Well, I and my roommate finally made it to our home for the next 10 months, after a long adventure yesterday. The driver who originally agreed to drive us never showed up at the training site, and the taxi we chartered popped a tire on the road. We finally hitched a ride with a UN vehicle, and after a very long, very bumpy, somewhat muddy ride, made it to town.
Today, we unloaded our things at our house – and what a house it is! 3 bedrooms and a kitchen, and a dining/living room, and a bathroom with a toilet! There is no running water (the toilet must be flushed with a bucket), and for the moment no electricity, but the previous volunteer left all of her furniture so the house is completely furnished. There is even a gas burner for cooking, and pots and pans and dishes. And the house was wired for electricity, so all we need to do is buy a generator. Luxury!
For the most part, I am still incredibly happy to be here and excited to get to work. I am also glad to have the amenities of a big town and a big house. We can buy pretty much everything we need and many things we want in town (except maybe coffee -- and the fruit and vegetable selection is mostly limited to oranges, bananas, cassava greens, and potato greens). There have been some moments of frustration – like when all of the people on the compound gathered to watch and laugh as I and my roommate attempted to haul heavy buckets of water from the pump to our house. But, in general, I am happy with my living situation. I'll find out about the work situation very soon – school starts next week, but teacher and student workshops will be taking place starting tomorrow, so I really just jump right into things.
I feel as though my brain is too full of new information right now to write cohesively, so I'm just going to list a few of the things that I've noticed or that have crossed my mind with the end of training and my first day at site:
- They treat dogs well here. The Peace Corps volunteer who has been living in this town for the past 5 months told us that she thinks this is because they are often used for hunting in this region. In any case, it is nice to see, as I think that is rare in developing countries.
- White people are unusual here, but not that unusual. There have been a lot of international aid organizations around over the past few years. So, while we are certainly noticable, we are not the center of as much attention and harassment as we were in the rural parts of Kenya (though this comparison is not completely fair, as I am in a much more urban area now than I was in Kenya).
- Meat is kind of scary here, mostly because it is stringy and full of bones and often unidentifiable. Last night we went to eat at a restaurant when it was already dark out, and were given a big bowl of mystery meat with rice. And today when we went out to eat, we were given what we were told would be “cow meat,” which ended up being fish. I wouldn't mind so much the not knowing what I am eating, except that people eat monkey. We saw a man today walking one on a string past the restaurant where we were eating. Apparently they also eat many other types of “bush meat” -- deer, porcupine, rat, ground squirrel, etc. I think for the most part I'll try to avoid meat, less for the mystery factor and more just because it is hard to eat and not very tasty here.
- The principal of my school seems like a really awesome person. When the driver who was supposed to take us to site flaked out on us, he organized the taxi to take us. And then when the taxi got a flat tire, he sent us on with the UN vehicle. And when I went to visit the school today, so I would know where to go tomorrow, he was there, on a Sunday afternoon, preparing materials for the teacher trainings tomorrow. All in all, he seems like a really giving and committed man, and I am looking forward to working with him.