“if you’re cut out for this”

My favorite quote from last night, from volunteer Yan to newbie-Megan: “You’ll know in a week or so if you’re cut out for this.”

Yes, sir. Indeed. I don’t know as of yet if in fact I am cut out for this. I will avoid all complaints about my living quarters (including the damp bathroom that has a smell that sticks on you) and the bugs. (That was a complaint in disguise, but you’ll forgive me). I am trying my very best to remain positive and put in my week of where-the-hell-am-I-ness before I can move on and enjoy this. 

But, as Yan told me, it’s a big adjustment. Time moves soooo slowly here. It’s hot and humid, constantly sweating. I’m also, for the moment, unbelievably, mind-numbingly, uselessly bored. I have nothing to do. I think (hope) the English classes will start tomorrow, so soon I will write of all the good things I am teaching the Gigante residents who seem eager to learn, and of my busy and productive days. The boredom is accentuated by the fact that everyone else seems to have something to do (what are they doing?) so I languish in my own sweat in the corner with a Bill Bryson book about Australia.

Rob arrived a couple of hours ago: horray. He immediately noticed my vacant stare and surmised, astutely enough, that it must be a symptom of the fact that my brain was melting due to heat and lack of use.

“I’m so glad you made it okay!” he says. “What have you been up to?”

“Ummm. Uh.” Eye squint. 

“Let’s sit down this afternoon and figure out logistics,” he says. Woohoo. We chatted about the shuttle and such, and then, after an awkward pause, I returned to my post with Bill Bryson while he went to check out his ever changing hotel. He walks by fifteen minutes later and I perked up, thinking it was chat time. Alas, he did just arrive and has still to get his sons settled (1st and 2nd graders who are so cute, but, like everyone else, sort of don’t know what to make of me), so he’s busy. 

I don’t mean to look so bored and restless and like a dog that perks up anytime someone walks by and jangles their keys, but I’m also exhausted, so I don’t hide my feelings well. I feel like I should be making friends with Ana and Jacquelyn, the two Nicaraguans who work here, but I don’t really know what to say. “How’s it going” is understandably, not the best way to begin a friendship-forming conversation; what else do you say, though? And they aren’t taking my bait. (‘Sea mi amiga, por favor.’ Oh, how the state of my life has regressed). Also they are, of course, busy! 

I feel bad for being so debbie downer but really. I MUST do something. Rob’s arrival bodes well on my situation, though, as he seems just as eager as I do to get me to work. He asked me, as if anticipating an answer I didn’t give out of politeness, how my living situation was. He said a German woman is coming in a month to do some photography stuff, and he anticipates I may be able to room with her, so well see. But in all honesty, how I am now is fine. It’s just different. The guys are super nice, and maybe understand how it is to be a newbie in this very weird situation. Adam is a UCSB graduate and Yan (who was formerly known as John in my last post, but whose actual name I now know) is originally from Russia and moved to San Francisco when he was a kid. He cooks and seems to know just about everyone. I went down to the town for dinner with them last night, as the kitchen folks get the day off on Sundays. Food at the “Blue Lagoon” (or something like that) was fine; it was definitely more of a cultural excursion, for me at least, as it’s clearly a locals hangout. The surfers seem to know a lot of people in town, so a lot of men came by our table to say hello. These men didn’t seem to know what to do about me, the only girl at a table of 7, so most they just stared (oh that Latin stare), despite my greetings and prattling on in Spanish to them. Most told the guy sitting next to me (hello I’m right here and speak bloody Spanish! I felt like screaming) that they’d like to learn English, so hopefully after a few classes they will begin to see me as just another Spanish-speaking person rather than a woman-being-thing directly out of the amazon. Needless to say, dinner talk with the guys was in surf language, of which I understood nothing. That I don’t know how to surf is viewed as a little odd in this context, but I’m ready and rearing to learn. Ah, exercise: how I miss thee. The possibility of running is, for now, a joke. 

The good news is I have lots and lots of time to write! My posts may descend into mere lists of what I’ve eaten during the day (gallo pinto and scrambled eggs) and the size, shape and path of the bug meandering towards me on the table (large, black and bee-like, ambling). If that should happen, I apologize. Maybe I’ll pull my mind out of it’s murky state and begin a novel. 

Rob is taking me and his two sons down to the beach in a couple of hours, so that’s exciting. I may attempt to surf, if he can find a board for me. I’m anticipating a little embarrassment, as I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do out there, and will most likely require more help than the six and seven year old boys, but… oh well. It’s something to do! And boy do I like the sound of that. Until then, I’ll go languish in the corner with my funny book about Australia and sweat some more.


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