Saturday, September 25, 2010


I’ve changed. That was a given outcome I was expecting when I decided to join the Peace Corps. Some changes I think are for the best and some not so much. What brought on this discourse of thought on change? Watching a cooking podcast (which I download to get new ideas for meals and merely because I enjoy watching them). As I was watching this particular episode for vegan pancakes, the cook needed water for the recipe, so she proceeded to turn to her kitchen sink, open the faucet, get water and then put it in the batter. I watched that and thought: that is so weird; she just took water from the sink. It wasn’t until a few days later did I realize how strange it was that I thought it is strange to get cookeable, drinkable water straight from the tap. (Bit of background on my process for having drinkable water: daily gather water (between 7.45am to 8.30am – roughly) from the yard faucet, boil it, pour it in my water filter, and wait for it to be filtered (this is the longest part of the process, usually requiring several hours.)

Pondering all the ways I realize I have changed (probably have changed in ways I don’t even consider as change anymore), I wander when I go back to America if all these changes will reverse or are they permanently part of me now? Will I ever stop thinking running water is precious? When I turn a knob and instantly have hot water will I even remember having to water several hours for water to heat up, and never having hot water in the house, only the in the yard shower? Will I continue the habit of never leaving anything pluged into an outlet when it is not in use? Will I get used to not having to bring my own toilet paper everywhere? Will I continue to use my hand (for number 1 and 2) when I run out of or forget toilet paper, without giving it a second thought? Will I break the habit of automatically throwing used toilet paper into a trash can? What will replace my knowledge of exact time of day when I no longer hear the call to prayer 3 times a day? Will I continue to walk down streets with my head down, eyes to the ground, avoiding eye contact, and frankly any interactions, with men? Will I see a group of guys, young or old, in the street and instantly change my course and find an alternate route to avoid them or will I not even think twice about them? Will I walk into a room full of men for a business meeting and think it is strange that my presence is acknowledged (since here my presence is rarely acknowledged)? Will I stop becoming overwhelmed when I am in large group gatherings? What will happen when my secret language of English is understood by everyone around me or when I can fluently understand everything around me?

To be honest the thought of staying scares a me a bit to think how much more I will change and the thought of going scares me a bit because here has become the normal for me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Party At My House

I hosted a birthday party at my house last weekend for one of my youth, who was turning 16 or 17, not sure which. Birthdays are counted differently here and when I asked her how she was she said 17, but when I doubled checked for how many candles to put on the cake she said she was turning 16. I tried to get an explanation for the difference, but I didn't understand what she was talking about so I gave up and said she was 17 turning 16. None the less we had a really fun party. I spent Saturday night baking and as usual I over baked - 1 layer chocolate cake with pink icing; 1 batch sugar cookies, 1 batch butter walnut cookies, 1 9 x 13 pan of peanut butter bars with PB & chocolate icing, plus watermelon and chips. The party was Sunday and 8 youth came (8 were invited) and we played Twister and Screaming Ninja. Twister was a big hit, but being where we are and how it is here boys and girls played separately, well that is not true, I was the only hussy who played with both boys and girls. Screaming Ninja was also a big hit and I can only imagine what the women who sit the in the apartments' building communal yard thought of a group of kids yelling "hi-ya's" at each other were doing, because we could definitely be heard out of my window. The kids really like my new house a lot better, I can really tell too because they come over a lot more often now - which I like. So here was the breakdown: games, tea break, more games, cake and soda break, games, Xalid's Micheal Jackson dance and then photo session. (Photo session is the term I apply to the need for everyone in this culture to take crazy amounts of pictures - the person individually with everyone.) Then they left - the girls had to get home, they only were allowed permission from their parents to stay until 5.

Screaming Ninja in Action

Making a wish

Me and the birthday girl

Xalid doing his Micheal Jackson dance to "Smooth Criminal" for us, he is really good.

The group (minus the girl taking the picture, she doesn't like her picture to be taken)

Boys Round of Twister

Twister fun

Me rocking out Twister

Friday, September 3, 2010

What's your reason for being late to work?

I have been in my new place for one week and last night I started to get worried that my water tank would run out soon - like in the middle of my shower soon. (Just in case you don't know, most houses and apartments have a tank that stores all the water for their house; which is different from drinking water - that comes from somewhere else. In my current case, the drinking water comes from a faucet in the middle of the courtyard of my building.) The water to fill tanks and the water from the faucet in the yard does are not always working at the same time (unless your source is a well, not the city.) To further complicate things water is only cut on a certain times during the day - you have to know your water schedule and be home at those times. For three days I have opened the valve I needed to fill up my water tank when the faucet (in the courtyard) was pouring water; I assumed that if one was working the other would be too. Not the case. So I was becoming increasingly worried that I would run out of water (which has happened to me before, not the end of the world but not super fun to be in the middle of a shower with no more water either). I asked my neighbor why I couldn't fill my tank in the mornings when the faucet water was turned on. She said, "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't; sometimes the water comes on around 3 or 4, but you work then." So where did that leave me - a little more stressed out. She suggested I turn open my valve in the morning before work and just leave it on until I come home at night and close it then. Great thought minus the fact that when once a tank is full it then begins to overflow. Again, not the end of the world to have a flooded yard expect my tank doesn't overflow into my yard but into a neighbor's yard. As much as I want water I also don't want to be that jerk who floods their neighbor's yard.

This brings me to this morning. When I went to shower this morning (and the faucet water was turned on) I decided to open my tank valve and just see what happened. What happened? Nothing, no water. But I left it open while I continued to get ready for work. As I was leaving for work I stopped in my yard to close the valve. But, what did I feel? Water running! (Yes, I tell if the water is running by touching the pipes to see if I can feel running water). New delima: leave for work with an unfilled tank, leave for work with tank valve open and flood the neighbor's yard, or stay until my water tank fills and be late for work. I took option 3. Now I can rest easy because I know that I have a tank full of water, until the next time that is.