My first night at my home stay

I know that you have all been anxiously waiting an update from me. Sorry for the delay! There is an abundance of new things to learn in a new city, in a new country when the culture is completely different and you do not speak the language. Scary isn’t it?

Most of my friends and family are interested in knowing about my new home / housing situation. So, here’s a little bit about what it is like. Sorry, no photos yet. I’ve been too busy learning my way around to take any photos. And, more so, it is not safe for me to travel alone with my expensive camera, so I have to plan outings with others in order to be safe with a $5000 camera!

I arrived at my home stay on Saturday evening at about 10:30pm. My taxi driver, was a really sweet older man who spoke very little English. I wasn’t surprised though and he was very friendly, so I spoke to him in broken Spanish during the 35 minute drive from the airport to my new home.

My home for this week is a house in the Zona Colonial district, a very historic district of the city with beautiful old buildings and interesting architecture. Of course, I really couldn’t see much of this at night, but the next day I did!

As my taxi driver squeezed (literally) his way through the small crowded streets, full of battered old cars and people on every corner, I got a little nervous because it seemed, well, scary! We had to circle the block twice because he could not find a place near my house to let me off and help me with my luggage. The second time around, he parked in the middle of the street, blocking all the traffic behind us and helped me to the side of the street and left me with a group of people … none of whom were my Santo Domingo mommy.

The address on the house was the same as the one in my paperwork, so I knew I was in the right place, but it was like a child being a latch-key kid and not being able to find their key when their mom isn’t home … A mild panic spread over me as a line up of cars honked loudly at the taxi driver to move, I rushed to the side of the street with my luggage (large suitcase on wheels and two heavy backpacks with camera gear and laptop). I timidly asked the group of strangers sitting on outside if I was in the right place. One of the ladies from the street got up and yelled through a large gated door, and then next thing I knew, an older lady was speaking to me in Spanish and reaching her arms out for a hug. Her name is Angela (anne-hell-a) and she is my mom away from home.

Phew! Nothing like a good hug from a stranger to make you feel a little more comfortable.

She invited me in and began to show me around, but she ONLY speaks Spanish … no English at all. And, if you have never traveled to a Spanish speaking country, or if you have never had a conversation in Spanish …. OR, if you have never bothered to pay attention to the people who live in the country you are visiting, Spanish people speak incredibly fast … all of the time!

I was able to ask her to speak slower, but honestly, it didn’t help a whole lot. I still could only pick out two or three words per sentence. Sometimes I would get an idea of what she was saying. Sometimes I had no clue.

I did understand that she wanted me to feel at home and showed me the living room, sitting area, kitchen and bedroom which were all free for use. I put my luggage in the bedroom and she showed me where I could unpack my things. She showed me the bathroom as well, and then we talked in my basic spanish for awhile.

She also has two little dogs … well, three actually, but I only met two the first night! Estrellita (little star) and hmmm … I can’t remember the other ones name at the moment. Dogs here aren’t like dogs at home. Although the ones here are pets and they stay within the confines of the house, they aren’t cuddly pets. They are just kind of, well … there. Always at your feet and most of the time, just ignored.

Even though it was late, she offered me supper which was potatoes (papas) and fried cheese (Queso Fritas). MMMMMM Me encanta queso fritas. (That means I love fried cheese!)

Honestly, I was too tired from my long day of travels to even really look around at my surroundings, so I didn’t notice much that first night. I did, however, notice the lovely fresh carnations that she had placed in my room to welcome me! They are sitting beside me on the dresser as I type this.

The other students who were staying with Angela had gone away for the weekend, so they wouldn’t be returning until Sunday.

I asked about internet, which she tried to help me with. I was able to get the password, but could not actually make a connection. I also was able to ask for the key to the house and if there was anything happening the next day that I needed to know about. Of course, all of this in piece-meal Spanish, but it was just enough.

It must have been about midnight when I finally climbed in bed to put my weary head to rest in a huge and decently comfortable king sized bed! The 30+ degrees, PLUS humidity did not even bother me that night, probably because of my lack of sleep the night before and the oversized industrial fan on the ceiling to move the hot air around in order to simulate a breeze. Let me tell you, this is not Nova Scotia weather!

Off to dreamy land I went after my first three hours in Santo Domingo!

More updates soon. As of tonight (Tuesday), I have internet at my house, so it makes it much easier to keep in touch with the world. I’ll post photos of the house, details about my home stay sisters and my first couple of days of school soon. Oh yes and my public transportation adventures! Those should be fun to talk about! Stay tuned!

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