Friday, October 31, 2008


The fruit cart.

There are these wooden carts that go around the city every morning delivering fresh pineapples, mangos, plantains and avocados. Sometimes they are led by a donkey or small horse and sometimes they are pulled by the owner. They start coming by as soon as the sun is up and throughout the morning hours. At my mother-in-laws apartment the fruit cart comes around 10 a.m. everyday without fail.

Funny story...the first time I visited the DR I kept hearing this guy yell "aguacate" over and over again each morning. I had no idea who this guy was and what he was saying, but because he came by around 7:30 a.m. each morning yelling "aguacate" he woke me up. Truth be told, I had woken up much earlier when the roosters began crowing and the little motorbikes were making their deliveries. Of course, all of this sounds as if you are right in the middle of it because the windows are open. So, one day I asked Eric what this guy was saying and I mimicked his exact tone and the way he said it. Eric busted out laughing hysterically, because to him it was such a normal occurance that he didn't even notice. He explained that they were yelling "avocados" for sale. So, then after that I knew.

I think it's pretty cool that you can get your hands on ripened pineapples, mangos and avocados EVERY morning. I wonder if I'll have the chance to get to know my "aguacate"man?

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Finally knowing how to speak Spanish.

This is something I am looking forward to. I took Spanish classes in Middle School, High School and College and yet I never seemed to get past the Intermediate class. I would have gone further, wanted to go further, in college, but a transfer credit situation frustrated me and I decided I didn't want to take the beginning class a 4th time! I quit and I now realize how useful it would have been to persevere.

I have what I would call a working use of the Spanish language. I am able to communicate most of my thoughts in Spanish, but carrying on a conversation of any depth is very difficult for me. I have travelled to Spanish speaking countries several times and can find my way around, ordering food, giving directions to a taxi driver and even checking into a hotel. But, beyond that I really struggle. So, here I am ready to take the leap into a complete immersion Spanish language plan whether I like it or not.

I am really excited about the end result of being able to converse, maybe even freely, in Spanish. It's all the hard work to get there that makes me tired and frustrated even thinking about it. I am hopeful I will have a tutor to help me, but Eric swears all I need to do is, "get out there and use Spanish." We'll see how it goes, but one thing is sure...I will need to learn how to talk or become an introvert and I don't see that happening anytime soon. Besides, the excitement of knowing my son will be learning both languages simultaneously is very motivating to me to learn as well.

I'm sure he will be teaching me a thing or two about Spanish soon enough!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Baseball...not soccer.

Big Papi
Manny Ramirez
Carlos Pena
Sammy Sosa
Albert Pujols
Juan Marichal

So many of the BIG MLB players have been from the Dominican Republic. All little boys grow up with dreams of playing in the major league. Being able to swing a bat and throw a ball comes as naturally as breathing to Dominicans, says my husband. There is a national league there, so surely we'll be able to make a few games. The Red Sox even have a training camp there.

They may not eat apple pie in the DR, but they sure love their beloved national pastime, baseball like no other.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Mangoes...anytime you want!

I don't need to say any more than this. Those that know me well know that mangoes are my favorite fruit. Once, after a volunteer mission trip to Trinidad I ate a mango a day for about 6 months. I even smuggled a few in my suitcase home from Mexico one year as a gift for Eric.I love how sweet and tangy they are. There isn't really any other fruit that they compare to. And, they taste best ripened on the tree. Whenever I buy them here in the states they are green and need to sit out for a few days to ripen. They are a great substitute for the real Caribbean thing, but really nothing compares.

Mango trees actually grow in people's yards. Maybe one will grow in the yard of someone I know and I can go and pick one anytime I want! Wouldn't that be fun!

Can't wait to eat me some mango!

Monday, October 27, 2008


The scenic ride from Santiago to Santo Domingo.

Did you know that the island is big enough to have a mountain in the middle? Most people only think of the pristine beaches when they think of the Dominican Republic, but the absolute best kept secret is the mountains! They are gorgeous and riding through them on the way down to Santo Domingo is one of the best ways to experience their majesty. I once rode a bus from Santiago to Santo Domingo and riding along sitting above the road provided just the right view that made me fall in love with the mountains of the DR.

The lush green hills rise and fall around each other making sleepy valleys and beautiful peaks. The mountain area of the DR is actually very arid and the mountains look nothing like what you might expect on a caribbean island. They are not like a jungle or a rain forest, but actually a lot like the area I grew up in the Northern California foothills. On one trip Eric and I hiked up to a waterfall. We actually hiked up mountain roads with undisturbed hills rising around us. On our walk we saw cows and farms growing produce, eucalyptus groves AND groves of scrub pines. I am not kidding. There were scrub pines growing in the middle of this caribbean island. Who knew? Evey once in awhile we would come upon a few houses with kids running around outside, but other than that we had the trail to the top to ourselves.

I know a lot of you have been or plan to come to the beaches in th DR, but you are seriously missing out on the hidden jewel of the island if you miss the spectacular mountains.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

20 days and counting...

We've been taking advantage of every weekend moment we have in Boston, as we have so few left. We spent some good friend time this weekend, sharing a Dominican meal at our favorite restaurant Merengue with the friends we live with and visiting some favorite couples we will miss dearly when we move.

It's so hard to believe we are getting on that airplane in 20 days...20 days! SO, to countdown the days and get the Dominican love flowing I am going to share 20 things I love about the Dominican Republic or are looking forward to.


Dominican Hospitality...I have truly never met people more hospitable or friendly than the Dominican people. Spending time together with family and friends is one of the highest values of the Dominican culture. It is part of the culture to invite family and friends over to your house for a visit, and being the guest of honor is a privelege. Oftentimes, the invitation is extended for "Almuerzo" or the mid-day meal. The visit begins with refreshments and conversation in the living room, which is usually freshly squeezed juice from local fruit (pineapple is one of my favorites). Every person I have met there has been genuinely interested in getting to know me and are always eager to ask questions, using their English if possible. After refreshments the meal is served at the table in the dining room, which is always beautifully set with their best linens and serving pieces. The meal ALWAYS includes more food than you could ever eat at one sitting. Typical fare is some type of meat, usually grilled chicken or steak, Plantains (either green or ripe), rice and beans, avocado (my favorite), salad, and vegetables. Any meal that includes avocado picked ripe from the tree is alright by me! After the meal dessert and coffee are served. The dessert might be small Dominican fig candies or flan or Tres Leches, and the coffee is the strongest coffee I have ever tasted. Of course, after the meal and the dining conversation that ranges from family to politics, you want to lie down and take a nap. But, usually we just say a long good-bye promising to see them soon and shuffle off to refreshments at someone else's house for the afternoon, or back to work if you are not on vacation as we were.

It's exciting to think I will be hosting meals in my new home and sharing the warmth of my American hospitality with my new Dominican friends and family. I am already planning on sharing many of my favorite American recipes.

The warmth of the Domincan people is welcoming and genuine. Kisses on the cheek are always exchanged, and no one goes away feeling as if they were left out. I'm looking forward to some good ole' Dominican love.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An attempt to update in pictures

It has been so long since I've shared pictures. Partly this has been due to not blogging and partly because we thought we had packed our camera software and couldn't download the pictures from our camera. After realizing our computer didn't actually need the software to download we got to it and downloaded 900 pictures! Don't worry I am not sharing all of them. Actually, we had been needing to clean off the camera. There was an entire season of pictures on it. There weren't any of the snow, but there were several from Spring when the flowers were just starting to bloom and the trees were budding. Now, those same trees are all turning amazing colors and about to drop their leaves. Funny how life gets away from you.

If you are interested in the last couple of months, here you go:

This is a picture of all of the cousins on my dad's side in California. We did pretty well having everyone actually sitting and in the picture.This is another picture from California with homemade dog ears. Eric almost immediately modified his by ripping off one of the ears.
Here is Eric with his cousins Nicholas and Kasey eating his first ice cream cone at Grandma and Pop's house in California. I still can't get over how much my brother and my kids look alike!We went to visit my dad in the assisted living facility he is in. We had fun taking pictures of Pop's and his kids!
Apple-picking in Amesbury, MA. Eating his very first apple off the core with mama.

Trying to get a family shot with a kid who is WAY past his naptime is not easy!
Fun shot of Eric pointing and telling us something about what he is seeing. Can't understand one single word, but followed along anyway.

Tossing the pigskin.
Swinging in the park.

Sliding on his own as mama and Aunt Chelsea sat at the top and bottom.

This is not a shower cap. It's one of those saran wrap food covers. He loves to take it out of the drawer and put it on both his head and Felix's(the Josti's dog).
Eating cheerios with papa.

Hanging out with Maddie. I need to work on getting better shots of the two of them playing together on the floor. They love it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's hitting me, this move thing.

This picture is what it looks like all around us in New England right now. The pictures never really do justice to the real thing. The cool mornings, warm afternoons and stunning leaves changing colors daily make us all so happy to call New England home. There are colors up here that I have never seen on Autumn, orange, burnt orange, rust. My favorite trees, though, are those that look as if they are on fire they are so red, but underneath the red they are still green. The contrast is amazing.

So, for the next month I can call New England home, but the day is coming when I will have to say goodbye (at least for awhile). And, the reality of the move really hit me yesterday.

I have really taken all of our recent changes in stride. When people sympathize with our situation (having to move our of our apartment 2 1/2 months early, move in with friends, and make a HUGE move to another country) they ask how I am doing and I have honestly told people I am doing well. Other than feeling a little isolated because I am not able to easily access the city from where we are living, I am really settled here at the Josti's house. They are, of course, very close friends of ours and have so graciously given the first floor of their house over to us. And, this whole time I've been a little surprised that I haven't had any sort of breakdown about the move. I mean, I know I have moved across the country and lived in 4 different states since graduating from High School, but I still don't like change that much. And, besides we were really getting settled here in Boston.

So, I guess it all hit me yesterday. We are moving to the Dominican Republic. We will never live in our apartment, where we started our life together, again. We can't go back, and even though I have a lot of anxiety about the "what ifs" of our future life, we have only one choice, to go forward.

It's not that I'm not excited about our move. I am. It's an opportunity unlike any other to move to another country and live among family. I have an extended family ready to introduce me to life in their country. We are going to be welcomed with open arms. My son is going to experience life with one side of his family and learn two languages similtaneously. My husband is going to be able (God-willing) to do some meaningful work to help the infrastructure of his home country. And, I am going to have so many new adventures to write about on my blog.

But, there is all of the other stuff on the other side of my emotions. Saying goodbye to friends that are like family, leaving a daily pattern I can predict and know how to manage, taking on a new language, mosquitoes that carry illnesses, water that I need to keep out of my child's mouth while bathing (yeah, these are the kinds of things I worry about), and unpredictable salary...all things I can't control. And, the list can go on in my head if I let it.

This is just part of life. You have to change to grow. Change has always brought the most extraordinary spiritual and personal growth in my life. It's just so hard to jump off the "change" cliff into the next adventure sometimes.

Today I am feeling better about it all. Mostly, last night I turned a corner and realized the next month is going to be about letting go of what I have known as life in Boston over the past 8 years and getting ready to embrace the new life waiting for us at the end of our one-way airline tickets.

Monday, October 6, 2008

We have an apartment!!!!

We have and apartment waiting for us in Santo Domingo. It's still feels a little surreal that we are leaving in less than 6 weeks. It's getting chilly (well some nights are down right cold) here in New England, so that makes it even more surreal that we will soon be basking in island warmth.

The apartment is in the same small apartment complex Eric's sister, Zoila, and her family live in. It's actually the same floor plan, which makes it easy to picture where I want to put things in my head. And, it right above her apartment on the 4th floor, which is actually the top floor of the building. We'll have roof access to dry our clothes on lines.
It's has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, with a third room and small bathroom behind the kitchen that we'll be using for an office. It also has a nice balcony overlooking the street and the courtyard below.
Here is the outside of the complex. Our apartment is the top balcony in the middle. I can't wait to get in and make it home!