Before they could graduate, my health promoters all had to demonstrate how to correctly use a condom. They got really competitive.

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Chicas Brillantes is a group for girls from 8 to 17 (I couldn’t turn the younger ones away…you try doing it!). We hang out and talk about health, values, family, friendship, love, gender and anything else that comes up. Recently we watched Mean Girls or, Chicas Malas, to talk about what it means to be friends with other girls.

Boy, is writing boring! Enjoy some pictures!

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A special night class!

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Showing off their decorated diaries!

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Painting nails during a thunderstorm.

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Our group contract.

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Every week we focus on one word and then add it to the charla paper.

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Being a goofball.

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The girls who were on time for group! A miracle!

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An evening photo shoot they decided to have while I was cleaning my house. Cool guys.

If you haven’t heard of Chikungunya, you should google it.

Here’s an excerpt from the handy wikipedia page: “According to the initial 1955 report about the epidemiology of the disease, the term ‘chikungunya’ is derived from the Makonde root verb kungunyala, meaning to dry up or become contorted. In concurrent research, Robinson glossed the Makonde term more specifically as “that which bends up.”

Okay whatever, contortion, bending up, however you spin it – it happens because of PAIN.

And I didn’t even get it that bad. I was in bed for nearly the entirety of two days. My community gifted me lots of food which made me all weepy but I let it sit around as decoration since I wasn’t into the whole eating thing.

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My bad ass host mom machete-ing open a coconut for me.

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Coconut water brought me back.

Oh and did I forget to mention the full body rash? My host mom made a polvo from dried yucca to soothe my sad skin.

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Besides joint pain every now and then, I’m A-OK. And the joint pain, let’s face it, might just be from old age.

Disclaimer: I tell this story much better in person.

I was preparing to graduate 12 new health promoters. Part of that means printing off official photo ID’s or carnets that they can wear while working. After a full, full day in the capital, a long bus ride, and an uncomfortable motorcycle ride, I got home and there was electricity! So I began unpacking. When going through the carnets I only came up with 11. How – how??? I immediately realized that the one missing was my next door neighbor’s and at 16, the youngest member of the class. I remembered seeing it at the print shop as the worker stamped holes in them. They had handed me a rubberbanded pack of all 12 carnets. I hadn’t counted, but they wouldn’t have left one out, right? WHY DIDN’T I COUNT?! After hours of searching I began to accept the fact that I must have left it at the print shop.

After a panicked phone call to the lovely Laura Castello, Health PCVL, the next morning Laura’s boyfriend dropped by the store, picked up a newly printed carnet (the store couldn’t find it either – we’ll never know what happened to it!), and handed it off to Laura. Laura then gave it to Julia, a health volunteer whose bus stop is near my bus stop, the bus to Cevicos. She stopped by and dropped off an envelope containing the carnet with bus’ cobrador.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. I don’t live in Cevicos. I get off at a colmado by a gravel/dirt road and take a motorcycle for 20 minutes to get to my site. So…how was this envelope going to get to me?

“Just tell them to give it to the colmado owner and have them send it with anyone who passes by headed towards my site,” I told Julia.

“Are you sure Laura? That sounds kind of crazy.”

“Just tell them it’s for la americana.”

That evening I still hadn’t gotten an envelope with the missing carnet and I began to realize how crazy my plan had been. My neighbor was over visiting and I broke the news that she might have to get hers later than everyone else. She seemed sad.

“Tomorrow we can go and ask the colmado about it,” she suggested. I nodded and said we could, but I didn’t have hope.

The next morning I called Lisette, my project partner’s daughter who lives near Cevicos and had ordered the cake for the graduation for me.

“Oh yeah, Laura, by the way, I have an envelope here for you that somebody dropped off here. Do you know anything about it?”

UM YES I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT IT! I KNOW ALL ABOUT IT!

SOMEHOW this bus driver and cobrador not only knew who I was but knew somebody who would know me and be able to bring me the carnet. Below is a photo of the beloved envelope which arrived despite awesome odds.

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Los Guineos had a graduation for all of the students in the adult literacy campaign. Here are some pictures:DSCF4057

La mesa de honor

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Sweet Cheri.

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The students with their crepe paper sashes.

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A lovely opening speech from my friend Karina.

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Receiving the diplomas!

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My homegirl.

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Renely, my beautiful neighbor and one of my project partners.

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Juana!

I was asked to say something so here is a series of my impromptu speech thanks to my sneaky girls who took pictures with my camera…

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It’s interesting to note that in the pictures when I’m speaking, only the women are looking at me or appear to be paying attention. Hmm…

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Words from one of the proud students, Melania.

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She didn’t want the party to end!

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Daniella, straight chillin’.

My site mate AimieLisa and her cousin walked over to visit and somehow had failed to realize, until I pointed it out, that they were wearing the exact same outfit.

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This is their reaction. ^

AimieLisa left just the other day to begin her life as an RPCV! Los Guineos (and me) sure will miss her!

You can tell I’m behind on my blog because I’m posting this in September!

I just wanted to document how the PCDR did Independence Day.

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The beach at Bayahibe. Yes, this is someone’s site…

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Leah, Justin, and me! Justin came to visit!

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Patriotic nails!

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America’s finest.

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Getting ready to join the other 100 or so PCVs on the catamaran to Saona Island!DSCF3843

Patriotic licra – a must have.