That last post by carol with all the pictures and stories about the condition of the school where we live was highly accurate and an appropriate way to let folks back home get just a taste of how the poorer, but very real side of our everyday lives is. As correctly assumed, this country is plagued with poverty and dirt and living conditions that would make most of our circle of friends cringe. And although there are plenty of places in America where the environment is equally grotesque, living here, in the heart of poverty has created lots of interesting thoughts and conversations.
We, as Peace Corps Volunteers, have been fortunate to be provided with US Government policies that require high enough standards in our housing, food and transportation around town that we can’t really say we are living in poverty. Not by a long shot. It’s a drastic step down for almost of all of us, but it’s all quite livable and tolerable and with the right attitude, our lives can be described as quite happy.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Today, while walking down the mile long dusty road from the tar road to our house, fruitlessly trying to avoid breathing too much dust from passing cars, I arrived at the gate of our School and began the ¼ mile walk to our house #5. As I looked around I noticed that the some of the bushes on the school grounds had just been trimmed and that the few Jacaranda trees along our short road were getting thick with beautiful purple flowers. I also notices that most of the garbage around the two insufficient school garbage dumpsters was gone (probably just blew away into the fields of Africa – but maybe it was actually cleaned up). I noticed that one of the old school signs had been nicely re-painted and that a new metal sign had been installed with some promising messages and hope inspiring statements on it.
I started thinking about the good things about us being placed in this country instead of any of the other African countries; English, Peace and Potable Water right out of the ground. These things are so hard to imagine living without. As I continued walking I thought about our little house compared to most of the other PCVs who live without electricity or water or both.
Of the 35 or 40 houses on the school property, we happen to live in the house that is closest to the school water storage tower. That means we have fairly high water pressure all the time. Unlike many of the other school houses, ours is almost never out of water. In fact, for some unknown reason (that could coincide with me removing the one-way safety valve from the water heater about two weeks ago), our water pressure has been very strong, so taking a shower with our home made, hose shower contraption is actually quite a weekly pleasure!
Our house also happens to be right under the only lighted street light in the whole school. There are a dozen more lights posts on the one street, but not a one of them has ever worked. This is very nice when coming home after dark. We also live in house #5. Of 35 or 40 houses, ours is close to the front gate which really makes for a much shorter walk to and from home. We also have two giant gas cylinders. This is nice because when one runs out, it will take no less than two months to get it refilled and without that second one we would not be able to cook until it was refilled. Last, but not least, I noticed that our house also has 3 of the only 5 nice tall trees on the whole school, which really makes for a nice, welcoming view as I approach our home gate each day.
Besides our house being quite acceptable for a Peace Corps Volunteer, we also now have a new addition to our comfortable little house. A most wonderful little Maltese puppy named Rati. She greets me at the fence each evening and bids me good-bye each morning. Her sister, Phoenix comes to visit and stay with us for a week at a time, frequently. Seeing the two of them playing constantly together and their constant need for our attention has added another very enjoyable element to our lives.
I just got some pictures from one the computer projects I did a while back that shows the 4 computers I fixed at a very remote village being used to teach typing. This is very gratifying.
Last weekend I built a new garden structure to keep the birds, chickens, goats, donkeys and our little Rati out of the garden.
At least currently, the days are a perfect 80 degrees with the nights a very pleasant cool 65 or so and that makes for some really awesome sleeping.
All of this combines together to create a home atmosphere of very satisfactory pleasantness and a glass that is quite a bit more than just half way full.