Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wait, they keep them in a camp?! Like a Jail?

Yesterday, I tried to go find this place to eat that I had heard about.  Basically, I was looking for a house that looked as if instead of outside walls, it was one long bar.  I decided I didn’t need directions…mistake, big mistake.  I missed my turn and ended up crossing over the Juliana Bridge (the tallest bridge in the Caribbean), kept driving, kept making turns and ended up on this dead end dirt road before I finally just turned the car around.  Luckily, I somehow remembered which turns I had made and just did the exact opposite until I got back to where I started.  I was still wearing a shirt and tie from work, and not that I thought anything was going to happen to me, but I didn’t want to tempt fate by showing up in the bad part of town and having my awkward body language scream, “I’m not supposed to be here!”  I assume this is exactly how Harry Potter felt when he accidentally got out of the Floo Network at Knockturn Alley instead of Diagon Alley.

            I ate something I haven’t had in a while.  Broodje Hagelslag.  To make it you get white bread, butter (good butter) and hagelslag (which are basically these chocolate sprinkles that come in a giant box).  Put enough butter on the bread so that when you add the sprinkles, the butter will hold them in place and they won’t fall out when you’re eating!  I know, butter and chocolate sprinkles on bread, it sounds as if a 5 year old made it up.  But, try it! It’s delicious and if it wasn’t then people all over the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles wouldn’t keep eating it.

            Just found out that the internet in my room at the university won’t work on the majority of websites (like any website that ends with .edu or .com or .org.  They basically backtracked their previous statements after I paid the lease (jerks).  So, I have to be fully moved in there for a 2 month stay starting the first of June and I have to figure out a way to have internet so I can try to not fail the online class I’m taking at VT for Summer I.  Anyways, hopefully I can find an internet café or public library that’s open kind of late :/  But on the bright side, the other residents (who by the way somehow manage to live there without an RA and without a community development plan and the entire campus hasn’t descended into chaos) are extremely nice.  One guy, gibreel (that’s his name spelled phonetically), left his mom, who had come to visit him, and tried to come over and help me plug in my ethernet cable.  He even brought over an extra Ethernet cable!  I guess there was a slight language barrier (I haven’t had to speak Dutch fluently since 4th grade) so even though I didn’t need help with the Ethernet, I was touched that someone would walk away from their mom visiting to help a stranger he was just introduced to, very briefly, a few hours earlier.

            At 2 in the morning, I got a phone call.  I want to show you something.  One of the doctors comes and picks me up and takes me to this place called Campo Alegre.  Prostitution is illegal everywhere on the island except for within this camp.  Here they import girls from all over the world on work visas for 6-18 months to work the camp.  The girls are given these houses, and they live and conduct business in their rooms.  They have to stay in the camp between 6p-6a, they have to pay if they want to leave during the day time, they have to pay rent, they have to buy their own food and water, they have to go through daily STD testing the cost of which is tacked on to the rent, and they use pay phones to contact their families back home.  These girls are all under 30 years old, some as young as 17 and 18, and just to cover their costs they have to sleep with 5-10 men a night; it depends since they haggle for a price.  They basically walk around in ridiculous outfits and if you make eye contact with them they try to guess your nationality and ask some version of “¿Vamos Papi?” basically asking you if you want to join them.  These girls all have very sad stories.  Some went to medical school, architecture school, law school, and engineering school.  However, some countries have sexist, good old boy networks set in place that makes it impossible for women to get hired in those professions.  Some are single mothers just trying to feed their kids.  So single mothers and recent graduates are forced to leave their families behind to go work as a prostitute in order to feed their families, by sending money back home, or to pay off school loans.  They all put on a happy front, but...It was all I could do not to just try to give all those girls whatever they needed to get out of that situation.  I mean, my sisters are in high school now, if they were born in a different part of the world, a tiny personal life mistake or the wrong career choice and they could be in the same situation.  I really wanted to try to squeeze making a documentary about this place into my spare time.  However, I realized I can’t take on every single project that tugs at my heartstrings and plus I got kicked out for trying to bring in a camera.

            One last thing before the daily pictures: DSK was set up! http://vhbelvadi.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/dsk-set-up-who-would-profit-from-it-anyway/

My living space for the first couple of days! The bachelor pad, if you will.  I shall miss my creature comforts. Pics of my new room to come (it's about 1/16th the size of this room).

I’ve been rocking my Virginia Tech tumbler all day, every day.  I’m so healthy, all I’ve drank since landing is water during the day and locally made wine at night.  I gave up my addiction to soda (or as some of you call it, pop).  The wine is so delicious, but one glass knocks me on my butt.  Plus I am just not being anywhere near as irresponsible as I should be with this whole 18 year old drinking age thing.

The Office!

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