What do you do all alone in the bush?
It feels like it's been forever since I've made a post, and yet my head doesn't feel at all bloated with excess thoughts and experiences eager to burst forth upon the blogosphere (god I hate that word). Allow me to explain the reasons behind this.
There are many things I've always wanted to do but never quite got around to. Examples include playing guitar, studying philosophy, and especially writing down my thoughts and experiences (those of you I talk to with some frequency will note that the first two are my primary liesure activities in the bush). Well I've never been able to consistantly keep a journal or maintain a blog or what have you. I usually just end up telling or discussing my thoughts with someone and that's the end of that. I've always felt however that if I could just find the right notebook, the floodgates would open and a tidal wave of inky thoughts would flow freely from my pen. Well when I was visiting Kurt in Gotheye he gave me one of his spair pocket sized moleskine notebooks (I've had a few of the larger sized to limited success). Since then only two days have passed where I have not written something down. I could go on a long rant about why I think that is the case but I wont...atleast not today.
The result is I feel less inclined to post when I'm in town because I am constantly jotting things down in my notebook, be they observations, activities, little bits of music I need to try later, or personal revelations. I am sure, if I can get back in the habit of blogging, I will use this as an effective resource for remembering what happened and relating it back to you, dear readers. But now is not that time.
I have been briefly scanning some of my compatriots blogs now and again and I have noticed that they talk much more about what sorts of projects or developement plans/needs they have for their communities. I have posted little in regards to specific "work" that I am doing here for one simple honest reason: I am not doing much of that...yet.
As has been quoted in inumerable marketing materials, briefings, handbooks, and support resources, "every peace corps experience is different." For me, my first 6 months in Niger have been much more about personal exploration. I have been freed from my time devouring hobbies, constant media bombardment, and the avenues of data addiction (this last is something I will probably talk about at great length sometime).
Through learning (or relearning) to play the guitar I have developed a new found love and interest in music, especially music theory and construction. I quickly snatch up any resources on this material and ferret them away to my hut to properly digest and apply them. Though I am also exploring music with Kurt who is teaching himself the banjo. Whenever possible we get together and mess around with what we've learned and discovered.
Aside from that I've spent a lot of time marveling at the world and exploring philosophy and spirituality, as those two go very much hand in hand. Coming here to this culture and environment that couldn't be more different from my home pretty much shattered my prievious world view. I have spent the last several months picking up the pieces, along with many new pieces, and putting them back together in some way. What I think about the world is gradually becoming clearer to me and I feel much less lost now that I did initially.
Both of these adventures I could, and probably will, explore at great length here. There have been other things too, but for the most part this is what I have been spending my time on. Don't interpret this to mean that I do not actively interact and explore my village, environment, and potential projects. Only recently however, have these activities come off the backburner and I now feel comfortable enough in my new home to actually start doing things.
As I recently explained to one of my villagers when he asked why I haven't started any projects yet, before I can do effective work, I need to be happy where I am. The past 4 months at post, and 6 months in country have been a rollercoaster and it's just finally getting to the smoother bits so I can begin to work on my project goals. Initially however I see most of those projects being home improvement type things as I very much see the role of the first volunteer in a village to be that of making the place comfortable and making the village understand how Peace Corps works as opposed to other developement organizations.
So that, I hope, gives you some idea of what I've really been up to in the past 6 months.