Disclaimer

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Benin and Back


Peace Corps has been one amazing opportunity after another. In the list of Awesome Things Thanks to Peace Corps, #1 is my trip to attend a rice training in Benin last week. For three days I hung out at an educational farm with Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts from Senegal, Benin, Togo, and Guinea. The training consisted of discussing details of SRI (the rice growing method we learned), breaking down regional differences in methods, and getting our hands dirty in the fields to learn how it really works. 
Learning how to sort seeds using salty water and an egg.
Now, as cool as learning something to keep you occupied professionally for the next year or so may be, there were definitely other perks to this Benin trip. For one, I GOT TO RIDE A PLANE. And they fed us FOOD. It's a testament to how different life is in Guinea that myself and the 2 other volunteers I went with FLIPPED our LIDS when we got served butter packets and rolls of bread. I even pocketed the pepper packets (pepper is hard to find, yo). Then we arrived in Cotonou and the awe just kept coming. Granted, we were in the nicest district of the capitol city. But there were cobblestone roads, trash cans, light pollution at night from all the electricity... I felt like someone's poor country cousin come in to the big city for the first time. Drew's Georgian accent added to the effect.
Planting the nursery
As for the training itself, I can't stress enough what a great opportunity it was. My counterpart, Abou Camara, is a professor at ENAE, one of four national Agriculture and Animal Husbandry schools in Guinea. I might have mentioned ENAE before - it's the school where I give my Youth Entrepreneurship class. Mr. Camara is my contact within the school for keeping the class going, and during one of our talks he took me on a tour of the school to show off his compost pits (he teaches a course on soil composition) and experimental rice fields (another class, where they track organic vs. modified seed growth). A couple weeks later I heard about the SRI training in Benin, and knew I had to get on board. I hadn't written about the application process or waiting or hopes and build-up because, like Guineans, I don't like to give credit to things before the results have come in. Too many times you plan and organize, only to have the project fall through, whether it's a day of soap-making with a friend or a nation-wide electricity campaign. Yes, it's skeptical and pessimistic, but until I attended the training and got my hands in the dirt, I didn't want to say too much about it. But now it's done! Mr. Camara and I are working on an action plan to get the method into the curriculum for the coming year. The goal is to disseminate the method to as many people and groups as possible, and honestly we're perfectly suited for introducing this method to Koba. Koba is a huge, gigantic rice growing community, with producers from all levels - individual family plots to large-scale industrial cultivation. The school already has connections with local groupements and the larger factories. And we have a captive audience and free labor for maintaining our demonstration fields - hello students! When I think of all the possibilities and opportunities that might come up in the next year, it's almost overwhelming. For now, our first step is a presentation at aPeace Corps Regional Training at the end of the month, where we'll get to tell volunteers and their counterparts about what we learned and stir up interest.

The path to our training site
As for non-rice news, I just got some sweet new clothes from the tailor. In a bout of boredom about a month ago, I gave myself an unfortunate haircut that's reminiscent of The Bangs from summer 2005. I might be getting motorcycle clearance to help do credit collection and sensibilizations with my microfinance organization, and if so, I'm definitely using the PC-issued helmet to be a storm trooper for Halloween. September is the month of weddings back home - congrats to Chris and Mackenzie, and Lauren and Dan! And we finally got a copy of the Hunger Games in Guinea. Holy shit that was a good movie.
SRI-grown rice, one month old
Miss you all! Hope you're doing well, hope you're satisfied with your life and career, hope your loved ones are happy and healthy as well, hope your reading materials are fascinating, and hope you don't have Call Me Maybe stuck in your head at all times. Because that is a catchy song, but there are better ones.
All photos from this post were taken by this guy.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

On the Move

"'Vulnerability is our greatest strength.' This experience is not always about being tough; it's also about recognizing and working with and through our weaknesses and shortcomings. You are not asked to be at your very best every day; you are simply asked to try your hardest to give and share what you can." -- words of encouragement from my program director

This last month has been difficult, between surviving the heaviest part of the rainy season, the month of No Food (During Daylight Hours) that they call Ramadan, and various challenges at site. Luckily things are back on the upswing! I arrived in Conakry around noon, having spent 3 days in Kindia attending a food security training and preparing to lead another training with our Guinean counterparts at the end of the month. Tomorrow morning I'm flying to Benin to attend a training on intensified rice cultivation. My counterpart and I will be getting our hands dirty planting rice, learning about monitering and evaluation methods, and setting up a training plan to bring the method back to our village! I'll take lots of pictures, and hopefully will have time to post all about it on my way back through Conakry.

Hope you enjoyed Bumbershoot! You did go, didn't you?! Once again, the local festivals are highlighting the artists of my African soundtrack. The other day, I rocked out to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings with the Sierra Leonian fishermen that repair nets in my front yard. That girl's got pipes!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's Been Happening


They always told me that life au village moved at a different pace, but seeing as I'm inherently slow-moving and easy-going, I didn't realize how much I'd fallen into and accepted that pace as normal. That is, until I went to Kindia a few weeks ago to work on a project collaboration.

Kindia, for background, is a huge city a few hours outside of Conakry. There's a university and agricultural research center. It's the home of several major NGO's operating within Guinea. All the random household products that I dream of making shopping trips to Fria to buy, such as bleach, oatmeal, and Nutella, are freely available in every boutique. There are internet cafes that not only have reliable connection, but have -wireless- access. (We sat at a neighboring restaurant and stole free wifi while eating. It was a very confusing and disorienting experience.) There's even a soft-serve ice cream machine across the street from my friend's workplace!

Basically, Kindia is the mecca.

The reason I'd gone out there was pretty simple - Koba has no electricity, and I needed to use computers to prepare a presentation. Some field agents from AGUIDEP, a fellow volunteer's counterpart organization, came out to Koba, tracked me down, and very excitedly asked me to work with them and a local women's cooperative. Of course I jumped at the opportunity! AGUIDEP already has helped this cooperative form accounting books, organized and solidified positions within the groupement, and is helping them purchase a machine to mass-produce red palm oil (a very thick oil used in nearly every Guinean dish). We decided that my input would be to present a training session on marketing. Over the course of a month I went through every material on marketing I had, and started to organize the presentation. In the beginning of July I went out to Kindia to work in AGUIDEP's offices and finalize the materials. I would be presenting as a team with one of the field agents, Ba, who would then be responsible for translating everything into Susu. We spent the whole morning and into the early afternoon sitting in what used to be a kitchen, now an office space, hammering out the details of our presentation. When we were done, we celebrated with soft-serve. =)
The materials may not look like much, but trust, the content was stellar!
This same weekend I found a fat little puppy living in the back corner of AGUIDEP's parking lot. She was healthy and happy with her sister, dry and protected in a sheltered corner. Naturally I bought a large piece of fabric and a bucket and kidnapped her. This puppy was a dream dog - she snuffled and sighed a bit, then fell asleep in my arms. She never whined, never cried, just accepted the new card fate had dealt her and turned to me as her new family.   
A neighbor kid carrying Yassa like a baby.
The next week I gave the marketing presentation! A crowd of 22 people showed up, sitting around on wooden benches and sharing roasted peanuts. We spent just over 2 hours together, drawing pictures, giving examples, testing each other on the concepts, and handing out cough drops as candy for exceptionally good answers. It was my first formation given in Guinea, but the experience went so well - on my end, as the nervous presentor speaking in her 2nd language, which was then translated to a 3rd, and on the cooperative's end, in terms of their satisfaction with and understanding of the material - that we're already looking for other opportunities to work together. The cooperative's next step is to install a sign at the intersection to their neighborhood of a lady holding a bidon of red oil. It makes my heart proud to see marketing in action! Though the field agents for AGUIDEP are only in town a few weekends each month, we're keeping in touch and the future looks bright!

This lady was not only a spitfire during the training, but she nailed the concepts when quizzed.
On the downside, though, that adorable wonderful puppy got run over by a moto last Wednesday evening. I was taking her to my sitemate's house to watch her for the weekend while I came in to Conakry. Yassa ran out into the road in-transit, and there were a few horrified seconds while I watched stunned as I knew what was going to happen but could do nothing to stop it. She ran into the road, and didn't even notice she was in danger. The moto thought this was a Guinea dog and that she'd move, and when she didn't, neither did he. (Pedestrians, and pets, absolutely do not have the right of way in this country. Thinking that car will stop because you're crossing the street can be a fatal error) After she'd been run down, the moto kept going. I sat and cried in the road while Guineans swarmed and watched the fote cry. Eventually my neighbors came out to see what was going on, and they herded me back to the house and buried my dog.

So, July's been a month full of ups and downs. Work is going superbly well - I'm hoping to have even more to report, but less time to do so, in the coming months. And I'm done with pets in this country.

Waterfalls in the rainy season are real nice.



Monday, May 28, 2012

A Peace Corps Story

One day, Abe decided to buy himself a fancy bazan complet for a party.
You see, there was a ptretty girl in his stage and he really wanted to
impress her. She has a wonderful way of making him blush, even more
than the alcohol. Every time he saw her, she made him feel so warm and
fuzzy that he no longer needed to wear socks with sandals.
So, when market day came, he went to find the best tissue he could
buy. But he didn't want just any old bazan, he needed a magic bazan of
special-fancy quality! When he asked around the market, everyone told
him to go to Mamou and "Find Bud." They told him he could find Bud by
looking for the only man in Guinee with a beer belly.
Bud's magic powers derived from his mechanic's coveralls, which were
given to him comme cadeaux for his 18th birthday from a dead fote
marchand. Among other things, these coveralls gave him the ability to
eat things made without mayonnaise and raise his hand without snapping
- the other Guineans around him worshipped him and his God-like
coverall-granted abilities
After traveling via taxi for 4 days, holding two burpy and smelly
kids, Abe finally arrived in Mamou to find Bud surrounded by Guinea's
finest beer. "Approach," said Bud, in a manner not quite unlike Olmec
in Legends of the Hidden Temple. He said, "Please sit, my bud of Bud -
but wait, not there! That table is only for vegeterians!"
Abe took a seat and took a gander - bazan was nowhere to be found in
Bud's "shop", let alone anything at all - it was completely empty, and
Abe bowed his head, pensaring of the object of his affection that he
wanted so badly to impress. Then anger began to broil in his stomach
(or was it that meal at that last stop in Dalaba?)
"Bud," Abe said in a firm voice, "I came for bazan and I'm not leaving
without bazan!" He even slammed his hand on the table for emphasis.
Bud, accustomed to receiving angry looks from Portos, cast an evil Pul
spell over the boy. The spell made it so the love struck Abe could
only speak in exclamations and rhetorical questions, like "eeh!" "oh!"
and "ou bien c'est pas ca?"
But what luck! Having paid attention in the cross-cultural trainings
during PST, Abe knew the only way to break the spell and purchase his
bazan waws to challenge the spellcaster to a breakdance fight!
What he wasn't expecting was that when he made the challenge and
turned on 99 Problems, a little smile appeared on Bud's mouth, and Bud
whipped off his coveralls displaying workout clothes with "Break Dance
Commander of the Universe" displayed on his suit. Abe knew it was all
over when Bud belly-flopped on the floor and started spinning on his
stomach.
Little did Bud know what that disgusting meat dish leftovers were
scattered on the floor. Like a bowling ball on its way to getting a
strike, Bud slid across the room on his beer belly, knocking over a
pile of empty beer, Coke, and Fanta bottles. STRIKE!
Since he didn't actually finish his break-dancing routine, the spell
was weakened (though not completely gone.) As Bud rose to his knees,
Abe saw his chance, grabbing the nearby bottle of mayonnaise salad
dressing. With a might roar he threw the magical (and delicious!)
concoction onto Bud, sending sparks and kittens into the air, while
Bud began to scream "I'm melting! What a world, what a world!"
Abe watched as Bud slowly evaporated away, leaving behind a rapidly
disappearing cloud of smoke. The magic coveralls fell to the ground,
empty and sad without their hefty master. When the air finally
cleared, Abe was astounded to see that Bud's magic coveralls were
actually made of bazan! Letting out a joyous whoop, Abe donned his
fancy new clothes and set out on the road to woo his lady fair.

FIN

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Don't follow your head - follow your heart

... and so life continues, much as it ever was. Milky tea over a book
in the mornings, concerns about hair and clothes, and joking with
coworkers while wishing there was something more interesting to do.
But for all that it's the same, everything comes with a twist - the
milk for the tea is powdered, the hair concerns are about whether my
porcupine braids came out while I slept, and my coworkers and I are
calling each other slaves and dog-eaters in French.

There's a much-needed break coming my way these next two weeks.
Reunion in Mamou! All the other volunteers that swore in with me will
be crowding together to spend every waking moment doing trainings,
having debates, going on field trips to chicken farms, and socializing
and catching up in every moment of downtime. I overpacked, but hey,
that's what being American is all about!

At site, there are work opportunities around every corner, but I've
frustratingly been unable to put anything into action. For a while it
looked like I'd be starting an after-school business club at the local
agricultural college, to counterbalance the fact that their business
professor died in December. The idea's not dead, but I'm going to have
to push a little harder when I get back at the end of May. Another NGO
is forming a women's cooperative to sell red palm oil, and I may be
leading a training on marketing - again, we'll see come June. A
neighbor wants to show me how to make soap, but wants me to promise
not to teach her method to anyone else. We're at a standstill on the
issue - I won't make the promise, since the whole point would be for
me to help someone else make money with the technique.

Mamou is probably just as much about seeing volunteers and expanding
my knowledge as it is about getting away and having time to think over
site issues with some sort of objectivity.

Hey, all you people back home! Have you SEEN the Sasquatch lineup this
year?! I wanted to stab myself in the leg with a fork when I saw it.
(Luckily they only use spoons in Guinea!) Childish Gambino! Cloud
Cult! Bon Iver! The Head and the Heart! It's like they took all the
artists that have been getting me through this transition to have one
big HEY CHELSEA, HAPPY BIRTHDAY shindig. I'm torn - such a great
lineup! Such a great festival! But I'm sure if I were to be at home
and be able to go, I'd just feel old and grumpy surrounded by too many
19 year old drunk Canadians. Happy 'Squatch Fest. Have fun everyone!
I'm there in spirit!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Life Au Village

I learned the other day that Guinea is one of 11 "hardship" countries
for Marines to be posted to - up there with Afghanistan and Baghdad
and other war-torn countries. Guinea itself isn't war-torn, and it's
certainly not a dangerous place to be. But the level of infrastructure
is so vastly different from what we're used to in the States that just
being posted to this country is considered a hardship for military
personnel (and perhaps for others, as well.) I'll admit that I forget
sometimes just how extreme of a jump I've made from life aux Etats
Unis to here. My cellphone and ipod get charged off someone's
generator every 4th day or so, when the sun goes down I have a tin can
that I knifed into a candle holder, during the day I often spend hours
at a time sitting on cardboard boxes swatting at flies and chatting
with a friend, and every 3 weeks or so I splurge and take a 2 hour
taxi ride to a place with Internet just good enough to check email and
see what you all have been doing on Facebook.

Thinking of my life back in the States, and all the things available
at my fingertips, I feel sick sometimes thinking of what we take for
granted. Did you know highlighters don't exist in this country? My
director gave me her only highlighter, which is several years old but
still going strong. We even discussed how to use it to stretch the ink
to its farthest capabilities. Remember when it was just a matter of
going to the grocery store or the student bookstore and buying a
3-pack for $2? I've been abusing my parents and their willingness to
send me things, but the truth is that daily life really is harder to
get through when you don't have cinnamon.

Despite the slower pace of life, I'm bursting at the seams with ideas
to keep myself busy. I came in to the capitol, Conakry, for the
weekend so that I could work on some projects (and party for St.
Patrick's day, of course!) I picked up a handful of moringa seeds
(Guinea's wonder tree! so much nutritional value, and grows like a
weed! If I take care of these seeds, I can have 20 ft tall trees by
this time next year). Got a new water filter - up to #4 now, here's
hoping this last one doesn't have any problems! Got a bunch of
official paperwork filled out and ready to turn it. And all weekend
I've been typing up and editing a manual for future volunteers when
they first get to site, offering Martha Stewart house cleaning tips,
jokes, and general support as they get through those very trying first
few weeks out of the bubble. It's called Pas du Panique, and is part
of a larger peer support network that another volunteer and I are
trying to resuscitate. Our opportunities, even within just the Peace
Corps bubble, are endless here since the program's just been
restarted. We're basically picking up the scraps of the old program
and patching together a brand new Peace Corps Guinea.

One unfortunate change to the PCG program that none of us were
expecting - my sector, CED, has been shut down. Since the program in
our country is rather small, the directions came from DC that we had
to narrow down our focus and train volunteers to very specific
strengths. So really, it's more like the objectives and activities of
the CED program have been absorbed by the agroforestry program, which
will become more of an agribusiness sector now. The next stage of
extension volunteers (that's me! along with public health and agfo)
will only have PH and Agro volunteers, but luckily, it doesn't effect
any of the work that I'll be doing. I barely sneaked in past the
cut-off, the same way I got admitted to college in the days before
Western asked for an application essay!

Still mountain biking like crazy. The other day my sitemate and I took
our bikes across the river and went adventuring on an island. When we
get tired of biking, we headed out to the beach and rested our pasty
hides on a white sand beach, eating mangos and watching the tide roll
out. Site can be stressful, adjusting to this life in Guinea is
sometimes near impossible, but fortunately I have numerous "escapes"
within easy reach to help me refresh and readjust my perspective.

Oh, should probably mention that I don't have a cat anymore. He ran
away/ never came home about 2 weeks ago. Yes, I cried when I realized
he wasn't coming home. No, I won't be getting another.

Miss you all! I'm slowly duct taping all the photos I brought with me
to the walls of my house, so your smiling faces encourage and support
me at all hours of the day.

One Week Into Site

*** Typed this up well over a month ago, all excited for my first trip
to an internet cafe and to finally update my blog. Well, it was a
bust. Now I'm in Conakry for the weekend, using Peace Corps internet,
so here's a two-for-one special!***

It feels like forever since we last talked! And rightly so. When I was
back home and molding away stateside, months at a time could pass with
little to show for themselves. I'm still not entirely sure that those
last few months at my parents' even happened – thinking back on it
now, everything feels like it happened through a fog. But I guess
that's exactly what it was. I'd reached my breaking point and was
going through life as if asleep. Africa woke me up.
The other day I spruced up my mountain bike and headed off to the
beach. Kitikata is beautiful, but it's not easy to get to (which in
itself is great, because there's rarely anyone there!) It's either a
45 minute walk by one route, or nearly an hour's ride by another. I
prefer the bike ride because it's more fun to fly down pitted and
washed out dirt roads than to mosey along on foot. (Note to self: take
up mountain biking when back in the states!) Whichever route you take,
you meander through rice paddies and across streams, scaring herons
and working up a healthy sweat under the African sun. By the time you
reach Kitikata, you've definitely earned yourself a refreshing dip in
the Atlantic! And it's nice that even if the ocean has changed, I'm
still oriented on the West coast.
Within 24 hours of getting to site, I got a kitten! I named him after
the thing I think of and miss the most from back home: Super Mario's
Taco Truck. Mario's a pretty easy name for Guineans to say, too, so
now when we go through our extensive greetings, I ask after my
neighbor's kids by name right about the same time they ask about my
cat. However. Super Mario has proved himself to be less Italian, more
asshole. Thursday he got himself stuck in the house that's being built
next door. He'd been gone exploring for an unusually long time, and
when I went out looking for him, he was crying behind a locked metal
door. I had to climb through an unfinished window and hunt him down by
headlamp, earning lots of commentary from my neighbors along the way.
And so Mario earned his French name! Canaille: scoundrel, or riffraff.
I'm imagining it shares the same Latin root with conniving.
"What's hard to catch is daily life. This is what I think rarely gets
written down, or even remembered by those who did it – what you did on
the days when you did the ordinary things, how it felt doing it, the
small variations time and again, until years have passed. A matter of
repetitions, or almost-repetitions. Nothing, in other words, that
could easily be encoded in the usual forms of emplotment, not dharma
or chaos, or even tragedy or comedy. Just… habit." – The Years of Rice
and Salt
A typical trip to the market used to take about 30-45 minutes. Now
that I know my neighbors, it can take upwards of an hour just to get
to the market. At any house where I know someone, I risk being pulled
aside and getting fed or hanging out for a chat. (One day I was
actually physically taken out of the market by hand so that my Madame
friend could feed me at her house.) But I'm okay with it – it's part
of my job, after all!
Friday, for example: I stopped by the tailor's to check on the pants I
was getting made. They looked great! But the fit was off, so we talked
about how to fix them and I continued on my way, agreeing to come back
that evening. I got pulled aside at a house a little further down, and
next thing you know I've got a 16-year old girl asleep with her head
in my lap while I take her braids out with a wooden comb. Next I head
to the fabric-seller's stall. She and I usually sit and chat for an
hour or so each day. Today we covered everything from wedding gift
protocol to how much interest my workplace charges on loans. (While
I'm there she also gave me a bunch of bananas and a pair of flipflops.
Guineans love giving me things, it turns out.) After a couple hours I
moved on. Bought some smoked fish for the cat. Stopped by my Sierra
Leonean friend's house for a bit of English conversation and to check
up on my 4-month old fiancée. We made plans to go out dancing for
Saturday night (tonight!) and she walked me home as far as the
tailor's. Picked up my pants (which I should have tried on again! They
definitely don't fit right. It's pretty obvious that Guinean tailors
only make pants for men.) The last stop before I head home is a
compound of three families, with women my age who love to feed me. One
in particular has been forcing me to take meals home with me these
last few days. Her husband jokes that their family of three has grown
to four faster than he expected! I've tried telling Djenab that she's
offering too much, but she insists that it's her decision to give it
to me. So now the last leg always includes juggling a hot plate of
rice and sauce home, and Friday I made it home a mere 5 hours after I
left! The kitten came running up as soon as I got on my porch, covered
in burrs and, oddly enough, palm oil.
The pace of life is definitely slower out here, but I like it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A quick quote!

“The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances on any subject cross like interarching searchlights.”

-Edith Wharton

Swear-in, when I officially become a Peace Corps Volunteer, is only a week away! Too bad it also means I (once again) have to leave a bunch of incredible people behind to strike out on my own. Best of luck to all the other G21 trainees!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things Kenny Has (That No One Else Does)


Kenny, the King of Africa
  
       -       A gold-plated western-style toilet.
-       Trips to Paris to practice his French on the weekends.
-       Women fanning him and feeding him peeled grapes.
-       A guard at his door to keep anyone from stealing his things.
-       A/C
-       Umbrella drinks with rum.
-       Kenny doesn’t have to walk anywhere – even in his house they have 4 hired men who carry him from room to room.
-       A personal chauffeur (that puts his bike on a rack so he can say he rode to school).
-       A man whose only job is to follow him around, telling people who he is and what he does.
-       A vast array of colognes to pick from each morning, keeping him smelling fresh as a daisy.
-       No respect for limited water resources because his house is stocked with bottles of Fiji water.
-       A swimming pool.
-       A bouncy house for his birthday.
-       A personal baker – honestly he’s getting tired of fresh-baked bread every day.
-       A Thermarest bed with one side set to 1, the other set to 5, so he can just roll over in the night when he gets uncomfortable.
-       His solar charger could power the entire village, but he just uses it to watch TV.
-       The still-unreleased end to the Twilight Saga? Kenny’s seen it a couple times, and says it’s not that great.
-       A unicorn and a rollercoaster.
-       The waterfall we went to was pretty boring – it’s got nothing on his backyard water feature.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Accepting a Simpler Life

Daft Punk is playing at my house!

Standing in the front door.

My bedroom...
And the bathroom!

These last few weeks have been busy! I journeyed halfway across Guinea and back, cleaned up midnight vomit (not my own), ate a pound of red dust on a taxi ride, and taught some Guinean children the Electric Slide. I befriended the Port Chief and one of his four wives; she taught me how to deep-fry a fish over the fire. My counterpart, Tounkara, begrudgingly tried the peanut butter and banana sandwich that I said would change his life (it didn’t). The fishermen taught me how to repair nets, I got multiple lessons about fish names, and Tounkara even thinks I’ll be able to find someone to help me prepare a goat. In Koba, I became accustomed to a lack of electricity, a lack of running water, and a constant barrage of attention from local children. It was everything I’d imagined and more.
An old tree that sits over the port.
But in the end I had to come back.
With a stop for Internet along the way!
After site visit, all the stories of everyone else’s perks and amenities started to flood in. Now’s when I have to be careful; when I let my guard down and let my thoughts wander, when I lost sight of my goals and dwell on my baser inclinations, I start to get jealous of what other people have. Jealousy is such an ugly and useless emotion, especially when it’s directed towards things that can’t be changed. I really couldn’t have asked for a better site. The whole time I was there, I kept discovering new places to explore and new people to meet, and had a running list of all the new projects and activities that I couldn’t wait to start. So why am I getting fussy over, for example, a lack of Internet? More and more I have to remind myself: “Though many had ventured farther and done so in finer style, my journey was my own.” My journey is still in progress, and it’s useless to draw comparisons to the opportunities and exploits of others. And besides, the best strategy to combat internal jealousy is to have such a rollicking good time of my own that everyone else starts seething with envy.
Food makes things bearable.
So that’s it. There may be low moments in the future, but I’ll only be reporting on the things that make you dance in your seat and wish to God that you’d had the clanging brass balls that I do; that you’d had the burning passion and reckless courage to do what I’ve done.
Stay chill, y'all

Sunshine, Laughing