Hardcore Host Mother

LGSDRK94400_D00112_HRE_1A few nights ago, I walked into the kitchen and turned on the light. In the middle of the floor sat two giant cockroaches, their antennas twitching. I am no stranger to these bugs; in fact, I know them well enough to have valid reason to fear them. Terrified, would be a more appropriate term.

Despite my phobia, a small meep escapes my lips as I ease out of the kitchen and hurry to rap on my host mother’s bedroom door. “There are two giant cockroaches in the kitchen!” I blurt out as soon as she opens it. “Where?” she asks me, reaching for her slippers. “The kitchen!”

My host mother, a short, stout woman, wearing a thin cotton nightgown, shuffles across the living room and into the bright yellow light. “Mi outta di spray,” I hear her mutter to herself. Frightened beyond words, I linger around the corner and poke my head into the kitchen. How, I wonder, does a Jamaican woman deal with a cockroach without Raid?

I soon had my answer.

The roaches had since scattered, and they were now on opposites side of the room. My host mother shuffles over to one and carefully balances herself just long enough to remove her slipper. Wielding it in her hands, she slams it down repeatedly on top of the oversized insect. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! She stands back to admire her work. “Dat one dead!” Then she moves to the other roach, slamming her slipper down once more. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Then she drops her footwear on the floor and slides it back on with a shrug.

I have a newfound respect for this woman.

Cockroaches aside, I am once again in Countdown Mode. Only this time, I am not counting toward a departure, but to a permanent residence. Swearing-In is in twenty-one days!

On a whole, I’m doing much better now than I was the last time I posted. There are no excuses for how I felt, and truth be told, I still feel much of the same, but I’ve been able to put those feelings aside and recognize that they will fade with time. Or they might not, which is okay too.

I can say that I was thrown off by my level of homesickness. I’ve spent countless summers at sleep-away camp and went to an out of state school, yet I never missed home the way I do now. I suppose it’s the cultural adjustment. I also may have scared myself by reading some material PC provides for our families. In it, it discusses how many Returned Volunteers have a harder time adjusting to life at home after service, than they did adjusting to their host country. That was a mistake on my part; there is a reason this material is given to the families and not the volunteers. I worried that I’d committed a grave error by leaving my home, after finally finding happiness, only to return after two years and have to find it all over again. The only consolation is that I am an adventurous soul, and I would not have been satisfied for very long. Perhaps this is for the best.

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Last Saturday, the education sector pooled our money together and rented a bus to take us up to Ocho Rios (referred to from now own as Ochi) to go to Dunn’s River Falls. It’s a private beach, complete with a food stands, local craft tents, a beach, and a waterfall that you can climb up with natural pools at each level to hang out in. I especially enjoyed paying the Jamaican rate to get in. We had to present our Peace Corps IDs, that has the PCHQ address listed, to prove that we are residents of the island. It would have cost us three times as much, otherwise!

(more pictures from DRF to come)

It was a great day, and well worth the money (DRF admission and bus fare). The sun was hot and the water was cool. We stopped in town on the way out to pick up some ice-cream, or pay a visit to Burger King or KFC. But my stop in town was much, more successful, and as far as I’m concerned, much more exciting than any ice-cream, Burger King or KFC. At the supermarket in Ochi, I found Smartfood White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn.

MADE MY WEEK!

On a final note, I’d like to thank my friends who reached out to me during my time of need. I enjoyed hearing from you, and appreciate the lengths you went to ensure I felt loved. It was exactly what I needed to pull me through a difficult week. I’d like to remind everyone that I encourage emails, and even the silliest of sorts is welcomed.

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The Ticking Clock

I’m on an emotional roller coaster and I couldn’t get off even if I tried. I’m up, I’m down; I’m sure of myself, and I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Basically, I’m freaking out.

14 days to departure. T minus two weeks and counting. Holy sh…..

I’m scared out of my mind. Of what, I couldn’t tell you, but that’s probably contributing to my fear. I don’t know what’s in store for me when I get to Jamaica. I don’t know who I’m going to meet, or what my living conditions will be like. An idea, sure, but every situation is circumstantial.

I’m nervous about not doing well. I spent a lot of time thinking, how hard could it possibly be, despite how many times I’ve read or heard about the “hardships” a PCV faces. Now, in the wake of my sudden apprehension, I worry I was being too cocky.

What am I doing!?

I go from feeling on top of the world about it, to having a feeling at the pit of my stomach like I’m making a terrible mistake. I walk around with confidence, proud of myself and this accomplishment, and then I hug a friend goodbye and I feel the ground crumbling beneath my feet. In the span of a moment, I could easily begin with “I got this sh**.” to “Oh my god what the hell is wrong with me?” My perception and my feelings are constantly changing. I keep finding new things to be excited about, and new things I’m terrified to be leaving behind.

Let me say this now, so you don’t misunderstand: I’M NOT GIVING THIS UP.

The Peace Corps was not a decision I made lightly. In truth, the idea began brewing my mind during my junior year of college; over five years ago. It started as a mere interesting in traveling and seeing the world. It began to transform into a desire to meet new people and experience new cultures. Then it ignited into a passion for helping others. Next thing you know, I am sitting in an auditorium, listening to a recruiter talk about “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

In October 2011, I bit the bullet and submitted an application. I didn’t think I’d get in. I was convinced I wasn’t good enough to be accepted into such a prestigious group. And now it’s 14 days to departure.

I can do this. I know I can. I’ve taught myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. I wanted this, and so I went out and got it. Later tonight, ask me how I feel, and I bet you’ll get a different answer.

Today, my time is devoted to seeing my family. We’ve got a great day/evening planned, and at its close, I’ll kiss everyone goodbye and I wont be seeing them again for another two years.

Two years without my family? I signed up for that? This was that I wanted? Please, remind me again, why?

See? Up and down. I’ve got this sh**, but really, what am I doing?

14 days.