Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Doing U a disservice....and a lot of Good News

Hola mi compadres,
Desculpame! Please excuse my lack of blogging this month- it has been a big one mentally, physically and emotionally. Even professionally. So...

I'd first like to announce the new addition of ANOTHER BOY to the family, my new nephew Jayden Victor the newest little Trini-Dominican on the block. Born on the 17th. My brother Kev and his wife Odalia have there hands FULL right now, but that's wassup! He has my fathers middle name Victor(go ahead and smile Dad- i hear you've been ear to ear all week!), so it looks like i might get "the girl", one far far day away. So many boys born in this fam...
get your daughters ready LOLOLOL

As much garbage as i had spewed about finally getting some headway in this language that i desire, i feel like every 2 weeks i realize i wasn't doing sh%&$%t. I say this because, as much as i had begun to have conversations, they were still quite difficult for me. I can't explain how or why, but sometime around Jan. 15th i woke up... and spanish has been flying out my mouth. And my comprension has been unbelievable to me. To the point that even my close neighbors were like "What happened with you, have you lost your nervousness or something, or been drinking" LOL. I mean literally i've been on a rampage and i guess they are right, i finally have lost my fear of flying so to speak. I've been doing car rentals, utility payments and all type of things with an ease that i didnt have before. Even translating "live action" for other tourists who need to speak with a person but can't. and so I've decided.... I AM STAYING until APRIL, give or take, instead of my original February return date. Hey- i figure screw it, I'm so close to my goals now that i'd be doing a disservice to mySELF if i left right now, personally and professionally.

Tired! I finally had a VISITOR from NYC-side, my best friend BK Jay. He came down to celebrate passing the Series 66 and 7, and also because he's about to start classes for his Microsoft Office Certs. (Ya doing big tings der bwoy). He came down on the 20th to the 27th. That same week i acquired a kickass cold which left me with no voice (coincidentally at the same time i was talking more daggone spanish). But that didn't stop me from a few laughable attemps at the Karaoke bar. I also began Salsa lessons that same week (sheesh) so between going out at night bcuz my boy was on vacation, doing the dancing lessons, nursing my cold, and waking up like 9am every morning for my school and SOMETHING else, i was beat. I'd went days going without more than 3 hours of sleep while Jay slept nice and comfortably each morning (son of a #!$%#$%$%!). To the point where i couldn't even drive the jeep we rented one night cuz i was so tired. Mind you, after dropping him to the airport, i was halfway home when i realized HE DIDNT GIVE ME MY HOUSE KEYS back!!! He would have them while i was at school usually. Had to bust the U -turn and gun it back to Puerto Plata, and by the grace of god, a security gaurd got it for me DURING last call for boarding. It was my luck bcuz i was not allowed in the area and so i had to rely on my description of him being clear enough in spanish for the gaurd to find him! It worked (!), and i got 'em (phew). Jay will be writing his own report on the trip which will be posted here for the day to days of the last week. His spanish grew fast in 7 days as well. We took a lot of pics which will post as soon as i recieve them.

That SOMETHING else that i've been waking up for... last week Monday, my school officially HIRED me to start last Tuesday to teach English 5 days a week for 40 business days (40 lessons). I'd been giving a few lesson around the 'hood on my own, but now i am official!!! It's funny bcuz to keep people out my financial biz (people want to know how a 25 yr old could just pick-up and live here) i'd been saying that i work and teach at my school. Here's to self-fulfilling prophecies!!
So i take my lessons for 2 or 3 hours in Spanish, and immediately after i teach for an hour. My salary is based US dollars AND comes to at least half my rent each month so kudos to THAT! The thrifty Cancer strikes again!
My student, a young Dominican woman, is actually learning FAST, and i'm glad because i don't teach from a book really. I have books but i always end up doing things my way and so that coupled with a fast learning student makes the lessons glide by, at the students pace.
In a very lucky turn of events, i came into work today (or school LOL) and there was a Russian woman in the office. A quick "Cak Dela" to her and a "You speak some Russian?!!" to me in spanish (I dont, just some phrases- Thanks Dad!) and i found out that this lady needed to learn English and fast. She said word for translated word "I want a teacher who doesn't rely on books all the time, i want to speak WELL, not just read and write". How perfect was that! Sounded like ME she was talking about and so.... now i have ANOTHER official student,, although in the evenings, so now I'll be closing the school down at night like an actual employee (which i suppose, i am :-D) and with that extra income, my rent is paid in total, at least for the next few months.
I thank God for smiling at me this month, and sending us Jayden. God bless

PS- More BIG news from my other and oldest brother Andre' in Georgia soon!!!!!! I would mention it now but there are certain persons who need to remain clueless for a short bit. Until next rhyme,

Shaun, the TRIFLEmc

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Observations 2006!

Ok i think after a month of being here (feeling like 3 months) i have some different views on life and luxury, and wanted to enlighten the next fellow traveler to this dear country, whoeverso that may be. I think i´ll keep coming back daily and adding new things to the list as i see fit. So let´s go:
In no particular order

1) Driving in one´s own lane on the street and or highway, is simply a luxury for sissies. Please do feel free to pass on whatever side needed and drive SIDE by SIDE until the oncoming vehicle forces one of you to jump in front to the right lane.

2) If you are on motorbike, these rules especially apply to you. The down side is, the bigger vehicles beat you out on intersection crossing.

3) Only stop at a STOP sign (PARE like Pah-rrray) if no one else is flying passed you more than 60 miles an hour.

4) Stop LIGHTS are optional as well, unless a cop is there, and looking in that direction, and giving a f$%&k, and feels like putting the pen to the pad.

5) Oh but please where your seatbelt because they ticket very hefty for those but.....

6) If you also are drinking that beer of yours while driving, simply give it to the passenger to sip while being acosted by the officer.

7) Lights on in your apartment are optional, even when you pay to have a generator. Candles are the future for sure.

8) When taking Taxis (Publicos) -that are ´89 Camrys or Sentras- feel free to place 5 strangers on top each of other in the back, and 3 in the front. More if its automatic, which it never is. Just try not to pick the gearshift seat... trust me.

9) Making toast and everything on the same pan is peachy keen.

10) A pound of beef costing less than 4 slices of American cheese. Excellent! Meat for 50 pesos, cheese for 200. Sounds good.

11) Master the art of saying NO with a head nod. Every 5 steps and a motoconcho (biker) wants to ride you somewhere. Psst and Hey will now be your name, and pointing at you will mean " yes you, can i take you ANY where, even though i saw you nod NO to the guy driving 10 feet in front of me, and also NO to the guy 12 feet in front of him".

12) Should you decide to take the motoconcho-taxi, please pay no more than $10 pesos for 5 blocks and $20 pesos for 10 to 20. I´ve met a few that got taken for almost $100 (3.33 US) for like 4 blocks. Including me that 1st time going to San Fran
(December Archives

13) Forget about hot water showers, they went out with the 80´s. Unless your water boiler works, which mine doesn´t. BUT if you are looking to not have children, the temperature is just right.

14) Roosters are the newest thing in alarm clocks.... EXCEPT they don't sound off at sunrise as we were told. It's closer to 2AM every &%%# night!

Jan 13th New Editions

15) Did i say Psst and Hey were your new names. Well if you have a head of Locs like i do, your name will actaully be "Hey Rasta", "Rasta-man", or my personal fav "Bob Marley". Expect 5% of the people doing motoconcho to offer you marijuana every few days, hoping you'd buy so they can simply turn around and tell the police and get in good with the cops.

16) Cell phones are more important than rent. If i meet one more person who tells me they are struggling to pay their $4000 peso a moth rent (like $120 USD) and then whip out a $7000 peso cellphone with camera, GPS, MP3 and probably a satellite and laser gun included... i will scream.

17) And when they say "Oh i'm so tired of THIS OLD THING- i need a new one", i also will jump right off of my roof and head first into the pool.

18) If your Black you are Haitiano (Eye-Tee-Ano). Sorry but thats just the way stereotypes go here. Your clothes may peg you as a American if its Hip-Hop-ish. It doesn't help if you speak a few phrases in Creole, like i love to do. The Haitians themselves will not believe that you want to speak that beautiful language, they will tell you you are lying and must be covering up your heritage. If you speak Spanish everyone thinks "Oh, you want to learn Spanish, but you speak Creole and they say Oh you are from here" as if no one could want to simply learn and love the lingua.

¡¡Feliz Año Nuevo!! and the in betweenz...

Happy New Years and all that jazz and i hope you've made your New Years Resoulutions or as i like to say- your New Years Revolutions- cuz i've made mine. Private thoughts of course (4now) but this seems to be a big year, one of the biggest, for a lot of us.
I was thinking about you the other day...Yeah YOU, the one reading this...... been missing our daily conversations and such about so & so. Can't wait to stop by soon. Well make sure to tell your family i said wassup and Happy New One as well.
Oh yeah tell your Momz my recipe for stewed chicken is THERE now ... lol

..Ok dipping back into sanity- i believe i left off at my late night convo. After returning from San Fran i basically cruised thru that week as normal. School in the morns, errands and cooking in the afternoon, and studying at night, followed by either sleeping (dreaming about dancing), or dancing (thinking about sleeping). No let me stop lol- not so routine but that really is the long and short of it. It beautiful here, but the type of place you want to spend all your time out lamping around. I'm actually getting a good dose of responsibility out here, moreso than ever because its just me this time. But er.. i'm flying, not falling. No really :-D

That same week i had a dream i was back in Static's Martial Arts class.- which is strange because i dream everynight but never about that era. Since he passed maybe 2 times in the 3 years. So there i was- 20 years old again- and standing in the back row. He was explaining the best way to cover great distance with a particular type of kick, but in his true fashion, the question also had some life significance. I said one answer, and the kid next to me, Donald said another. He said we were both right, and that we should listen to the other's answer for the complete truth. The funny(read: sad) part is i only remember the reply i said. So all my former Static-ites please do hit me up and help me drum up that other answer. The dream skipped and i was sitting, still in back. He was in front, in our 1st school, not the newer one. But as he spoke to us all- he was only looking at me. His eyes seemed to zoom the length of the room and be right there, very serious but peaceful. He said said things that made so much sense to me i was actually there in the moment thinking "Yo! don't wake up! This is sounding more intelligent than anything you'll dream up"!!
Honestly i don't care if it sounds crazy but the vividness of that moment he me feeling like he actually stepped into my head that night to give me the advice i needed at the right time. Things left undone in NY and in general were beginning to stress me. Partly from all this quiet time mixed with my over-active mind. The prison effect i would say LOL but i woke up that morning feeling oddly refreshed, and more focused than ever.

That was until the end of the next week- Christmas. I'd realized that the day would mark my one month anniversary of being here, but i had nobody to celebrate it with (at least no one i wanted to) and i'´m not too keen on partying with stangers so far from my headslaughterz. It would be the first time i wasn´t with my fam and my Dominican family had to be in Santiago that weekend- no room for me to sleep. But as it turned out- Xmas was excellent.

My teacher invited me to his house in Monte Llano (Mon-teh Jah-no) that friday and then again for Christmas cena (dinner) the following evening. That dinner was delicious and i was glad to be around a large family- even if not my own. We laughed and drank, and played Dominos. I brought some Ponche de Creme(Punch-a-Cream you blasted Trini's and islanders) as its the perfect time of year for that. I left around 11pm with a great buzz and a better stomach. Hopped the Publico taxi for 25 pesos back to Sosua. Mind you i had to set him correct on the proce- he tried to say 75 pesos. What! No precios para una turista please.
Got home and my neighbors we home from Jairabacoa. The wife's sister and hubby were in from Canada and we all danced to Merengue and Salsa. It was hilarious because the 2 were new learners so you and i know how that goes. Well i do LOL. After more dominos and more drinking, i and Chris Kringle called it a (very hot) Winter night, and slept beautifully...

The next week i went back to San Francisco for the New Yizzy...

Midnight here (11pm in NYC) brought the expected gun salutes in the distance (Wow- its not only in New York!!) but also another element i failed to mention all December- FIREWORKS. and PLENTY. I mean this is the JULY 4th of the Dominican Republic!
What was once one or 12 every few nights this month, became Normandy and Bombs over Baghdad from about 12am to 12:15am. All types of dangerous ones, 180´s, bottle rockets, pure sticks of dynamite (OK, no on that last one lol :-p)And then after that the colorful ones were sprouting into the air. And this was el campo (the country)- i can´t imagine what the big cities were like. Reminded me of New York before Guiliani made fireworks illegal (per se ...lol), but surround by the silhoutte of tall mountains 360 degrees.

I wish i could show them those new fireworks boxes i saw somewhere far this past July. The ones that have like 10 different types and once you light it it goes on for like 10 minutes literally. Those are a lot safer as far as getting your hands blown off and have good variety i think.

But something else blew up that night. My maldita (damn) brain. I could´nt speak a lick of spanish. At a roof top party with Hiro my sentences were falling apart, and i wasnt even drinking. I felt like a big bag of blah blah.The next day the fam and i went to attend a luch, or so i thought. i guess i missed it in Spanish that it was a prayer service for the recently deceased. Sadly, the prior week, an older gentlemen that i may have met in NYC had passed on. His lovely wife had spent the week praying and mourning, and Sunday would be no exception.
I felt so avergonzado (embarrased) because i´d worn such a cusaul outfit and if i´d heard correctly i´d had thrown a nicer camisa on. But i had shoes on so it wasnt so bad. Papa Leen flew in from Queens with his esposa and she and him also brought along a nephew. Papa Lin was the greatest the last time i was here and i wanted to cheer him up. But my damn spanish... good thing he speaks english pretty well.

During the prayer that night many people showed up, and we sat sang. It was basically everything Biblical you hear in English, just in Spanish. I struggled through that but 2 hrs later it was finished. I was greatful to speak with the widow and listen to her wiser words. She seemed strong at this time, and in the New Year.
The next day i went home, and thats when i came up with the subject of my next blog: