Friday, June 26, 2009

the down times just get crazy

when i say "down time", i mean those few times i'm actually relaxing by myself in my apartment in mingechevir. two funny incidents as of late:

1. bat flew into my room. yeaaaah. i have no idea if it every flew out. it was my fault, i left the windows wide open. BUT it is already about 100 degrees outside, so what's a girl supposed to do? my bed is already surrounded by mosquito net, so i actually decided just to go back to sleep. yes, living in the peace corps lowers one's standards quite a lot. i do think it flew out. i've seen no traces of a bat. also, i haven't been home much sense then, so maybe it will just eat all the creepy insects in my home and then amicably depart. oh, only in a perfect world.

2. so, i was showering and i forgot to lock my front door. it happens. of course all of a sudden construction begins on the apartment either below me or next to me. this creates a sound on my pipes like the whole thing is gonna burst in my face. it took me a minute to realize this was construction and not impending doom. i relaxed and finished my shower. because i live alone, i walked out naked into my hallway. well, a xanim (which is the word for azerbaijani women) knocks on my door and opens it at the same time. i yelled "no no no!!!" (in azeri OF COURSE), but no she doesn't listen. she just comes right on in, smiling, laughing, and preceding to my kitched to check on those very pipes. I continually yelled "go go go!" (in azeri OF COURSE) but she doesn't listen to word i say. i eventually get into her face and say "GO" and she asks "you want me to leave?" lady! you've got to be kidding me here. she left. i locked the door.

3. yesterday i was hanging out at my friends place in sheki. i've been helping with their camp and then lazily enjoying the afternoons. well, all of a sudden i see a baby bird hanging upside down. its leg is caught on something. baby bird saving operation commences! my friend (a tourist from chicago) and i cut the bird down just when it seemed like it was giving up on life. we cut the gnarled hair off of its foot and before you know it, baby bird was running around, flapping its wings, and calling to its parents. hopefully it will learn to really fly. and hopefully we didn't prevent the parents from helping.

ok, thats the end of my three random stories. tonight i'm going camping. whoooopeee

Friday, June 19, 2009

the busy month ahead

like the title of this entry suggests, this coming month will be my busiest thus far. first, i must say this:

THANK YOU to everyone who donated money to the Azerbaijani children's softball league!!! We raised all the funds we asked for. This means that softball in Azerbaijan will be capable of continuing for another year, despite the fact our funder ditched us at the last moment.

Speaking of softball, we have our first major tournament tomorrow. Teams from different cities including Barda, Sheki, and Ganja are coming here (Mingechevir) in order to compete. I will post pictures as soon as I can.

Other reasons why I am busy this month: I have to go to Baku again for an Environmental Committee meeting. I hope to start a community garden project this fall...
Next week I will be in Sheki helping with a summer camp for a couple of days. It will be nice to get into the mountains where it is cooler. Volunteers in other regions keep telling me it is hotter in my city than theirs...the bastards! Sheki is in the mountains, so I'd be shocked if it didn't get a bit nicer.

Then there is an all volunteer camp out! whoo hoo...

July 4th my city is hosting a huge event. It was supposed to celebrate the birth of one of my sitemates, Cindy, but she had to leave back for the United States. We in Mingechevir are NOT happy about this, but Cindy was ready to go. Technically, she fully completed her service. Cindy, you will be missed! Now, for the first time ever, I have a reason to visit Nebraska.

I just got a project from my organization that must be completed by mid July. This project is exactly the kind of work I want to do, but I just found out about it yesterday. So, I already agreed to a lot of traveling and other volunteer work before taking this on as well. Whoops. But the project is as follows: two half day (sorta, more like 5-6 hours at a time. yikes) trainings for farmers in two different cities (Barda and Mingechevir) regarding basic business skills like bookkeeping, business writing, inventory, etc. Oh, and it should be in the Azerbaijani language....yeaaaaaaah. I guess I need to start practicing that again. Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

history of philosophy, professor chaz

mathias, meredith (pc director, azerbaijan) us ambassador to az, jeremy, and ME

azerbaijan vs. wales world cup qualifier

triathlon, ambassador, gazpacho

june is proving to be a very busy month. last weekend i went to baku to compete in a triathlon with my fellow pcv, jeremy. on our team was also the only azerbaijani competing in the whole triathlon, nadir from the british embassy. i ran, jeremy swam, and nadir biked. i'm rather proud of my time considering the the was one gigantic hill and the wind was a force to fight against. i only ran three miles, but i ran them in 24:31. not bad for me :) i think jeremy and i will participate again next year, but i hope to find a third pcv for the biking. the strange part of the event, however, is how insulated it was from real azerbaijan. almost everyone participating was either an american, european, or south african working for BP. so, without even trying, my teammates and i got an inside look into the BP (British Petroleum) community within Azerbaijan. the BPers were very friendly with was just strange to see entirely American community intact within a very non American place.

i didn't say this before, but my triathlon weekend was my best in baku since being here. other reasons why this was the case: i got to spend a lot of time with a friend i never see, jeremy. also, jeremy has a contact in the american embassy and we got to stay with his friend while being in Baku. Just so happens that this friend, Selim, went to my same elementary school and grew up in walking distance from me. small world! Selim is an amazing contact to have (great guy) and we get to reminsce about teachers from 5th grade. Also, because jeremy and i stayed with selim we got to know a lot of other embassy workers as well. we even went to a bbq at the ambassador's home! i got a tour of her house (her husband gave the tour) because there is an Arts in the Embassy's program and a gallery inside the house. I had told our PC Program Director that I am a painter and so she asked the ambassador's husband if he would give us a tour (which was very thoughtful on our director's part). The craziest part about it was that all the paintings and photos inside are of Maryland and DC. I felt like i was in the twilight zone.

also good was all the free food from the bbq :)

what else? THEN we went to a Wales vs. Azerbaijan World Cup Qualifier. This was interesting for a number of reasons, but foremost because my friends and I were some of the only women there. I was watching the game when all of a sudden I realized we were the only women in an absolute see of men. No problems arose, it was just incredibly weird.

Wales won.

Lastly, i'm perfecting my gazpacho cooking skills. A little off topic, I know, but I'm really excited about the prospect. Now all I need to find is some decent vinegar!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

another exploded lotus

$$ Grant !!

I received my first grant. Thanks to the opportunity my sitemate Bev gave me, I was able to complete a grant she started. We will receive a little over $3,000. The grant will be used to purchase new computers and equipment for the Mingechevir Women's Computer Center and Lab. I will be working hard this summer with the MWCCL's trainers to make sure they are up to speed with all the equipment they will be receiving.

Also, I'd like to thank all the kind people out there who donated money to Azerbaijan's Softball League through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP). Donations of this kind are really amazing to observe...the money goes directly from you to the programs. No skimming off the top and PCVs can be trusted to get the biggest bang for your buck.