Dominican Day 23

March 24, 2015

WEATHER: I’m not entirely sure, but if today is any indication of the weather we had yesterday it was nearing or just above 40. Whatever temperature it was, it was so stifling hot that I began to have a throbbing heat headache which was later paired with an undesirable sense of nausea. Needless to say, I was feeling so ill yesterday that I ventured to bed shortly after 5pm and didn’t get up until after midnight.

MOSQUITO BITE COUNT:
While away with my aunt and uncle I hadn’t received any other bites. I was hoping that this turn of events would mark the rest of my stay here. The other bites had even begun to heal or disappear with all the swimming in the sea I’d done over the weekend. But who was I kidding! I awoke this morning to find 3 bites on my left leg and one on my right wrist. Mosquitoes aren’t choosy. They didn’t seem to mind picking on me as my body lay there ill, sweaty, and comatose under the mosquito net last night!

STORY FOR THE PAST FEW DAYS:
I had such a wonderful weekend with my family. Saturday evening we feasted on all the delights that the dinner buffet had to offer. Of course, not before I had two scoops of chocolate ice cream when I arrived. We toured around on Sunday and I learned more about the attractions around me in that one day than I’ve learned being here for 3 weeks. As I discovered more and more facts about the Dominican Republic, I had mixed emotions of elation and frustration. It was exciting to learn about so many things with my family. I was on an adventure with people that felt like home and that are so dear to me. The day kept getting increasingly better with each event. I think the memories of Sunday will stay at the most forefront of my memories about this trip.

I was also frustrated that it took me being with my family, who, I felt, spent considerable amounts of money on me to allow me to tour around with them. The thought of me never experiencing those things had they not been there flickered through my mind and I became cross. It’s kind of like someone coming to Toronto and them passing by the CN Tower, ACC, Roger’s Centre etc. and without anyone ever explaining the history behind those spots, they’d never even know the value. Either way, me now knowing the history of the things I saw gave me an appreciation for that which I was surrounded by, so I’m grateful after all.

As Monday came to a close and I began making my way to the road to allow my aunt and uncle to enjoy their last evening here, the dread of so many things loomed over me. Firstly, I was walking towards an uncertain fate as Pincho’s/Juan’s/Mr. Pollo’s directions seemed incomplete. I knew that I’d need to take two guaguas (a van that serves as public transportation) to get to the resort so why would I only need one on the way back? Furthermore, this supposed guagua was supposed to leave me at the hospital which would then be at least a 20 minute walk home. I was so confused and my heart nervously raced and my aunt and I crossed to the other side of the highway. A young fellow named Richard followed behind us and cautioned us to be careful while crossing the road. An instant affection from my aunt and I formed for Richard, who, without any benefit to himself was already looking after me. The Tavilla Tours bus had passed just as we were crossing the road, which meant that we’d need to wait another 15 minutes at least. We chatted with Richard for a bit and learned that he worked at a children’s store (store #12) just outside of the Riu resorts. 11 Minutes later, a car pulled up just ahead of us and honked at Richard to come over. When Richard approached the car he recognized his friends and was encouraging me to come in the car with him. Just then a public taxi pulled up behind the car and the driver got out of his car and began shouting at the driver ahead that he was stealing business. In the rush of all of this my heart pounded through my chest and I nervously looked at my aunt for some direction on what to do.

So as not to offend the public taxi driver and to avoid an altercation, Richard suggested we get in the taxi. As that decision was being made the next Tavilla Tours bus passed us. Richard and I hopped in the back seat where there was an elderly man sitting by the left window. Space was already tight but the driver saw other people waiting for a ride and encouraged two new people to sit in the front and an extra one in the back. So there we were 7 of us in total in that car and as the car pulled away my aunt and I exchanged worried glances. Richard explained to me that this car would take me right home and would be a lot quicker. It came at a price of course. Tavilla Tours would have been 20 pesos and paying the rude and hurried driver of this taxi would require 200 pesos. In fear, I grabbed on to my bags to tightly that my hands and arms began to ache. I few moments I’d need to remind myself to loosen my grip otherwise I think cramping would have started. Besides, I kept being stuck in the middle of the back seat and every time someone needed to exit, I’d need to first get out of the taxi. If I held on to things too tightly I wouldn’t have been flexible enough to exit and enter the taxi each time.

One by one, people dropped off and Richard got off at the hospital. Since he and I were the only two left, he encouraged me to sit at the front with the driver. I hopped back in reluctantly. Anyhow, I had the driver drop me off at the main road, a 3 minute walk to home, because I didn’t have a good feeling about him and certainly did not want him to see where I lived.

I got home and was excited to see a familiar place. I was beaming after considering the luxury I had not only spending time with some of my most favourite people but also from having experienced such wonderful things. Then the reality of “tomorrow” set in. Getting back to the grind of work in the heat with screaming, obnoxious kids did not appeal to me. The few days I had with my family were so perfect, why did it have to stop?! I counted my workdays and even though only 10 were left I dreaded it all. Yet again, the thought of going home early pricked my mind. That mindset is such a terrible way to begin something challenging.

While on the way to the club, we learned that Teresa was in the hospital because her daughter was having severe breathing problems. She would not be coming for the morning class. My heart raced again and a clump of dread stayed in my throat. I had no lesson planned and knowing that my Spanish wasn’t good enough to even try an ad-hoc lesson made my eyes secretly water. It felt as though I was about to be placed in the middle of a pack of hungry lions. Upon my arrival, I quickly explained to the director that Teresa wouldn’t be there. I walked in the class and nobody came to help me. After 15 minutes had passed I decided to at least start by taking attendance. I struggled as their names failingly rolled off my lips but tried to remain cheerful for the sake of the kids. The last thing they needed was a visibly stressed out teacher. As I fumbled through the attendance call, the director strolled in. He began a haphazard English lesson in numbers but I was grateful that the lions were now looking at him instead of me.

Teresa walked in an hour later and my heart beamed with gratitude. I attempted to exchange a cheerful smile with her but she sadly lowered her eyes. During the brief final moments of the director’s numbers lesson, Teresa quickly explained that her daughter really wasn’t well and tears filled her eyes. My heart ached for her as I began to imagine what it must have been like for her to deal with such a scary medical situation and still feel pressured to come to work. I can’t say if the pressure was social or economic (maybe both?) but it had me shaking me head and thinking that life can be really unjust at times.

As we neared lunchtime a power outage had occurred. When we all went for a lunchtime staff meeting we quickly realized that much of Puerto Plata had been disabled by the power outage. Political campaigning and construction cut off many roads, making matters even worse. By the time we sat down for lunch, my head was throbbing with pain. The heat is such a foul friend. I love it but sometimes it can get the better of me. The sense of nausea bubbled in my stomach as we waited for our food to come to the table.

During this meeting, I discovered that the club will be closed on April 2nd and 3rd, my last two days, because Easter is a really big thing around here. Why was I only finding this out a week before I’m scheduled to leave?! I became annoyed and then I was asked to work with Teresa over the remaining 7 workdays to come up with lesson plans for all of April. What the ****!! My blood began to boil and I fought with the feeling of throwing up as my head continued to pound. I responded with, “sure” and decided I’d try my very best to do what I could to help Teresa.

The school day was a bit overwhelming but it turned out okay. Teresa and I tried as much as we could to support one another but it was clear that her mind was occupied with her daughter. I did the only thing I knew to do and during a break I held her hands and prayed with her.

TODAY’S CHALLENGES:
• Finding out important information last minute
• Feeling sick and having nobody to check on me. Martina had gone to Santo Domingo to stay there overnight in order to attend a meeting in the morning. I slept from 5pm until after midnight. Then I was awake for 4 hours as I struggled to get comfortable enough to fall asleep again.
• Coping without Teresa
• Knowing how to comfort Teresa
• Trying not to freak out at unreasonable requests
• Dealing with a power outage for almost 12 hours
• Fighting the thought of returning home early
• Not being able to clean this past weekend. Forget it! I’m just going to clean next week. A sweeping of the floors will have to do for now.
• Discovering that my SD card was full right in the middle of the day. I frantically began deleting old pictures
• Trying to manage a class that had twelve year olds who were clever enough to cheat on their exam and 8 year olds who couldn’t even spell their own name. Geeze … how … is this even possible!

THINGS I LEARNED TODAY:
• Life is really frail and there’s nothing that can defeat a mother’s love
• I overheard a conversation about a young girl who used to come to our club. She was being molested by her step-father and apparently her mother had come to the club to announce that her daughter was pregnant. Eyebrows were raised in suspicion that the baby might belong to her disgusting pig step-father
• Just how unorganized things are. I clearly have a different perspective on orderliness and organization. Trying to figure out how to adapt.
• The club will be closed on April 2nd and 3rd. As a result, they want all of the kids to come out both on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. I suspect that it’ll be like having two Saturdays in a row or maybe three if you count the Saturday just before that. Thinking about it makes me want to sulk.
• Given the overwhelming work and me dealing with being so sick, I’m starting to loose hope again. I’m not as ambitious or strong as I thought I was.

WHAT I’M GRATEFUL FOR:
• Teresa coming to the club
• The guayaba Teresa brought just for me to try. She’s so precious!
• I’ll forever be grateful for my aunt and uncle’s unconditional love. I feel a bit empty not having them here but it’s a staunch reminder that I’m not here for vacation; I’m here to have, hopefully, a positive impact.
• No longer having that nasty cough
• Having my own room and a private bathroom. The last thing I needed to worry about is someone hearing me blow chunks if I had to.
• A night free of vomiting, diarrhea, and headache. Praise the Lord!

MY PRAYER:
Father, I haven’t been feeling well and I need your healing touch over my body. It’s not a pleasant feeling to be sick like this and I want to return to my cheerful self again. Please continue to give me your wisdom so that I can make the right decisions. Thinking about the time I have left here is such a struggle. Please give me the courage, strength, and encouragement I need to conquer whatever days I have left here. And peace while I do it all.

QUESTIONS:
• What are your thoughts after reading today’s post?

 

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