Sunday, November 27, 2005

Day 21

Day 21 (27-Nov 17h40)

Wow, it’s been three weeks since this journey started. I have to say that things are starting to slow down, finally. Last week it seemed like months had passed since I left the states. Today, it seems about the same time. Diminishing returns, linear regression, inverse square, whatever the function is, it’s slowing down.

We are all together again. I had to pull myself away form the group because the intensity of conversation was a bit too much. There are so many stories, and most are telling them with passion and great interest. It’s like an internet chat room, sixty conversations all taking place at the same time. In fact, traditional methods of communication are insufficient to handle the influx of new information, and new channels have broken through. It’s now common to hear a story you told just minutes ago re-told to another group on your behalf. We are so starved for information about each other that all it takes is the obligatory “did you hear about Jay and the spider?” and the story has to be told, with or without Jay.

By far most of the stories are good. It seems that everyone has had positive experiences and is looking forward to getting to work. I have heard several people who have been intimidated by the accomplishments of previous PCV’s, given a high standard to uphold. I’ve also heard the dirty house story, the “my boss doesn’t care much” story, and the “I’m the only white guy/girl” story many times over in different contexts. Amy had the best “welcome to the village” story, she arrived to the whole school holding a sign with her name welcoming here; singing, dancing, the whole works. The funniest story goes to Mike who was solicited for money and food through a broken window while taking a shower. He took second place as well with the account of one student who, upon witnessing him exit the van when he first arrived, remarked “looks like it’s going to be a white Christmas after all!” Coppelia had the strangest (this one I heard second hand), she met the governor who greeted her with a hand shake; one hand extended, the other in his crotch. I still haven’t heard the full “Jay and the spider” story, but I’m sure I will soon. Aaron and Greg tied for dirtiest accommodations. Matt by far gets coolest location as he’s right next to a wildlife preserve. Chester had the best language story; his supervisor taught him the Afrikaans translation for “I don’t take shit from nobody!” And the stories are still coming. It will be a long night.

I spent the morning waiting for the gate to open. I tried to leave at seven and found the front gate trumping my plans. It was still closed at eight, but nine rolled around and they miraculously let me pass. I read in the park, enjoyed a candy bar (they have THE BEST chocolate here, Cadberry), played some computer games, and eventually was picked up and dropped off at the PeaceCorps HQ.

I was happy to find that the PeaceCorps lounge has high speed internet, so I know I can get it there no matter what. It’s a bit of a walk from my home, but doable. The PC lounge was a mess. Books, trinkets, sleeping bags, power adapters, and random bits of junk lined the two rooms. Apparently the system works something like this; when you first arrive, grab whatever you want, when you leave, empty you backpack in the corner. I did manage to find an interesting book which I took. I’ll get plenty of opportunities to rummage through the piles in the future.

After a three hour comby ride with 13 of use crammed in very close quarters, I was happy to arrive at camp. Dinner was waiting for us, and after a quick session on text books, we were set free. Now is story time, speaking of which, I think I’m ready to get another dose.

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