Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Internet Addict?

Since I began lending out my computer, almost everyone has proven quite considerate and careful about the frequency and duration of time they spend using it. However, it turns out that Cristina, who moved in with her mom and sister last week after a disagreement with her boyfriend, knows no constraint when it comes to using my computer to get on Facebook. She doesn’t work, and if I let her, she’ll literally spend the entire evening glued to the screen, chatting, updating her profile, and commenting on wall posts. I thought, eventually, she’d get it all out of her system and arrive at a place where she wasn’t asking to borrow my computer in every spare moment. But it’s becoming clear that this probably isn’t going to happen.

Cristina's toddler son, Yerlin

At first, I would let her use it for hours because, frankly, I wanted her to like me. But it has gradually become evident that she lacks the maturity to self-regulate and so I will probably end up having to play a parenting role with regard to boundaries and internet use. I don’t blame her. While the internet has existed for more of her life than mine, she hasn’t had the access some of her peers have until way late. Since she doesn’t have a job, there’s nothing else to occupy her. It’s a very similar scenario to what happens when some of us arrive at college and suddenly have unlimited access to internet, games, hanging out with friends, etc. I hope she can find a healthy balance without me intervening too heavily.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Electricity: On Every Night, Off in the Morning

For about a month now, the electricity in the building where I live has gone away during the day and returned at night. During the first two weeks, it just so happened that my apartment’s wiring was damaged so I was without luz even when there was luz to be had. Finally, one night Pablo called an electrician who came at 8:00 in the evening and fiddled with the chaotic mess of wires in the breaker box down the hall until my lights came on.

On my roof, facing Southwest

Since then, more details have emerged about the situation and what’s causing it. There is only one meter for the whole building and supposedly, the building’s electrical bill is usually between 4,000 and 5,000 pesos a month. Pablo tells me, though, that last month we inexplicably received a bill for more than 25,000 pesos. When I asked why he doesn’t take it up with the power company he told me he tried but they want 10,000 pesos just to come take a look. It sounds fishy to me, but I suppose in the DR anything is possible.

All of this crud came out of a batch of beans before I cooked it

So why the on-again-off-again electricity? Well, it turns out Pablo has burned off a portion of the insulation on the wire leading from the distribution line to the school across the street. Every night before work he uses a length of PVC pipe to reach up to the exposed wire and connect to it another wire that supplies our building. Every morning when he wakes up, he disconnects it.

The breaker box in the hall where I live

The school is actually in charge of our building and ought to be doing something about our situation, but when I offered to take the matter up with them, Pablo was adamant that it be kept a secret. Lucky for him, the season has changed, and it’s no longer unbearable to be in my apartment without the fan on. Otherwise, I would be more inclined to take matters into my own hands. But for now it’s just too entertaining for me to want to interfere.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Day of the Strike Part 2

The toddlers wandered in, followed by Cristina and Miguel. It was the first time I ever had Dominican guests since I moved here back in August. I was pleased with the humbleness of my lifestyle and the statement I suppose it made. Everybody was impressed by my air bed, though, which I somehow managed to haul back with me from Oregon after I went home for mom and Rich’s wedding.

A random shot from inside my messy apartment

Around four in the afternoon we finally dished up delicious macaroni in cream sauce with sardines and green olives along with tostones, smashed plantain slices fried in vegetable oil. Miguel showed up and after we had finished eating, we dished up a helping to take to Chuno. On the way to his house, we passed through an alley with three or four tables of people playing dominos and perhaps thirty more watching or just hanging out. I hadn’t seen a street so crowded since my time in the Los Angeles barrio of Santo Domingo during training.

Chuno parties before his accident

Chuno looked pretty bad. His upper lip was a swollen mess of stitches and dried blood and there was a seam where the skin of his face had been split down the middle. Luckily, he had broken no bones in his face or the rest of his body and his teeth were still intact. I did my best not to show my alarm at seeing him, and was careful not to dwell too much on the accident, asking instead whether he was sleeping alright and seeing if there was anything I could do to help. An English-language movie came on the TV and I gave him and Miguel the play-by-play in Spanish for about an hour. We went home when Chuno’s brother told us we hadn’t better be out late during the strike.