1) My parents came to visit last weekend! They were only here for a few days, but it was a great to see them. We spent last Saturday here in the batey; I showed them the community and introduced them to a bunch of people they couldn't really talk to. And everybody gave us food. We had La Bandera (rice and beans), habichuelas con dulce, fresh coconut, dry coconut, oranges, juice, cheese and crackers, and some of my homemade pickles. Then we went back for dinner at the hotel, and most of the meals for the next three days were all-you-can-eat buffets. After my parents left, I weighed myself and found I'd lost a pound. Curse my skinny-person metabolism! At least I know that being underweight doesn't mean I'm malnourished.
Anyway, everybody was happy to finally meet my parents in person, and my parents were happy to see my site and my friends. We spent a couple of days taking advantage of the fact that I live on a tropical island with warm weather and beautiful beaches (I took advantage of the air conditioning and warm showers). It was a great break from my typical routine.
2) My cat is a chicken. Not literally, although he would fit in well here as the bird. He's a wuss, a wimp, a fraidy-cat. My parents could hardly meet him because he was frantically trying to get away from me so he could hide. Any time I have a guest, he makes an undignified scramble under my bed. He's supposed to be a fierce tomcat hunter that keeps away the rats and stray dogs. So far he just keeps away cockroaches (although the rats don't realize he's a wimp and they stay away). Oh, well, he's still small, maybe he'll get a bit tougher as he grows some more.
3) A couple of weeks ago I was able to visit the children's home and see my friend. She's still adjusting, but doing pretty well! She's always quiet when I first arrive...my host family had the same experience when they visited. It could be that she's upset that we 'got rid of her', but that just means it's more important that we visit to show that we do care. She manages to open up a bit after a while (and after I pull out some gifts), and it's great to see her in her new life. She's finally in school, and by all accounts is enjoying it. She has two or three close friends and some adults that she's really close to. I was officially there to help translate for sponsors who were visiting from the States, but I was able to step in as her sponsor and pull her out of school for the afternoon so she could join us for some of the activities (skipping school is always exciting). I got to show her off to some other PCVs who were there to translate, and we agreed that she was the cutest one there.
4) Everybody wants to learn English. I have several steady students and several more who are asking me to start a class that they may or may not show up to. I think I'll set apart a day to have a large class, and then I can tell people to go to that. If (when) they stop showing up, they won't be able to complain that I'm not teaching. But those who make a genuine effort can learn.
5) It's good that English classes have picked up, because my work in children's literacy has hit a hitch: a local bureaucrat has banned me (at least temporarily) from helping with reading in the school. In a meeting with some school officials, she actually accused me of illegal activity because I was helping kids learn to read...from the wrong textbook. I'm not kidding. It seems there's a new government-mandated methodology, and I'm harming the kids by following the old one (which is how I learned, how most of these teachers learned, and the only method anyone at the school is familiar with). I may have gotten some of the other teachers in trouble because it came out that they were also supporters of the old method. But honestly, the situation is kind of funny, except for the fact that the lots of the kids truly can't read and somebody has to do something with them. I can wait until I get trained in the new method, or I can 'go rogue' and teach in the homes instead of the schools. I'm such a thug with my contraband textbooks. Fo shizzle.
6) February 27 was Dominican Independence Day. I would tell you what it was like, but I was hanging out with tourists in the hotel, and nobody seemed to notice. Yeah, I should have been in my site integrating. Maybe next year.
7) March 1 marked the 51st anniversary of the Peace Corps and the 1st anniversary of my leaving home. I didn't arrive here in the DR until several days later, because I was sick in Washington DC. But still, I'm a year into my PC experience, and I have about 14 months left. It's shocking that I'm almost halfway done.