Out of Order

That’s how I have felt lately. Just completely out of order, not available for much else besides focussing on settling into our new home for the next two years. I can’t remember what I last blogged about and I failed to check before starting this post, so please forgive me if I reiterate.

Actually, I think I’ll skip most of the past month. So much has happened. I have undergone some sort of cultural immersion shock or something. I feel different. I’ve been disappointed and frustrated on many an occasion to the point of teary eyes… not tears, just swelling of the eyes. Then I remind myself that everything is going to end up being okay and I’ll feel comfortable, fabulous, and grateful again. But dangit, the past few weeks have been tough, so I’ll just skip writing about it all since having it written for everyone to see probably wouldn’t really make me feel very good anyway.

After some struggling, we finally moved into our house last Thursday night, just 3 days before the first day of classes, which I had to attend given that I am now a teacher. Which is also a strange feeling. Our door was quite unsafe and our toilet doesn’t work, among other not so major issues, but my school has been very supportive since the first day of class (not beforehand, mind you, because they were still on vacation) and everything is now on track to be fixed. The door is now secure.

Our village is beautiful. It’s called Atiri and it’s on top of a hill where we can see the Mount Elgon mountain range and good old Tororo Rock (the landmark of the main town in our district). At first I was wary of living on a compound. The idea of having at least another 10 people, but usually closer to 15 able to peer into my windows, the interior of which would make my walking around in my scandalous leggings and a tank top visible, was not so appealing to me at first. But all is well and I love my neighbors. I just close the curtains when I put on tight things that cover my legs. Aaron is gone with our neighboring volunteer friend for a workshop. They work at primary schools and primary school teacher colleges. I work at a secondary school, so I had to attend a different workshop. So, I’ve had food that I just can’t finish before it spoils, and I’ve been sharing with the old woman who lives next to us. She’s always very grateful and she shares it with her great grandchildren who live with her. Her daughter and grandboys fill my jerrycans. I pay them, of course, because it’s no small task. There’s no way I could walk that far with what ends up being probably 50 lbs of water. And some of her grandchildren work on our house as we find problems. I burned trash for the first time yesterday, unfortunately. It’s the way it must be done for now. I’d like to dig a pit but we don’t have a shovel yet. So, they were able to get some amusement from my scattering about with my several piles of litter, looking a little frightened yet energetic while I tried to find the perfect spot to burn. They eventually came over and helped me get the fire started.

Let me go back in time a little. On January 17th we were sworn in as official volunteers. We had a short ceremony at the U.S. Ambassador’s house, which was swank by the way. Lucky fellow. He’s a pretty cool person from what I can tell too. It was a nice feeling to be official at last. Oh, that week I was also nominated as one of two board members in our group on the Volunteer Action Committee. So, I’m a voice of the people. It’s my job to make sure that any concerns, issues, recommendations of the volunteers in our group are heard by Peace Corps administration. I’m honored to be on the committee because, as I’ve told our group already, I love them and I want them to feel supported. That’s actually a feeling that I believe must be lacking in PC – to feel well supported. I’m married and have already felt all alone on the PC end, as though no one thinks that our struggles during the all too brief settling in period and beginning of school are worth addressing. But somehow we manage through those feelings.

Well, I actually need to hurry back home. I’m at our friend’s house, a 30 minute bike ride away. He has power at his place so I needed to charge our electronics and write this blog post. A boda boda (motorcycle) driver is meeting me in Atiri to drop off some groceries I called on him to buy and drop off. It is rather difficult for us to get to the main town where they have supermarkets, a large open produce market and other dukas, so I have the number of this reliable boda driver to help us. We pay him a small fee for gas and the effort.

Oh, I forgot to tell you what I’m teaching. English Literature, Math, and Computers.

My photos won’t upload fast enough. Maybe later.

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6 comments

  1. herrera_laurene@hotmail.com

    Robin- You are SO fabulous!! You are an adventurous, brilliant woman. Most of all you inspire me.

    Love,
    Laurene

  2. Good work Robin!!! Thank you for the update!!! – Kris

  3. LIlly

    I can’t even begin to imagine the full spectrum of emotions you and Aaron feel, and the extreme circumstances there in Atiri and surrounding areas, but what I can imagine for sure is your kind, loving and positive soul that has always been what we, your friends have admired about you always, and still continue to do so! You can move mountains Robin, I mean mountains! Love you and please continue blogging your experiences…
    -Lil.

  4. Leilani Adams

    I would like to echo Lilly’s sentiments that you are an admirable friend. Try your best not feel lonely because you can think about all the friends you’re making, and you know that you can come back any time you want. So, you’re there because you *want* to be there. And you should be there because not everyone has the patience, kindness, and compassion that you have for others, so it remains your fate, I guess 🙂 You and Aaron are doing good work, and you must remember that when you reach the sunset of your life, you will look back at all your experiences, and I know this one will make you proud.

    I love you guys soooo much. And Disco says, “woof,” which means that he just wants the ball. But I’m sure he’s saying hello to you, too.

  5. i empathize with so much of this! we were really thrown into india with very little help or guidance, and i too found myself with teary eyes many days as i tried to figure out basic things, like where to buy food and water, and how to wash our clothes. and clearly your situation is more challenging than mine! big hugs- it will get better, if it hasn’t already (and it sounds like it has, at least a little). you are doing such good work!

  6. Awesome post! I was a volunteer in El Salvador 2010-2012, and your stories are more than a little bit similar to some of my own!

    I’m working for an international development organization called D-Prize now (d-prize.org). We’d like to start funding innovative Peace Corps projects that use proven solutions to fight poverty. I was a finalist in the last round of the D-prize competition, and I think it is an awesome opportunity for PCVs.

    Please check out our web page. Maybe our grants fit with some of your projects! If you could put me in contact with one of your VAC representatives, I’d love to send out more information.
    Jesse@d-prize.org

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