Back in Ohio for the Summer
I just got back to Ohio after a 10 month stay in the Dominican Republic. I had a great time in the Dominican; learned, accomplished and experienced a lot. Cultural adjustment was expected going in, and though I had difficult moments, overall, the adjustment of learning to engage with a new culture and language was pretty easy for me. But it changed me a lot, and the last few days of travel and reentering US culture have been an interesting view of they ways that I’ve changed.
Going through the airport in Santiago I realized how much Spanish I’ve learned in the last year. When I entered the country, everything sounded like a complete blur, and I could communicate more effectively using hand motions than anything else. On my way through the first security checkpoint, I understood enough to hear a pretty Dominican security guard tell me, “Hey redhead, you can’t take your beautiful blue eyes on the plane, we’re going to have to cut them out and leave them in this country.” I still haven’t gotten very good at responding quickly in Spanish, so I just smiled– she probably thought I didn’t understand.
Watching the Dominican roads weaving through the mountains as we flew away, I felt that I had a much deeper understanding of how life looks along them than I did flying in– it’s nothing like life along US roads. On our decent into Miami, I was impressed with how organized, planned, and orderly the city was. Cars flowing along large highways, all in their own lanes, driving with purpose from one large building to another.
The airports weren’t as shocking to me as I thought they would be, probably because I didn’t have much time to stop as I rushed through them from flight to flight, but was surprised that there was no free WiFi until Columbus. If you don’t have a cellular data plan in this country, you’re pretty much out of luck.
A friend of mine picked me up at the airport and took me to a Five Iron Frenzy show. I can’t tell you how much I love ska, and how much I’ve missed being able to just dance with a crowd of people to music that I actually like. I’m not a big fan of Dominican merengue or bachata, and despite being in the Caribbean, ska isn’t very well known in the country. I wish I could share the experience with some of my more hippy friends from the DR, I know they would love it.
After the Five Iron show, we went to IHOP. I forgot how hard it is to find an item on the menu that doesn’t have eggs here! In the Dominican, you can just ask for things without mayonnaise (which they put on everything!) and you’ll be fine. Allergies are way more convenient there.
The drive to Akron from Columbus was surreal. The highways were so huge, and empty and lonely. No businesses, people, or motorcycles along the side. It’s weird to feel like your home is a foreign country.
I spent a lot of time on the highway the last three days. I drove with my family to Cincinnati for my cousin’s wedding. I hadn’t seen most of the people there since my other cousin’s wedding last year. It was shocking to see how much some people had changed; one cousin was way taller, another family member looked way older, a lot of people had gained a few pounds; or it might have just been my perception. Dominicans are really skinny.
Now I’m headed to Kenmore, and I’m going to stop at the Chapel in Akron for church tonight. It will be interesting to worship in such a large place, with so many fancy lights, and to hear a sermon in English.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of my friends and community. I’ve missed you all. I’m back for the summer. Let’s kick it.