Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm a Slacker...


                Soooo, yea… I start pretty much every blog by saying that it’s been way too long since my last blog. This time it really, really has. I don’t even have a decent excuse; I’m no more busy than I was before, I just haven’t gotten around to writing and posting a new blog. That’s the key combo: writing AND posting. I’ve written a couple, or at least started to write them, but I never seem to get past the first few paragraphs and then I get distracted by something or someone and I never finish it. So, here’s hoping this one is better. If nothing else I’ll try and upload some pictures… at least that’s something… right?

         At this point there are so many things to write about that I don’t even really know where to start… let’s see… I got to go to the CDC labs in Kisumu (big city a little more than an hour south of me on Lake Victoria), meet the future ambassador to Kenya and tour their facilities. I was like a nerdy little geek in a store full of lab equipment. I’m pretty sure I drove the other Peace Corps Volunteers on the tour nuts, asking questions everywhere we went.
Me and the Other PCVs at the CDC labs in Kisumu

I went to the coast for Halloween, which was pretty awesome. Eleven bucks a night to stay at a backpackers place a 5 minute walk from a white sand beach that was pretty much empty except for the occasional Kenyan spear fisherman walking by with his daily catch, or a line of camels being led to the nearby beach bar - so basically the best of all worlds. Plus, I was surrounded by some of my very favorite volunteers, which doesn’t hurt.
Me and (most of) my fellow beach-going PCVs

We spent the days lounging around the pool at Backpackers and at Forty Thieves, this awesome beach bar – literally rated in the top bars in the world – eating greasy, yummy and long forgotten American style food. At night we went out and for Halloween me and the girls dressed up as “the zoo.”

"Zoo" - Andrea (Zebra) - Hannah (giraffe) - Me (leopard) - Breezie (lion)

All in all not a bad way to spend my Halloween – though, I would have loved to dress up as Katniss from The Hunger Games but the reference would have been lost here. Maybe next year. I don’t think I’ll ever be too old to dress up for Halloween.
Thanksgiving was both fun and constructive. I went a couple hours north to Bungoma to help out at my fellow PCV Joy with her jiggers outreach. A bunch of us came up and had other health type booths to keep people busy while the jiggers were treated. Then we made Thanksgiving dinner (I honestly can’t remember what we made…) and had a headlamp party at Breezie’s house (she has no electricity) where we danced on couches and sang incredibly off key while consuming copious ammounts of liquor. So pretty much a standard PCV gathering.
Breezie at our reproductive health booth. What do I do when I'm bored at site, pull out the colored pencils and make some STD info sheets. Yep, my life is awesome and so are my bubble-letter making skills.
Joy washing some feet before the chemical treatment
We also had crayons and paper for the
kids to draw - they LOVED it.
Waiting to be treated

We put petroleum jelly on the feet after the chemical treatment to keeps oxygen from getting to the jiggers and helps kill them.

More doodling..
Then this last week I went up to Joy’s again for some hiking and to celebrate her birthday. I had a fantastic time wandering around the foot hills of Mt. Elgon and, not surprising to anyone that has seen me out randomly exploring and bushwhacking, found myself muddy, soaking wet, covered in all kinds of prickly vegetation, exhausted, sore and utterly and completely happy – probably the happiest I’ve been in the last few months. Yet more proof that I do not belong strapped to a desk and am so not ready for babies. Some days I feel really old, but wandering around the woods, climbing cliffs and root systems 4 stories high, following a little barefoot Kenyan boy up and over boulders the size of houses, I felt like a little kid again.  And God is that one of the greatest feeling ever.
Being rained on by the waterfall

That little pink dot is me climbing back up from my exploration of the bottom of the falls. I'm soaked and so, so happy.
Post waterfall climb

Why yes, I carried this piece of plant life back up the waterfall attached to the back of my pants on purpose... just for you...

The cave behind the "small" waterfall
Me Breezie and Joy

Even though this is an epic-ly cool panoramic, it still can't really do justice to the view.
This might be a coffee plant... really I have no idea. I just thought it would make a cool picture and we all know how I love to be rght!
          All of this is making it sound like I’m not doing anything at site… really I swear I am. The jewelry business is still going well. Thank you to everyone for their holiday orders, it was a great opportunity for the girls to get a little extra income for the Christmas season, which is a pretty big deal here. It’s also shedding light on some of the issues I’m going to have handing the business over to them when I leave. As of right now I am sorry to report that I don’t think they’re going to be able to handle it. The reasons why are way too long to be explained in this blog, but I think it’s enough to say it’s a combination of culture, work ethic and lack of the necessary technological skills. I’m trying to figure out how to fix those things but it’s certainly amounting to a stressful struggle.
The resource center is also coming along nicely. I have more of the painting done and the map wall is totally finished. I have also secured some book donations (fingers crossed) and a National Geographic Magazine subscription from the wonderful folks at Nat Geo. Seriously, I cannot say enough about how great they have been over there. If I liked Nat Geo before, I now love it and will be a subscriber for as long as I have money and a permanent address. I painted a chalkboard on one wall and have already put it to use having a mini business lesson for the girls on how to figure out pricing for the jewelry. I’m hoping to have the rest of the second wall done by the time I go to pick my parents up from the airport on Jan 6th and that just leaves the nutrition wall to finish and the book shelves to paint and the stools to build and the tables to finish… so yea, okay, I still have a bit to go. The point is, I’m making progress… slow but steady and sure progress.

What else… well, med school applications aren’t going so great. I’ve gotten a lot of rejection emails and, let me tell ya, that is NOT a fun thing. I should feel lucky that I haven’t had to deal with that much rejection in my life; anything I’ve ever failed at has been though my own decision making, my choice and somehow that makes it easier. Being told “no” over and over again to something you know, without a doubt, you would be great at… well, that’s pretty hard. Not to mention the fact that I spent almost 3 grand between taking my MCATs and applying to 11 different schools… yea… the word “disappointing” doesn’t really cover it. Alas, the fat lady has yet to actually sing, I still have a few schools to hear from, but with my top (and also most probable) choice gone, she is definitely warming up her vocal cords and preparing to belt a very depressing note.

On top of that my ipod and Kindle and headlamp broke within 2 weeks of each other, so technology is also boycotting me it seems. Luckily (and knocking frantically on wood as I type this) my computer and phone are hanging in there. Oddly those are the two things I bought in Kenya. Nice job American technology… Kenya has you beat, a country that pretty much just got computer and phones in the last half decade. Though realistically, it was probably all made in China, so maybe China just ships the shitty stuff to America as a ‘thank you’ for us shipping thousands of tons of our trash (literally, trash) to them. That may or may not have been laced with a heavy, HEAVY ribbon of cynicism.

Moving on and to the end of this entry because, frankly, I’m sick of typing and I know that if I don’t post this right now it might be June before I get around to actually sitting down and writing again. Until next time, Happy Holidays to everyone, hope you have a great New Years and please, please drink an extra glass of champagne for me J Also, congratulations on surviving the Mayan predicted end of the world. Chuckle, chuckle – those silly Mayans.

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