Friday, July 31, 2009

Using the Facilities

Ok, so how often do you find yourself contemplating going to the bathroom? Maybe only when you're stuck at the end of a long line at the ladies room and you really have to. Or, it could happen when you're on a long drive, stuck in the middle of nowhere and you have 4 year old in the back seat that just doesn't fully understand holding it for just a little bit longer. Let's face it, though, this is not typically something we think about - basically, we have to go, we go, and we get back to whatever we were doing.

I, however, thought a lot about these functions of our body while in TZ and have continued to think about how using the facilities now that I'm back in the States.

First, I cannot tell you how much using a bathroom changed while living in TZ. It became a chore, like boiling water, or washing clothes. It was almost dreaded and when the need arose it was almost like "damn it, I have to go to the bathroom!" Why the struggle? Well, squatting over a hole, while not the worst thing in the world, was just not a comfortable experience. At home, it can be relaxing - shut the door, block out the rest of your house, grab a book (or a newspaper) and sit down for a few minutes. Not in TZ. It was more like make sure your clothes & feet are properly out of the way, get in a squat position that will allow you to balance w/o having to touch the walls, make sure there are no critters in the hole, and try to not stand up when cockroaches run out of the hole while you are mid-stream. Like I said - it was a chore.

Now that I've been home for quite awhile, I've come to appreciate the easiness of going to a bathroom. Not only is it no longer a chore, or just something I do as a natural part of the day, but using the facilities can also be an excuse to get up and walk around, waste a few minutes, relieve boredom as well as bladder, and a change of scenery. At work, if it's a slow day and I need something to do for a few minutes, well, hey - why not go to the bathroom (whether I needed to or not is irrelevant). Been sitting too long? Take a walk, stretch your legs, head to the bathroom.

See, it's a great thing to have facilities like we do. It's a great thing to have a normal function like that be so normal that we don't think about it at all. I, for one, will be forever appreciative that I can go sit on my toilet, take a book if I want, and not have to squat w/ cockroaches again... well, at least not on a daily basis!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Multiple Endings

Did you ever read those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books when you were younger? Depending on which adventure you chose, the stories & endings could be extremely varied. In the past week and half I've been informed of 4 different endings to 4 Peace Corps Volunteers' experiences.

First, one of the PCVs who helped counsel me when I made the decision to leave TZ also had to leave TZ in May due to negative reactions to the anti-malarial drugs. He had been in TZ for about a year and half and was just finished feeling like he could snap at any moment. Mental episodes are one lovely side effect of the mefloquin and, as it turns out, was a major contributor to my leaving the Peace Corps service before it really even began. I must admit, learning that someone else had left before their service was over for the same reasons gave me some sort of satisfaction. Although it's I've been home for over 6 months, I still feel the need to explain myself at times and often wonder if people believe the extent to which those drugs were messing with my head.

Secondly, one of my very good friends from PC decided to early terminate just this week. She was in my PC "class", went through training w/ me and did a semester of teaching. After a break from school and some time to travel, she realized she was done giving what she could in TZ and her family in the U.S. needed her.

Next, I found out that a great guy I met in Njombe has extended his service for an extra year. He was to be finished with his service this fall, but will be staying until Dec. of 2010. I had hopes of having an experience so wonderful that I would not want to leave. Although it didn't work out that way for me, I'm glad it does work out that way for some.

Finally, the PCV who lived closest to me in Njombe received his COS date for mid-Sept. This means he has finished his 27 months and will close his service in about 2 months.

It's amazing. We all start our Peace Corps experiences the same way. We all start with the same applications, examinations, orientations, and trainings. We all fly over to our countries together, but in the end, we're all alone. We all end our services differently, we all fly home alone, and we all face going back to an American life that has moved on without us. I guess Peace Corps is just one great big Choose Your Own Adventure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Peace Corps duplex in TZ

Finally after being home for 7 weeks, I was able to load video of my duplex at Wende Secondary School in Njombe TZ onto YouTube. Follow the link below & have your assumptions about Peace Corps living standards challenged!

Rainy Season Video

I tried several times and several ways to load videos onto this blog, but they wouldn't load. I finally got one of them to load on YouTube. If you're interested in seeing a 1 minute video from Njombe during a rain storm, follow the link below.

Monday, January 5, 2009

From PCTs to PCVs: Swearing In Ceremony

My entire CBT with our homestay families.

Newly sworn in PCVs.

My CBT with our two language instructors.

Swearing in cake.

Mji Mpya CBT.

November Peace Corps pictures

My homestay family at my going away party.

Tanzanian rainy season.

Seeking shelter from Tanzanian rainy season.

Election day - celebrating the results!

Passing the time - A rousing game of toss the water bottle.

African Landscapes