Thursday, June 14, 2012

Home Sweet Home

It was a long trip, but a week later i'm sitting at my brother's place snuggling with his dog drinking a good beer eating chipotle after a small shopping spree, a pedicure, and a haircut. Didn't used to enjoy these things so much but now, It feels pretty gosh darn good. I'm not a fan of materialism, but today, i drink to America! CHEERS!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


It feels surreal to be home, like everything has changed yet is still pretty much the same. I'm afraid that I'll slide back into my usual lazy bad habits if I dont get out of NJ soon.

I've been keeping a mental list of everything that is weird and different to me. I'm not going to post them now cause the first thing on my list is how pervasive technology is here and I want to keep my computer time to a minimum, less I get sucked in. 

I went for a run this morning at 6 and watched the New Jersey deer come out for their breakfast. The first time I saw one I panicked and that it was a Botswana dog. A large Botswana dog...

The travel home was chaotic, but peppered with lots of friendly people. On the flight to Dubai, a man had a seizure so we had to stop in  Dar Es Salaam for a while. Dar Es Salaam is cursed in my opinion. As they were refueling, they found something wrong with the fuel nozzle and we got stuck there for over 3 hours. Just enough to make us 30 minutes late for our connecting flight to JFK. 3 PCV's eager to return home from 2 years abroad landed in Dubai at 3:30 in the morning and were told that they wouldn't be able to go home together. Lucie, Paco, and I had to split up at a moment's notice. I was to leave in 3 hours, Lucie in over 20 or so hours, and Paco had to find the quickest way back to New Mexico so he could catch his sister before she left. I entered the Dubai airport alone, tired, and confused, only to be confronted with an airport crowd of people from all different cultures and nations all with smart phones and ipads taking photos of each other and the airport, speaking language that i could not understand or speak. I was so frightened, I couldn't buy anything or consume anything. I had a panic attack and wandered around looking for a phonecard so I could call home and panic out loud to someone. 3 hours passed in such a fashion.

My layover in Madrid was eventful. I got sent to the ticketing desk for Emirates Airline to check on my luggage, which meant i had to leave the airport and come back in. The lady said that the luggage attached to my ticket had different numbers, but that they would organize some way of making sure it gets on the plane. She confirmed with the folks downstairs and told me, it's all good. So I went back into the airport only to be stopped by security for the 2 bottles of amarula I bought for my brother. They took it. I cried some more. I went to the airport, got to my gate, and was selected for a "special security check." they made it sound like i had won the lottery. For a second there i thought, "Oh god! finally something good has happened!" then i realized what it ACTUALLY was, and i started laughing, then crying onto the shoulder of the lady next to me. 

At JFK, "my" baggage arrived. That is to say, 2 bags arrived with my name on them, but they were not my bags. They are coming today, I'm told. I'm really hoping everything is safe and sound and happy. 

I miss Botswana. I do. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

That's Why it's Called a "Cross" Stitch

One of our volunteers, Patti Koenig, went home early for medical
reasons. Right after she went home, she sent me box full of art
supplies and cross stitching kits for the school. I have to admit,
when I got the box, I thought, "What the heck am I going to do with
this?" Nearly a dozen cross stitching kits from cross-stitch christmas
cards to cross-stitch miniature rugs to cross stitch pillows.
Nonetheless, I brought the box of goodies to the school and showed
them to our practicals teacher who got excited. "You can come and
teach the kids!" she said after I mistakenly told her I used to do
these kits myself when I was little.

Months went by and the bag of goodies lay untouched locked in the
office file cabinet. I just as much assumed that the bag was
re-appropriated for other purposes. Last week, as I informed my
friends and coworkers that I would be leaving soon, Mma Wabobi said,
"When are you going to come in and do the cross stitching? Let's do it
next week... Thursday."

So after a bit of hesitation and months of procrastinating, I showed
up at the school unprepared and 20 years rusty in my cross stitching

I'm not the world's best teacher. In fact, I'm not a teacher. (I use
that excuse a lot here when teachers ask me to cover their classes for
them). Into the library came 22 students and moseyed 8 teachers.
Little kids talking, chatting, crowding around me until I was bent
backwards over a table, big teachers talking, chatting, chewing gum,
and playing with their cell phones. We had around a dozen little cross
stitching kits of various ability. I decided to split the kids into
groups of 2 and start with the simple patterns.

I scavenged needles from every packet until I had 12 little needles,
then started the "demonstration" consulting the paper and looking
pleadingly at the teachers for help along the way. Finally, we sat the
kids down and gave them 1 piece of cloth, 2 pieces of thread, and....
needles? My needles were gone, and as I looked over the teachers,
gathered in the corner, for help I realized what had happened. As soon
as I removed the needles from the packet, the teachers scooped them up
and were practicing stitching on their own. HEY!!!

Once settled with their cross stitching patterns, one of the teachers
wisely told them to practice stitching in a line, forget the patterns.
I wandered around the class patting kids on the back, encouraging
those who had succeeded to try something new, and demonstrating the
"cross stitch" to kids who covered their faces out of embarassment at
the attention. One girl finally "got it" and I reached to pat her on
the back and she ducked out of the way, smacked her head on the table,
and then laughed at herself. She though I was going to hit her.
Corporal punishment is not uncommon here.

All in all, a lesson I had looked to with dread turned out to be quite
fun. The kids enjoyed themselves, some even started to stitch little
patterns into the cloth, look up at me expectantly, than squeal when I
told them they did a good job. As annoyed as I am with those kids who
like to visit me at home and never leave, overall, I'm probably going
to miss the little buggers. I have had opportunities here that I would
never have had at home, and I owe my thanks to the amazing teachers at
K'Joe for that.