Thursday, July 30, 2009

Respite from Heat

It’s as if I haven’t heard wind in years. It’s as if I forgot wind existed. I am an animal for music. I shut out noises and shut in harmony. I tell myself to experiment with sounds. I tell myself I have put myself into myself. But all in all I forgot the feeling of wind. And I especially forgot the sound. Today it stormed for the first time in over half a year. The wind was pink, orange, and red from sand and dirt. It flew up from across Mingechevir village into the apartments closer to the city center. The dirt flew into my kitchen and into my food. It shocked me. I had never felt real wind in Mingechevir. I had never felt wind with any real force. And then rain trailed after in hot pursuit. The temperature dropped 20 F a matter of minutes. My home is cool for the first time in weeks. I should close the windows….they are creating havoc with my things. I should turn off my computer because the electricity is out. But I will not do either. The cool harsh wind is too precious and I must make a witness of something, a computer page.

I turned off the music and painted. I hear kids screaming in the yard. Today they are as loud as ever because the heat is not oppressive. It is the first break from heat we’ve experienced in far too long. And we must scream for it. We must let it know we want it to stay. And I’m content just to listen to the wind pass just as the same thoughts continually pass through my mind.

Sunday, July 26, 2009 Olympic Team

From left to right, Xeno (Bev), Heraclitus (Kim), Pythagoras (Charlie), and Euclid (me). Background on the left, Dr. Horrible (Evan) and background on the right, a Cake Eater (Mariko).


While in Lankaran, I traveled to a couple additional city/villages. This picture is from a very unique site called Lerik. It is difficult to get to and is tucked into the mountainous border separating Azerbaijan from Iran. Overall, the scenery and environment of Azerbaijan that sits right next to Iran is really beautiful and different from the rest of the country. Azerbaijan's flora and fauna is truly diverse. The top of the country (Caucasus mountains) and bottom hardly seem to be part of the same country at all.

Crossing the Tracks to get to the Caspian

summer camp in lankaran....we turned them into tie dye hippies

i'm the one sitting infront

Leyla at Yay Camp

Leyla, one of the camp counselors at Lankaran's summer camps. I taught her how to make friendship bracelets. Who ever said Americans have no common crafts.

Camp Yay (the azeri word for summer) was three weeks long, four days a week, and with approximately 180 kids. It was a huge feat on the part of two Lankaran volunteers, Jackie and Jane. They housed a ton of PCVs who traveled from all over the country to help. I enjoyed my time, but I would of gone nuts if it weren't for our Azerbaijani translators/counselors. Our Azerbaijani counterparts did an amazing job. I forgot what its like to have kids yelling at you constantly for help and affirmation. But, regardless of their impatient urgency and loud noise making, the kids were adorable.
Arts and Crafts week (my summer camp week) activities included: tie dying shirts, making play dough, friendship bracelets, making god's eyes, and potrait drawing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I am a summer slug

hello kind people who actually read my blog. heeeelllo. so, i'm going to be out of town for about 10 days so i won't be able to add to this blog for a little while. tomorrow i'm headed to a city called lankaran. it is one of the southern most cities in all of azerbaijan and therefore very close to the border or iran. there is an ethnic minority there called the Talish who make awesome socks. i've purchased some of said socks for you all....brandi, tal, emily: your socks are in the US and you will get them eventually.

i'm headed to lankaran to help with a summer camp. arts and crafts week! woo hoo. afterwards, i'm visiting a village called imishli. i'm a lucky lady here in azebaijan...i have found some kindred dorky spirits. We have about 5 or so volunteers here right now that are very interested in philosophy. we like to get together for philosopher dinners (sounds pretentious, right?) most of the time people yell at us to stop talking about philosophy or attack us for our interests. however, when we get together for our philosophers' dinner we are protected from attack and get to actually talk to one another. you know, engage in discourse. sadly, some of our philosophy friends are leaving AZ in almost a month. i believe our dinner in imishli will be our last for a while.

so, i'm a slug these days. actually, if i were a real slug i'd of dried up long long ago. it is HOT here. everyday it is at least 100 degrees F. I still sweat at night and in the morning. it is not so pleasant. now, i wake up at about 6am just because i'm hot. ughhhhhh. but, i'm amazed at how adaptable the human body really is. it may not be pleasant, but i'm ok. i'm not in any danger as long as i'm constantly drinking fluids (which is what i do).
right now i'm hardly working. one reason is that i'm still waiting for my grant money to come in. another reason is that my host organization has been slacking on THEIR duties. but the third reason is just the oppressive force of heat. so, i'm just traveling and working at various camps. its not such a bad life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

4th of July in Ming, Part 2: After Party

(BBQ time...looking into the camera, the one and only Amber. Sadly, she'll return to the states all the other AZ 5s.)
(Two of my great friends with me...on the left, Kat, and on the right (my left), my sitemate Kim). AMERIKA

(Kim standing infront of the reservoir just minutes before we decide to jump into the water for the sunset)

The After Party (volunteers only, thank you) took place at Mingechevir's reservoir. It was a perfectly beautiful night and I ate all the s'mores by myself in a corner. I guess it made people mad. I hate to say it, but I have no regrets. Of course, I now have to put up with being known as the "cookie monster" or, really, the "s'more hoarder", but, regrets. Ruthless, right?

Special thanks to the International Red Cross volunteer who gave us and our bbq goods a lift to the reservoir. An extra kudos to her for returning her vehicle to the city center before joining us so as to be sure not to drive drunk. Impressive!

4th of July in Ming, part 1

(Part of a skit performed by Save the Children's Mingechevir, AZ branch. The performance was intended to highlight focusing on children's needs, especially when parents are aloof. In this particular skit the parents were alcoholics and a prostitute. Very 4th of July-esque, don't ya think?)
(Helping us get ready...)

(Elvin helping us with announcements. The man with the mic is an Azeri who is leaving for a year in the States via scholarship funds. Well done Elvin. He will be attending Berea College in Kentucky).

My sitemates and i help a huge event in Ming for the 4th. For about four hours we invited Azerbaijani children and families to participate in a series of games and events. Approximately 80 children came and about 30-40 volunteers (not just from the Peace Corps!) helped. Games/events included: American history, American geography, capture the flag (my game!), m&m relay races, soccer, obstacle courses, dancing, a presentation by Save the Children, and more. It was a lot of work, but surely worth it. Unfortunately, a lot of funding for the event came out of our pockets (Ming volunteers only, for the most part), but overall the event was cheap.
On a personal note, I had about 10 volunteers stay with me. My whole neighborhood was excited about our big American holiday and the influx of visitors. I never felt so strangely famous in my life. I told my neighbors about my many visitors in advance and had no complaints about sound, etc. I love my neighborhood.

kim's new kittens

i'll be a mama to one of these one day soon...

if you think i'm nuts

then check out my friend maria's blog about her experiences in bosnia...

well...i still win the crazy prize, but with the exception of her story about being detained by the serbian police. doesn't sound like fun.