Monday, October 19, 2015

20 EC In My Pocket

I decided to remake a Macklemore song for this post "I'm gonna to eat potatoes. Only got 20 EC in my pocket. I-I-I'm broke, looking for more coins. This in not that awesome."

Epic weekend, lot's of ups and downs, but that's the PC life! Plus now I get to experience the opposite of a potato famine since that's all I can afford or stomach. My Irish roots are in heaven. At least, currently in the internet closet, I get to stare at this gigantic lizard out the window. When I asked what type of lizard it was, my teacher friend said, "Oh you know it's just a common every day lizard." Good enough explanation for me!

Now to the main purpose of this post: I asked if I could share my friend Shelby's blog because I love her latest post, not loving that she's experiencing some of the same lows I feel. What I love is how well Shelby writes about what we all go through in the EC. Yeah you could say hey it could be worse or you could be squatting over a latrine in Rwanda but it's still a big challenge and adjustment for all Peace Corps Volunteers. Posh Corps or not!

Without further ado here's Shelby's blog: enjoy! Shell Shell

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

If Anna is April, Then I Guess I'm Ron

Shoutout to one of my favorite fellow volunteers (I like y'all but let's be real), Anna, and her post on how she's become more of an "April Ludgate" than the "Leslie Knope" since flying from Miami to the Caribbean over four months ago. Read it here: ANNA BANANA

Since Anna and I have the same sense of humor and get along so well, sidenote her style scores way more points than me, we decided it made perfect sense that I've become the "Ron Swanson" of the EC. This is a tangent, but I'm really happy that Anna and I have stayed friends (other volunteers too) even though we aren't in the same country anymore :( I didn't realize how tough it was going to be to have the uniqueness of our particular post. With four countries under one post, it makes it far more difficult to see your friends from PST so take that Africa. We here in the EC have it rough too!

As a Peace Corps Trainee, green to the reality of life as a PCV,  I identified with Mr. G from Summer Heights High. Now as a Volunteer things have taken a turn towards the Swanson.

Disclaimer this is meant to just be funny, I'm actually a good and nice teacher- watch me teach one day, kids think I'm like Miss Honey from Matilda... no lie

First thoughts upon waking:

Breakfast (lunch and dinner too):

How I look after handing out stickers to the kids at the end of a lesson:

How I feel when the kids don't listen to me:

When someone asks if I'm ready to teach a class:

When I say no a million times (another disclaimer: I would never hit anyone, ever):

After four months of insomnia and loose stools (TMI):

How I used to live in the US, sigh:

How I feel when we run out of cookies at a training session:

How I look when I treat myself to a rum raisin cone:

When I reminisce about my love of the USA:

I would kill for a QT fountain diet coke right now. 69 cents!

But on the plus side we have good + cheap rum:

When I think about SVG Volunteers coming to visit Grenada:

And finally my thoughts as I attempt to sleep at night:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Things I miss about the USofA

Preface: My life was pretty rad back in the States but I like adventure and travel so now I'm in Grenada. Plus I'm just kind of an idiot when it comes to making a life plan. Plus side it's gorgeous here, has supermarkets that play X-mas music in October, and an abundance of breadfruit.

Alas, I still miss my country for the following:

1. My rollerblades- the odds of me just walking in the streets and getting hit by a) a speeding van and b) a coconut are pretty high. Add in hairpin turns and volcanic hills to the mix and you're just asking for disaster. So Elise if you're reading this, my cat-loving friend, no I have not found a place to shred in Grenada. And yes my soul dies a little each day. 
Epitome of "cool"

2. GREENVILLE and the people in it! Blergh...Fall for Greenville was this past weekend and while I dove headfirst into my own personal Woody Harleson fantasy that is True Detective this weekend it still did not hold a candle to all the fun I've had in Fall (Down) Greenvilles of years past. Although, my liver thanks me this year.

3. CLEMSON- sure Clemson pick this year, the one year since 2010 that I'm out of the country for the whole season to make this the year we win the National Championship again. I'll just go to Court's and sit in the mock living room to view you while the sales associates continue to ask me to leave. I will not leave as long as you are providing free air conditioning #bestbuywannabe

4. Mis Amigos- I had some awesome people come into my life over the past four years of living in Greenville and man I miss them. COME VISIT!

5. Waffle House- In recent US news a customer just straight up shot a potential robber at a Waffle House. Enough said.

6. Swamp Donkeys and Swamp Rabbit Trail- one of these swampy creatures was good for my health and the other nearly caused every escapade of most of my Friday nights over the past year plus. I guess I just really miss being outside past 7 pm! Hiking, biking, shredding, walking, running, and who am I kidding pretty much just dining al fresco all the damn time. UJ patio :( I can go outside here and go snorkel before Clemson kickoff, but there's nothing like being outside in SC and NC all year round. Remember when I could watch movies in the park, go to beer festival, $1 beer nights, free yoga, and genuinely just live outdoors. Sigh. 

7. SOUTH CAROLINA- you win South. I'm converted, I love you, and I'm coming to stay in 2017.

It's rad here too, don't get me wrong, just a different type of rad I'm starting to get used to...Yeah I just used rad four, make it five, times in this post. Bringing it back!

Friday, October 9, 2015

The toughest job you'll ever love

Happy 4 months EC87! Here are a few thoughts on the cycle of vulnerability & adjustment that is being a PCV:

The path that was ahead of us four months ago when we landed in St Lucia was an exciting one. One where every bus ride brought another new surprise and host mom brought a new way to cook a dasheen. Peace Corps likes to label this as the 'honeymoon' phase. And it was. I can't begin to tell you how many pictures of St Lucian and Grenadian sheep I took during the first two months. I came here, having idolized and idealized what this Peace Corps life would be like. I had these ideas of grandeur, of adventure, backpacking, being the 'cool' Peace Corps Volunteer who had been there, done that, and lived every awesome experience you could possibly imagine. Some of those ideas of grandeur have been fulfilled but looking back over the past four months has been a lot like the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities: " It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

In reality, as a PCV you willingly subject yourself to certain things, 'extremes,' on a daily basis. A lot of these will be physical. You will have insomnia. You will get sick. At first, a full night's sleep will seem impossible. This will change over time, but can (and will) revert to deprivation at the drop of a hat. You will sweat. LOTS of sweat. You will cry. You will gain weight. You will lose it. Your hair will reach new levels of frizziness. Your legs will always itch. You will bump your head getting off the bus, every damn time. And these are just the physical changes that will happen.

The mental effects for me have been the toughest part. For all intents and purposes, you will feel more alone than you have ever been, felt, or dreamt of being in your entire life. Sure, you will be a 'member of your community,' insofar as a 20-something foreigner with a very limited understanding of their cultural norms can integrate into a community which is physically and emotionally homogeneous. You Will Cry. A Lot. Especially if this Mango thing asks you to dance at the grocery store:
Do what the mango says.

Let me repeat it again: You will cry, you will want to curl up in your empty bed and dream for the 'American' things in life (Chipolte). You will want somebody to hold you, to just wrap their arms around you and pull you into them. There will be days when you feel like you are empty inside.
This is what dreams are made of.

Talking with friends and family in the States helps. But you'll get this nagging feeling in the back of your mind that, for as much as they can say they understand, and as much as you'd love them to be able to, they cannot. What I've found is that my students and teachers here have made me the happiest. You can build up fantastic relationships with your community members. You can get to know them pretty well, and you can confide in them and become really good friends with them. But in the end, they still cannot fully understand what you're going through 100%.  
Thanks for this one Kate.

In the end, the logical place to turn to aid your emotional well-being is your fellow Volunteer. But, just like everything, it is not that simple. Yes, these people understand what you deal with on a day-to-day basis. They were there during the 11-weeks of Pre-Service Training. However, they are obviously dealing with their own problems and establishing their new lives. Thank God for EC 86 and EC 87 though!!

Peace Corps service is all about these extremes. As dark as it is, perhaps even masochistic on many levels, this is why we signed up, right? We tell ourselves we are here for some noble purpose, that we are not here to find ourselves but to lose ourselves. To change who we are at the very core. Make no mistake; Peace Corps will change you, even in just four months, hopefully for the better. But this is not for the faint of heart or the weak-willed. What I've found is that you have to allow the bad things to either roll off your back or limit their expression to the privacy of your own home all while actively seeking the positive things (the reasons we came here in the first place) and allowing them to seep in. 

Peace Corps Service is a rollercoaster. There will be ups. There will be downs. But at least in the end you'll get to say, "Wow, what a ride!'