Someone asked me today, "If you could describe your time here in 2 words so far, what would they be?" Those two words change daily, and probably change through out the day also. Today I said, "Surreal...and dusty." Here's my attempt at giving you a few more words. Sorry if it is long.
First off, the dust is unbelievable. When we arrived, there was a dust storm. I think it was our "welcome present." You can clean the same place over and over and it's still there. I've used a white rag, and it results in being black when I'm finished. I constantly feel like I have a layer of dust on me...luckily our showers are now both clean and working! (Just don't open your mouth in the shower! - the water is another story in itself.)
A lot of us here have talked, and we all agree that it's hard to know what to write to you about or share. The first few days are such a blur, but luckily I'm a journal-er. There are so many aspects of this place that words and pictures cannot capture or do justice. I know this will be a sad attempt, but here's my best:
When we landed into K-town, I truly felt like I walked off the plane onto a movie set. The landing set the stage for sure. I've never been nervous in a landing, but trying to land between all the mountains is quite an accomplishment. We're pretty sure our pilot was a rookie (if you catch my drift). I wish it were appropriate to quote some of the contractors' quotes during our landing. I'll leave your imaginations to work on that. Anyways, the airport. It was a little choatic, but definitely not as bad as it was cracked up to be. People try to get you to pay them for helping you with your luggage, but for the first trip I did that on my own. Don't get me wrong, I had to ward off a few little men from helping. I had some determination in my voice or maybe it's my height, but they left me alone...a few others weren't so lucky. We had to walk to the parking lot a little ways from the airport building itself. It was a dusty/interesting walk - to say the least. You pass by money changers yelling in English to get your "Doll Errs." A few guards sitting in lawn chairs holding some heavy artil*ery. We passed many women and children who just hang out and watch as people come and go. They were just staring. I tried smiling at a few of the kids. Nothing was reciprocated - I'm an Amer*can. They have feelings, emotions, and opinions about me.
We got all of our luggage! This is an accomplishment. :) We began our dusty drive to "home." I barely said a word to anyone in our truck. I just needed to be able to take in as much as I could. The traffic is...crazy. People just walk in front of the car, lines in the road are up to the driver's discretion, animals are in the street...if you think the car can't fit in a space to pass another car, you have to check to make sure. My doubts were proven wrong in this regard many times. But, we made it to the c*pound ("home"). We were taken to our house, which is new to the "home" this year. Our house is big. So much bigger than our little house in Nashville. It's a little awkward in some regards, but we are so thankful for it. I'll try to load some pictures of the inside of it. It's very brown and tan. When we arrived we had a bed and a wardrobe. By day two we aquired a couch and two chairs. We then later found a table to borrow, and a refrigerator! Now we just need some color in our place.
We've been to a few different grocery stores and a mall type area. I picked up a few chadars (scarves) to use as wall decorations until we get some other options. Milk comes in a box, and you don't have to refrigerate it until after you open. This is hard to get used to. You can find way more soaps and shampoos than I imagined...they're just really expensive. There is a store where you can find all things plastic (and so many odds and ends). It's hard shopping without knowing basic language skills. I'm trying to pick up on as much as I can. I made flash cards. My confidence is growing in that way, but I'm eager to take lessons. We're in the process of figuring that out.
In one of the mall areas we went to, another teacher and I went to the second level. As we got to the top of the steps, a few older women stopped right in front of us. They smiled and just got really close and stared. I greeted them with my shaky D*ri and went through the traditional series of greetings. They responded, smiled, patted us both on the shoulder and rubbed our shoulder. They walked off laughing and kept turning around smiling. It is odd to feel like the animal at a petting zoo or simply being stared at in a zoo. I'm trying to take everything in, but that is one of the hardest things to get used to. ...There were a few hard things to witness with some children begging there (and how that was handled by guards and police), but that could be a whole other blog entry.
Some other random things I'm trying to get used to:
1. Brushing my teeth with a waterbottle
2. Making sure I don't get water in my mouth in the shower
3. Chapped lips
4. oh, and REMEMBERING MY SCARF!
On another note...We met a family here, two tea*hers and thier two kids, who have been such a blessing to us. I will have one of their children in my class. They had us to their house (off the "home") for dinner and to play wii. LH has some interesting connections with their family...it's a really small world. But, they have been so great and welcoming. They have been a great example of how community should live together. She brought me chicken noodle soup and gatorade when I was sick. (Oh, yea...dust, altitude, and playing volleyball without enough water can lead to dehydration and throwing up. it's lovely.) Anyways, they've been more than helpful to us, and we're so grateful for them.
My favorite thing I've done so far would have to have been playing volleyball. There's a DUSTY field that we set a net up in. I played with other expats and some of the national staff. For most of the time I was on a team with all national staff. It was such a nice way to start building relationships, although I'm sure I was the crazy Amer*can yelling weird things whenever the ball was coming (some habits are hard to break, thanks TNU). It truly made me feel so much more comfortable here..and it just felt good to play something I'm so familiar with doing.
Sorry for the ramblings, and we're trying to get more pictures up. It's a very slow process with the internet here. Our internet has gone out multiple times. So I tried to upload some pictures on here, but it's the wrong time of day. I'll try late tonight.