So it is an island, ah!

We went to dinner last night (Marvin, Julia & I). We ate at TGI Friday´s which is located within Acropolis Mall. Food was great and conversation was also nice. Marvin was able to watch some American baseball so he was quite thrilled. While we were at dinner I saw 3 of my students with their families but they were passing in the mall so I didn´t get up to say hi.
When I got to school this morning no only did those 3 students say they saw me, but I also had two other students say they saw us walking around the mall. Then in a later hour I had 3 other students on different occasions say they saw me walking around the botanical gardens by our house. So in one even ¨out from the house¨ we had incounters from 8 different students!
So adios to my private life and Welcome to my island!

It´s a good think I dont have a drinking, drug, or cheeting on my husband problem...hahahah

Ill try to post photos of the house on monday. I took them last night but forgot to bring my computer to load them on the blog today


Getting used to the customs...

The other day Marvin was home and Lindsay was at school. We have had quite a few deliveries or people stopping by the house during the day to set up or fix something so when the doorbell rang Marvin thought nothing much of it. He just went and figured out what the guy wanted and then let him in the house. * he doesn''t speak spanish and the guy didn't speak english. * The guy had a bunch of painting he was going to hang in our house. They were quite large and he had to call a buddy over to help him unload all of the items. When about 20 minutes had pasted and our house now had a painting on every wall, the guy started to write up the bill. Usually when people need payment we call Roberto, the guy who owns the house, and let him know what's up. Marvin got on the phone and told Roberto there were guys here who just hung paintings and now they need to be paid. The total is $14,000 US ! Roberto kindly said to Marvin that he had just let some stranger into his house and this was not a delivery. Roberto then said to had the phone to the painter delivery guy and they proceeded to yell back and forth, probably using some not nice language. The painters hung up the phone took all their paintings and left very disgusted. When Marvin was telling us this story, I was rolling in laughter! There is always someone here trying to sell you something and Marvin had let these guys into our house, racked up a huge bill, and wasted so much of their time- and in the end we did not buy one painting.... Crazy trusting Americans!



My classroom & our first few days at school have been coming along nicely!
I am teaching 9-12 graders. I have the 9th graders as my homeroom group. They are a bunch of fun. I have 13 so far, more seem to come everyday! Right now only 4 girls.
After homeroom, I have US History with 11th grade.
Open Period
10th grade World History
Open Period
12th grade Government- there are 20 students in this class, it is my largest.
Open Period that leads to the end of the day.
So on any given day I have anywhere from 135 minutes -225 minutes, (plus lunch). It is a huge change from last year when I only had 50 mins a day. Marvin is thankful that I have more of my evenings free :)

Here is the view from when you first enter the building- Elementary is on the first floor along with the admin offices, high school (lindsay) is on the second floor.

When you get upstairs this is basically the view. I'm just down the hall a little. There is a lot of "open air" space.

This is our interior courtyard. Open to all types of weather. When it rains sideways we get kind of wet, but the porters do a pretty good job of keeping things mopped up. Here is the view from my classroom- I can deal with this :)
This is out the back stairway to the cafeteria & play yard. Student have almost an hour lunch here!

These photos below are taken from the edge of our school yard. The two photos are within sight distance but my camera frame couldn't fit them into the same picture. But you can see the extreme poverty in the left photo and the beautiful house on the hill in the right photo. It is crazy what a drastic difference there is here in the DR!

Over all I am very much enjoying my school. Things do move at a much slower place here and our supplies and availablitity of equipment is not like the states, but at the end of the day I am able to teach my students.


We are in the house!

We were able to move in last Friday. Once we left the hotel we had no more internet so no blogging or skyping. We have been out of contact until today!

Here is a short post about what we've been up to. Since I am using the internet at school right now I don't want to post to long- I'm supposed to be preparing my classroom :)
Danny came to get us using the school bus for teachers. We loaded all of our stuff into the bus and headed back to school.

Fran & Marvin had to come to school with me & Julia for about 2 hours until it was time to go to our house.

My Classroom- It's very large. We start school tomorrow (with students). My grandma is sending me a bunch of school supplies too! Resources here are pretty limited.

I have more to post about school & such- but I need to work in my classroom too :)


La Sierna

Tonight after Lindsay got home from school, we decided to head out to a multicenter. Lindsay needed to buy some things and a teacher from the school recommended La Sierna. L asked her if it was like target or walmart- she said yeah, they have everything.

So we went. We both went because we are still uncomfortable with being alone in the city. Also, Marvin had been home all day and was bored. First, we had to take a taxi to get there and Lindsay thought she knew exactly where it was but as it turns out she didn't. Our driver spoke no english whatsoever and of course we speak no Spanish. We ended up finding it, and had to pay about $3 extra because of the extra driving. Ramon was pretty cool though

As soon as we get to the multicenter we are completely overwhelmed by the vast amount of people crammed into this place. To put this into size perspective for you.... similar to a 2 story meijer except the aisles are only about 6 feet wide. I don't know what that translates to in meters and I don't really care. If there is one thing Dominicans care nothing for it is other people's time. The aisles are small to begin with, and when you park your cart length-wise across it, it gets really congested. Marvin was loosing his blessed non-confrontational mind while at the same time attempting to burn holes through their heads with his laser beam dirty looks. It didn't work much to his chagrin, nobody moved or seemed to care that the whole world didn't want to wait for them to compare the prices of 7 different Enrique Iglesias school notebooks. We went to this place with the expressed purpose of finding an alarm clock for Lindsay. We don't know how to say "alarm" or "clock" in spanish which didn't help but we also didn't know that there was another floor to this place. So after searching everywhere, we decided to go upstairs via the escalator. Unfortunately for Marvin, three women were blocking the entrance to the escalator while they chatted about who knows what. Marvin had had it though and decided to take matters into his own hands. He managed to somehow turn sideways and squeeze between the women far enough to get his right butt cheek onto the hand-rail of the escalator which pretty much caught his shorts and dragged him up the escalator. The chatting women didn't even notice this incredible act of bodacity. Finally we found the alarm clock after weaving in and out of HD TV's which were all showing Selena, Ricky Martin, and Marc Anthony concert videos while several people stood there and watched. It was quite an ordeal and Marvin vowed to spend whatever it takes to get a maid who will grocery shop for us.

Lindsay is in utter shock about the prices here. You would think that with an exchange rate of $1 USD to 36 RD - Dominican Pesos, things would be cheaper here... NO. Here are some examples:

- very basic alarm clock $18

- pack of colored pencils (crayola)- $10

- 3 mechanical pencils - $ 3.50

- markers - nothing less than $4

Lindsay is very saddened by the country's lack of coupon usage. Maybe she will be able to institute something while being here. In the mean time if you see cheap school supplies she would appreciate it if you would save some for her to bring back with us! :)


Zona Colonial

Zona Colonial is the place where Columbus first landed in 1492. We did a day trip there with our new roomy Julia. She is in a few of the pics below. Some are hard to see. I'll try to take a good one of her soon. She is fasinating though!
It's crazy that they have all of these old ruins and we didn't have to pay anything to look at them. Most of them had no tour guide or anything. We were able to climb all over them. In the US it would be like $30 to tour it and it would be in much better shape. But still it was very interesting to see. You don't get much from the tour that exists because it is all in espanol- so you have to do some google research too.

Here we are in front of an old cathedral. The roof had fallen and it was in major disrepair!

We were able to climb up a small mountain to get this picture. It is the top wall of the fort that goes around the city. Inside the city walls they have just gone about living. Not really trying to keep it historial or anything. There is a hard rock cafe' inside , many restaurants, and trash in the abandoned buildings.

Here is one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas. It looks a lot like the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. We listened to a tour in espanol- didn't catch much. They speak so fast and do not enunciate anything. So it is quite difficult learning the language.

Julia & Lindsay in front of the catherdral- gargoyles.

Zona Colonial is a great place to visit. We need to learn more espanol before we have visitors come so we know where to go and what people are saying :)

El Hotel BQ

It's been a lazy few days. Not being able to be in our house has set us back a little. Here is where we are setting up shop for the next few days. As you can see all of our clothing is on the extra bed. Our maids are very scared of 'el gato' - FRAN. They are not used to domesticated animals here.

Here is the pool on top of our hotel. It's where we have been spending a lot of our days. They also have a hot tub up here. Why? We don't know ( as if you'd want to be any hotter- MCV)


Driving in the DR

Driving in the DR is crazy to say the least. We have a driver named Danny, I'm sure it is spelled differently than that but anyway! Here are a few things you've always thought about doing in the states but wouldn't:

1. Drive in the median & shoulder with your motorcycle- Done in the DR!

2. Weave in an out of traffic at a red light on your motorcycle- Done in the DR!

3. Walk in front of traffic in the middle of the road while cars are going 30mph+, this too is done in the DR!

4. Make a 2 lane road more like a 3 lane road sometimes even 4, lanes mean nothing in the DR!

5. Think about blowing through a stop light- in the DR they don't even think about doing it. You just run it and the next two cars behind you do the same thing!

6. Cut around a car that is in the right lane because they are going straigt and you want to turn right- Done in the DR (today danny cut off 2 lanes of traffic to turn right- I just closed my eyes)

7. Go the wrong way on a one way street - Done in the DR

8. Park in a lane because you've reached your destination- Done in the DR

9. Honk you're horn because you feel like it- I'm sure there is a rhyme or a reason for this but we haven't figured it out yet. (I really want to bring a GM car here with a great horn and blow these Dominicans off the road, their horns are so wimpy here it's seriously like a beep beep!)

10. Speed- there are no speed limits in the DR!

At this point we have decided to pay for taxi drivers and use our chauffers as much as possible! :)

Here is a link for some more driving tips in the DR.

I didn't get photo's of my school today- hopefully Monday!


We have arrived!

Our plane touched down last night around 7pm. After going through customs and paying the "tourist tax" $10 to enter the country(if you aren't Dominican) we arrived at our hotel around 9pm. We are staying at The Delta until next Tuesday or until our house is ready (time tables here aren't what they are in Michigan).
Today we woke and ate at the restaurant attached to our hotel (included) and the we were picked up by the school's chauffeur and taken to the school and super mercado (grocery store). and we were then able to drive by our house.
1st- School~ 2 stories, my classroom is massive and they have so many staff members- someone to do everything. The school isn't much larger than Grattan Academy where Lindsay taught last year ~ 200 students K-12. Lindsay has to go back on friday and she will try to take pictures then.
2nd - Super Mercado~ we went with Danny, our driver, who doesn't speak english at all. And we don't speak much spanish. It was interesting but pretty much like shopping in the US. They had oreos, tostidos, taco bell rice & beans, dasani water, etc. Some of the American products were cheeper than they are at home. Over all we will be spending more on groceries here- since they don't coupon! (small problem for lindsay)
3rd- our house~ La casa es muy bonita! It is a three bedroom 2 bath (and a master bed, which lindsay was very excited about) It looks just like the houses on house hunters - our favorite show! It has just been remodeled hence the delay getting in. It has granite everywhere, tile everywhere, windows everywhere. Pictures are forthcoming.
Fran is fine. She liked her carrier and only had a minor freak out.

Not a lot of pictures yet, we didn't want to appear to eager or touristy :)
So here is one of Fran our cat on our bed. The maid even folded nonnie very nicely on the bed - she'll get a good tip tomorrow!

Below is a view from our hotel room. This neighborhood is nice to dominicans to walk and is probably ok for us but our operations manager from the school strongly suggested we take a cab since we are 1- very white & american looking, 2- speak no spanish.

Blogging 101- you can click on items that are underlined and it will take you to the website we are talking about in the post.