Thursday, September 30, 2010

Waiting Game

My grant is basically finished. I keep postponing a blog about that because I want to take pictures of the room and post them...but I keep forgetting my camera. Hopefully I will get to that tomorrow.
I have 7 weeks left in the Peace Corps. I'm still working and embarking on new projects, but this mostly feels like a waiting game. I'm meeting with teachers and working with them on teaching skills and Mingechevir is now home to a UEFA grassroots soccer team that I will help with beginning tomorrow. This latter project is rather exciting because all the infrastructure for an actual girls team is already in place. All they need is a helper. I would like to add that it is amazing that UEFA has put this program in place. Very impressive.
Right now I am studying for the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer's Test). I will be taking it on Oct. 6 and I really don't know whether or not I've adequately prepared for it. It is isn't one of those tests you can get a lot information on. To study for it I am studying US History, current events, and sometimes I study basic economics. We'll see. It will be good practice nonetheless.
I've also painted about a billion new paintings. I'll put those up soon. But, these last two months are sort of brutal. Generally my group is ready to leave. We feel it. We've been here for over two years now and, well, the time has come. Hence, the waiting game.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

That Super Sad Bear in Shamaxi

I have a video showing the sad living quarters of the sad Shamaxi bear but, alas, it is just barely too large of a file for blogger. I wish I could upload it, but as of this moment I cannot.
Shamaxi is a mountainous area approx. 2 hours outside the capital, Baku. We do have some PCVs serving there. When you are taking a long bus ride from Baku to wherever in the north, you eventually stop for tea somewhere along the way. Often, during the summer, marshrutkas will stop in Shamaxi. A couple of these roadside restaurant areas show off their captured bears. These bears are isolated (one restaurant, one bear) and kept in horrible little cages. They just walk around in circles of their own excrement. I have a video of this, but again I can't upload it just yet. It is heartbreaking.
The second picture has nothing to do with is just amusing. There is a lot of misunderstood English on clothing in Azerbaijan.

My New New New New Apartment

As in, apartment number four. I like this one. I really do. I did not like apartment 1 or apartment number 3, but 4 is a legit place to live. It is my first apartment in the center of the city. It is has one room, one kitchen, one bathroom, hot water, a fridge, and a balcony. All of these things actually work (so far). I've been living in my new place for approx. one week and it has been soothing for the soul (brain/mentality, etc). Around the same time I found my new place the weather cooled down remarkably and not a moment too soon. I was starting to go nuts in the heat. But, it appears that fall is finally upon us in Mingechevir.

I guess if you are following my blog but you are not talking to me personally, some explanation is needed. I lost my previous housing (not because I did not something wrong, but because of being duped) a couple of months ago. I did not find new housing until recently and, as a result, nearly got booted from Peace Corps altogether. I'm not going to get into the details (I don't think I'm permitted to get into the details anyways), but it made for a really horrific month or so of service.
As a consequence of my homelessness, I lived with my sitemate for nearly a month. It was very kind of her to let me in. However, living there was a little rough. She was out of town for a majority of the time, but while I lived there her gas was shut off (limited cooking options) and it was really really hot. Also, I was in the midst of training teachers in regards to my grant and had to work double time to find a new apartment. Finding a place to live Azerbaijan can be a crappy experience. Women, generally, never live alone and do not go into real estate offices alone. I did. Everyday. And i was treated like an oddity because in Azerbaijan what I was doing was, indeed, odd.
You might ask why Peace Corps did not help me find a place. Plainly: The are not required to. The only thing PC is required to do is find me housing with a host family. In other words, if I want to live alone, well then, that is my choice and I have to accept the consequences that go along with it.
Why don't I live with a host family? Well, coming into PC I always knew that living with a host family (ANY host family) would quite possibly be my biggest challenge. I'm 28 and I've lived independently from my parents for a decade. I'm not used to overseers worrying about me and asking me when I'll do everything I do. But most importantly, I don't like people worrying about my whereabouts and schedule. People worrying about me worries me...increases my overall anxiety. I then become the person they want me to be and lose my sense of individuality. My host family was fantastic but they were confused every time I went running at a different time, or didn't want lunch at the exact same time everyday, etc. I guess, with two months left in my service I just wasn't willing to go back to that. Also, I'm engaged. I'm engaged to someone who lives 8 hours away by bus. It is difficult being in a long distance relationship where communications are rough in general. Texting is very expensive and internet is unreliable. I want to live somewhere in which my fiancee can visit me once a month. So, these feelings and desires preventing me from taking the practical route of just living with a family. Maybe this seems crazy or immature to others, but I know my self and my need for independence and therefore, I do not regret living alone and accepting the extra work that goes along with it.
ANYWAYS...some pics of my new place...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

heat...please die down

it is finally approaching the end of my last summer as a pcv and not a moment too soon. the heat is officially making me crazy. i look forward to a day where i don't sweat while i'm eating and sleeping. i also hope for the night i can sleep without fear of the dreaded mosquitoes.
right now life isn't the easiest. i have to find a new apartment and i'm finishing out a lot of grant work. in terms of the grant, things are going very very well. i'm both grateful and proud. i'm grateful because all the individuals who made commitments to me and to the project are, for the most part, staying true to their word. gulshan and i have physically built the English Language Resource Center and the volunteer teachers and students show up every day for training. the trainees are picking up information very quickly and i feel confident that they are interested in protecting their new ELRC resource. we spent a lot of money on books etc, but i can't help still feel like our ELRC shelves are still bare. all the English language fiction books we purchased came from Baku and they are very small in stature and low in quality. but, something is better than nothing! we also received a box of donated books from the states and the children books inside are great.
in terms of finding an apartment, just totally blows. i'm not going to pretend to be enthusiastic about it. this will be the fourth place i've sought out over the last two years in Azerbaijan. the whole process is frustrating and disheartening for many reasons, but i'm just holding on to the hope that this is my LAST move before my service ends in November. keep your fingers crossed for me. luckily, my sitemate laura has let me stay with her for the past three weeks, but i really really need to find something soon. and if the heat would just die down a bit, well, then...i'll probably find an extra cache of patience.