Two Blog posts in two weeks [awks, more like two days since I decided to make a new page rather than a post]. Consistency? Lol nope. Just kidding, but that is the theme of the blog post this week. I have been in Sierra Leone for six months now, and things have become…consistent. I have mixed feelings about consistency, and I really only like it with certain things. I consider consistency to be synonymous with reliability when it comes to people. When you have a friend or a colleague who is consistent that’s always a good thing. Consistent [positive] results with work, tests, etc. is always good too. But isn’t there a saying about too much of a good thing blah blah blah? After six months in country, I have found that certain things (for the time being) have become monotonous, namely teaching and daily life. There’s a certain irony to leaving college and taking a job in Africa because you wanted to avoid a 9-5, only to deem said job repetitious. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself though. At some point, I found a possibly successful way to usually teach the lessons/kids and I got comfortable…and then lazy. Why change something that’s working (I think)? This led to a routine and in turn monotony. I feel that once I get better at teaching though, I will be more willing to try new methods and in turn give each week some variety. Consistent [positive] results are good, but teaching the same way everyday isn’t.
The other thing that I have noticed as a constant is day-to-day life in my village. Nothing too different happens each day, and people go about their lives in a consistent routine. However, the distress I find from this I can explain, at least. In the US, especially as a recent college grad, there were so many things available for me to do right at my fingertips: work, hanging out with friends, watching TV, study, class, party, go out to eat, play sports, more studying, video games, movies, INTERNET, so on and so on. That was my life for four years, eight if you want to count high school too. Fast forward six months, and I am now sitting in a West African town with no direct access to even electricity daily. Hey, things change. I expected this though from everything that I had read or heard about before coming to Africa with the Peace Corps. There is a certain learning curve that comes with getting used to the simpler and calmer way of life here, but it does happen and I will miss it when I leave, or so they say. I’m inclined to believe it.
Like I said before though, consistency isn’t all bad. One thing I have really come to appreciate is my quasi-daily ataya drinking sessions (there must be a better name for that). Ataya is a method of making green tea native to Sierra Leone and a few other West African countries. At least I think. All efforts to look up what Ataya is exactly on google didn’t prove helpful. Regardless, the point is that I fairly consistently drink ataya each week and it’s one of the things I look forward to. Around 5pm each day, these men set up a little space on the veranda of what, I imagine, was once a beautiful home; said home was destroyed by artillery during the civil war and only the building frame, veranda, and a bathtub remain. They bring out their bench and place it under the shade of a mango tree. If there are more than three people, then some will sit on what remains of the front wall. The next 40 minutes or so are spent preparing the tea, which involves transferring tea from pot-to-pot, pot-to-cup, cup-to-cup. The process is all very involved, but it gives you time to relax and enjoy the comings and goings of peoples’ everyday life. It also allows the group time to discuss recent business, gossip, and politics in a myriad of languages; some of which I can follow and others where I am totally lost. I have come to enjoy these tea sessions for all it offers, though there is one catch. I don’t actually like tea. I never have and I probably won’t once I get back to the states. However, with enough sugar and heat I can get past the taste. Plus, the atmosphere alone more than makes up for it.
Updates on Pablo: He’s cute. He’s a demon. He likes to pee on my floor. No, but actually I am really happy that I got him. Since he’s a puppy, Pablo is a little ball of energy; the fact that he is stuck in my house for 6 hours a day while I am at school doesn’t help either. That being said, I think Pablo’s finally getting used to the house and me, and there is much less whining/barking at night (the first day I got him was really rough because he literally would not shut up the entire night). I feed him either corn flakes or rice with some plasas 3 times a day, but he still tries to eat everything which is super annoying. He’s also gotten pretty good on letting me know when he wants to go outside and shit, but peeing is a whole other issue…and we’re working on it. Otherwise, Pablo is still adorable even though he sometimes eats my shoes.
The 7 best books I’ve read since coming to Sierra Leone (in no particular order):
- Night Train to Turkistan
- The Operators
- Malaria Dreams
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope for Africa
- World War Z
- Harry Potter Series