Monday, September 26, 2011

He does exist!!!

This one was written on September 19th 2011:

Toucan Sam is alive and living with his adorable family right in the middle of rural Panama. He is a bit less colorful in person, and he was too shy to talk to me. But it was still nice to finally see him!

Ok… so it wasn’t a cartoon toucan, it was a real life toucan, which I think is cooler! They’re pretty rare, and today I saw about 4 of them! I nearly fell out of the hammock in excitement. True story.

Speaking of awesome animals… there is a surprising shortage of stereotypical “tropical” animals here. I have yet to see a monkey. I have seen sloths, but not here in my community (I’m sure that part of this is a lack of going out on walks to the more remote foresty areas where they are more likely to be found… but I’ve been busy). I have, however, had the full tropical bug experience.

Speaking of the bugs… they’re gross. I have seen spiders that look like they could eat me. I wish I were kidding. The first enormous spider experience was enough to last me the rest of my two years. I was innocently minding my own business getting ready to shower… when I grabbed my towel, and felt something. I then heard a “plop” and looked down to see a spider only ever so slightly smaller than my hand darting underneath my table. To say I shrieked is a bit of an understatement. I was scared to touch my towel for the next week… (Hell, who am I kidding… it still frightens me a bit). Then, yesterday, I was chillin’ (quite literally, since the water is about the only cold thing here) in the shower… when I looked up. (I’m noticing a trend here… spiders like to pester me when I’m showering or preparing to shower; either spiders are pervs or the universe is trying to tell me to shower less. I hope it’s the former.) I saw the most colorful spider I’ve seen thus far… but she was still huge. It was about the size of the palm of my hand, with long spindly legs, a green and white body… she was weird looking. Grossed out yet?

Speaking of showering… we don’t have water. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me to shower less! It’s always a bit amusing to me when it is pouring down the kind of rain I had only dreamt of before coming here, the sort of rain that makes it so you can barely see the road 10 yards in front of your house, and yet you turn on the tap and it’s dry. Then the lights will go out, just to make life that much more exciting.

Speaking of rain… do you have any idea how hard it is to get clothes to dry in this country?!? Thankfully, I have access to a washing machine. However, these are different here. You, for one, have to babysit them as closely as a toddler, because the agitator part is separate from the part that spins out the water, AND it doesn’t rinse. So, essentially doing laundry is an exercise in constantly switching clothing back and forth between different compartments of the lavadora and the sink, before finally hanging them out to dry during the few hours of sunshine we have this time of year. There’s nothing like having to sprint down the hill from the school with an umbrella in hand, trying valiantly and yet failing to keep you dry, to rescue one’s laundry from the oncoming Panamanian downpour.

Speaking of the school… I was informed of the potential for another super awesome project there today. Apparently IPACOOP, the Panamanian government agency that deals with cooperatives, wants the school here in my community to form a student cooperative. The profesora mentioned this to me today, commenting that she had no idea what they could make. My suggestion? Bread. If we get to follow through with this, it would mean the construction of an awesome wood-burning oven at the school (which would be a rockin’ pilot project for the potential construction of other ovens here! Woo!)! It would also provide my school with an opportunity to raise funds to do more, and better, activities! It would also mean that I would get to teach them how to make bread! I may also, in the future, get to teach them how to make everything from healthier baked goods like whole wheat bread, to very unhealthy stuff like chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and cake! I’m just a little bit excited about this, if you can’t tell. Maybe we’ll get that far, maybe not. Maybe we’ll only make bread… but either way, I’m stoked!

Speaking of things that I’m excited about… I can hardly wait for our meeting on Wednesday! You can tell you’re in need for some quality time in the city when you have dreams about having a reason to actually do your hair. Yep. That happened. Last night I actually dreamt about straightening my hair. I was really excited about it too. Yes, I’m aware that’s really sad.

Speaking of things that are really sad… I’m thinking about going to sleep. It’s only 7:45 PM here. Yeah… I feel like Panama has almost officially converted me into an old lady. I say crazy things that no one understands, wear my hair in a bun, walk ridiculously slowly (so as not to fall in the mud… since the mud here is clay and more slippery than ice in my opinion), I’m always cold (even when it’s 75 degrees), and go to bed before 9. All I need is to pick up some knitting needles in the city. Actually, that’s not a bad idea… at least it’d give me something to do (and it’d give me a weapon to wield against the enormous bugs, or the bats that like to fly through my room at 2 AM, since I have yet to build up the courage to buy myself a machete. A note on machetes, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but they’re the multi-tool of Panama. Sorta like a Swiss Army knife… only without all the other nifty tools. People use them to open cans, cut their grass, chop down small trees, kill stuff… you name it. I, however, am much more likely to take off my own leg with a machete than do any of the aforementioned things with one. They’re harder to handle than you’d think.).

Well.. the our electricity just went out for real… I guess now I don’t have to feel quite as pathetic going to bed at 8 (since it gets dark here at 7)! Yay!
Buenas noches.  

Another one bites the dust…

This one was written on September 17th 2011:

Two host families down, one to go!

This morning I moved into the house of my third and final host family. I cannot begin to describe how happy this makes me. But I’m going to try to anyway.

I feel like skipping up and down the dirt road that runs through my town… while singing… probably with my hair braided into pigtails… like a small child.

This is not meant to imply that my host families are not wonderful people. They have accepted me into their homes, put up with my weird “American-ness”, fed me, tolerated me, coddled me, and helped me feel at home in a place that is pretty much the polar opposite of my actual home.

However, I am (and this is no news flash if you know me at all) fiercely independent. I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. My parents like to tell this story about how my first two-syllable word was “myself” because I wanted to do everything by, and for, myself. Therefore, I am ill-suited to host family life.

I look forward to the day when I can cook whatever weird American food I want to (even if it is in fact Thai food… it is still dubbed American food here, just because I’m American and I’m cooking it… funny how that happens), not eat rice for days at a time if I don’t want to, wake up at 8:30 on a day off without people thinking I’m ill, and be able to read in my hammock all afternoon when it’s pouring rain without being thought weird. I’m getting used to being weird though…

The reading thing confuses people. (Mrs. Fjosne, the coolest high school librarian in the history of ever, this next bit should make you happy) I have probably read more here than at most other times in my life; which is saying something if you know anything of my college experience. I’m currently working on reading The Alchemist in Spanish. Yes. I am reading a book in Spanish… and I even understand most of it! Yay progress! People here, however, do not read for the sake of reading. They always ask if I’m studying. When the response is no, they look at me like I misunderstood the question, because there’s a book in my hand, so obviously I’m studying.

In happier news, I have officially won myself some real-life Panamanian street cred.

The other day my host family had to leave town for the day. This meant I would be **GASP** alone for the day. They were in a tizzy trying to find out what they would do with me. Who would cook for me? Who would keep me company? Who would make sure I didn’t accidentally glue my face to the floor?!??!? I tried not to laugh while patiently explaining that I had, in fact, lived for a long time independently in the States… which included cooking my own food without burning down the building, or giving myself food poisoning. They thought that was a riot. Ultimately I got them to listen to me, and just let me do my thing that day. I bought my own groceries. I made bread (I cannot tell you how much I miss being able to buy decent bread. It simply does not exist here.). I also made American-style chicken and rice. Then I went pasearing around the community with the maestra for a few hours. All in a days’ work for a Peace Corps Volunteer (not to shatter your illusions about Peace Corps, but a lot of our days are not glamorous. Not that I would have it any other way!)

When I got back home I was shocked to find that they had come home early. They were shocked by the fact that not only was I still alive, but there was bread and “arroz con pollo a la Kati” (Oh, yeah, they call me Kati here. Not Kaitlin, Kait, or Kaiti. Kati. The name Kaitlin confounds almost everyone, Katie doesn’t exist either, and therefore neither does my version of it. So, they call me Kati… pronounced Cat-ee). They were as skeptical to try the food as they were shocked I had made it; “You made arroz con pollo, huh? Why isn’t it the right color? What are these pieces of green stuff? Why does it smell like garlic?” However, the next day found them not only asking me to teach them to make the rice, but also astonished by the awesomeness of the cinnamon-swirl bread. (Not to toot my own horn, but in my experience my homemade bread trounces the best Panamanian bread I’ve had. My mommy taught me well… toot toot.) Score one for the foreign chick! These are both inexplicably huge victories here… especially the rice thing. These people know their rice! I’m glad I get to broaden their horizons occasionally. J

Also exciting, I have my first real life official friend here in the community! She’s the profesora that I help teach English with. She’s 26, and totally rad. It’s nice to have someone to girl talk with, even if it has to happen in Spanish, or very basic English. She’s already taught me some awesome phrases to tell some muchacho to buzz off. It’s amazing the difference that just one person like that in the community makes in one’s quality of life. That said, I don’t think I realized just how close we were until the students and teachers went on vacation for a week. It was a long week. Thankfully, everyone gets back tomorrow!

Another bit of exciting news, we have our first regional meeting this Wednesday. Basically, this means that not only do I get to go into the city and enjoy having internet and hot water, I also get to see all my amigos working here in the Azuero, and meet awesome new amigos also working in the Azuero that I haven’t yet gotten to meet! So exciting! Of course we’ll be working too… I’ll be trying to get my school internet, and work on coffee co-op stuff, among other things… but it’s also a bit like a working vacation for my brain!

Finally, I think I may have decided where I want to live… I’m just trying to decide whether or not I want a roommate… But, the bright side is that I no longer feel like I’ll be homeless after my home-stays are over! Yay!

The final bright note to leave off this whole jumbled mess of a blog post; I got called a Pitalozana the other day (I said something about the mosquitoes all biting me ‘cuz I’m new meat that they all want to conocer, and they shook their heads at me disapprovingly and said that I’m not new meat, I’m Pitalozana). I also got asked for directions by a Panamanian woman. I think this means I have officially upgraded from someone who must be a clueless tourist, to someone who at least in theory belongs here. Double yay!!

Now if only the mosquitoes would listen to that and leave me the hell alone…

Friday, August 26, 2011

I have this theory…

This one was written on August 26, 2011.

I’ve come to a realization (well, a number of them really, but for now we’ll stick to this one in particular). Think of the word development.

What do you picture? Did you imagine a linear upward economic movement in which the people involved are swept upwards in a tide of economic changes, increased personal wealth, more swag (aka, technology), more free time, better health… and so forth? There was a time when I did.

I can speak now from personal experience that this is not the case. At all.

“Development” is much more like a tree. Yes, I’m going all poetical here for a minute. It starts out simply moving upwards linearly, but it has now started splaying out in a bunch of different directions like the branches of a really big tree.

For example, practically everyone in my community has a cell phone. However, most of these same people who walk down the road texting on their phone do not have refrigerators in their houses. A lot of people have either a shiny TV, or a kickin’ stereo system… but no indoor plumbing. They have washing machines for their clothes… but no consistent access to health care (or dental care). They have facebook accounts… but no access to internet (always mystifying to me). Some people have very shiny and well maintained cars… but there’s no paved road (and no gas station… something that would make me nervous!).

It’s like all of those things, the material crap especially, inhabit different branches. There is no set order in which people get access to certain goods and services (not that I am in any way arguing that there should be, that’d just be ludicrous).

I find it fascinating.

Often when we think of development I feel like we first think of things like paved roads, aqueducts for water, electricity, technology… But are these things any good if there is no groundwork laid within the community to insure their sustainability? If you give a school in the middle of the mountains a room full of shiny computers, but none of the teachers really know how to use them… is that sustainable? If you give a community an aqueduct, but don’t teach them how to maintain it… will it last? All too often, people think that any little improvement within a community is forward motion towards the goal that is “development”. I don’t agree (Thankfully, neither does Peace Corps. As an anthropologist, I’m actually very happy with their grassroots approach to the whole thing.). I would argue that instead of it being forward progress, sometimes it is just a parallel branch in development. And that branch has every chance of dead-ending if there is no support for it within the community, or the knowledge to maintain it is not passed on to the people. And that, boys and girls, is a waste of everyone’s time. It leaves everyone either frustrated, or with unrealistic expectations. Bad news.
Like I said above, PC doesn’t go about it that way (thank god). Instead, it’s about slowly laying groundwork by teaching people either how to do things for themselves, or find the recourses that they need to be able to learn how to do things for themselves. It’s much more about helping the communities to reach their fullest potential the way that they see it. Not the way that we see it. Not only that, it’s also about helping them stay in that place once they’ve reached it. I think one of the hardest things for us as volunteers is that sometimes we can’t see the effects of our work (especially those of us in my group… it’s hard to see a lot of progress when your focus is environmental education). As Americans, we’re generally goal driven. We are predisposed to want to work hard, and see results. If there are no results to see, clearly we’ve messed up somewhere. That’s not how our jobs here work. Our boss always tells us that it’s like we’re spreading seeds. We may be fortunate enough to see some of them grow up into actual, visible, plants before we leave… we may not. 

However, just because we cannot see the results of our work immediately (or maybe ever, if we leave before the “plants” appear), it doesn’t mean that our work is any less real or valuable.

Ok, that’s enough of my philosophical musings for one day.

I can’t believe that I’ve already almost been living in my site for 2 months. So strange. Today, also, marks the 4 month anniversary of the last time I saw my home. If feels both like it’s been years, and like it’s only been a few weeks. I miss my friends and family like it’s been years. I feel like enough things have come to pass that it’s been years. However, it also doesn’t feel like it’s been that long… I can’t describe it.

On the note of my Spanish… I feel like I’m finally nearly conversational. This was spurred by the moment of realization that I had following my English class today… the kiddos were being SUPER loud, and I was getting sick of trying to describe how to say the word “blonde” over and over. So, I broke out the teacher voice, and yelled at them in Spanish. SUCCESS! I didn’t even have to think about what I was saying, there were hardly any awkward pauses… just the teacher voice, in Spanish.

In exciting news, I think I get to have a mental health day in the regional capital this weekend. So excited! I miss the city, and grocery stores, and my fellow PCVs, and hot water. Hopefully in the very near future, I’ll be getting all of those things in my life for a day!

With that, I think the rain has finally decided to stop, which means that it’s time for me to go to the store (hardly a store really, more like 1/4th of a typical convenience store really… not sure if I’ve mentioned that before… but I probably have. It irks me.) and buy a duro. What is a duro you may ask? It is a Panamanian otter pop. Which is to say that it is some sort of fruit, or vaguely fruit flavored, concoction that is poured into a small plastic bag and then frozen. They cost a dime, and have the miraculous ability to totally improve one’s day. 

Entonces… me voy. Hasta luego muchachos!

There’s a reason why it’s called “The Mosquito Coast”.

I am a human mosquito bite.

I ran out of repellent (not a huge loss, as I HATE the stuff). I forgot to buy some in the city that didn’t smell like death….

Also, I changed houses and this one has a reeeeeeally high ceiling. Which usually I’d love. But when I need to hang a mosquito net? Sorta sucks. And, of course, I’m too silly and stubborn to just ask the family to help me (yet), since they all think mosquito nets are funny, and that I’m a huge princess for needing/wanting one.
Additionally, you know you live in the campo, and that you’re hopelessly bored, when your idea of a fun diversion is going to the next town over for a catholic religious ceremony thing (and you’re not catholic… like… at all.) The best part? The ride there and the ride back. I still can’t get over how beautiful the commute to my site is. There I was, on my way to La Mesa, standing in the back of this truck that I can only describe as a cattle truck (sans cattle, or cattle remnants, thankfully), clinging to the bars with about 20 community members, watching as we pass green forested mountains, bird of paradise flowers, bright red hibiscus, plumeria, and about a zillion palm trees. Pretty much kicks ass. The only thing better than that, was the ride b ack. We finally had a (very) rare cloudless evening, and I got to see the stars (which due to the lack of major cities or even minor towns in most of the area, are crazy bright) the whole way home.

Upon getting back to my newest host family’s casa, I was plunged into helping the ladies prep some “maize nuevo” for a food that I can’t remember the name of. Needless to say, it was fried (if I haven’t mentioned it before Panamanians love to fry anything, anytime, anywhere… Sometimes I feel like it’s a nation of “Paula Deen”s). Although, I must admit, it was delicious! They are masters of corn in this country. I guess the best way to describe it is that they do with corn what we do with wheat. Or maybe potatoes… I just know that I eat corn in forms I never dream of in the states on a daily basis; tortillas (not the one’s you’re thinking of… unless you have eaten Panamanian tortillas, that is), empanadas, bollos (not my favorite incarnation of the wondrous product that is maize… it’s basically a tamale, that someone forgot to put the interesting bits into… yum.), then whatever I had tonight… I really need to wear a tape recorder around my neck to catch all of the new phrases and words that I either don’t fully hear, don’t remember, or can’t pronounce so my brain pretends they never happened.

In work related news (even though I guess just living here is my job, so that’s all work related news… even the basura I just typed about the food… I love my job) my English students are doing an amazing job. The change in them from the time I started working with them (less than 2 weeks ago) until now is astonishing. It almost made me get misty eyed (yeah, I know, me? Cry? Never…) because I was so proud of them.
In mind blowing news… in just a few more days I will reach my four month anniversary of the last time I saw my home and my family. I miss them. The homesickness hits in waves. It ebbs, then when you least expect it, some sadistic rogue wave takes you out at the knees. I’ll be innocently going about my day….  teaching English or something, and then someone will ask me a question about some American slang, and I’ll have a flashback of a friend using that same phrase… Or I’ll be reading my book on the porch, and my host sister will ask me how I manage to survive this far away, because she can hardly survive sometimes and she only lives a 4 hour bus ride away. My job may completely and totally kick ass 95% of the time… but let me tell you, that other 5% is hard. The type of hard I couldn’t really imagine before I’d experienced it for myself. I told someone once that to comprehend the sort of hard I am talking about here, imagine you’ve just had your worst day at your job. Got it? Ok. Now, I want you to imagine that it’s swelteringly hot, the humidity is about 90%, your friends (with the exception of fellow PCVs of course) and family all live thousands of miles away from you (and calling them to whine is pretty dang expensive), the food is all strange (fried beef jerky with white rice again? Why not?), your entire body (even the soles of your feet) is covered with mosquito bites (yes, I realize I’m dwelling a lot on the mosquito bites in this post, but you would too if you were me right now!!!!), you can’t have a cold beer (or really any alcohol for that matter, either because you aren’t allowed or because it isn’t available to buy… or it won’t be cold because you don’t have refrigeration), and you can’t really communicate with anyone around you because they all speak a language that you can only comprehend on the level of a small child (at best)…. then a cockroach flies in through the gap in between the wall and ceiling and nearly lands on your face. And there you have a bad day as a PCV. However, like I said, those days are the exception, not the rule (and even they are not all “bad”, there’s always something positive that comes out of them, I feel like I learn more about myself on those days sometimes than on 10 of the good ones put together). 

That said, there has never been one day when I have regretted my decision to do exactly what I am doing with my life at this point. There’s been a few times when I’ve doubted whether or not I could actually “hack” it. I’d be lying if I said that I’d never considered going back to the states. Although, those considerations (with the exception of my first night ever in my site, which was the lowest of the low points) generally lasted about 0.25 seconds each at most.
 I wrote this one on August 19th

On the days when I’m feeling like the lowest of the low, I try to imagine what I’d be doing if I weren’t here. I’d probably be working in some job that I didn’t really care about… just trying to survive until I came up with a better plan. Instead? I get to live here. The people in my community are unfailingly wonderful, sweet, generous, and almost always hilarious. The children in my community are the cutest ever, and I will fight to the pain anyone who says differently. The teachers at the school are badasses of multitasking in a way that would shame many a teacher back in the good ole U.S. of A. (don’t send me hate mail, I’m not saying this about any teachers  in specific back home… just generalizing. Besides, they all have to teach every subject to their students who range in age by an average of about 3 years, and they teach English… a language few of them actually speak. And they have severely limited resources. If you think teachers in the states have it tough, you should come watch these ladies in action. You’d be awed, I know I almost constantly am.)

And that, ladies and gents, is all I have time for today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You know you’re homesick when…

I wrote this one on July 13th 2011:

You get all choked up while describing a dream you had about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to you mother over the phone.

No, I’m not kidding… This has happened to me now. And yes, I am aware that this sounds totally pathetic.

Do I care? Notsomuch. I would almost give up chapstick in exchange for peanut butter (which if you know me at all, you know is very serious business indeed). I would almost maim for decent bread. These are the joys of life in the campo. Not that my life isn’t also awesome! There’s just also definitely moments where I would love to be able to teleport back to the States for a few minutes. One good thing about life in the campo? You learn just how little you need to survive, and keep some semblance of your sanity. The only things I need to survive at this point in my life? Rice, beans, hot sauce, any vegetable (even the ones I loathed in the States are instantly the BEST thing ever here), any fruit, peanut butter, crackers/cookies/other way to eat peanut butter (since my old standby of an apple is just NOT in the cards in this place, they do have them in the city but they make the apples in the states seem like manna from Heaven by comparison and cost a ludicrous amount of my tiny budget) and chocolate (and water and coffee too, I guess, but those are so ubiquitous here they’re hardly worth mentioning).  Oh, and my phone, and books, and my laptop and collection of DVDs. And that’s all I need. Except maybe this thermos... (that one’s for you Mom and Dad).

One important campo lesson that I learned today? Don’t touch the feathery-grub-things…  True, that’s not their actual name. Do I remember their name? No. But, essentially if you picture a large fat grub, and slap on some baby-bird feathers, you’ve got it. Apparently they’re poisonous. My host family, if for no other reason than to scare the ever-living CRAP out of me, went and got gasoline, poured it on two of these little critters and set them ablaze in our yard this evening. Message received. Feathery-grub-things will apparently mess you up, and are dangerous enough to warrant a fiery sendoff.

Other highlights of the day? This morning I got to go to the school and help the English teacher with an activity. She was having a breakfast for the kids, and they had to practice the terms for everything in English. I got to help them. It was SO much fun to get to be the person helping with another language instead of constantly being the person in need of help. Also, I just realized that my host family’s cat (who is gradually beginning to warm up to me, I think that the occasional scraps I throw his way are finally buying his love) looks a bit like Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany’s which is fitting, because this cat is also a no-name slob.

Now I’m going to watch Wall-E, because honestly, what could be a more fitting way for me to feel prepared for teaching a charla (Spanish for a short presentation of sorts) about recycling to the ENTIRE student body of my school tomorrow? Oh yeah, forgot to mention that one, eh? Yeah, my directora (who is also my first host mom, and a total badass) sprung that little piece of news on me the other day. Yep. I’m terrified. It’s one thing to teach a class. It’s another to teach a class when you have the material and resources to draw from. And it’s another thing entirely to do all of that in another language without much of a resource pool to pull info from. I’m sorta flying blind. I have a thumb-drive with all of the “tech” info on it from our trainers, but most of that is WAY over the heads of the kids in my school. So, I got to try to come up with my own little thing… now I just hope that the kiddos can understand it.

Alright, now, please go and take a hot shower, hang out with your friends, watch a sit-com in English, drink a cold beer, call your family and tell them you love them, listen to some Al Green, surf the internet, and eat a big salad and some peanut butter for me (because those are all things in very short supply in my life, and I am now living vicariously through you people, if you’re in the States that is). Oh, and if you didn’t get the thermos thing earlier, go watch the movie The Jerk with Steve Martin. You’ll thank me later.


This is not the update you're looking for.

Don't worry.

I'm still alive!

Everything in my site is wonderful, the teachers are great, the kids are awesome, the people are super nice, the area is gorgeous

Unfortunately, that's all you get for an update for now. I know, I suck at life. You'll forgive me I'm sure. I live in the campo, and I have no internet.

Someday you will get a real update... but for now I have no time to make that happen since I'm only in the city for about another hour.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finally, adulthood!

For the past two months we have been children.

Our time has been planned for us, with every day filled with an agenda decided by Peace Corps. For the most part, we have had little real free time. This is part of training. (Not that I'm really complaining, I don't think there's another way the process could be handled.) However, training is over. Today we become grown-ups again!!!

In 4.5 hours(ish, depending on how long it takes me to write this), we have our swearing in ceremony. We will finally be real life Peace Corps Volunteers! The Panamanian First Lady and the US Ambassador will BOTH be there, and it's the official ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the new Peace Corps Panama office. All in one day!

The sad part? As excited as I am about swear-in, I'm almost more excited to get to go cut loose with people tonight. We are all (the CEC group at least, that is) going to go out and have a nice dinner and then (most likely) go dancing. I even treated myself to a sexy new pair of Panamanian heels for the occasion. I may also get to see a friend of mine before he leaves to go work abroad on cruise ships. Fingers crossed.

Then, the list of plans just keeps getting better, we are going to the beach!!!!!!!!!! We all need a break.

Finally, after all of this is over, I head to my site for good. Which is totally and utterly overwhelming to think about right now. However, when I was on my site visit not too long ago (which I am just realizing I never posted about, whoops, I suck at this game), I found a poem that helped put things into perspective a tiny bit.

By Naomi Shihab Nye
The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Our boss is always telling us that with our work, it will be hard to see concrete results. The curse of environmental work is that results take a long time to see. But, simply by being here, and simply by being who we are and using the skill set that we brought to this country with us, we are making an impact.

I'm ready, terrified, and excited, to finally be starting my job and trying effect some sort of change. Let's see how it turns out.

For now though, for my immediate future? I just want to dance.