Well, I just got back yesterday from a 4.5 day visit to the village where I'll be living for the next two years come August! I was lucky, as I'm in Maritime, I didn't have far to travel to my post but others, like those in Savannes had a total of 4 days travel, just for a day up at post!
When I got out of the car, I had drummers pounding away, women dancing, singing, and a plate of spaghetti with a glass of cold, very sweet red wine waiting my arrival. My homologue, the middle school principal, Lucas, his homologue and I all sat down to to eat, as appraising stares made sure that we ate enough. Having finished, we headed back outside where the dancing and drumming was still going on. I won the approval of many by joining in in the dancing and shaking my booty. I figure I'm going to make a fool of myself no matter what over the course of the two years, so I can do it with a smile and dancing or sour-faced. I chose dancing :)
Then I had the introductions of many community members- many of whom I've already forgotten the name of. After all that excitement, I was finally given some time to settle in (and pee! I had to pee since before I got out of the car!)
Caitlin, the current volunteer arrived back into town about mid-day and from there she showed me around. It was nice to see her perspective on the town, what places are important to her and what her life is like there. She also showed me some of the prettiest views in village.
She will be leaving in mid-September which gives us a few weeks of overlap which is nice.
I'll be living in a different house than she had, but while she was in town we were able to cook together (spaghetti with local cheese, basil and tomatoes and french toast with pineapple topping!) Which was really nice.
Also, she has the best gift to leave me when she goes- a puppy!
One of these lovely puppies will be my own. I loved getting to play with them during post visit. The are such cuties!
When we move in for real, Peace Corps gives us a “settling in allowance” which is pretty sizable chunk of change to help us set up and pay for lots of initial costs like furniture and household items. However, we don't get that money until after swear-in. Because of that, I couldn't afford a gas stove right now (costs about 40 USD) and instead I cooked on a charcoal stove (costs about 5 USD) for the two days that Caitlin wasn't there!
|My backyard and temporary kitchen|
I joined the waterfront staff at Glen Spey, not in small part of avoid doing camp cookouts. I am awful at cooking over a fire, and more than one of my cookouts ended in me sneaking into the camp kitchen to steal away granola bars for my campers. So it was no small miracle that I was able to do pretty well on my charcoal stove. One day I made a sort of stir fry with rice, pineapple and soy which is sold around town. Another day I had tomatoes, onions and lentils. There weren't the most spectacular meals I've ever made, but they were decent and hot which was enough.
|From left to right: My shower, my bucket flush toilet, me, and dinner.|
On my last full day, I stopped by the school to sit in on the “conseil de classe” which happens at the end of each term and each student is discussed. It being the end of the year, a major topic of concern was who would pass on to the next level, and who would be held back. The meeting was called for 8am, I was told by an English teacher to be there at 8:30, all the other teachers were there at 10:30 and the principal showed up and we started around 11. The meeting went until 2, at which point we ate lunch together, finally ending everything around 2:30/ 3pm. It was a good insight into how things might go for the next year.
There are 12 teachers at the school, including tow other English teachers. The school doesn't have many resources- including things like toilets. Or latrines. Guys just pee where ever, and girls go into the nearby field. I'm the only female teacher. Can you understand why I was desperate to leave the 6 hour meeting? Other than the lack of bathrooms, the school seems fine. There's a teachers' paillote (straw hut) in the middle and then class rooms surrounding it in a U shape.
|Basketball is played with real baskets here.|
I had a really great post visit, and I'm glad to have a little insight into where I'll be living for two years!