visiting america, holidaying in the DR

I spent most of the month of October in….(drumroll)……………America! And I was very happy to be there (in Hakeem voice, from Coming to America). I am so blessed with awesome family and friends and church family at home that I was able to see. Miss you guys!

At home I also went to my 10-year high school reunion. That was just so weird. Like, am I getting old, or something? I also did the state fair, which was very yummy. I think I gained about 10 pounds from eating so much back home! Coming back to the DR was really, really, really hard this time. I found myself very homesick, even for weeks after returning.

I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s in the DR this year. For Thanksgiving, all the volunteers get together in the capital for a huge Thanksgiving feast. We also have a talent show, which I sang in this year, this time with a few other volunteers. It was a lot of fun. I spent Christmas in the campo with my host family and neighbors. We had a huge dinner! It was so tasty. There was chicken lasagna, scalloped potatoes, rice (of course), arepitas, potato salad, fried eggplant, pasta salad, pastelón de queso, pastele en hoja and of course pork, though I didn’t have any. People here kept asking me if Christmas in the US was very different than Christmas in the DR. There are some differences, but overall it’s the same: Christmas trees and other decorations adorning homes, family getting together and eating a lot of food, a special Christmas program at church, etc. In the DR, they eat the big dinner on the night of the 24th (Noche Buena, which means “the good night”) instead of on the 25th, and they don’t exchange gifts for Christmas. Some people give gifts for Three Kings’ Day, which is in January, but gifts are not a big deal for Christmas here. A lot of people here also paint their homes during Christmas time. My host mom told me that back in the day, the dictator Trujillo, used to make everyone paint their homes during Christmas, and so the tradition developed and just stuck. People also drink in excess during the holiday season…which I could do without.

Overall, it was cool spending Christmas in the DR, although it didn’t feel much like Christmas. Warm weather, loud bachata music, no mac and cheese and no family (blood family, that is) made it seems like it was just another day in this 27-month experience, or in my 28-year experience. It was both familiar and unfamiliar to me at the same time.

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