Thursday, July 8, 2010

The City and The Village

I have officially moved! I moved out of the village in the middle of June and am slowly adjusting to my new lifestyle in the city working with UNICEF. I am struck daily by the little (and some not so little) differences in my Peace Corps experience first in the village, and now in the city. I thought it would be fun to do a little side by side comparison. ;-)

So, let’s look at the differences:

First, instead of wearing garish plaid sarongs (koosus) everyday to fit in, I’m wearing business casual and incorporating bright orange shirts when appropriate (GO HOLLAND!).

Instead of going to the river with my fishing pole and a handful of rice to catch my dinner, I can walk down the street and order a pizza. Instead of fried fish heads, I can eat cheese and pepperoni! Unfortunately, my budget won’t allow this all that often, but a nice treat none the less.

Instead of running down a narrow jungle path each morning (jumping over roots, and ducking under vines), I run on a paved (very flat) road while busses and DAF trucks blow exhaust in my face.

Instead of waking up to the sound of children softly calling my name, “Seeimai? Seeimai?”, and my neighbors splitting firewood, I am greeted each morning by the sound of birds outside my window and the silence that reminds that I no longer have a tight-knit group of family and friends right outside my door (literally…RIGHT outside my door ;-) ).

Instead of speaking solely Saramakan for weeks on end, I speak English with people daily (I’m talking face to face, not on the phone!) and I get called by my real name by almost everyone around me (except for Kimmy, who still insists on calling me “Seeimai”).

Instead of tucking in for bed at 8:30 every night with a book and my headlamp, I stay up past 10:00(!) and do things like write letters and watch movies. Of course I still read, but with the help of electricity I manage to get more distracted.

The obvious… I now wash my dishes in a SINK, not the river! I wash my clothes in a washing machine, I shower in a shower (though I really miss my wash house and bucket baths), and I have a flush toilet! If nothing else, I know my lower back will be happy about not bending over to wash my clothes on the rocks at the river.

My workday now consists of wearing high heels and v-necks while sitting in a swivel chair at a computer typing away about different types of toilets and water treatment. My workday USED to require me to tromp out into a field wearing a koosu and a sports bra, with another koosu tied around my head to keep the sun off my back, armed with nothing but a pocket knife to cut bundles of rice…for hours…and hours.

Finally, instead of a barrage of people stopping by daily to talk to me and check on me, I have yet to find that support network here in the city. I will need to put a lot more work into cultivating friendships, but I am determined: this will happen. :)

There are certainly more, in fact I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. :) I miss the laughter of the children running around my house, and I miss running to jump in the river after a hard day’s work in the fields, but I am really happy with my decision. There are perks and draw backs to both experiences. Being in the city working with UNICEF will allow me to further develop my thesis, and (hopefully) be a resource to other PCV’s and other communities (including mine!). I am trying to keep close contact with friends in the village and have already had one visitor from the village, and am hoping for more!

Sending nothing but love and good thoughts!