Written Saturday, October 8, 2011
It’s been forever since I’ve posted an update to the blog. I’ll try to make updates more often. Sorry for the wait! 🙂
I moved on my own at the beginning of September. I love my house. It’s small, but just right for me. It’s kind of like a studio apartment. Last weekend my little sister and cousin came over from the old barrio, and with the girls from the new neighborhood decided to do a TV show style filming of my home. I called it Lifestyles of the Fabulous. They did this all on their own. I think it’s so cute. Enjoy:
I’m still working on getting pictures and other visuals on my wall. Feel free to send me stuff you think I’ll enjoy looking at every day.
Moving in was definitely a stressful process. You know how much energy (mental and physical) moving takes normally? Picture that in a foreign language, and in a foreign land, where something is just destined to go wrong. In short, I think I’m becoming a little jaded. Being an immigrant means people will definitely take advantage of you if given the slightest chance. Being in a country where events are valued more than punctuality means you can expect to be stuck somewhere waiting for people to come through for at least 45-60 minutes, that’s if they come at all. Being in a culture where giving an answer that makes you feel good but isn’t exactly (or even in the least) true is more acceptable than just saying “No,” means the word “misunderstanding” is an understatement. And being in a developing nation means you can expect the quality of even good stuff to be a bit sub-par at times. I don’t mean to imply that this is particular to the DR, or that in America everything is just intrinsically better (after all foreigners in the US get taken advantage of and short-changed daily), but it’s hard to take off your own cultural lenses, even when you walk into a situation knowing the other culture. There are just some things that are embedded into each of us that make us approach the simplest of tasks in varying ways because of our culture, customs and own personal experiences. And these things definitely added up to a lot of stress and frustration during the moving process.
One example is the mattress that I paid nearly $300US (in pesos) for that has springs or something poking me. First I tried to ignore it away, but decided it was better to try to resolve it now than spend two years avoiding sleeping on that side of the bed. I called the furniture company and they came out to inspect it, and said they’d switch it out. Knowing I can be a bit of a, uh…ehem…particular shopper I decided to go down to the store to view and inspect the mattress they intended on giving me. I saw the mattress, felt every nook and cranny of it to ensure it was ok, and left satisfied with what I’d soon be getting. The next day the men showed up with a mattress that was not the one I inspected. As soon as he got it in the door, I said, “That’s not the same mattress.” “No, it is,” he said, perhaps hoping I would trust his word over my own eyes and 1-day old memory. “No, it’s not; it’s a different color and brand. I took note of those things when I was at the store yesterday.” “It’s the same, look at it. I’m not going to deceive you. The one you saw had stains on it.” “Okay,” I said to myself ready to be done with it. “If it doesn’t have prongs that stick out, and it’s not a bad mattress, just take it.” So I inspected the mattress for outstanding prongs. None. “Okay,” I said. And they switched out the mattresses and left. When I went to put the sheets on the new mattress, I noticed that the mattress was not of the same quality as the one I had just relinquished: threads were coming out. “Okay, I’ve probably just given them 4,000 free pesos, but whatever,” I thought. Then I noticed all these little black dots sitting on the top. I brushed them off. “Just deal with it, Laila.” I told myself. Then I noticed little dead bugs on the mattress. I brushed the off. “Okay. Just deal with it, Laila.” Then I noticed live bugs crawling on the mattress. “Okay…Peace Corps. Just deal with it, Laila.” I, now slightly panicking, said to myself as I tried to review bedbug information I vaguely remembered hearing months ago in my head. Then the smell hit my nostrils. “Is that mold? Dust?” I questioned. “Maybe it’s just the smell from being stored away for a little while,” I desperately worked to reassure myself. I smelled it again, and again, and again. Then I remembered the moldy apartment that gave me asthma back in May of last year and decided I couldn’t inhale these fumes deeply at night. *Sigh* I called the mattress folks back. Long story short, I have the first mattress again, and don’t plan on trusting that the folks at the store will give me a different one that even hales in comparison to it. I don’t believe in luck, but with all the things that went wrong during this process, it almost had me believing in bad luck, and wondering if I had it.
At any rate, I love my new house. It’s really peaceful in the area that I live in, and I have a great neighbor, who’s also a believer that I hang out with a lot. She’s really cool, and doesn’t make me feel like a foreigner as much.