Friday, August 28, 2009

Talk about Conference...

Peace Corps! You are ruining my street cred with this "let's have a conference in a resort!" Next time we should hold it in the bush with malaria and some caimans. Better yet, let's go to the Middle East or the Congo. Resorts just allow friends at home to ask questions like, "just what kind of work are you doing down there."

But I am joking, because having a conference at Lake Mainstay had huge an positive effects on my attitude towards volunteering and getting involved with the HIV/AIDS programs here in Guyana.

[To clarify: the word "resort" is used very losely down here in Guyana. There are 5 star, 4 star, 3 star, 2 star, 1 star, and a benab on the beach with sea turtles. Lake Mainstay is like staying in a low budget summer camp cabin. We have things like akooshi ants, pink toed tarantulas, bats, and field mice running around our cabin at night (another good reason to have a mosquito net). So, while staying at this resort for the average American may seem like a novelty, "camp-like" vacation, for us Peace Corps Volunteers it was like a week at the Ritz Carlton.

Trust me people, if you were at the same conference I was, you'd laugh at the size of my eyes. This is because perception is a funny thing. When living in a house without running water, eradic electricity, a bathroom outside, and holes in your floor and ceiling, a place called "Lake Mainstay Resort" is a beautiful, beautiful place to spend a week.]

the skinny:
Two person cabins with a/c and a fridge. Food that made me want seconds. A lake to swim in whenever we weren't learning something about about development. Oh yea, and lots of partying and trivial pursuit.

Yes, it was an all around smashing week on the Essequibo coast (my old stomping grounds from training) for a decent handful of PCVs. Peace Corps put on a three day workshop about behavior change and HIV/AIDS and we spent our time switching the brain on and off and off and on (depending on which part was for party and which part was for retention). Happy PCVs make efficient and productive PCVs and with sarcasm aside, I wonder if Washington knows this. Washington? Can you hear me, Major Tom?

By the way, David Bowie used to hang out with John Lennon a lot, they even co-wrote a record together (thanks Trivial Pursuit!).

Since the conference, I have spent the week's end at my friends', Beth and Eyal, house. There was a surprise birthday party last night where PCV Tim from Akawini (ah-ka-weenie) fell into a trench and came out looking like monster from the black lagoon. Xbox was in full effect with lots of Halo and lots of yelling and lots of tea-bagging threats. There was fresh ground and brewed coffee direct from San Francisco. Beth and Eyal are Berkeley, CA raised... total Jatheist (Atheist Jew) with a touch of the crunchy, granola, hippie that only a West Coaster can embody. It was a great weekend because I made new strides towards my goal of worrying less and living more.

Not to delve too deep (hah hah), but I've more than come to understand that when I return home I am going to view American life differently. Being here is empowering for me in a lot of ways, and I suppose for a great while I will view things (e.g. a small handful of complaining, middle-class, Americans) quite differently. I have been put in my place many times here and it has done me some good and also scared the shit out of me. In addition, my tolerance for all things sub-standard to the American middle class (save Internet and a/c) has been obliterated and replaced with a new appreciation for making leisurely decisions based on "funness" and not necessarily on amenities, convenience, or hygiene. We PCVs are dirty, dirty people. Oh and by the way, sitting through 2 hours of traffic to get to the beach in LA is a freaking joke to me, now... as is worrying where to sleep when visiting a friend, cause I can sleep pretty much anywhere now (trenches are really unsanitary, so I would never willfully sleep there).
Whether for better or for worse, I am changing rapidly. I am shedding some things I have been doing for many many years. I am learning to be less and less concerned with what others think. I may come back a cynic and an asshole, but I'll still have a sense of humor (most important). But, those of you who know me know that I won't let myself get too jaded; I'll probably just say I am and argue it for the sake of arguing.

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