My last two weeks are passing in the site and for some reason I still have work to do. I guess I have left some things to the last minute either intentionally or unintentionally. The latrines are almost done and today we will build our fourth stove, the map murals have been almost done for a couple weeks and every time I go to finish them there always seems to be one more thing that needs to be done.
I recently discovered that building things is much more rewarding than working with youth, I should have known. At the end of the day we have a finished product to look at (most days), which is way easier to appreciate than “planting seeds of knowledge” to be viewed at a much later date. Actually, for a while I was worried about the whole Environmental Education thing; figuring that my job was not really finished, but then I saw that they are now showing Captain Planet on TV down here and decided that a cartoon from the 90’s could probably get the job done in my absence. Building things is also nice because there is a lot more thought involved, at least more of my kind of thought. Each stove that we have built has been a little different than the last and we are improving the initial design that I took from memory from Joel, Ann and various guys named Tim (actually, because I built the first one by memory I think I missed a few details and that is why we have to keep improving the design). We tested the first stove the other day by cooking a dinner on it and I think we kind of freaked out a random family. They didn’t mind us there, and I asked them ahead of time, but one afternoon Kathy, the mason, the JICA volunteer and I just showed up with some food and started cooking. The back burner didn’t heat up as much as we wanted and so we figured out a couple details to make the second one better. At this point I think we got it down, the only problem is that I have had to keep an eye on the mason because he likes to throw the cinder blocks down wherever and not really follow any design. There have also been a few arguments between the Dominicans helping and myself because I feel like I should have the authority on design because of my background in science and they feel they should have the authority because they are Dominican men (also, I lose a lot of credibility when they see that I barely know how to mix cement and it takes me 20 minutes to saw a 2x4). However, I blame the slow sawing on the fact that I had an amoeba for a few weeks and it was causing me a lot of trouble with life in general.
On a related note, I discovered that some of my neighbors really do care about me (and that feels nice). They diagnosed me with an amoeba before the doctors at Peace Corps and prescribed me a cure of mashed garlic and carrot juice. They told me it was going to be gross, but other than the burning of the garlic I kind of liked it, and I got a pretty good nights sleep afterwards. I did however take the Peace Corps’ prescription the next day just to be safe. Also, a couple weeks back when I was gone all day I got a phone call and when I picked up the person on the other end said “Cristofer?!” I responded with “Si” and then they hung up on me. It turned out that because my neighbors didn’t see me leave in the morning they thought that I had passed out or died in the house and where banging on my doors and windows. Someone got the bright idea to call me, when I picked up and said hello they had enough evidence that I was alive and hung up. I don’t blame them for hanging up on me; phone calls are around 20 cents a minute within the country.