Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I think it's fly when girls stop by for the summer... for the summer

...And some of my PCV girls will be stopping by soon!  (But I'll get to that later)

As I sit here in my apartment, I look around the room and it’s a HOT MESS!  My kitchen table is littered with the following:

1.  tomatoes (I’m waiting for them to ripen)
2.  candle (almost fully melted from the brownouts)
3.  food (I haven’t unpacked from my hike up Mt. Pulag)
4.  care package fun (which I haven’t found where to store)
5.  paperwork (which needs to be organized to close my library grant)
6.  variety of knick knacks (I haven’t put away yet from my recent travels)
7.  mish mosh of supplies (for my upcoming girls’ empowerment camp)
8.  a zillion papers (last minute logistics for the camp)

Actually, I’m probably being hard on myself… it’s not that bad.  Just disorganized.  However, behind me, my laundry basket is HEAPING as I haven’t done laundry in weeks.  Also, the floor is unspeakably dirty.  Haven’t mopped in months.  Hashtag Peace Corps problems.  My recycling piles are insane.  Mostly because I can’t bear the thought of NOT recycling paper… but it doesn’t exist here.  I don’t know why I still keep a box of paper recyclables; we simply don’t have a paper recycling program here.  Force of habit, I suppose.  But it’s ridiculous.  I’d post a picture, but I’m kind of ashamed of it.  Hahaha!

Anyways this is my summer vacation.  #1 shocking thing: so far there has only been one day when I thought my skin was going to melt off of my body.  The past two summers, it was basically every day.  Lots of days I would lie on my concrete floor crying because I couldn’t handle it.  Seriously.  I’d take 3-4 baths a day, but the water I pumped from the ground was even hot, so there wasn’t great relief in being drenched.  I’m sort of waiting for this to happen, but so far I’ve been pretty lucky (knock on wood)--- today I’m wearing capris and a t-shirt that’s not very breathable.  And I’m totally comfortable.  Winninggggg!  It makes me think… reports from home are that this winter was the coldest one in YEARS.  So maybe it’s the same here, although winter here was what we in Massachusetts would consider May-June weather.  Climate change is an interesting thing.

This has been a pretty great summer so far; started off with our town fiesta, which I judged the parade and went to the “Battle of the Bands” and beauty pageant.  Then it was my landlady’s daughter’s college graduation, so that was cool.  Then I spent a few days in Manila, finishing my remedial reading manual, which is a project I began in November 2011.  WHOAAAA.  Right?  Well, the main part of the curriculum is done; I just have part of the appendix to finish.  I’ll get a chance to do that in June.  Then… I don’t even know how I’ll celebrate.  If I was a drinker, I’d probably go out and get smashed.  However, I’m guessing , realistically, MY celebration is going to involve sitting in my apartment with a lot of chocolate and diet cokes and watching Modern Family.  So I’m hoarding as much chocolate and candy from my care packages as I can.  My life is sooo exciting.  LOL J

Anyways, after making awesome progress on my reading project, I took a trip down to Benguet to hike Mt. Pulag with a group of my friends.  It’s the highest peak in Luzon, second highest in the country (to Mt. Apo in Mindanao).  You begin the hike in the morning or afternoon, set up camp for the night, then wake up at 3am to begin the final leg of the hike to the summit to see the sunrise.  I did the same hike two years ago, but there’s really nothing like it.  It was just as good the second time around.  You’re above all the clouds, and they look like an ocean.  Some of the smaller mountains surrounding Pulag peek out from the clouds, and they look like islands, surrounded by water.  It’s wild.

From Pulag, my friend and I made our way through Baguio and left at 9:30am Saturday to take a 7 hour bus to Manila… walked right to the next bus station to reserve our seats.  Grabbed a bite to eat and went right back to the station, sat in our seats, and within 20 minutes we departed Manila to begin the 12 (!) hour trek to Legazpi City, Bicol, where she lives.  We arrived at 6:30am on Easter Sunday, traveled back to her apartment, and passed out on the couches for several hours.  No egg hunts or sugar rushes for us.  The 21 hours of travel didn’t really put us in the mood.  Instead we settled for a day of TV and movies.  The following two days were spent preparing for our Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) camp.  We were gathering materials, taking care of final logistics, and making sure everything was ready to go.  Then bright and early on Wednesday we made our way to the venue, a local elementary school.

We began with a half-day training of trainers, in which all of the Peace Corps Volunteers and local facilitators got together to meet and start preparing their sessions.  That evening, the girls arrived.  (I’ll talk more about the camp itself in my next post, as I have MINE coming up next week!)  The next three days were filled with big laughs, new friendships, and lots of learning.  It was SO awesome.  Definitely one of my favorite Peace Corps experiences.  And after almost three years of being here and doing all sorts of amazing things, that’s saying a lot!  It was so cool to see the transformation of the girls in only a few days; definitely something really special.

After the camp ended, my friend and I went and got some celebratory halo-halo (one of my fave desserts in the Philippines), then, exhausted beyond belief, we dragged ourselves back to her place.  I packed up all my stuff, including a massive cardboard box filled with unused materials, a gigantic rice sack filled with t-shirts for the campers, and my two backpacks I brought already.  Thank goodness for helpful Filipinos; before I knew it I was on a bus headed back to Manila, all of my luggage safely stored underneath.  13 (ugh) hours later, I arrived in the city, grabbed a taxi, and headed to the Peace Corps office.  Thank GOODNESS for the PC office.  It’s open 24/7, even on a lot of holidays.  So I just went there and hung out in the library all day.  Ran some errands at the mall and around the city, getting more supplies for my camp (very proud of myself, took jeepneys everywhere, not expensive taxis!), then just soaked up the fast internet at the office.  That night, got on yet ANOTHER bus and finally arrived back at site two days ago.  Since then I’ve been working on finalizing logistics for my camp, which starts a week from today!  Eek!  I still have a lot on my to-do list, but I know it’ll get done.  I always do, somehow.

The camp will be the same one from Legazpi; my friend and I have been organizing it since September, believe it or not.  We wrote a grant and received funding from USAID, which is awesome.  Also we reached out to friends and family back home, who have been SO supportive and wonderful.  We wouldn’t have been able to put these events on without you!  Anyways, I’ll talk more about this next time.  For now, I’m off to meet with several people and put some checks on my to-do list.  Adios, amigos!


At May 21, 2014 at 2:37 AM , Blogger Erika Marchant said...

Love you girl- just added your blogs to my new blog page so that I can follow them again. And I just ate this one up! haha I miss it- you sound like your kicking ass as usual


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