Friday, April 26, 2013

Update from Elisa in the Dominican Republic

The cool night breeze sweeps through the apartment bringing with it my daily dose of Bachata music. I am already starting to wonder about my cultural re-integration into
Canada  where I won't have Latin music serenading me to sleep every night.

Music and fiesta are a big part of Dominican culture. We are lucky to be just a public taxi drive away from one of the world renounded carnivals in La Vega.  Every Sunday for all of February, hundreds of teams participate in the parade to show off their  frighteningly beautiful costumes. Hoards of spectators quickly snap pictures of the event all the while dodging the "vejigas" of the "diablo cojuelos".  True to their name, these children dressed as devils, run around smacking anyone who isn't watching their back.  As much as it stings, you can't say you have had the full the carnival experience until you have unsuspectingly gotten hit! Most of the teams participating have a "cueva" or home base where they provide their  invited guests with viewing spots out of danger's way. These cuevas sport the colours of their team and are exclusive to the group's fans. Teams spend all year preparing for this event. They must design their outfit, fundraise, coordinate tasks, hire private security and prepare a playlist of catchy music for every weekend of February!!

All to say, our repertoire of Latin music and mastery of the Dominican Cibaeño is growing daily. It will be interesting to touch base with all the other interns and show off our dialects. Having the opportunity to work in such a large area  through the Model Forest Network of the Dominican Republic means  that we get to cover a lot of ground, meet a lot of people and learn all kinds of expressions! Since our last blog post, we have been filling our weeks with commitments at ecotourism destinations, surveying sites for reforestation projects, documenting various community meetings  and giving website design workshops  to youth.

We have finally identified four local youth that will take over updating the Model Forest Colinas Bajas website once we leave.  These highly motivated and knowledgeable youth have been participating in our classes and have distinguished themselves as savvy website
designers and reporters.  The month of February has been dedicated to phasing them into the project and getting them familiar with their duties. The other students in the class are also slowly mastering blogging. Only one month left until the end of the workshops!

As  some of our portfolios  are smoothly coming to a close, others are still bustling with tasks to finish. We  continue to facilitate international collaboration between ENDA-DOM and the various Peace Corps members in the region. Adam has been heavily involved in developing a sustainable management plan for a plantation project with a Peace Corps volunteer from the Community Economic  Development sector and the Incubadora de Empresas de Cotui. Meanwhile, I am assisting with a smaller reforestation project to protect a water source near Castillo and helping out with administrative tasks for a Peace Corps  aqueduct project in the
community of El Corozo.

Even though our weeks fill up with commitments all over the region, we still spend a good chunk of our time in Cotui.  A little home project I have been tirelessly trying to coordinate is completing a compost bin for kitchen waste. What started out as a simple city friendly
compost bin for our organic waste turned into three months of phone tag with the carpenters. Nevertheless, it's finally done!!! We are the proud owners of a snazzy compost bin. The apartment staff are also really excited as they look forward to fertilizing their plantain trees. I can finally not feel bad about all the organic waste I produce from my fruit smoothies!

One more month of fresh papaya and zapote smoothies before we head North!!!

Un abrazo grande,

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