Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm Not Prepared to Come Home to America

I talked to one of the Peace Corps staff yesterday and she expressed some surprise that so many of our group are talking so much about leaving.  Some have already bought their tickets home.  Most are considering grad school and job options, including myself. 

Given the challenges, both physical and emotional, we’ve faced here, I don’t think it’s surprising that we’re looking ahead.  In my case, it’s not that I hate Samoa and can’t wait to get out.  Actually, one of the options I’m keeping open is extending here for another year.  But I am looking at all of my options.  I’ve begun job hunting  (Experienced, funny Independent Management Consultant available for consulting or teaching English.  Liberal use of common sense.  Available January, 2013.  Tell your friends!) and considering what all my options are.

It’s going to be a big transition, at least for me.  In Apia this weekend, I’ve already experienced a bit of culture shock.

Sadly, no one is calling my name or waving from their fales as I walk by.  I expected that.  But today, brushing my teeth, I realized how ingrained village behavior has become.  Do you brush your teeth with hot water?  I don’t.  Of course, I don’t shower or wash dishes in hot water either.  I’ve become used to using the left tap on the bathroom sink when I wash my face or brush my teeth.  It turns easier than the right tap.

 Half asleep early this morning, I turned on the tap as usual.  I started brushing.  The longer I brushed and rinsed my brush, the less pleasant the experience.  In the village, it’s not unusual to get a brief burst of warm water, coming from where the pipe is on top of the sand and sun-warmed.  But this water was getting actually hot.  I stopped brushing, stood up straight and considered the situation.  Well crap, I was using the hot water tap in a hotel that has hot water.  I’m going to have to retrain myself to only use the right, cold tap.

I glanced up to the space over the sink.  At home that space is filled with exposed 2X4’s.  Here, there was a mirror.  I discovered that I have an amazingly distinct farmer’s tan.  I’m not sure I like having a mirror larger than the small hand mirror I have at home.
Tilt your head to the right and check out the string hanging on the left of the showerhead.  What's up with that?

Nice shower, but do you see anyplace to put the soap?  My shower at home only has one handle.  Cold.

 Then I prepared to take a shower.  As I reached in to turn on the hot water I noticed a string hanging from the ceiling.  Hmmm.  I’ve never seen that in a shower before.  I wonder what it’s for?  I considered possible negative consequences for pulling it.  Perhaps it activates a camera?  Why not give them a shot of my glorious naked self?  I pulled the string.  Nothing. I pulled it again.  Still nothing.  I tried to avoid it as I showered, much as I try to avoid the spiders in my shower at home.  Perhaps adjusting to city life won’t be so hard after all.

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