I spent New Years at a beach with a third of my group and some other PCVs. The beach was pretty crowded so we had to sleep two to a bed (if one was lucky enough to get a bed) with no air conditioning or fans. We had some amazing garlic fish. When I found a large green worm on my broccoli I decided I was done with my meal. I was still pretty weak from Dengue so I took a nap up until about midnight. We celebrated it in the fancy hotel room of the Youth Development boss who happened to be at the same beach. I headed to bed early and found out the next morning a friend's phone and camera had been stolen while they were dancing. We decided to head back to the capital a day early. It was interesting watching my interaction with other volunteers in the hostel compared to those volunteers (newbies) in my group. Even the volunteers that are standoffish to new volunteers had seen me so much and heard about my random issues that they had at some level realized I wasn't going anywhere and am not really new to them. Also, being in the Estancia for so long made it really feel like my home. Certainly the closest thing I have had to a home for a while. I acted like all the other volunteers: chillin' on the couches like I live there, talking with other volunteers with a level of familiarity because I have hung out with them so much. Acting as the tour guide with tons of info about where to eat, what to do at different places, which buses to take, etc..
. was amusing to share with the people in my group. Along with all my interactions with volunteers I certainly got intimate knowledge of the gossip of our volunteer community. Something I hope not to contribute to. I was finally medically cleared and was able to go back to John's site. That morning however I discovered I have some internal vermiculture going on (I have worms). I decided I had to get out of the capital and get some things straitened out with my stuff (I left quickly when I got Dengue and left a mountain of clothes I needed to wash). I also knew I had to return in about 5 days for follow up doctors appointment for my knee so I figured I would be back soon enough.
I got to John's site to a mountain of laundry. I took time to reorganize and rid myself of some unnecessary stuff to make my Peace Corps vagabond life a bit easier. After some confusing and frustrating conversations with my boss and the country director, it was decided that I will have a site by the middle of the next week. The volunteer's room that I was crashing in (mostly just keeping my stuff in) has been totally awesome with the situation. He knows I felt totally horrible about kicking him out of his bed but he keeps saying how he loves sleeping in the hammock and it gives him an excuse to. I was able to finally listen to my harder music, which I wasn't able to listen to the day I had with my stuff before Dengue because the headache I had was too strong to listen to anything harder than Enya
. It has been pretty nice and I got to stay there for 5 nights before I had to leave again. Being sick, homeless and dealing with people who have power over me but little understanding of my safety or sanity has been a challenge but I have learned to acquire a tolerance for it and am looking forward to having a place to call home (for longer than a few nights). I learned also that the volunteer that received a death threat right after Christmas, in the northern part of the Morazan department went to check out my old site (in southern Morazan) as a possible new site and will be moving there this week.
My first day back in the capital for my knee checkup and worms I had my first real incident with a gang. I was riding on the bus when two guys in their early 20s jumped over the counting bar in the front to get out of paying. I knew they were either friends of the driver or gang members. From watching how they interacted with the driver I could tell they weren't friends. They stood at the front of the bus and started talking to the bus (not an uncommon thing here). There was one guy that walked along the left and one walked along the right. I was the first person on the left side and saw that the women on the right infront of me were pulling out money for the guys without question. I started digging in my pockets and the first coin I could find when he came back to me was a nickel
. He was fine with that and moved to the back of the bus. Thankfully I had heard about this sort of thing from one of the staff members so I knew to just go with it. One of the first things we were taught is to carry extra money in our pockets for gang members or pushy beggars. My day wasn't all bad. I got to take my first hot shower since September of last year. That evening a group of us went to the movies and I got a chemical burn in my lungs and throat from the heavy chemicals used to clean the bathroom. I ended up loosing my voice and getting severe cold like symptoms from it. The good thing is that a new site has been found for me and I will be able to move there later this week. It is in the most eastern part of the country right next to a large lagoon. There is a large school there and they are interested in staring a recycling program. I think I will enjoy Environmental Education more than Agroforestry. I have a feeling once I get back into the campo I will be able to sleep and take time to heal and rejuvenate my immune system. For whatever reason my time being sick and homeless has made me more enthusiastic about Peace Corps and I am more motivated to be here and live this life than ever.
So, my Dengue eventually ended and my platelets reached a reasonable level. I continued my knee treatments that offered me a nice time to read but little relief of my pain. It is suppose to take a couple of months to fully recover from Dengue but I have two years so I am not too worried about it. Spent Christmas at the Estancia (the hostel). I was a little bummed being alone and it is the dry season so it doesn't feel like x-mas, so I baked some cookies and decided to have a great Christmas day regardless when a volunteer, whose town is living in a shelter because of the volcanic eruption in the rainy season, showed up and we watched too many hours of Mr. Bean. Some more volunteers showed up and enjoyed the cookies I made. I was beginning to get my ability to taste food again so I was pretty happy about that. I began making good friends with many of the 'older' PCVs (peace corps volunteers) and learned a lot about the PCV community and life as a volunteer. I was able to make some pretty interesting observations that I think will help me with my time here