April 1, 2015
MOSQUITO BITE COUNT:
The one on my ankle is still driving me nuts. I also received a few more along the bottom of my feet. That right there should have been an ancient Chinese torture tactic – death by 1,000 mosquito bites.
So, here’s the truth. This story you’re about to read documents some real and major challenges I experienced on this day. I was so taken aback by some of these things that I decided it’d be best to take a break from blogging for a few days. I really just needed to get my mind together. It’s taken me a year to muster up the courage to share this journal entry – last year I had only shared it with a select few…
Last night, Freddie was feeling down and out about her wallet being stolen from the club. She was particularly distant and withdrawn throughout the day. Though most times I was having trouble reading her and riding with her varying moods, I felt empathetic to her situation. It just sucks when your wallet, with all your ID, goes missing. So, I jetted off to Tio Pan to get a pastry box filled with 5 macrons and one caramel fudge brownie as a pick me up for her. I also tried to be resourceful and creative and used part of the paper bag the goodies were in to make her a funny card. It all was well received and we laughed about it before going to bed.
Riding off the small success of making Freddie laugh the night before, I woke up in the morning in the usual rush of things but with a smile on my face. This time, I had made sure to ask Pincho the day before what time he’d be picking us up so that I could adequately prepare for the day ahead. While making my breakfast, I saw Freddie and asked her how she was feeling. I was so happy to hear that she was in better spirits and I hoped that the visit from Liz the night before also helped. As I sat down at the kitchen table to finally eat my breakfast, Freddie breezed by me and announced, “Oh by the way, I won’t see you after this. I’m leaving for vacation at noon today and won’t be back until Monday,” then she smiled and escaped to the other room to grab her suitcase.
I was beside myself with sadness and frustration. How is it that I’m only being informed of this merely hours before her departure? Will I be the only one in the house during this time or will Billy’s father be coming by? I had no phone to contact anyone – what if something happened to me while I was there alone? What would I do if I mistakenly lost the keys to the house? Why did she choose my final days to just take off? How do I get to the airport on Friday? Questions, so many questions raced through my mind as my body tried to handle the shock of the news.
It felt as though I was being abandoned and devalued. As though, there wasn’t enough consideration for my feelings and well being to ensure that I’d be okay and taken care of in her absence. The overwhelming influx of emotions left me nauseous on the way to the club.
During a short break in the morning, I beelined to Pincho to ask about how I might be getting to the airport on the 3rd. He explained that Friday was his day off and I’d most likely need to take a taxi. After making a quick call, he informed me that the taxi would be about $17 USD and implied that I would have to pay for the taxi service. After asking him, he reassured me that it would be only me in the taxi and not 6 others. Still I was fuming. I paid a “volunteer fee” of $900 that was meant to cover Freddie’s hosting fees (rent was completely separate), Juan’s transportation, and lunch on workdays. Though I still didn’t have a clear answer on if I’d be picked up and who would be picking me up, I thanked Pincho for the information and went back to the club and right into a bathroom stall to think and sulk.
I decided to casually but strategically approach Liz to ask about Friday’s transportation to see if I could get clearer answers. “So Liz, do you know what the arrangements are this Friday for my trip to the airport?” I casually asked as though I hadn’t already spoken to Pincho. “What? Are you leaving on Friday? I thought you were leaving on Sunday!” she quickly blurted out. I desperately tried to hide my anxiety and frustration. How could Liz, the person who is supposed to know everything that’s happening in her organization, not know when I was scheduled to leave? There were many times that I grumbled to myself about how unappreciated I felt but this was clear affirmation of my feelings. It was as though I was just there. Another body in the building it seemed, unless I brought suitcases full of gifts or a large financial donation.
Anyhow, she explained that Pincho would be making the arrangements for the taxi and when I pressed for clearer answers about payment she mentioned that Pincho would also take care of the costs. I knew that this hadn’t been discussed with him and I highly doubted that he would be paying for my taxi. I approached Pincho again and mentioned that Liz said he should be taking care of all of the transportation for me. I figured I’d ask him again the next day just to confirm all the details.
My last day at work, what was meant to be a very special day, was quickly becoming darkened by what I think is the stupidity and selfishness of others. While in that stall I gave myself a pep talk. I decided that I wouldn’t let my circumstances steal away from my last moments with Teresa and the kids. I patted my clothes down, stood up straight, unlocked the stall door, and walked out of the washroom and into the classroom with a smile on my face. I knew that every moment of the next few hours would be precious and soon enough would be distant memories. I wanted to hang on to every last moment I had …
- Finding out that Freddie was leaving only hours before her departure. Seriously?!
- Feeling alone, stuck, and abandoned while I tried to sort through my feelings in the evening at home. For the first time on this trip, I cried.
- The almost impossible task of sorting out my transportation details for Friday
- Liz not remembering/knowing when I was supposed to leave. This was a real shocker to me. There are only a small handful of staff at this organization (in fact, I can count them on one hand) and the fact that I had dedicated five weeks of my everything to serving at that organization made it inexcusable that she was aloof to my comings and goings.
- Creepy noises at home during the night when was home alone. Without hearing the patter of people walking around or Billy’s cries, it was rather eerie. I still wasn’t accustomed to the “sounds” of the house.
- During lunch with with Liz and 10 other volunteers, Liz just randomly blurted out that next most of us would be going to Los Cocos (the Haitian village) and that I would be leading the tour. Wait … what? After having only been there once briefly, it was beyond me how I’d be able to manage walking through let alone giving a tour to others of a village that I barely knew. Being the person that I am, I smiled and diplomatically said, “sure, no problem!” while I silently thought, “whatever!”
- Of course, since I didn’t have adequate warning about my visit to Los Cocos I donned inappropriate clothing and shoes for the tour. Many times as I was slipping through the mud, I feared that I’d fall right on my back, with my legs in the air, and my skirt over my head. Mud and grime from the stale garbage I was sliding through covered my feet and legs …
THINGS I LEARNED TODAY:
- Brugal bottles are reused for other things. I made a happy discovery this morning when I was peeling off the label of my “honey” jar.
- Pincho told me today that Alfredo, the accountant, has a little crush on me. I giggled when I heard about it and then my thoughts immediately turned to how I terrible I felt for him because of him losing his wife in a car accident and being forced to raise a son on his own. Wow, hats off to him! …
WHAT I’M GRATEFUL FOR:
- That I got to plan at least one lesson for April
- My aunt’s advice on spending time with the kids today over lesson planning. I’ll never regret that decision
- The kind words the kids shared on the mic for me today during the karaoke intermission
- The song that was sung for me by one of the little girls
- All of the hugs and love. So many kids were grabbing onto me and pressing their heads against mine that one of the black pearl earrings I got from Belize, broke into pieces. I’m very grateful for this broken earring as it’ll always be a reminder of the love that was shown to me
- One of girls that had been giving me such a hard time had begun to cry when it was announced that today was my last workday. You just never know the people you’ll have an impact on.
- Teresa’s kind words and love. Also, the Dulce de Leche she asked me to promise to give to my mom.
- Oto was kind to come up to me to hug me and tell me how much he’d miss me
- The random happy face sticker I found in my purse. I wonder which kid put that in there. I’ll never know.
- Being able to give all of my leftover food to Teresa
- Visiting Los Cocos again today. I didn’t know what I was doing but it was good to be back there. It was kind of like a final reminder of the destitute communities I’d been indirectly serving and would be leaving behind.
- Being that it was Semana Santa and that it was the last day before Easter that the club would be open, Liz brought in two cakes and a whole bunch of treats for the kids. I thoroughly enjoyed cake and festivities. I also got to smash cake on a few people’s faces. It was so much fun!
- A few volunteers have been helping out with the rooftop garden. After we closed everything up for the day, there were still some volunteers working upstairs on the garden. I was glad to go up there to check it out and get my hands dirty to help out
- Some of the girls wore my handmade flower clips to class today. That made me smile a million times over.
- A group of volunteers decided to invite me to join them at Cabarete to go surfing the next day. When I learned that Pincho would be able to pick me up after he picked up some of the kids from the club, I happily obliged. It’d be my last full day in the DR and I was grateful to be able to spend it anywhere outside of the house.
- As challenging as the day was, all of these things distracted me from getting emotional about leaving. I felt ready to get out and go home
Father, today has been challenging and emotional in so many ways. I’m frustrated and angry. Please, help to settle my heart and give me peace. Teach me what forgiveness is and how to apply it.