Monday, March 29, 2010

A trip to "Walmart"

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but outside of the United States, it is difficult to find a store like Walmart or Target- where you can go to one place and find just about anything. Well, yesterday, we went to the closest thing to Walmart that I have seen outside of the USA. It is called La Sirena.

Located about an hour away by car in Santiago, it was well worth the drive there. Imagine if you will a 2-story super Walmart. The top floor is all household items, clothing, shoes, hardward, sports, etc. The bottom floor is a giant grocery store (minus the frozen food section- just not available here).

While they still don't have everything you can get at Walmart or at a grocery store in the United States, it was fun finding a few things not available in Jarabacoa.
You might be wondering, if there are 2 floors, how do you get your shopping cart up to the second floor? Easy... take the escalator ramp! The shopping cart wheels lock into the ramp and the escalator part takes you up!
Having an all-day shopping experience? Getting hungry? Stop at the food court located inside the store! There is even a play area for the kids!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to cool down on a hot day...

Hot day. Water is out in the city. No showers. No AC. No swimming pools. What do you do?? Well, this is what we did...

My roomies and I went hiking down to one of the waterfalls in the area. We hiked for about 20 minutes or so before arriving at the falls, where we entered the river and dove into the refreshingly cool water. What a wonderful way to cool down on a hot day!

My roomies goofing off on the trail.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

When you live on an island in the Caribbean...

You have to take a trip to the beach every now and then! A group from Doulos headed to the beach last weekend. It is about a 2 and a half hour drive through the winding mountain roads to get to the beach- not a good trip for someone like me who gets carsick in the mountains! Besides getting sick on the way there, the trip was wonderful!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Welcome to Ellis Island!

Last week, we had a work team in from Mosaic Church in Monroe Falls, Ohio. This work team did some work up in the mountains and at a coffee plantation, then spent some time on campus at Doulos. One of the many things they did while on campus was to help in creating a simulation for the 5th graders, who are studying immigration.

The members of the work team posed as different people and stations that would have made up Ellis Island. The students then went through the entire immigration process.

First, the students boarded the boat (entered the small storage closet) were they traveled to the new world. It was a tight fit, but they managed. With the help of their Captain and First Mate, they had to fill out their paperwork on the boat and get their passports.

Upon arriving at Ellis Island, they had to go through the first of 2 registrations. The first registration checked IDs, checked passport documentation, and gave some of the kids a new "American" name.
The next registration person was checking them for general physical defects. This registration officer had them walking, jumping, balancing, etc. Some of the kids had recieved letters on their backs, meaning there was something wrong with them (E= eye problems, A= arm problmes, etc)

After the registration areas, the kids were sent to the nurses' station, where they were given a "health check". They had their heads checked for lice, their eyes and ears checked, etc. Anyone with a letter on their back was checked for specific problems and had that taken care of.
After the nurses' station, the kids went to baggage inspection. The students were told to pack the 5 most important things to them in their backpacks to bring on the trip. Two inspection officers checks their bags for items that were illegal to bring to America (or things they just wanted to confiscate for fun).
After baggage inspection, they went to currency exchange where some kids got lots of money for their currency and some got very little. So is life when exchanging money.

They then had to go to the waiting room and fill out even more paperwork. They also had to wait, and wait, and wait.
When their family name was called, they had to go to the Legal inspector. This person was someone who looked and sounded different (different culture, different language). They had a translator to translate what the inspector said. This was the final person to decide if they were allowed to enter the United States.

Throughout this whole process, some of the students failed to have their passports signed by certain inspectors or station officers. (This was done on purpose). When they were missing a signature, they were sent to the back of the line to try to get the signature of the appropriate person. Also, not all of the students made it to America. One student didn't make it past the nurses' station. He was "diseased" and had to be sent back to his homeland. He had to spend the rest of the time during the simulation in the boat. Another student was caught trying to steal money (since she didn't feel like she got enough with the exchange) and tried to smuggle the diseased immigrant into the country. She was detained and sent back to the boat. Two other students were denied entrance by the legal inspector and were sent back as well.

At one time, one of the girls had missed getting a signature on her passport. She was walking around from station to station, holding out her passport, and looking around aimlessly as she tried to figure out where she was supposed to go. This reminded me of when I enter a country for the first time; as I walk around, trying to figure out where I am supposed to go and who I am supposed to see in order to get into the country. It can be a confusing process to enter a new country, and these kids got a little taste of that for themselves as they entered the United States through Ellis Island.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Laundry- a regular part of life

This past weekend was cold and rainy. Now, I know what those of you in the USA, especially those in Ohio, are thinking. You are thinking... "It's not cold there! There is no snow there!" Well, cold is definitely relative. We had been in the mid-upper 80s or lower 90s for several weeks, so a weekend with temperatures hovering around 60 and rain is cold here.

The cold isn't too bad, but the problem is the rain. More so, the problem lies in the fact that I tend to do laundry on the weekends. Laundry is washed in our "American" style washing machine, and then hung out on the line to dry. However, laundry doesn't dry too well in the rain.

Meredith, one of my roommates, tried washing laundry before the rain started on Saturday. However, the rain kept her clothes from drying all day. On Sunday, she moved all of her wet clothes into her room and used fans to try to dry them. Rachel (another roommate) and I both washed a few things on Sunday that we needed for work and followed Meredith's example of hanging up in the bedrooms with fans.

I guess sometimes you do what you have to do.

Oh, allow me to show you how our washer works. When we bought our washer, we opted for the American-style washer. This one is fully automatic. With a Dominican-style washer, you need to fill the water up in the washer with the hose or a bucket at the beginning of the wash cycle, then open the valve to drain it, then fill it back up for the rinse, then drain it again before transferring the clothes to the spinner to have the water spun out of them. Since my washer is automatic, I don't have to worry about that. Here are the steps of my washer:

  1. Turn the washing machine on

  2. Set the desired load size

  3. Put in clothes and soap

  4. Make sure the water hose is on

  5. Set the cycle to fuzzy- Yep, I said fuzzy! That is our normal cycle.

  6. Turn on the air turbo, if desired

  7. and Push start!

When the washer is finished washing (usually about an hour later), it plays music- nursery rhyme style music!