I will recount this long random story because it gives you an example of the craziness that ensues when attempting to complete one simple task.

I was filling out security forms with my project partner Nuris so that I could live on my own.

“Is there a Red Cross or a defensa civil?”

“Oh yes, there’s a red cross in the pueblo, but there’s no defensa civil.

So I decided I’d visit the Red Cross the next day since Leah and her family would be picking me up from the pueblo so that I could tag along on their vacation!

After I ran my errands, I wanted to have a place to crash where I could wait until Leah and her family drove through. I sent a text message to my project partner’s husband’s niece, Helen.

I’m in the capital today but my home is your home, she replied.

“Where should we leave you?” the bus driver asked me.

“The Red Cross.”

He asked out the window where it was and the way to Red Cross was pointed out. What’s funny is, looking back, the people never acted like they didn’t know. Down that way! We’d drive down that way and someone would point, Way up there! It was mind boggling. After a half an hour of nauseating swerving, we stopped at the technological center to ask.

I was informed that there was no Red Cross.

“Is there a defensa civil?” I asked, deflated.

“Oh, yes.”

“Where’s the office?”

“There’s not an office space right now, it’s just this one guy kind of running it.”

Normal people, used to normal things, might hesitate at that.

“Do you know where this guy lives?” I asked.

“Sure! I’ll come with you!” and the lady hopped into the van with us.

Meanwhile, as we headed over to some dude’s house who had decided to start up a defensa civil in his spare time the cobrador (guy who helps the driver and collects money) was busy hitting on me.

“Do you have an email address?”

I gave him a look (I was going for disdain), “I don’t even have internet. And we live in the same community…You could just walk to my house if you need to tell me something.” He nodded.

“Does Angela [the volunteer living in the pueblo] have a boyfriend?”

“Don’t you have a girlfriend?” I countered.

He laughed. He just had a baby with a 16 year old.

“So, it doesn’t matter then,” I told him.

We stopped in front of a boarded up house.

“This is where he lives!” the lady from the technology center chirped. I hopped out of the van and raised my eyebrows. I wondered if some Dominican nerd was dead and rotting inside his creepy fortress of a house. There was a man backing out of a ‘driveway’ – not sure what you’d call it – in a van held together by masking tape and what looked like paper. Not sure how that works.

“Hey!!” I called to him and ran to the fence, “Do you live here?”

He shook his head and explained that the guy who lived there was out of town.

“Can you give me his phone number?”

If he thought it was oddthat a random American had hopped out of a van and was asking for the phone number of a man she clearly didn’t know, he didn’t let on.

I felt like I’d accomplished enough, coming out of the mess that was that morning with a phone number, so I asked the bus driver to drop me off at Helen’s house.

I knock on the door and wave them off. Helen’s 10-year-old daughter answered as they drove out of sight.

It took me one minute to realize Helen had not communicated the fact that I might be coming there with her daughter. She could not have been more surprised to see the American on her door step.

“What are you going to do?” she asked as I opened my backpack and pulled out my laptop.

“Work. Is there a password for the internet?”

“The internet isn’t working right now.”

I stopped moving, laptop in hand, “For how long?”

“Umm, about a week.”

“Is there an internet center near here?”

“Near? Um no. There was one, but it’s closed.”

“Okay…how do I get to the center of town?”

“Um, I’m not sure. It’s pretty far.”

“OK. What’s the name of this street?”


“And the one that makes the corner?”

“Um…..I don’t know very well.”

I was starting to realize I was pinning too much on the spatial orientation of a 10 year old. I got lost in my own neighborhood when I was 16.

I called Angela, the volunteer who lives in the pueblo. She had just woken up. I explained the situation and she offered to let me come by. But she didn’t know her address either! I just started walking and along with the help of some nice strangers, I was able to get to a supermarket that Angela knew.

A couple hours later, Leah’s family picked me up from the side of the road and took me away (for a few days) from this crazy, crazy world. They also met me with a pizza – my kind of people.