Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Plans B, C, D and E

Like I said, we seriously reassessed our San Francisco de Macoris plan. Maybe, we thought, we should find a job and then move wherever the job takes us. That sounds like something adults do, right? So I expressed interest in a variety of places, put out my feelers and/or my resume to B, C, D and E. The problem was, we have to move out of the Santiago place by July 25. Yikes! Most of the nice jobs I found didn't have application deadlines until much later. Would they even look at my resume before we needed to decide and move?

Dear Time Crunch,
Josh and I aren't so good at deadlines involving sorta-big-life decisions. Could you ease up a bit?

Dear Rebecca,
Buck up.

Yeah, like that.

So, we did what we love to do: spontaneous travel. Escape (from reality, to reality?). It literally makes us giddy. Perhaps we'd find our answers on the road.
I found two different places on the island we had yet to see that were also goal communities for the Baha'is, an NGO in Las Terrenas on the northern coast and a school in La Romana on the southern coast, both of which had positions available. The NGO gig, to be fair, was a kindergarten teacher position (neither of us really wanted it), but what they were doing was eerily similar to hopes and dreams we've expressed in our own lives in the last decade. We had to go on this blind date and see what would come of it. We love jumping into the unknown, wide open to the possibility. Plus, it was at the beach. A breathtaking beach. The La Romana gig we knew next-to-nothing about. And still don't.
I called the NGO number that night.
Me: "Hi. We found you on the internet and want to meet you. Can we come over tomorrow?" (Too E-harmony?)
NGO Dude: "Ummm... sure."
Me: "Cool. Do you know of any cheap places to stay in the area?"
NGO Dude: "Well, there's this place for $50 a night, this place for $35 a night..."
Me: "Man. Okay. Thanks." There was obvious disappointment in my voice. Our current income is painfully little and should not be compared to the income of anyone who is considered a tourist in this country.
NGO Dude: "Or... you could stay in our volunteer house for $7 a night." (E-harmony totally works.)
Me: "That's more our style. Awesome. I'll call you when we get into town. Thank you!"

A few hours sleep, packed up the rental car and our journey began.

We witnessed a great many sights along the way.
Paid way too much to travel on this fancy new road through the mountains.
Not only was it a toll road, it was sponsored by my favorite (sarcasm heavy) company: Claro.
And yet, my Claro phone didn't have any service on that road. #irony
When Jose (NGO Dude) didn't answer his phone upon arrival, we found the place Dominican-style. Ask someone. Then ask again. And again. And eventually (sometimes faster than a Google search with our internet connection, actually),
you'll find what you're looking for. We knew this NGO was super legit when we met this little library enthusiast (pictured above). "I learned to read here!" he told us as if we'd just offered him ice cream. He then proceeded to read everything on the signs, proving his awesome new skill.
We eventually found Jose, and our digs for the night.
Photo Credit: Zora
Then, we interrogated him about all things NGO/library/education/community service work. We listened intently and were surprised at some of the commonalities (albeit trivial): his wife is an Oregonian who lived for a year in Bulgaria, they met at a conference, are both educators, wanted to live on the island because it's in desperate need of educated people (whereas they're a dime a dozen in the States) and the list went on (we have the same stereo, too!). And the things that aren't trivial? They're just our dreams, but they're their realities. Community library, literacy program, education. You should give these people money. They'll use it, stretch it and make it do wonderful things for kids.
Then, we went to this beach.
She is super satisfied with herself on the beach.
The girlies built a drip sand castle while the men people threw each other around in the water.
Max practiced for his Taekwondo exam.
And the offspring had to be hauled back to the car at the end of the day. Just a little bit longer?!
We dined with NGO Dude Jose, Molly from Maine on her way back from Haiti
and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. This man has the humility of my grandfather. Like I said, super legit.
The next morning, we were invited to join the end of Summer Reading Camp celebration. What else? A beach trip!
The Anacaona Library is home to about 7,000 books!
The library includes a reference section, books in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German and Creole. Las Terrenas is actually home to many Italian & German expats. Each one of those languages is oft heard spoken in their community.
Jose is, as I type, transforming this area into a garden. The building is home to the pre-school classroom.
Summer camp participants loaded up and ready for their beach trip. #HowTheyRoll
Beach arrival. Order of operation: dismount, disrobe and run for the water.
Not a bad summer camp. At about this point in our trip we decided that La Romana was not in the cards.
Wouldn't you stay here just one more day?
Max was mighty proud of his flaming baseball boxers and pink swim shirt combo.

"Whale Beach" is named for the rocks on the horizon which look somewhat like whales. 
With the conclusion of summer camp, we hopped over to the literacy teacher's house for lunch.
The literacy teacher, an exquisite beauty inside & out, gave me some sage advice on living in Las Terrenas.
Max quickly made friends with her son. Surprise, surprise.
Lunch was beautiful. We felt immensely grateful to be so easily welcomed into their lives.
There is quite a bit of art in town, both part of the city and available for tourists to take home.
You would like it there. We'll take you when you come and visit.
True to form, we found unusual pizza topping offerings.
And Zora was the one who wanted the weirdest thing on the menu: potato chip pizza.
Our last morning the rental car had at least 5 pounds of sand in it. Josh opted to rinse the children and haul them across the beach, untouched by any more sand. When I stripped Zora down as she stood on the seat of the car, another pound of sand came out of her suit. C'est la vie.
The Samana Peninsula. I highly recommend this kind of therapy/rejuvenation.
As we contemplated our lives in this beach town--from the practical (can we make it financially here?) to the dreamy (wouldn't it be lovely to live near all this beauty and work with amazing people?)--we made and unmade several decisions. When we had decided that it was a viable option and we wanted to pursue the possibilities despite several hesitations, I received news from home. My grandfather isn't well. While it wasn't the confirming sign we were hoping for, the message did help us make a firm decision. We couldn't commit to something that, if we were doing it well, would take a great deal of our time/money/energy. If we lived there, I likely wouldn't be able to visit my family during the course of the year if I needed/wanted to. Trump card.

T -12 days until we have to move. What's it gonna be?

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