The first few weeks at site were extremely diffrent from training! When I was in college I used to talk with a professor of mine about the Peace Corps, he is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and was always willing to take the time to answer my questions. When discssing if the Peace Corps was right for me, he would always ask, "Are you ok with being alone a lot? Going long periods of time with no one to talk to and feeling very secluded?" I never really understood exactly what he was talking about until my first week at site! I finally get it now! Those were pretty legitimate questions...It's a strange feeling, it's like I've never felt so alone and yet can never really be alone at my site all at the same time. I have no other Americans at my site, no family or friends to talk to, no on near by that really understands what Im going through and how much I've given up to be here, yet hardly a moment goes by that some neighbor or kid or shop owner doesn't come wandering over to borrow scissors or shampoo, drop off a plate of rice or fruit, get me water, or just stop by to chat. It gets VERY hot in my village, so whenever I'm at home I leave both my doors open to let the breeze in. There is a shop behind my house where people are always coming and going from with a perfect view in to my house, and then in the front of te house on the other side of the road is a bar with loud music always on and also the house where my maid lives so her children are always stopping over to chat, get water, borrow my things, or bringing me fruit. I feel SO alone but with no privacy, it's a srange thing!
We were delivered to site at a rather difficult time. My first week at site was right before Christmas and most businesses and organizations had closed for the holidays, the majority of Volunteers from last years group went home to visit family, and it was my first year away from home. It was definitly a challenge to say the least! I attempted to go out and meet the people at the Police Station, Hospital and other officials in town, but many had left already for holiday. The town is a lot smaller than I had expected but I am beginning to like it more now.
My first week at site I seriously considered ET-ing (Early Terminate) because it was such a shock being thrown in to such a small town with nothing to do, everything closed and people gone on vacation, nothing but potatoes, onions, and rice in the market, being homesick, dealing with 105 degree heat all day, no running water or fridge for a cold drink, flies and mosquito bites along with rashes from the water...the list goes on and on. I think the biggest thing is that I always pictured my time in the Peace Corps as a constant adventure filled with traveling and non-stop exploring and entertainment, but really I've found A LOT of time is spent learning the art of doing nothing at all. Just sitting, starring at the wall, waiting for something or someone that will never show up or happen, akwardly standing in neighbors yards with nothing to say to each other...activities such as these. I'm thankful I didn't leave because instead I forced myself to do some more exploring and have found some beautiful spots in my village. On the other side of the salt fields next to my house is a river with a gorgeous view of the sunset, and about a 20 minute walk away I did some exploring and snooped around the ADPP school and found some amazing views of the river there. It is right where the river flows in to the Ocean so it is salt water and I actually went on a canoe ride out in the water with my friend when she was visiting and we saw dolphins! I totally hadn't expected that! I was also able to go out to a little village right on the ocean about 10-15 minutes away (an hour by bike) to talk with a group of men starting a fishing business. It was so beautiful and the people living there were very friendly. I'm planning on doing some sort of activity or group with the children there and also going to try to get HIVtesting sites out there a few times a month since they don't currently have anywhere to get tested in town. I walked around on the shore and it is just endless miles of untouched shorline-it's so crazy, not a single house, hotel, restaurant, condo, nothing! It's sad though to think that the land probably will be developed in the next few years and it will most likely be by South Afican or Asian companies rather than Mozambicans.
The day after Christmas I went out to Macuba to visit another volunteer there. Five of us stayed with a girl living there, it was helpful to get away from site and have other volunteers to talk to about everything. This site is much bigger than mine and it was great to be able to buy a few things and even get ice cream! After a couple nights there another volunteer and I headed back to my site. Traveling to and from my site is an adventure I can not fairly describe in words... My town is so small that there aren't many vehicles coming and going from there, so the few trucks and semi's that are get pretty cramped to say the least. Amanda and I waited in the bac of a truck with about 30 other Mozambicans, 4 chickens, crying babies, random people in the street walking up trying to sell us shoes, peanuts and phone chargers, more and more people trying to cram in, it was about 100 degrees out-this went on for a good hour or so before we pulled out of town and got going! Then there's usually multiple stops along the way to let peopl in or out, fix flat tires, buy fruit from street sellers, etc. A trip that should take only an hour usually takes closer to 3! It's a painful process! It was really nice having Amanda come visit me though, we were able to cook spaghetti and watch movies on my laptop-and of course go on the canoe ride and see dolphins! After a couple nights at my site, and Amanda losing her toothbrush to the rats in my house, we left for Quelimane to meet up with the rest of the Moz 14ers that are in Zambezia. There's about 13 of us that met up and got a hotel to stay in over New Years. It was a lot of fun to see people I haven't seen in so long. We went to Zalala beach on New Years Eve for the day and laid out, did some swimming in the Ocean, and then had a restaurant cook us some huge fish. It was a great day! I'm still in Quelimane now an a little sad to be going back to site tomorrow, but I'm hoping now that the holiday's are over people will be back to work and there will be more for me to do.
I've talked to a lot of the volunteers that have been here for a year already and they've been helpful in making me realize that there will always be tough times and days when you just want to go home, but it gets easier and I just need to find a routine. I don't think it's necessarily getting easier just yet, I think I'm just beginning to accept the fact that this isn't always going to be a fun, crazy adventure full of traveling, I'm realizing there will be many times when I want to be done with all this and go home, because I'm homesick, bored, sick of the heat and the food and being culturally sensitive, being worried my things are going to be stollen, irritated that I don't get cell phone service in my house, or a variety of other things that make life here extremely difficult, but no one said it would be easy and I will appreciate the luxuries of home that much more in two years when I get back! Going out in to my community is usually helpful in curing my "poor me" attitude. I feel a bit ridiculous for feeling sorry for myself when I look around and see how difficult so many others have it! It seems so unfair that I for some reason was born in America and get to return in 2 years and the children in my village will likely spend their whole lives there. It really is a privelage for me to be here and I try to keep reminding myself it will get easier, I will be better, stronger person when I get back, I am accomplishing a huge life goal, and it's not like there's a job waiting back home for me! I am going to set up my house and decorate so it feels more home-y and start looking forward for family and friends that are coming to visit.
ok..this is getting lengthy and I feel it's a bit jumbled. Stay tuned, more to come!