I spent a lovely lazy Saturday, reading the bible with my dona over bread dipped in sweet coffee(my new favorite brunch), sauntering through The Museum of Modern Art examining Picasso sketches and discussing the merits of Stephen King with Paul, a youth volunteer, swimming at the embassy pool with Becca and her friend Estalin from Bohechio until we were so scared of getting electrocuted by the storm that we jumped out, then we chowed pizza and frozen yogurt, and eating with Becca is my favorite, she being my food soulmate. We ended the night with bachata and meringue on Avenida Venezuela and one of many encounters with nerve-wracking transportation in this country where common sense seems to not always be common place.
The rains came to the DR and the streets are swept away. I travel home from the office with my sister Joanna. Plodding through the puddles, dress shoes heavy with water we make our way through the prematurely dark night bordered by fluorescent-lit department stores with Dominicans huddled under awnings on our way to the corner where we catch a carro to our barrio. My eyes are busy trying to keep track of Joanna’s tiny frame, while gingerly picking my way amongst the largest bodies of water until the drops begin falling in gushes so that she turns, laughing, silhouetted by her enormous black umbrella against the bruised sky. Like so many women, her coveted salon fresh hair is wrapped around her head and tucked into a black net— she yells, “Natasha, corre!” I was aware that the rainstorm, and that the two years away from where I called home could have dampened my spirit, but sprinting through the night, seeing her smiling face in that moment I was positive that I was loved.
The volunteers get the fourth of July off and we took advantage of the opportunity to visit one of the little island’s many gorgeous beaches. We camped in cabanas at Clayton's ecotourism site. We also hitchhiked to the nearby “Los Patos” where we ate delicious grilled fish with the heads still on and limes squeezed on them and people tubed to the ocean down a clear, frigid creek, reminding me of hot summer days in Red Lake Falls. At the campsite they made a bonfire and I selected sticks from the forest floor to whittle for hot dogs and marshmallows. In the nights the ocean crashed and shushed, rolling the rock beaches over on themselves and the volunteers danced and danced and talked charged with energy of youth.
The days leading up to my presentation gallop past. I’m quite nervous to be ready by August 9th, when all the Peace Corps volunteers in my training class will get up with their project partners and give a brief history of their communities, the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and the recommendations for the projects that will be worked on for the two years to come of the volunteers’ service. I hope that by then, all of the documents about adult education on a world, regional and national level, the interviews with authorities on adult literacy and the information collected from the field by my partners Chloe and Becca will all fall into place and that we’ll be able to, in some way, help the program grow for the better.