles me to something more than all the other teachers there have, but I was given the distinct feeling that I would be working non-stop. In a way that didn't allow me to explore and do what I've come to do. And it didn't stop there. I was offered my choice of positions: 6-8 year olds or 12-14 year olds teaching English, Social Studies & Science.
If you're with me so far, then, we have: "work like a dog" and "teach ages and subjects you've never taught before." Alrighty. It gets better.
Then she told me about my salary. $400. Four-hundred dollars. Did I mention that is about how much our monthly rent will be?
"A month?" I asked. Clarifying questions are our friends.
"Yes, and one of the great things about this school is class ends at 2 pm so you can head to a second job. Well, thats what most of the teachers here do anyway," she chirped. "We also offer some benefits."
I raised my eyebrow. Sometimes benefits can make all the difference.
"If you send your children here, they can come for half the regular tuition." Huh.
I had prepared extensively before leaving. I knew my salary would be drastically different than it has been. But if we're going to be able to stay in this country for any kind of time, I have to make at least double what Interviewer-Lady offered. I smiled politely, planning when I would head to the University with my CV--an option that several had mentioned to me, but I hadn't felt the gumption to do until now. Apparently, these little slips of paper with fancy words like "Masters" are pretty important here. In the States, I had to have one to get and keep my job.
I managed to get out of there in under two hours, but not until I had written an essay on a topic of choice and been "assessed" by the head of their English department (who happened to be an English language learner herself). God bless hard-working Dominicans.