In the afternoon, si Dios quiere and the electricity has come on for long enough to charge up my devices, I bring my laptop around to the bateyes for youth programming. Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent in Batey 105 with a group of about 10 kids watching Me Toca a Mi videos, and Wednesdays are spent in Batey 80 reading electronic books until the Evangelical “culto” has come to an end, and I can hitch a ride home with Martin on the back of his motorcycle. This is the “work” portion of my service, and some days, it’s the part I like best.
Everything else is flexible. Grocery runs to the pueblo every 10 days or so, laundry days every three weeks when I really can’t put it off any longer, trips to the salon for $2 mani-pedis, and runs through the sugar cane fields when the rain decides to hold off and my morning caffeine buzz has held strong. Occasional trips to the high school when I can set aside my fear of the youths and motivate myself to be brave. Movie nights in the evenings cuddled up with Brujo, my adopted kitty, with my most recent culinary creation serving as both entertainment and sustenance for survival.
Peace Corps is not the mythical existence I expected, living in a log cabin, milking the cows and feeding the chickens. I live beneath a massive cell phone tower, and get decent internet signal. Neighborhood kids sit on my floor playing on their tablets, asking why I only have an iPhone 4 when their mom has an iPhone 6. Giant cruise ships dock every weekend in La Romana, bringing with them thousands of tourists, often Americans, who make my job harder by perpetuating deeply ingrained stereotypes; the rich American, the partying spring breaker, the lost/naïve/ignorant gringo (a local favorite, I’m sure). My job is far more similar to what I imagine Teach For America would look like stateside, the main difference being the ability to operate on island time.
It’s 3:00pm on a Monday, and here I am in bed. Though Semana Santa has ended, the students have declared they don’t feel like ending their vacations just yet, and stayed home instead. So, in my constant struggle to integrate and adapt, I think I’ll do the same 😉
Name: Jocelyn Campino
Sector: Youth, Family and Community Development
COS Date: October 2017
Site: Guaymate is a municipality in the East of the country, known as the heart of the bateyes and surrounded by sugar cane as far as the eye can see. It’s not quite a pueblo, and not quite a campo… You know that Lion King meme where Mufasa tells Simba that everything the light touches is his kingdom? That’s La Romana, and we’re the shadowy place.