Blogging has taken a back seat to me actually living my life here, which is an understandable predicament for someone that would prefer to have a conversation in real live than spend time on her computer. But I felt today that the best thing to do before I sleep is to try to sort emotions and figure out how to appropriately react.
This morning I woke up incredibly early to hit up the market before 8 am so I could get the best deals for my beloved vegetables and fruits. I got a bag of passion fruit, cucumbers, carrots, green onion, mangoes, a red pepper, 5 lbs of potatoes and more for about 5.00$ (USA). The only downside to this was because I bought so much stuff and hardly could carry it from the market to the school (which is on the same street) I was advised that I should not attempt to walk to my house with the produce. This disrupted my original plan.
I went to say good morning to all of the staff at the school before I left to my house with my massive bag from the market. While I was chatting with a friend, I was volen-told that I was needed to make these little packages that would have chocolate kisses and starbursts in side of them. Everything was very pintrest worthy. After completing this task, I was given lots of fiddily little jobs like gluing new covers on notebooks. Everything needed to be done before 2 pm, because this is when the teachers meeting would commence. During these tasks the students participating in the English/French voice competition wanted to practice their songs. That was a good hour of my life explaining innuendos to 12 year olds after telling them why they can’t preform Nicki Minaj for their Christian School. (Well half explaining innuendos because I didn’t want to damage their innocent minds.) Somehow my intention of leaving at 8:30 am was pushed back until almost 3.
When I finally got on a motorcycle and was on my way to the house the motorcycle driver misunderstood were I lived and drove down a wrong road Calle 5- and I live on Calle 6. It took about 30 seconds to make him turn around and go on the right street. The rate for motorcycle rides is 25 or 30 pesos for every ride. But he expected that I was going to give him 50 pesos because he drove down the road. I was infuriated because at this point I am sick of people looking at my skin colour and automatically assuming that I’m so rich and I’m practically swimming in money. They think I’m stupid because I’m a white female and that life is just ‘so easy’ for me because I was born in a different country to white parents. I just about lost it on that motorcycle driver, and we had a very heated argument because I was enraged that he thought I was an idiot tourist that would pay double. The argument ended with me not paying what he was demanding, him calling me very colourful words in Spanish and me walking into my house feeling fed up with false cultural awareness about white Canadians.
Just because most of the white people go to Dominican to ‘have a good time’ which entails them turning red, getting extremely drunk and making fools of themselves does not mean every single white person is like that. These ‘resorters’ are basking in their golden sun, like kings while surrounding them is poverty that they will never fully acknowledge. This is an incredibly jaded view of tourists but I’m not going to lie it has been my experience of what I’m witnessed here. My selfish reason for resenting ‘resort life’ stems from the amount of B.S. I need to put up with everyday when I interact with people outside of my circle of people I know. I’m just so tired of explaining that I’m a university student and I actually don’t have all this money lying around. Contrary to their belief I am struggling to not be in debt to my school and have had a job for a long time and worked really hard to try to get places in life. But just because you are born somewhere else and are acquainted with a rich culture, your words mean nothing when you try to tell someone facts. Sometimes I just want to scream ‘I’m only 19! I’m still a child! Just give me a break.’
The people at the church for the most part are different and know me and understand that I’m not a billionaire. I’m just a human being that is from a different place. I felt exhausted after all of this rush of anger towards cultural ignorance towards North Americans. Then I started analyzing the other view of life and if I were a struggling Dominican that drives motorcycles, wouldn’t I try to charge the ‘ignorant’ white person double for their taxi ride? He had a picture of a little girl on the dashboard of the motorcycle maybe he needs more money to support here. It is just so hard to make money here. This attempt of scamming tourists has probably worked before and it would be easy money. He just tried to scam the wrong person that has been treated like this one to many times.
After calming myself down by talking to one of my Dominican friends that really understands and knows me well I decided to walk to the school. On the walk two Dominicans asked me if I needed to get to Playa Dorada and I told him in a very tense voice ‘that actually I’m living here and want to just walk to church’ and right after that I saw a bright orange SUV full of sun burnt middle aged gringos driving through the poverty- looking incredibly bored and were honking their horn aggressively at the motorcycles. I wanted to silently screamed over the death of accurate perceptions of white people as I saw that SUV fly by like a flame.
Another terrifying thought entered my brain that maybe I’m in the minority of white people that actually care and come to a country to make relationships and understand how to make lasting political change. And when you put it in that extremely dark perspective, everything makes sense and my soul shudders. I’m really sorry if it seems like I hate tourists and think they are evil- I don’t, but if you were in my shoes for the past month, I think you would be drawing a similar conclusion of frustration as me.
At this point my mind is completed stuffed with thoughts running wild but I’m feeling a lot more stable after speaking with my friends at the school. Then before church I decide to full out a folder with stories I need to translate into English. I started reading through slowly, as I thumbed through the realities of children that go to the school I’m at everyday, I could feel the horror of their stories grow as a lump formed in my throat. Page after page, written so matter of factly, these short stories broke my heart.
Church started and I stayed in the office reading heart-wrenching things about these children whose only fault was being born to their family. I put the folder away in the pastors’ office and I just broke down. I wept because I felt helpless to fixing these problem, I wept because life isn’t fair. I cried because they are only kids, why do children need to go through so much pain. And for about thirty minutes the pastor sat with me and talked about the economy, reality of most people in Dominican, about the cultural difference of my country, how it makes me sick the way North American culture is and how no one from North America will ever understand. More that anything we just talked about Esperanza (hope) that we hope that things will get better and slowly they will.
My heart still hurts for so many reasons. I’m so angry with consumerism and so enraged at inequality. And it’s no ones fault, yet its everyone’s fault at the same time. In my self-absorbed mind I think about my self and what my next steps are. So what’s next, I graduate, hope to make lots of money and live in the suburbs, have a minivan to take my kids to soccer practice and live in my plushy house filled with first world problems. Everything about that after the graduating the plan makes me sick to my stomach. I know that most people know the facts of how unequal the world is and how hard life is for them- but they will never understand it because it isn’t something they can fathom. Once you’ve had a change of reality there is no going back to who you were.
“I remain confident of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” Psalm 27: 13