Sunday, July 29, 2007

Republica Dominicana

Sipping on a Pina Colada at La Playa Grande

I live in Colorado for a reason. I like it cold. I like the crisp, non-humid air, I love mountains, not beaches.

So interesting that for my first international adventure I chose to go to the Dominican Republic.

My friends from college, Holly and TJ, are in the middle of a 2 year missionary stint in a small mountain and beach village of Rio San Juan. They work with shoeshine kids there.

So after catching a 1am flight out of JFK into Santiago, I had embarked on a 5 day air conditionless, and often electricity and waterless adventure. Hot water did not exist there, nor did you really want it to.

The first meal I had there was at a small tin roofed house in the mountains. The lady there cooked an unbelievable amount of rice and beans for everyone. It was an experience...theres no way I can put it into words.

The locale of my first dominican meal.

During the trip we had dominican hamburgers, almost had TJ thrown in jail in Puerta Plata for not having a $1.50 sticker on the car, SOME of us had corn flavored ice-cream, and stretched the little spanish I knew, trying to form something people can understand. (Such as "donde esta mi amigo!!!???" when, while tj was trying to get out of going to jail, I was hunting him down hoping he wasn't in the back room being bludgeoned to death.)

I refuse to give a day by day, step by step account of what happened, because if that happened and I were YOU, I would stop reading right here. So it will be told by pictures, a lot of which were NOT taken by me, since, as you noticed in my last post, my camera was sitting in the baggage room at the chicago airport. (It is now safe and sound here at the crash pad.)

But before we get started I want to say that I LOVED it on the island. It's one of the few places in my lifetime where after my stint I had no desire to go back.

The boys (called "Los Pescadores", which means "The Fishermen") and the guys from the mission team that was there while I was visiting.

Fun in the local river, where the locals also wash cars (and motorbikes)

Holly playing with one of the local kids at a festival that kept us awake long into the night

Boat in a part of town known for shipbuilding. Thats what the guide book says, but it makes it sound a lot more quaint and pleasant than it really is



Drove the kids 2 hrs to Santiago and had Dominoes pizza and went bowling. Most of them had never been to Santiago, much less bowled or had dominoes pizza.

TJ and Holly's place, where I stayed.

We took a day and drove outside of Puerta Plata, to some waterfalls. You had to hike up them, then you got to come down, jumping off cliffs and sliding down the falls. It was a once in a lifetime experience.


Swimming the Pools

I jumped off what was at least a 50 foot drop into a deep pool.

Best shot of the trip. Nice job, TJ.

There we are

At the beach, we had fish for lunch. It..was...awesome.

Holly, TJ, and I.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Easy fellas

hi. i'm in the dominican republic, on my very first out of country experience, without a camera. it was left in chicago on accident (don't ask me how..really..please don't) and its been a camera-dying fiasco with everyone else here.

i'll be back soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Politcal Rant: The Religious Right

I can't find a good way to start this, so I'm just going to throw it out there:

I can't stand it when a presidential candidate enters the race, and claims that he goes to church, or has "churchy" views, and all of a sudden every single religious person thinks he's the man for the presidency.

To quote the Geico cavemen:

UHHH....WHAT???

Seriously. Like Fred Thompson. I watched him on Jay Leno when he announced he wanted to run for office. Well, "announcing" is kind of a strong word...

Upon being asked if he wanted to run, he responded by saying that there were some things that he would like to do that only the president can do...so sure..why not.

WHAT KIND OF ANSWER IS THAT? pathetic. From what I've heard, and I totally saw it when I watched this interview, is that the man is L-A-Z-Y. If theres anything I DON'T want my president to be, its lazy. But, because he goes to church, a bunch of people are going to vote for him. Bush went to church and he was/is a schmuck.

As for me, I want someone that transcends party lines, that gets things done that need to be done, corporate agenda's aside.

I honestly wouldn't mind if Schwarzenegger were able to be pres. But thats another blog.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter: The Rant

I've tried holding my post back for a while to protect my friends....But I cannot hold out any longer...

THIS HARRY POTTER THING IS COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL. I CAN'T STAND IT!

There. I said it. I didn't want to do it because I want to protect my valuable friendships. See, I have a few friends, who will remain nameless, who are completely and utterly obsessed with old Harry. I love these friends, deeply, and I don't want to hurt their feelings, but I feel like its completely gone too far.

As you all may know, we are mere days away from the release of the final installment of Harry Potter.

I'm not going to sit here and cite examples to you how folks have gone COMPLETELY NUTTY with this whole thing. It should be fairly obvious. I'm just waiting to see the mental wards fill up the day after everyone reads the new book and finds out that Harry never hooks up with Cho and does, in fact, die. We may just have a spike in murder rates.

Now I read the books. I'm currently reading HP number 6 in an effort to finish it before the new book does come out. I sat at home yesterday and read 400 pages worth of it. Most of this is due to the bet I made with Deanna (nothing on the line except for pride) that I could read them all before the new one came out. What can I say, I'm competitive.

I also owe the fact that I DO read to Harry. I hated reading before I picked up a copy of #1 back at my first summer at Shiloh. But i've always been "in progress" with a book since.

IT IS a good story. It's a easy read, addicting, well written and...well...just a flat out good story.

But theres a fine line between enjoying a good story and completely obsessing your life over it. And that's where my problem lies. I've always been a big fan of the idea of "everything in moderation."

Folks, you've crossed that line. Actually you crossed it a long time ago.

As for me, I will get the book (probably second hand from someone...or...i'll probably will know what will happen within a week of the book releasing..so whats the point)

I guess my problem is that I shun being a part of hype. I've been that way since I was a kid. I refused, and have yet to see, the movie Titanic for the pure fact that it was such a huge hit. I wanted nothing to do with it.

I don't want to call any of my friends out (but feel free to comment).

There it is. I've said it. I'm sorry, but my feelings must be known.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Giving In...to the Bear?

Wednesday I felt ok, and I thought a nice evening camping alone, grilling over a campfire, and a nice early morning jaunt in Rocky Mountain National Park would help me. (REALLY???)

I gathered my camping belongings out of my toy bin in my room (yes, i have a toy bin) hauled it all to my car, stopped by Deanna's to pick up the last 2 installments of Harry Potter to read, and left. I didn't have much of a plan, except for hitting the west end of the park...and staying there..somewhere.

330pm I arrived in the park, purchased my annual pass, found a first come first serve campground, and went to through the motions of self-registering. I had to pick out a campsite, first. I was relatively crowded, but I had SOME options. I like seclusion, so towards the end of the grounds, there was a site, out by itself, with a great view across a valley. It was perfect.

The view from my campsite

Tent set up, I crawled in and read. I really did absolutely nothing for a good hour. Then I began my fire for what promised to be a FANTASTIC dinner.

Just a couple weeks ago I picked up some frozen alaskan salmon from the local farmer's market. I had a recipe, which included lemons, cilantro, green onions, and some other stuff, so I was stoked. Unfortunately the recipe was written for those who were cooking with an oven. Well, I had heat...

I did have some fire troubles (It's difficult to go from burning small twigs to large logs, since wood gathering was outlawed, and small twigs is all you can find)

It got started, however, and I arranged my fish in aluminum foil, and tossed it on.

Then it hit me. I'm not usually to worried about wild animals..I do all I can to ward them off, such as putting food in bear bins, or in my car, and cleaning up my campsite before I go to bed. But I realized, that bears love salmon....and salmon SMELLS....FISHY... I didn't have dishwashing liquid or paper towels, so I was basically going to be wearing the odor also.

Not to mention that if a bear decided to come prancing through this here valley up to the campground, mine is the first he'd come across.

GREAT. Nothing I could really do about it now, so I cooked my dinner (turned out...ok.) washed my dishes with water as thoroughly as you can, and packed everything away. As I sat by the fire reading, the ranger walked up to invite me to the evening campfire presentation on Bighorn Sheep. (Little did I know that it is Colorado's state animal).

THEN he proceeds to warn me of the danger of bears, and tells me that just YESTERDAY a bear had visited "THIS EXACT CAMPSITE!"

OH GREAT. Theres a bear out there, who likes fish, and knows where I live. sheesh.

That night, after the program (where the bear visit was ALSO mentioned), I laid down, and all I could think about is the bear. TWICE I could have SWORN I heard sniffing near my tent about 30 mins after I had turned in. I sat up and listened for another 10 mins before I decided that it was nothing. I slept on and off until my alarm went off at 3:30am. (My plan was to hit a trail early and maybe catch a sunrise over some peaks.) After that kind of rest, there was no way. I slept until 7.

My plan was ruined. All because of this bear that never even came to visit.

-JJ
My whole

Monday, July 09, 2007

Taunted

Friday night was NOT a good night.

I was working with a friend of mine, we were having a fantastic time, laughing, laughing, making fun of people, whatever...it was fantastic. She had cookies chocolate covered strawberries, I couldn't have been happier.

As we began to land, I felt my stomach go "hey man, I don't like this..."

not sure whate he didn't like....either it was the giant burrito I had eaten for dinner...was it the strawberries?? Or was it the cookie I had eaten that had been dropped on the floor? (5 second rule!)

Whatever it was, that night was awful. Beginning at 1am, I woke up every hour to try to "purge" myself of whatever it was that was causing the "disagreement" in my stomach. After the second time, I was yelling at my stomach "hey man! its all gone! what are you so PEEVED about???"

Morning came, I stopped the upchucking, and now I had a decision. To call in sick, or not.

I HATE calling in sick. I feel like everytime I do it, they don't believe me. They never ask whats wrong, they never question you, but sometimes you can hear it in their voices....it was the last day of a 3 day trip, I felt like I could suck it up and make it happen.

As we waited for our flight to arrive that afternoon, my crew, finding out that I had called in twice in 2 1/2 years giving me a plethora of sick days available, basically forced me to call in. They convinced me to call in for the rest of the day and for the three day trip afterward. "you need to take care of yourself!" she said.

I worked one leg to baltimore, which is a crew base so it would be easier to get someone to replace me, and luckily we were scheduled to work baltimore to denver anyways, so I just stayed on, managed to score an entire row to myself in the back (with only 13 empty seats on the plane, it was quite a feat. Ann told everyone I had the bird flu) I slept most of the 4 hours.

As I was sitting in the back row, munching on orange juice and dried fruit, Margaret, the other lady I was working with, saw me and yelled at me.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? NONONONONO...GINGER ALE AND CRACKERS..HERE...GIVE ME THAT!!! THAT STUFFS GONNA KILL YOU!!!"

So now, here I sit, trying to shake this bug, and being taunted by the outdoors. I feel OK, but not well enough to do anything active...and it's killing me. I don't think I've spent an evening at home in over a month. I just want some coffee, but I know it will destroy my stomach...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Props to a 7 Year Old

The other evening we had one last flight from Denver to Chicago. I'm always in the best of moods on the last flight of a 3 day trip, and the last flight since working 6 straight is even better.

We had about 3 softball teams come on board, and I immediately started chatting up some coaches, parents, and the star slugger.

During the flight, 3 of the girls stopped me and said "Did it hurt?"

I knew exactly where this was going.

"Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?"

She actually never finished the classic pick-up line becuase she started laughing. So I told her that I would come back and then see if she could do it without laughing.

So this went on the entire flight. Occassionally I would stop to hear what pick-up line her and her 3 friends had come up with. (The best of the evening was "I think we should re-do the alphabet, because you and I should be together." )

Anyways, they were being typical teenage girls and being a bit loud and obnoxious. A lot of the surrounding passengers found it funny and even gave the girls some ideas on pick-up lines, but the 7 year old jackson, who sat 2 rows up, didn't find it funny.

He had proceeded to take a ritz chip which we had handed out to him, and ON THE CHIP scribbled a small note to the ladies, whom he DID NOT KNOW, and handed it to them. On the chip were 2 simple words:

"SHUT UP"

I couldn't help but laugh. I wanted to keep it for my own, but the girls wanted to put it in their scrapbook. I confronted jackson and he couldn't comment for his laughter.

I showed the commuting pilot the chip and he chimed in for one of his own.

"HA! THATS A CRACK-UP!"

-JJ