i'm officially a peace corps volunteer and i now live at my site with my second host family. so far, i'm one hell of a lucky person. it is quite unreal sometimes. my house in mingechevir is beautiful. my family is very easy to be around, intellectually engaged, nice, giving, patient, and understanding. i have a father who is the head architect of ming and a mother who is a ridiculious cook...and she understands i'm vegetarian. i literally get a salad (a huge one) every nite (with, of course, way too much other foods too). they love fruit. i mean, i ate fresh pineapple last nite. this is a little strange in azerbaijan. i've even had a plate of sauteed greens...woah.
i also have a rather huge room with a heater in it...which is nice because it is starting to get freezing here. yesterday we had our first day of snow. my grandma here is very nice and not pushy, which is a complete luxury. some nenes (grandmas) are infamous for pushing their ideas on you...it is understandable why this might be the case. in general, elders are respected in azerbaijan. so when a woman gets old, it is her moment to voice all her opinions...she is in a very culturally respected position. also, my little brother (11) is just smart and well behaved. i'm lucky. and my bed is more comfortable than any bed i've had in NYC or Colorado.
it is SHOCKING.
but i feel like when i talk about this i'm bragging. i don't mean to at all. it is just so suprising that my quality of life is so high. and i know that my particular situation is not representative of everyone else in az peace corps. i just, i don't know, lucked out? well...at least so far.
i also get to go running whenever i want. these runs are followed by hot showers. can you believe it? i can't. running is funny here...the main obstacle is cows and their poop. i have to make sure to run around cows at a respectable enough distance so as not to scare them and make their herders angry with me. and, i run when the sunrises so the gigantic poop piles are a disaster waiting to happen. my home is at the outskirts of the city, so i can run on dirt roads and go generally unnoticed. however, i'm also often noticed. i run when one of the first school sessions is about to begin so i get stared at by dozens of kids on their way to school. it is uncomfortable, but i keep telling myself that in general this is a positive situation. afterall, if kids get used to seeing a woman exercising in the morning, then this could not be a bad thing, right? and so i carry on...
yesterday i watched clip after clip of bush getting shoes thrown at his head. HILARIOUS...(just a side note).
what else can i say right now? last weekend my site mate (kim) and myself went hiking up in the foothills surrounding ming. it was really enjoyable, but we got stopped by cops who found us suspicious. of course, kim and i weren't doing anything but walking, so the cops let us be...but in general, getting stopped by cops is not desirable. in the end it was funny, but we realize now how easy it is to appear super abnormal. the idea of two people wanting...voluntarily hiking up a dirt road has the appearance of something totally strange. ha
for those who are curious, the following is a list of my sitemates:
nate ----these two are married and are approximately my age. they got married while in pc service. they are a great resource for us newbies are generally very open and helpful
(those two are older volunteers)
so, u can see i'm surrounded by other volunteers. i'm pretty greatful for this. we get together once a week and eat. last weekend was mariko's birthday/temporary goodbye/christmas party and nate baked apple pie. hell yeah. the temporary goodbye aspect of this party is due to mariko's temporary leave. mariko is an az 4 who extended her service in azerbaijan. if a pcv extends service, they must go home for one month between services. that is precisely what she is doing.
i hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying your holidays. i will be traveling a lot (within azerbaijan) at the end of the month. keep in touch