Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Be it Ever So Crumbled: It's Life Jim

(Kris Aquino is the hostess of the incredibly popular Filipino gameshow "Deal or No Deal". I couldn't pick her out of a line-up)

So after roughly 2 months of consecutive travel, here I am, back at site. Actually, i've been back for roughly 2 weeks now, i'm just a slow poke at updating.

I'm happy to report that Guimaras has changed while I was away. About three weeks ago two internet cafes just opened up here - that's right, not one but two! The connection isn't much, but the closest cafe is 10-15 minutes from my house, which easily beats the hour and a half it takes to get to the city. There are virtually no landline telephones on Guimaras, which is why it's taken so long to get internet here. But thanks to the beauty of cell towers, there is now a wireless service being offered here. If I felt really rich, i could actually get wireless on my laptop for $20/month, but as that's 1/8th of my monthly salary, I don't feel quite that rich.

But wait, it gets better! Just beside one of said internet cafes, there is a cafe now offering some very decent brewed coffee. If I haven't posted on this before - finding brewed coffee, let alone decent coffee, is all but impossible here. There are plentiful coffee beans produced in this country, and the vast majority of them are bought up by nestle, who converts them into "nescafe" instant coffee - which is what everyone in this country drinks. Now, in fairness, it's probably the best instant coffee I've ever had the displeasure of drinking, but the best pink wine in the world is still pink wine, and I have been missing decent coffee dearly.

I've had trouble readjusting to life back at site, but things are looking up. I met with my peace corps regional manager and my supervisor yesterday about potential projects, and the results are very promising. It also built my confidence up... sometimes i feel that things are progressing so slowly that I haven't been doing much of value. But when we had to discuss my activities at the center in our meeting, it really didn't sound like I had been slacking half as much as I felt I had been.

For the first time i really feel like I have my supervisors support to pursue projects. My existing baby of a project is also progressing - we conducted our 2nd Lifeskills training yesterday. It went exceedingly well and my counterpart in that is eager to do another. In fact the 3rd was supposed to happen today, but I had to cancel for another meeting with my regional manager. Maybe before the weekend though.

I've got a girlfriend now. Have I mentioned that before? The lovely, sweet Filipina who was my date for new years. Her name is no secret, but I'm not entirely sure she's want me to write it here, so I'll abstain. All you have to know is that she's incredibly sweet and her english is excellent. She lives far away from me, so we haven't gotten together very frequently, but I think that will change in the near future. I hope!

As if all that isn't enough I indulged in something wonderous today: a chilled box of hershey's chocolate milk to commemorate today. "What makes today special?" you might ask. If you did, i would have to tell you that 11 months ago today I left my my home, friends, and family for this crazy rollercoaster that is life in the Peace Corps. The days have been long and the months have flown by.

Of course, no sooner do I find myself readjusting to life at site than I'm off again - to a city well-known to me by now and disliked a little bit more every time I visit: Manila. If you'll recall I'm part of the staff of The Kwan, the quarterly volunteer-written newsletter. We're going to hit up that big city to put this quarter's letter together.

The location is just as well, because I've just been informed that I am now the Peace Corps AIDS rep for Guimaras, and we have a mandatory conference just 2 days after my scheduled Kwan assembly ends. This mandatory conference travel and lodging is all coming out of the pocket of my peace corps allowance - note the frustrated font I write that with. It's the same font I've written everything I with, so it might be hard to pick out, but the frustration is there. Oh well.

The point is, by and large things are going great here and there's every sign that they will only get better. I would have told you that a month ago too but... things progress slowly, what can I say? I hope everyone is enjoying their snow back at home. Just now the weather's graduating from hot to Natlie Portman (extremely hot) and I'm missing the rain that the dry season isn't providing anymore. Long days and pleasant nights everyone,



Caffeinated-Knitwitch said...

Finally I get to see more of your photos!
I have to say I'm incredibly jealous of all the sights your seeing, and the experiences you're having (except the tooth thing, you can keep that). Your girlfriend is adorable ^_^ and it took me a second to realize it was you in the first photo! You look like a million bucks! I'll harass you later, till then ::HUG:: cheers! ^_^

Allan in Europe said...

It's certainly been a roller-coaster here, it's not always easy being away from everyone (or waking up cold in the morning and facing that bucket of cold water you call a shower) but it's certainly packed with experiences. Take care!