Monday, November 30, 2009


Better late than never!! Jill is off in the states so I'm going to have to do this all alone. Scary!!! But not as scary as not having my personal translator by my side every step of the way. Also, I'm typing this on a Spanish keyboard so I apologize in advance for any typos or improper punctuation.

Thanksgiving dinner went off without too many issues. The oven was a bit tricky so rather than being ready at 2pm, it was ready about 4pm. But not to worry, Rossy brought a rotisserie chicken, guandules, and rice to satisfy everyone just enough that they weren't quite hungry when the Thanksgiving feast was finally ready. We had a few "team players" (special thanks to Thalia, Luisa, and Alfredo for not crossing over to the dark side even though I'm sure you all really wanted too).

One thing I learned is that Dominicans are great about improvising. Although we didn't have a potato masher nor a can opener, they made the best of it. See Jessica mashing potatoes with a plastic cup and Alfredo opening a can with a knife (I was nervous about that one so I needed to step aside). Everyone had a great time, despite the heat in the kitchen, and all in all, I'd say it was a great experience my first time preparing the entire meal. Jill helped a little. (She's not here to say otherwise, so I can stick with that story).

The rest of the photos are just of everyone having a great time and enjoying each others company. That's what Thanksgiving's all about! I hope this gives you an idea of the people we see each day. Everyone is so great and have all been so kind to us. Also, I must say, it was the first time I've eaten Thanksgiving dinner and then put my feet in a pool to cool off. I could get used to that.

Milvia, Nasu, and Luis. All have opened their houses to us and we are so thankful. (I'm sure that was in the grace Jill said but I didn't understand)

Nassuel, Milvia, and Nasmil. Such great children and Milvia is a wonderful mother.

Thalia, Massiel, Rosa Lee, Chanel, Luisa, and Lisa. Such gorgeous girls!

Ada, Miss Oregon herself, and Rossy

Alfredo, our can opener

Chanel and me

I was crowned "runner-up" although, I'm pretty sure I won but I know Jill is still bitter about the 1st Annual Dessert Smackdown and the Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest (I wonder how Jewley Bedazzled is doing?) so I'll give her something. Who won the 2nd Annual Dessert Smackdown by the way???

And that's about it for our Thanksgiving. I hope everyone had a great one as well! The blogs might be a little slow for the next week or so but we'll get back on track soon! Until next time....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beans, Bites, and Bears, Oh my!

We've got the perfect side dish for any of you scrambling to determine what you will be making/bringing to your festivities tomorrow. It's the oddest thing..... Habichuelas Dulces.... or Sweet Beans. I know you're all probably dying to make it, but judge not my followers.... Below is a picture of what they look like. Still not buying it? Well then, you'll just have to trust me.

Here's how you make them:

Cook some red beans until soft and squishy. Now dump the beans and their liquid into the blender and blend them until most of the lumps are gone. Strain.

Heat coconut and coconut milk in a pot on the stove.

Add strained beans to coconut mixture.

Cook chunks of sweet potato with clove, all spice, sugar, and vanilla (quantities up to your discretion). When soft, add to bean/coconut concoction.

Cook together and add raisins just before the mixture is done. Top with animal crackers and serve! Viola, done!

Pobrecita de Marsia. The mosquitos have taken a liking to her feet and legs. They don't bother me one bit. I think they are after her pizza laden blood.

Here Marsia and I ran out in the rainstorm. It was pouring so hard we were wet in seconds. It felt so good! It had been hot and muggy lately and this was an excellent change. Click on the pic to expand!

Yesterday we went downtown to the colonial part of the city. We met Rosa Lee, Marsiel and our dear friend (and food and beverage pusher) Rossy. The day was chalked full of events but it culminated in a hunt for the perfect outfit for Rosa Lee for her next performance.... (she's the bachata singer - see previous blog for You Tube link) While we were there, we found the perfect maternity outfit for Katie to wear to work. There must be 500 sequins on the cups alone. It has a built in belly "shield" made of delicate beads. Kind of like a baby bead curtain. The yellow stretchy pants just bring the whole outfit together.

While shopping in a little boutique, Marsia came across a figurine that reminded her a lot of Boo Yumm, her beloved cat that she is missing so much. She (Boo Yumm, not Marsia) has crossed eyes and this seemed to replicate her pretty well for the time being.

Since we are both missing home and the holidays so much, we've decided to arrange a Thanksgiving get together here this coming Saturday. Since it isn't recognized as a holiday here, nobody gets a four day weekend, unlike you "arragan" (that means lazy and kinda pronounced like Oregon, that's how Marsia says it) Americans, so we will wait until the weekend. We are putting a bit of planning into this and it seems like it will be a huge hit. We are expecting around 20 people, assuming they don't invite more at the last minute. We have prohibited all root foods (ie, yucca, taro root), plantains, and rice. Although we are pretty confident some will show up somehow.
Gotta run, the Sancocho is almost ready. Have a great holiday weekend!!! Until next time....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Boca Chica 2 (dos)

Not to worry, we returned to Boca Chica with more pictures for you all. Our guest photographers, Luisa and Rosa Lee, got in on the action. They actually got very into it and we all had a great time. We must be considered "regulars" at Boca Chica because everyone recognized us, including the vendors. The above photos are of some of the boys who sell Chicle (gum) to all the beachgoers. We got to talking to them after a little while and most of them go to school and then come to Boca Chica afterwards. The young boy in the hat, Simon, can't go to school because his family cannot afford a uniform for him. All schools, even public, require a uniform to attend. We researched the cost of buying him one and we believe we can outfit him under $15. Fortunately, we had some school supplies donated before we came here so he will have those to take with him as well. The uniform will be purchased next week so when we return to Boca Chica for our stay in December, we can offer these items to Simon and make his family happy.

When we arrived at the beach, three puppies were roaming around the sand. We played with them again and again, each time they would pass into our area. Chanel, from our previous post, really took a liking to them. She was constantly carrying them around to all the different people lounging on the beach. Jill thought Tallulah would have had a lot of fun playing with them. They were so adorable and would just fall asleep in your arms or on a shoe or wherever. I thought about bringing all three of them home for Julie since I'm positive that they would calm Morgan down. Maybe they will still be there when I go back and we can start the quarantine process?

Rosa Lee, Luisa, Chanel and I played in the water for a while. There was a crab (cangrejo) floating in the water when we first got in and I was a little weary until I realized that it wasn't alive anymore. We also saw a jellyfish the size of a dinner plate "resting" on the beach. Good thing nobody stepped on it!
We have so many more wonderful pictures to share from Boca Chica that we've decided to do a quick picture blog next. It will be fun pictures from our days so far. We hope you are all enjoying reading about our daily adventures.
WORD OF THE DAY - Cachorro: Puppy

The Colmado

Marsia is in complete awe of the efficiency of the colmados here. Oh, sorry, a colmado is a little neighborhood store much like a 7-11 only smaller... like a 2-11. At any time of the day or night, your colmado is there for you. Out of oil? A kid on a bike brings it within 3 minutes. Forgot to pick up yucca root? Its but only a phone call away. Unexpected guests show up? Not to worry.... you'll have your Presidente Beer and shrimp roll-ups before your guests find their seats. Need rice? No, bad example... they buy their rice in 400lb sacks I don''t think that they ever run out.

We spent the last few days with another family here in Santo Domingo, Luis and Rossy Martinez. They live on the other side of Santo Domingo, and with traffic it takes nearly an hour to get there. They have 4 beautiful daughters, ranging in age from 5 to 20 years old.

Our first night there we went to a birthday party for Luis's niece. It went on until very late in the evening. The good thing here is that it is not a problem to have music blaring at all hours of the night... they literally set up speakers for even better effect. Imagine doing that in your neighborhood. Well, actually we could in our neighborhood... :) 'cuz our neighbors would be there with us! There wouldn't be any Brugal, however. (their local rum)

Their oldest daughter Rosa Lee is the lead singer in her group and her younger sister Luisa is a back up singer/dancer. I've included a link if you'd like to see a performance. The 3rd daughter Thalia is a real sweetie, and helped us find the video of Rosa Lee.


The 5 year old Chanel is a firecracker and made us sing "Little Bunny Foo Foo", 600 times, complete with all the hand gestures. Very smart little girl and very cute. Chanel appointed herself as Marsia's private Spanish teacher. Marsia learned all the body parts. Her conversations with the rest of the world is still a bit limited, but if someone wants to talk about eyebrows and bellybuttons... she's there.

Marsia had a unique experience with the girls when she had her first outing without me. They don't speak much English, so it was a real test. Rosa Lee had to go by the University to drop off some things and her car broke down along the way. A short trip to the University turned into an all day adventure. Marsia was exhausted when she finally came back.

Hope all of you are doing well. We're waiting for the boxes to start our real work here. Thank you Louie for helping send those out and for those who have donated their time and/or money to the cause. Having these couple of weeks under our belts will be very helpful. We are making connections and finding more and more mission work everyday.

Until next time......

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nine days without Pizza

Marsia's Pizza withdrawl symptoms seemed to have, for the most part, subsided. She chokes up and becomes weepy when we pass the pepperoni section of the super mercados, but all in all she is doing better.

We've had a steady diet of plantains, yucca root, taro root, avocado, rice and guandules. We ate sancocho for the first time yesterday, and Marsia liked it. Sancocho is the opposite of the Atkins diet plan. See a carb, throw it in the stew. Our sancocho had chicken, pork, yucca, plantain, sweet potato, carrot, taro root, squash and of course white rice and avocado. It really is quite yummy.

We went to the market yesterday and there was a mob of people pushing, shoving, yelling.... all trying to get a place in line for their license plate tags. I thought it was a riot at first, but Milvia explained that it was just the last day to purchase their tags. It was crazy. We suggested to Milvia that it may be a good idea to have people purchase their tags on separate days/months... she wasn't certain how that would work.

We've continued our walking in the Parque Italia, nearby. We noticed a large group doing salsa or merengue aerobics.... I suggested to Marsia that we try. Maybe when we've got another week of this regime under our belt, we will. Look for our pics next week doing our thang.

Last night we had movie night with Nassuel and Nasmil, here at the house, while Milvia and Nasu went to church. We made popcorn and had a good time with the kids. Marsia is helping them improve their English, and this really makes Nasu happy.

Today we're going to spend the night with Rosie and Luis and their family. It should be fun. I'm sure we will have some interesting stories for you all tomorrow.

Louie called and said that he is ready to send boxes of items for the Dominican families in need, to Florida for me to pick up when I work there the first week of December. He's trying to keep the wieght and cost down as much as possible. (THANKS ANGEL AND HILLARY FOR HELPING WITH THE PACKING) If any of you would like to help by sponsoring a box please call Louie at 541-601-7441 or send $10-$20 to Louie Ramirez, 48 S. Barneburg Rd Medford, Or. 97504. EVERY bit helps.

Our cell # in the Dominican is: 829-776-9805. Either Marsia or I will answer.. Gotta Run, Jill

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A day at Boca Chica beach

Boy what a day! It was like a buffet of everything one could ask for when people watching. We started off taking a taxi to Boca Chica beach at 10 in the morning. Once we negotiated our seating arrangements at the beach for the day, we were quickly bombarded by vendors selling everything from necklaces (which there is no charge to touch by the way) to empanadas to tanning oils. Jill was having trouble locating her sunglasses in a timely manner but, not to worry, several sunglass vendors were right by her side to help her in her time of need. Fortunately, she found them before she shelled out $600 pesos for a "designer pair.

This lovely specimen blocked our beach view most of the time. We couldn't tell where his head hair ended and his back hair began. You can't tell but he arrived at the beach wearing this number with socks pulled up and tennis shoes. I wonder what his cab driver was thinking.....

Marsia's "firsts"

1.) I had my first Presidente (the local brew).

2.) I had my first marriage proposal accompanied by a very brief chiropractic/massage therapy session on my neck. I was unaware the two went hand in hand....

3.) The first time I should've brought my whizzies and didn't.

4.) The first time I've seen so many speedos in one geographic square foot at the same time.

5.) The first time I'd ever seen a 4-year old pole dancing/girating while being encouraged by her mother.

Reeeaaalllyy.... no comment....

6.) The first time I helped my aunt get all the toilet paper off the back of her leg. She was just trying to make a little seat saver and it backfired.

7.) The first and only kitty I've seen since I've been here. I didn't know they liked the beach.

8.) My first free 7-up because no one had change for $1000 pesos.

9.) The first time I've seen so many old crusty guys with very young pretty Dominican women just "having lunch."

10.) First time I've seen so much dirty/provocative dancing on the beach in the middle of the day.

11.) I learned that if you bring your own rum, the waiters will still mix your drinks for you. They might serve themselves one or two as well.

12.) The first time I've seen so many hurt/skinny doggies running all over the beach, yet they don't beg for food at all.

13.) My first Dominican sunset.

All in all, it was a great day. We both got a little sunburnt but it was totally worth it. I can't wait until we take our little adventure to the Hamaca at Boca Chica for four glorious days!
Word of the day: Pretendiente (Jill told me to remember "pretend teeth): it means someone who wants to court you.

Deep Thoughts from the mind of Marsia

Monday, November 16, 2009

Settling In

Our first day here at Nasu's house was filled with organizing our belongings, but ONLY after we had our walk with Milvia and stretches using poles and tubes. This occurred promptly at 7:00am DR time or 3:00am Oregon time - if anyone is counting.... (that surely gives us extra star points). Milvia is a drill sargeant and shows little mercy. Can you tell one of us is a little tired?

I was laughing all the time I was organizing, as Angel had stuck little post it notes in all my things, I still find them, several days later. I have them in a little pile.... I'm not sure what I'm going to create with them, but I'll think of something....

Nasu's kids, Nassuel and Nasmil have taken charge of Marsia's Spanish classes. She has learned caballo and chinola. Caballo is horse (a staple in anyone's vocabulary), and chinola is of course her favorite drink as of late. For those of you who would like the recipe for chinola juice: Take chinola, scoop out the inside and blend. Strain the seeds, add water and some sugar and there you go! Jugo de chinola. If your local market doesn't have chinola, you'll have to improvise.

Marsia had her first visit to La Sirena store, where you can find most anything, from '70's helmet hairdryers to Octopus. These are top of the line items, not antiques. We exchanged some $ and found that we get 36 pesos per $1US dollar. I was going to buy some tortillas, but they were like $275 pesos which is a lot, like almost, like $8 or so for 8. Crazy. I don't know...... but I think there may be a market here for some good Mexican food.

Then, we topped the day off with a very interesting party at Milvia's Pastor's house. After a bit
of individual testimony we were served a plate that was HEAPING with cornmeal mash and beef, (we think). Neither of us could, or should have eaten it, as our plates were by far the heaviest of the 100 people served. We spent most of our time trying to find the most perfect way to make use of our food, without offending anyone. Milvia came to my rescue and gave my partially eaten meal to her sister. Marsia was on her own. She's a big girl, afterall.

At the party I met a very nice woman named Esther, who is a doctor in a small village near Neiba, where Milvia is from. (about 3 hours from Sto. Domingo). She wants to work with us in getting items to the most needy. We are hopeful that this friendship will blossom and we will make some great connections in that part of the island.

Mivia made fish for Marsia, and I know this is going to be hard to believe.... she loved it. LOVED it. She at it all up. Milvia is such a great cook. Marsia was thankful that Nassuel had tipped his mom off to serve it without the head or eyes.

Marsia learned to wash dishes the Dominican way, store water and milk a cat. Basic survival skills here in the DR.

Ok, enough for today. Can't wait to catch you all up on our day at the beach later, so much to tell. Que dios los bendiga a todos.

Jill for Marsia

Our flight experience

After a little bit of a rocky start, we made it! Bags and all! Thank God Marsia is feeling almost normal again.... (whatever that may be), but she was an excellent traveller and kept her mask on non stop. She had trouble eating her snacks and having her Shirley Temple, but we cut a hole in the mask to fit a straw. No body said we were dumb!

As we were waiting for our flight to Atlanta this guy with several teeth came over and sat by us. Within minutes he told us he was a musician who had at one time played with Michael Jackson, and a host of other celebs... including most recently on his way to "throw down some tracks" with Lil' Jon and Lil' Wayne and possible other munchkins. He told us he had SO MUCH MONEY it was crazy, yet he was going standby or at least had no seat. Hmmmm!

We made it safely into Atlanta for our 16 hour layover. We got a room at the Holiday Inn Express, had dinner and settled in for the night. In my effort to remain as healthy as possible, I decided to continue my ritual of salt water up the nose and down the throat. I called downstairs for some salt and they said I could come and get it. As I was getting my hot water and salt, these "ladies" approached me, wanting to "hang out" with us in our room! I told them my niece was sleeping and they said, "so is that a no?" I said it was, and she kept on, saying she hadn't ever "hung out" with anyone from Oregon before.... she was too weird. We kept seeing them. One time they even got on the elevator with us and got off at our floor and went the other direction, trying their key in a door, and then coming toward our hallway. Jeepers Creepers!

Fortunately we had some great flight attendants, I even got tickled! On our flight into the Dominican, we met a group of Christian Mission Workers who were doing a project in Barahona, on their failing water system. They offered to help us with our mission by helping transport equipment into the the Dominican.... they were from Portland, Ohio and North Carolina. I told them about Louie and his baseball mission and they gave me their card and said we could send umpire equipment to the DR through them whenever we needed to!