Thursday, February 21, 2008

"We came together, but we will leave here one by one."

Kurt is gone. He left Sunday night. We gave him an awesome send off (it involved Tenacious D, Particle, and Dragonforce!). I've seen other people leave. I remember last year saying good bye to our sister stage and realizing that most of the people I would be meeting over the next year would have no idea who these people were. Now it's our turn, and it's sadder than I ever imagined.

It could be that with Kurt I've lost my best friend in country, but I really feel like we're at the end now. When we were leaving stage to go to post after swear in, it was me, Alex, Alison, Djimi, Kurt, and Cathy in the car together. Someone (I think it might have been Alex) said something along the lines of "And so ends that chapter." At the time it felt really appropriate. I imagined our car drving away from the training site as being the last shot at the end of an episode of the tv show of our lives or something. You know, really cheesy bullshit like that. But it felt impressive.

If my life consisted of a series of books, I feel like I'm in the last chapter before it's time for the next book. All that's left is to wrap up my work, introduce my replacement in my village, and then there's my travels to get back home. Okay, there might be some other recent developments too. My point is, one of the things that is really scary right now is that I don't really have any inkling of what lies beyond that next title page. There's lots of little plot threads, but none of them show any indication of where they are going. Not to mention the major setting change! This has been my favorite book so far (I see my life as having been 4 books up till), what if the next one totally blows.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Rule!

Tech trip was awesome. Exhausting, at times slightly frustrating, but mostly it went really well. In spite of my supervisor, rather than making me feel like a failure, it instead became an awesome cap to my service.

When I came into town on Sunday right before the trip, I learned that I had been played even worse than I thought. Apparently while I was in Senegal, everyone at training (this includes volunteers, training coordinators, and some admin folk) had decided to cancel my trip and just send all the AG trainees to Gotheye for one tech trip. My boss however did not agree and kept working as if there was a tech trip. When I showed up in Niamey talking about the tech trip, it was apparently news to everyone else that it was still going there. My boss basically defeated them all by keeping me in the dark about this alternate plan, because if i had caught wind of it I would have won it for them hands down by just saying no. I hate finding out that I was used in such a fashion. Especially when it put so much stress on me and had me freaking out.

But anyway, I put on the best tech trip I could muster, and feel like I pretty much defeated him. Despite his best efforts to mess up my schedule and add or remove programs left and right at the last minute, I was ready for him. My schedule was flexible and padded enough that I was always able to keep it going smoothly, even if it did mean there was a lot of down time and I was running around like a madman the whole time. But I think that was exactly what the trainees needed. They are pushed so hard up at site that I figured they deserved a more leasurely couple of days. They all seemed to have had a good time. It just annoys me that the only one who really knows what I had to go through to pull this off is the my boss.

Site announcements are also today, and I got to pick my replacement out of the two Zarma girls that visited my post. Both of them I think will be a great fit so it was kind of an arbitrary decision. They also both loved my cats and spoiled them rotten, so I don't have to worry about them anymore.

With all this over, I really feel like I'm done now. The only work I have left to do is to wrap up all my COS paperwork and figure out what I'm doing next. I already have my plane ticket off this continent (Accra, Ghana to London, England) so there's no denying it anymore. I'm leaving. Which was bittersweet to begin with, but has become even more saddening for other reasons. Khala suuru I guess.

Life is messy.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I thought you said we didn't have a final exam?

Yes I'm back in Niamey already. And i go back to post today. And I'll be back in Niamey tomorrow. And I'll be back to post on Monday. Why all the running back and forth you ask? Well I'll tell you.

One of the major events of training here in Peace Corps Niger is the tech trip. This is where a group of trainees travel out to a volunteer's post and spend a couple days learning about various projects that are going on there and observing things like gardening techniques or animal care methods in a village setting. Well this year they've decided that one of the Agriculture tech trips should take place in my village.

The other half of the Ags will travel up to Gotheye for their trip. Haoua (one of our supervisors) and the Gotheye team have been planning and working hard to pull together what I hear will be an awesome tech trip. The other half, come to me, where my supervisor has not done anything and it's just me, not a team of volunteers. Needless to say I've been a little stressed.

I think my biggest problem has been that this feels like the final exam I was always told we didn't have. My school garden is pretty much a wash this year, through no bodies fault. Since that was the big project I had to show the trainees, it's really disheartening that it's a "failure." I know I shouldn't think of this as presenting my projects, but I do. And the result is there's been a couple moments where it's made me feel like my entire service is a failure. I know that's silly and I'm doing a little better now.

Because I'm the only volunteer working on this, and my boss has done little to nothing to support/assist me in this (hell, just getting information from him is like pulling teeth), I feel like if it is a disappointment then it only reflects badly on me. It's a lot of stress on my head coming at a time where I'm already emotionally agitated. Atleast it'll all be over soon and then I'm done with work.

In other news, Djimi and I went and purchased tickets for the first leg of our COS trip yesterday. We now have tickets to get off this continent on March 28th: Accra to London. w00t

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Back in Niger

I have returned to Niger to find it a different place. Or rather it is the same, but I can't see it the way I used to. I have no motivation desire to spend time in my village, as it seems like that is just waiting around to say goodbye. I hate dragged out good byes. On the other hand I don't really enjoy Niamey as the hostel is full of new volunteers whom I don't really know, nor do I have much incentive to get to know them. I also have a distinct lack of my own private space that is very frustrating. That was the nice thing about Dakar, I had my own room. I was not always forced to be social. I guess it feels like I'm not really in Niger anymore, but I am also not yet in America beginning the transition back there.

News as regards my teeth: I now have a shiny new crown where I once had a horribly twisted tooth. It's very nice and my lips have finally gotten used to feeling it there (they had gotten used to the gap that was there while the crown was being made). Apparently the bone in my jaw that was eaten away by the infection will heal itself, much like a broken arm. I've noticed a little bit of pain in that part of my gums when I smile a lot or if i poke at it, but I attribute that to the healing as no one seems to be concerned.

I also just want to say that Dakar was awesome. Brittany joined me for my second week and we had a wonderful time together. It was very nice to have another Niger volunteer to share the experience with and I'm glad it was her. I think we both have plans to find a way to get back there someday. If for no other reason than all the wonderful art that we want to buy.

But that's over now and so I find myself just sort of biding my time until I leave, which i do with mixed feelings. I head out to my post in a few minutes, where I'll be preparing stuff for the current stage's tech trip next week. I'm kind of annoyed at how little my boss has done to help me plan this but that's really just become par for the course. Atleast once this is done I'll be done with projects.