Its the little things.
I’m kicking myself because I haven’t been able to finish writing a blog post in a while now. I start them with strong emotion either good or bad with the strong hold intent on making you understand how I’m feeling at that time, just to find 30 minutes later that my moods have switched. This made me think, what puts me in such foul moods or moods of such euphoria to begin with, and why do they change so fast here?
I have been thinking a lot about this and trying to come up with this clever answer for all of you and all I could come up with is that it’s the small things. The small things, and surprisingly often the small people (kids, not an un-politically correct statement) can change your mood at a drop of a dime. I can be having the worse day with bad news from home, feeling like I’m at a standstill with my job and when I hear “Carla, Buna, Nay!” from Hermayla and her raspy but squeaky voice it makes my day a little better.
It also goes in reverse quite easily. I can be having a great day and spending time with the little girls in my compound who have seriously become my little sisters, and the 3 year old throws the broom at my face. Brooms here consist of some dried grass folded in half and bound by some type of rope, so it clearly didn’t hurt. I was more just upset that we were having a good time and because I didn’t pay attention to her she threw the broom at me then walked away laughing. So I picked her up and put her on the bed she shares w/ her sister and told her I didn’t like her behavior and when she has good behavior she can come play. Apparently this isn’t what she wanted to hear because she started screaming bloody murder. I have to thank my Mom for this and teaching me from a young age that if you scream you can’t play anymore because I’m now seeing what happens when that isn’t the rule. You get little girls screaming ALL DAY! But because she was so distraught that I told her I didn’t like her behavior when she threw the broom at my head she wouldn’t stop crying until her older sister decided to fake “punish” which consists of her hitting me softly and telling me I have bad behavior while winking. I can’t really blame these girls for how they punish here, people do it different all around the world, I just don’t think feeding into this little 3 year olds world that nothing is her fault is doing any good.
Here are some of the blogs that I couldn’t finish but I think now will make a bit more sense..
With this one just remember how sleep deprived I probably was when I wrote it:
I’m being terrorized by a rat. This isn’t something new for a Peace Corps Volunteer or really anyone in Ethiopia, but I’m getting so worn down from this vermin. I can’t sleep at night because I think I hear it walking around and knocking things from my table. It wakes me up at night knocking against boxes or running around in my dresser. I now go to bed with both of my flashlights and my broom close by so if I wake up I can hopefully kill it oooor chase it out of my house. I’m so fed up with this rat that I’m having people look for a kitten that I can own. I’m also going on the hunt for poison and/or dry cement. I’ve given up my nice girl act and I’m not afraid to mix peanut butter and cement to kill this thing.
The lack of sleep due to this rat is affecting a lot of things, like my Amharic which went back to square 1 with sleep deprivation, I’m really on edge w/ people letting every little thing bother me, and I turn into a narcoleptic during the day no matter how many buna ceremonies I attend. The plus side of having these things happen in Ethiopia is that people understand. They get that a rat is terrorizing me and making it nearly impossible to sleep at night. I’m thinking it’s going to be about time to ask if it’s possible to have a little cement ledge built in front of my door so that the rats and mice can’t get in, along with the lake that forms in my kitchen every time there is a down pour.
A good thing stemming from this rat is that I’ve really discovered how creative you get when you don’t have much. My house is lacking a door between the rooms, which really allows the rat to move freely between rooms, and that really freaks me out. So I’ve devised a make shift door. I pulled out one of my drawers from my dresser and laid it down in the door way. Because my drawer is a bit smaller than the doorway I found that my rain boots and a pair of flats fill in the cracks quite nicely. And there you go, a make shift door!
This next one was never finished but I often feel like this:
I don’t know exactly what it is but Korem/Ethiopia makes me feel so bipolar. One day I’m at my wits end and think to myself “if one more person screams at me I’m leaving” so I thus lock my door (aka slide across the medal bar that keeps my door shut) and hide in my house. Other times like tonight I can’t imagine leaving. My landlord and his family are often the source of both emotions.
I often am seen as an open resource. “Oooooh Carla just bought a broom lets use it for the next week and ruin the bristle on the end so that none face the same direction and it doesn’t work anymore” is what I swear they were thinking the other week when they “borrowed” my broom. I personally like when I saved up my twisler candy for them on my birthday and opened it and gave them each one and they just looked at me said it was bad and asked for my other candy. I find myself thinking how ungrateful these people are. I’m sharing my candy and you don’t like it, ok big deal, just don’t demand something else. I also have had problems when I am teaching them English. I wanted to teach them by drawing/coloring pictures, so I pulled out my bag of crayons and one of the girls said “You will give me colors”, colors being what she calls crayons. I just looked at her a bit disgusted by the demand and asked her why. Her reasoning was that she is leaving next week so I owe her a gift. Even more disgusted I told her I owe her nothing but since she is leaving I’ll throw a party after (….real mature I know….). I thank God she didn’t understand the party comment, but she then tells me that it doesn’t matter if I give her Crayons because my Mother who is rich will just send more… This pissed me off. Yes we do have more money, yes my mother CAN send more, but that’s not the point. This is just an example I’ve found is really a country wide problem.
I have found it extremely common that there is no ownership of ANYTHING here. The people don’t care what happens to anything because the big developed countries will just come in and replace it. This is something that we Peace Corps Volunteers struggle with every day in our work. How do we get community input on our projects? How do we stress that they should take ownership of things so that they care enough to take care of them? How do I stress that I am here as a resource and help and I do not HAVE to get them money?