Life in the DR – Part 1: Airports, Mountains, and Training

I am a ridiculous person.

Me at my first waterfall: let’s get as close as I can before I even explore anything else. Mossy, slippery rocks? No problem. Possibility of snakes? Eh…I’ll be fine. Probably.

Me being told to practice communicating in Spanish by using Google translate to ask the kitchen ladies for another pillowcase: waits two and a half days before I venture the three-minute walk to actually do it.

I arrived in the Dominican Republic a little before midnight around three and a half weeks ago. It was warm. It was raining. And I was never happier to be somewhere in my life.

The trip itself started fine, even if I did have to get up at 2:30 in the morning. I was supposed to be in the DR by 7 p.m. Except…I missed a connecting flight due to a mistake on my part followed by a good forty minutes of low-key panic until I figured things out. I now have a profound sense of empathy for the occasional harried, rushing passenger I see at the airports.

Been there. Done that. Hopefully will never do it again.

The first…well, almost two weeks here in the DR were spent settling in and going over some ‘new hire training’. The onboarding handbook talked about culture shock, but I don’t ever think I got it. The setting was new, but also normal by the end of the first day. The rooms. The compound with buildings built into the mountain. Food was different but pretty good. People were welcoming.

Honestly, the biggest blow that first day was being told ‘yeah, so you don’t have to do anything until next Wednesday. Just settle in.’

B-but, like. I’m used to a schedule. What the storms am I supposed to do with myself? Talk to people?

So yes, I talked to people. On my own initiative. Got to know more faces packed into a single week than I ever dreamed I would. I went to town a few times. Rode a motorcycle during rush hour (riding, not driving). Started Spanish lessons. Despite my stress over too much time to myself at the beginning, it actually turned out really well. I was able to do a number of things, to the point where my sister asked if I was actually down here to work and help people, or if it was just on vacation.

Since those first two weeks, I’ve done more training at the house where I’ll be working and then started my normal schedule as an official staff.

As a youth coach, I’m working in the girl’s house at Crosswinds’ CMA campus. On the days I work, I am with the female students after school (around 3-10) doing all kinds of random things from talking, to walking to different parts of campus with them, looking up music, sewing snaps to jackets even though snaps aren’t meant to be sewn, looking up apartments buildings, cooking food on weekends, visiting a waterfall…basically just living alongside the students.

I’m just starting to get settled into my role; working on building up relationships and simply being a friend. It’s hard to believe one month of my time is almost up here. If you want to follow my emails about my time down in the DR, you can sign up here. In the meantime, have a few pictures.

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