Thursday was a typical day of school getting there early, drinking some juice boxes well trying to understand my Spanish world and helping people with English pronunciation of words like bread, Jennifer and cheap/sheep. I don’t feel as bad for not being able to say Spanish R’s because Spanish people can’t say certain things in English- it goes both ways!
Anyways, my normal day involves me being extremely confused and not understanding what is going on and then doing something super random. And Thursday followed that exact pattern. After doing a long session of speech therapy (my friend practicing the ‘d’ sound in the word bread and me practicing the ‘r’ sound in perro) I found out that I was suppose to visit my host dads’ sisters children. So Ramon picked me up from the school at 2:30, following this Ramon drove to a private school and 3 people got in the car. The whole time I really had no clue what was happening or why we were at a private school picking up kids. After this we went to one of the richest neighborhoods in the city and I am seated at a table with the 3 people we picked up from the school. Surrounding me is one of the most beautiful houses I have ever been in. There is a crystal clear pool in the backyard with the mountain in the background and I felt like stepped into a designers magazine. I felt incredibly underdressed in the presence of the elegant house. One of the women staffed at the house served lunch, which was a plate of typical Dominican cuisine. I couldn’t speak for a few moments because the entire situation was so surprising. It was a complete culture shock with in a culture to go from an area of obvious poverty (the market) to a massive house, worthy of a feature article in LifeStyle. The teenagers were really nice and spoke to me in English, something I really appreciate. After lunch we watched How I Met Your Mother and for a while I forgot where I was in the world. I felt like I was at home except it was really humid and there were palm trees.
Driving back to the school my head was spinning because I didn’t know how to react. I had no opinion because the situation was so confusing. The house I visited is the house most of the world covets if they don’t already live in it. It was so beautiful and the lure and desire to have a lifestyle that allows nice things is something you can’t blame a person for having.
My life now is a very comfortable life in the eyes of a Dominican, I have my own large room and a bathroom to myself there is a kitchen and living room and the house is decorated and furnished. There is food in the fridge and the water and power works- most of the time. I didn’t realize that I had forgotten what a dishwasher was or what a straight floor looked like, I had forgotten how big homes can be and how affluent most of North America is. I had forgotten how much I resented most of the consumerism culture in Canada and in the car ride back to the school my mind exploded with all of this frustration on how the world operates. And I didn’t allow my speak for almost an hour after that visit because I was so overwhelmed by all of these positive and negative emotions that were contrasting each other. And if I opened my mouth I knew I would say something horrible about something.
In the evening there was church and el grupo de los gringos came (I always forget the word for missionary) and sat at the front of the church. It was kind of nice to see Canadians- even though I was still rattled about cultural differences- and it was good to sing a song in English and the message was translated, making it so much easier for me to understand. At the end of the service the group was asked to come to the front because they were flying back to Canada soon and the one girl told me to go to the front of the church too and I said “No, because I’m a Gringa Dominican” which they thought was really funny… but I think that is starting to become a reality..