Well, in the words of Ringo: “I got blisters on my fingers!” However, it is not due to incessant drum playing.; it’s from hand washing clothes for the first time. I’m thinking of investing in rubber gloves so my knuckles don’t get put through the wringer like that again. I know, terrible pun.
As you may have guessed, I am officially in my new home! I am no longer living with a host family, and it is definitely great to have some freedom back. I can cook my own meals (mostly eggs and potatoes), and can lay around my living room and have a glass of wine whenever I want (although I have yet to do this). It’s been about three years since I’ve had my own place and the first night I was here, I literally paced back and forth for awhile until I finally decided to just sit on my couch and watch an episode of Roseanne. It was maybe the most surreal experience thus far in my Peace Corps life.
The place is fantastic; it’s a duplex with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and a brand new bathroom. I have hot water 24/7 and Peace Corps issued me a gas stove to use while I am here. Of course, no place is without its drawbacks: 1) My internet is nowhere near as fast as it could be were I not nestled in other homes and trees 2) Same issue with my cell phone 3) No heat; I haven’t had to deal with that issue yet, but I assume it to be an issue in the coming months 4) My refrigerator freezes EVERYTHING (but I am thankful to have a refrigerator, nonetheless) and 5) No washing machine. My experience in washing my clothes has gone in stages. When I was living with my first host family, I had access to a standard front-load automatic washing machine and a line to dry my clothes. My second host family has an old soviet style washer that basically will spin the clothes for you; you must wring them out by hand and of course, line dry. Now I have a large plastic bin to wash my clothes in by hand and again, lines to dry. The act itself isn’t so bad, but the forming of blisters on my knuckles is moderately painful. Regardless of these drawbacks, I have to say that I very much love this place. I know that I am far from roughing it here in my urban village. Plus the yard has apple trees, an apricot trees, grape vines, and other plant life that I hope to tend when the time is right. I’m assured by my landlord that he will clean up the yard (there are various branches and other debris of the same sphere right now keeping it from its splendor) soon.
|My beautiful new bathroom|
|Did I mention that my refrigerator freezes EVERYTHING?|
On the work front, I am also starting to settle in and find my place in the organization. I have two organizations that I work with: a youth club located in a neighboring village, (which I must walk about 20 minutes down the mountainside to get to) and an NGO located about a five minute walk away. In both organizations, I am primarily working with one other person, both of whom have pretty great English skills. Tomorrow I will start a basic computer class for the kids in the youth club. I have about six classes planned where we will cover basic computer navigation and knowledge and also delve into Microsoft Word. I am super nervous, as I’ve never taught a class before. However, I am very thankful to have a translator there who is excited to help. Next on the agenda I’m hoping to begin teaching a Leadership and Management class to the kids. I have not yet however, begun lesson plans.
In my NGO, we are starting up clubs of various kinds: English, Computer, Literature, Journalism, and Volunteering and Civil Development. Admittedly, I am a bit nervous about the number of clubs that are forming all at once, but if there is one thing I’ve learned in the four months in Armenia it is: just roll with it. So. We’ll see how it all turns out. Additionally, I am planning a Strategic Management/Vision workshop with some other volunteers whose organizations can also benefit from this type of training. I am really excited to get the ball rolling on this project which we will hopefully have planned by November.
Other than these things, I am still terribly missing everyone back home. My best friend, Dena is getting MARRIED this weekend! My heart breaks every time I think about my not being in attendance, but I am so unbelievably happy for the both of them that it really is bittersweet. I will instead be at a wine festival, toasting to their long-lived happiness from afar.
I have to say that at the four month mark, I am extremely busy and have a million and one things to keep me occupied, and my list seems to keep growing. I am so glad to have finally begun to settle in and really know where my place is. My next big step is to get through winter. I can only hope that I am well enough prepared. Here’s to trying!