Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Complimentary Item

The other week I bought a purse here. It came with a complementary item:

Isn't that a cute little bear? I'm not quite sure why a stuffed bear would come with a lady's purse...but hey, he's a great little bear to have around, I love having him. Oh yeah, and I love the purse too!

Bubble Up Bubble Down

Bubbble Up: (This is kind of a long story for bubble-up, but this is my blog so I can do whatever I want, right?!) This evening I was making pancakes for dinner. They're a pretty quick easy meal after a really long day, at least quick and easy for here. Have I mentioned before how everything seems to take a little longer here? It's pretty much a rule. Anyways, I really wanted to put some lime juice on them (as in cut a lime and squeeze it on there, not get a little bottle of juice). However, when I got the fridge I found that my limes were gone. Someone probably just helped themselves, which happens here, especially when it comes to fruits and veggies, so it wasn't a huge deal. But I did still want some limes. So, I quickly solved my problem.

I went outside and picked a few from the tree. Greatest thing ever- and an exception to the rule that everything takes longer here!

Bubble Down: I asked a girl a question in Arabic today and she didn't understand me. So much for trying!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

By the Numbers

You know how in the margins of magazines they sometimes have a random section of interesting facts? That is by far my favorite part to read. So, I think I will add a section like that to my blog. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it!

By the Numbers:

13- The number of mosquito bites on my right leg.

5- The number of new bus routes I've learned in the past few days.

10- The approximate number of hours the water was cut in a 24 hour period.

3- The number of times I've had meat in the past week.

12- The number of times I've moved in the past 18 months.

50 or so- The number of times I've been reminded of God's goodness this week.

19- The number of words that were NOT highlighted by the spell check in this post. I know my spelling isn't that bad!

The Quotable:

A lot of times things written in English don't make sense, or at least what is written is not exactly what they probably wanted to say. Today I saw a restaurant sign that said, "Good food, fresh service." Hmmm, apparently they didn't know that when you use fresh to describe an attitude that it's not a good thing!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Confession and a Wishing

I have a confession to make. I haven't washed my hair in one too many days now, and when I showered this morning I decided not to. It was too cold to go outside with wet hair and  I was just going to be putting a scarf over it so no one would notice anyway. Definitely a perk of living here.

The one thing that I miss from America the most is going to coffee with friends. I miss that nice, calming atmosphere and sitting talking with a latte in my hands. I wish I could be transported to Loveland Coffee for just one hour.

But I'd have to wash my hair first.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Month 2

I've really been here two months??? Sometimes it feels like more, and sometimes it feels like I came just yesterday. Sometimes I want to count the days until I get to go home and see family and sometimes I wish my time here would last forever. I've been trying to keep a list of the things I am learning here so that 1, I can look at it on hard days and remember that I am growing here, and 2, I won't take my time here for granted.

Here's a quick list of a few of the stranger things I have learned.
I've learned:
1. How to keep my tarha (head scarf) on without having to tie and tuck it.

2. How to walk quickly in a skirt!

3. To barter (well, sometimes I still don't ge the right prices, but oh well!)

4. To NOT cross the street at the corner. It is approximately three times as likely that I come close to dying when I cross at a corner, thus, I sometimes even walk out of my way to not cross at an intersection.

5. How to turn down marriage proposals. Yes, seriously. Don't worry though, I don't think I've made any of the men cry about it.

6. How to kill mosquitoes. I'm an expert.

7. To recognize the sound of the call to prayer.

8. To understand the Celcius scale.

9. How to slaughter and prepare a sheep. (Not that it's something I'll ever need or want to do!)

10. How to use the public transportaion system, and get home on it :)

Looking at this list, I don't think I've learned any of it is very useful outside this country/culture. Except numbers 6 and 8. And hopefully I'll never have to use number 5 anywhere else!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bubble Up Bubble Down

My completely superficial Bubble Down this week: My cornflakes are almost gone :(

Bubble Up: Everything has been peaceful here. Thank you, Jesus! With the things going on here this week we weren't sure what it would look like, but everything has so far gone smoothly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can't Go Over It, Can't Go Through It, Gotta Go Around It!

Here's what I walked up to when I walked out my gate the other day:

Well, hello there water! Wait; I thought I lived in the desert.

I do.

Then why am I surrounded by huge puddles? Where DID all this water come from? It definitely didn't rain- when there are clouds in the sky they're the little whispy things that aren't capable of producing an ounce of precipitation. I have no idea where all this water came from. Probably something to do with the big holes they construction workers keep putting in the road.

So, how do I get across the street? Puddle jumping would be awfully fun- that is, if I wasn't in a skirt and the puddles weren't completely mud. Plus, I think I pulled a muscle getting onto the bus the other day. Guess I'll go way around. Well, it's not that far out of my way, but walking in the dusty soccer pitch is neither fun nor easy. *cough cough*

Fast forward to now: You would think that with how dry everything is here that the water would get soaked into the ground and dry up instantly, but that's not what's happened. Water is still here and I still walk around. I've consumed a lot of dust and walk approximately 40 extra steps in order to get to the other side of the street. And life is great if that's all I have to complain about :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Birds and Owls

I remember in Spanish class reading about how Spain has great night life and how things come alive at night there. At the time, I really couldn't wrap my head around that idea, as simple as it sounds. What does it mean to be a "night culture"?

I think I'm starting to understand.

Last year I was in Nepal, where they are all about doing things in the morning. The really early morning, even. Each day I would wake up to the sounds of hammers banging and saws cutting wood. At 6 AM. Now, waking up at 6 AM is one thing, but starting work almost before the sun comes up?!?! By dusk, everyone would be heading home and the sounds of the city began to fade.

Apparently it is the exact opposite here. I've noticed that people stay up late and businesses are open well into the evening as well. Today I was walking to the bus station around sunrise, about 7am. And it was like a ghost town. On the main road, which is usually quite busy, a vehicle would pass once in a while. I probably could have counted the number of people I walked by on my fingers and toes. And absolutely nothing was open. It was strange. At night, people are out and around at all hours. People are out walking around, eating at restaurants, and just hanging out, even when it's been dark for a while.

Then take Loveland. Things get up and running between 7 and 8, sometimes 9.  Businesses close up about 5, and restaurants are open until 10 or 11. Not much happens past 9- people head home, do homework, and watch TV. This feels completely normal to me. I find it so strange that my neighbors would keep their young kids up until 1 in the morning on vacation and that it is normal to them. In Nepal, I couldn't fathom how you would get out of bed before the sun rose, much less start work before then!

It makes me wonder why societies are like this- some Early Birds and some Night Owls. In Nepal, maybe it's because they want to use all the daylight they have there; they rarely have electricity for light. I have yet to find a reason for why here and Loveland work the way they do- maybe you have some ideas! But, I also realize that my terms of Early Birds and Night Owls are relative to what I find to be normal, I wonder how someone from here or Nepal would refer to the timings of things in Loveland...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bubble Up, Bubble Down

Every once in a while my mom does what she calls "Bubble up, Bubble Down" with her third grade class. Essentially, it's a time where each kid gets to briefly share something good or bad that has happened recently. For some reason I thought about it today and decided that I would start posting my "Bubbles".

For this week:
Bubble Up- I got to borrow some board books from my Arabic school! I spent a good part of the afternoon trying to read through two books meant for 2-6 year olds. The 2-6 year olds here must be really smart!

Bubble Down- I have several mosquito bites on my feet. It's the worst place to get bitten and sometimes they even wake me up at night.

There ya go, that's what I'd have to say if I was sitting in a 3rd grade classroom right now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


In light of it being a new year, I was thinking about all the different things I did in 2010 and what has changed. Sometimes I start to believe the lie that I really haven't done anything in this last year or grown at all. But then I stop to think about where I was a year ago, versus where I'm at today and I realize that I have grown a lot.

Last year I celebrated New Year's in Nepal with the team of people I was there with. I will never forget the few months we spent together and still miss them almost daily. We lived in tight quarters, with sometimes only three bathrooms between 13 of us. Time alone was extremely rare. We weren't supposed to go out on the street or anywhere alone. Sometimes it was hard to always be surrounded by people, but most of the time I loved that there was always something to do and someone to talk to. I got used to working to find bits of time to be on my own and always having a friend around.

Fast-forward to now, and it is almost the exact opposite. I go most places alone, and no one keeps tabs on me or where I'm at. I do everything by myself. At first this was a huge adjustment. (I did have several months at home in between my trips that was kind of in the middle of these two extremes.) I went from working to find time alone to it being what I wake up and fall asleep to. I went from sharing daily life with 12 others to my daily like looking totally different from anyone else's around me. At first I wondered at why I didn't find all of this freedom exhilarating. Most people my age are at a place where they want complete independence, but I was finding it quite frightening. But looking back at where I was a year ago, I understand. It's a huge adjustment to make.

At the same time, I can also see how these puzzle pieces fit so perfectly together. In my team I really learned how to be myself and what that looked like. Everyone sees every side of you at some point, so there's never any point in hiding it. Being on my own now, I don't have to struggle with finding who I really am or decide if I like myself or not- Been there, done that, so one less thing I have to worry about! This time alone would be really hard if I hadn't gone through all that earlier!

On a lighter note, being on my own is also teaching me how to plan meals, shop, and cook. It's not something I ever really did much of in the States, so I'm still learning. And learning here is certainly not the easiest place to learn. A lot of things that I was used to cooking aren't readily available here, so I've had to get creative. You can't really buy packaged foods or frozen dinners (with the exception of Ramen, which I eat only 1-2 times a week). So pretty much everything I eat is homemade or grown. I even have to mix up my milk for cereal in the morning! But, I'm getting better and expanding my horizons. Next up, making a dish with meat (and hot dogs don't count). I still haven't been brave enough to buy meat, or even walk close to meat at the market-gag!-so it might be awhile...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Learning Curve!

I knew coming here that I would be forced to learn a lot of new things. I knew I'd be learning the language, how to get around the city, where and how to shop, and how to use electrical cords.

Wait, maybe not that last one. Definitely not that last one. I didn't expect that I'd be learning to troubleshoot electrical problems beyond using an adapter to plug my computer in. But I was wrong! I haven't had quite enough experience to put electrician on my resume, but I've been proud of how I have figured out how to get power to various things around here!

Here's one example:

There is a computer plugged into the extension cord, but at the bottom of the picture you can see how the cord ends... Not good, but the computer needed to be plugged in so I could use it in teaching my computer class, so I grabbed the little ends (only by the rubber part of course), prayed that I wouldn't die, and...

Wa-la! the computer had power! One spark might have flown, but I didn't get shocked. This is something I wouldn't have even attempted in the States, but here, things like that are just a part of my everyday life!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

T's Eulogy

I can't believe I'm writing this- that I actually got to this point. We'll start at the beginning.

I don't like animals. Despise might be a more appropriate word, especially when it comes to pets. Maybe it's because I never had one growing up, except for that puppy we had for a week (I loved her, but we really just weren't pet people and returned her). And now my youngest sisters have bunnies, but they mind their own business in their cages in the basement. I know that all animals are God's creation, but I'd really rather have no contact with them, with a few exceptions.

Somehow, the dog that lived in my compound found a place in my heart. This dog, T, (whose full name I won't use to protect his identity- just kidding, I actually just have no idea how to spell the whole thing!) was one of the scrawniest, dirtiest dogs I've ever seen. Exhibit A:

Since he used to be a pet (he got left on the street when his owners moved out of the country) I was always worried that he would come rub up against me looking for attention and then give me some weird disease. But the amazing thing is, he never would. He would come close, maybe give you a pathetic look, but he never touched anyone. He started to become my morning companion whenever I went outside. He sort of lived in our compound, but he would go out to the trash piles to find food. Most mornings I would let him out of the gate, and then awhile later he would come scratching at the door and come back in- sometimes with something unpleasant to chew on. Some mornings he'd sit near me as I had a quiet time and drank my coffee. T started to grow on me, and every once in awhile I'd even have the urge to pet him- although I never did, I just wasn't quite ready to put my health and cleanliness on the line! But he definitely got on my short list of dogs I like.

Sadly, I haven't seen T in around 2 weeks now, and I think he might be gone forever. You were loved T, and I kind of miss you!
T chewing on a sheep hoof that he came back with one morning!