I haven't even been here for a whole week and I've already experienced more than I thought I ever would in that amount of time. But there's one story that sticks out that I have to tell before I tell anything else. Linda fell in a puddle.
We were at the Kingston market, which is quite possibly one of the most overwhelming and insane places I have been. There were people, vehicles, shops, yelling, speakers blasting reggae, American Top 40, sermons, sometimes what seemed to be just shouting in no language at all, vendors trying to sell you toothpaste, soap, breadfruit, plantains, shitty plastic toys, whatever you want, and nasty puddles full of trash, road run off, spit, and potentially human waste. So imagine this chaotic scene as the backdrop for what you would never want to have happen to you in public: tripping and falling into a puddle of black, stinky, poopy water.
I was walking along the sidewalk, which is very uneven and full of holes and cracks. Suddenly I hear screaming and a commotion behind me. I look back and Linda is sideways in a puddle, arms and feet in the air, flailing for the railing that was not there. Now Linda is one of our older and wiser volunteers, so I was concerned at first. But when I could tell that she was not hurt, I started laughing. Obviously, falling is always funny. However, no one else was laughing. I was the asshole American laughing at someone else's bad fortune. Shocking. All the people around were very helpful, giving her wipes to clean herself and helping her up, while looking mortified. Which was probably the proper reaction, seeing what she fell in.
Our host moms helped clean her up and bought her new clothes to change in to. Let's just say that after having three basically strangers strip you down and scrap muck off of you, you have no dignity left, according to Linda. Hopefully she doesn't end up with jungle rot after falling into what she has deemed 'The Eternal Bog of Stench'. That's pretty much what it smelled like.
Now onto me. I've been really enjoying my host family, the community we're staying in, all of the other trainees and all of the staff. We were kept in a bubble for the first few days, staying in a nice hotel in Kingston, training in an air conditioned room, catered meals, and being carted around in Peace Corps vehicles. I kind of felt like a freshman in college again, being told what to do and where to be. But I was ok with it, because if kicked out into the street at that time, I would've probably just pooped my pants and started crying. Living with a host family is a great way to introduce us to the culture. I've been eating everything but the chicken foot soup, and I'm pretty sure she's trying to fatten me up by giving me huge portions. I'm taking care of that by watching her like a hawk when she serves up my plate. I am not going to gain twenty pounds in two weeks.
Tomorrow we start training for real. I've learned it isn't that hard to wake up early here because it gets light at around five in the morning and gets hot faster than a fat kid runs after a donut on a string. Or something like that. Next time I update I'll make sure to bore you with something like exerpts from the Volunteer Handbook.
I love and miss all my friends and family! I can't wait to get your letters and packages...that you are sending. Right? RIGHT?! Oh, don't send packages until after training, so in September. Cool, thanks.