Illness, bounceback, fairs, and more
Well, this week seemed to go by kind of quickly. It started out with Yoga on Sunday morning, at the home of a woman who works for the embassy and generously offers classes on Sunday mornings. After Yoga, I had intentions to go explore a bit, take some photos. I ended up not having a lot of energy and just resting, and working on my language.
I had been feeling little twangs of irritation in my abdomen, and was surprised because I mistook them for hunger, thinking how strange it was that I was wanting to eat so often in a warm climate. By the end of last week, though, I was getting terrible headaches, which I attributed to possibly dehydration, though I was drinking plenty of water. By Monday afternoon, though, I started getting some familiar feelings – cold sweat, a touch of nausea, more severe pain in my abdomen. At that time, my powers of deduction kicked back in and I called the doctor, who told me to take a cab to the office to see him. I must have shown how horrible I felt, because when I went to go ask the director to call me a cab, she looked shocked when she saw my face.
The doctor did not bother to do a blood or other kind of test, but started me on antibiotics. I knew the symptoms, he knows my file (this was just like what happened in Thailand), so he did not mess around. I took Tuesday off work, but managed to make it to my first Dutch lesson at Peace Corps that night. It is really nice, that Peace Corps is providing us with 30 hours of language lessons – more than I anticipated – and the language coordinator has also provided me with a wealth of materials for self-study.
So far, I am picking up on Dutch. It is interesting – having learned French, Danish, Russian (and Ukrainian), I find myself making connections and comparisons between them, whether it be for vocabulary or grammar. What can I say, I’m a language nerd. But I am liking that I already was able to use some of it when I went grocery shopping today.
I was also able to attend a couple of Embassy sponsored events this week – a really interesting HIV program (I left when they started the panel discussion – having JUST started to learn Dutch, I was not going to be able to understand scientific and sociological terms!) and a movie on Thursday evening. Unfortunately during the movie, I got eaten alive by mosquitoes – they are aiming for my legs and feet. By the end of it, I was in misery, and ended up taking an antihistamine when I got home, to stop the itching and burning. Guess my blood tastes good to them – perhaps because I am so sweet?
Yesterday the director of the org where another Response Volunteer and I work took us to an Artisan/Entrepreneurs’ Fair. We saw all kinds of pangis (traditional Surinamese sarong/skirt/towel/cover), hand-made jewelry, and other artistic creations. We also tried Surinamese “fast food” in the form of a samosa (with potato inside) and something that looked like an egg roll and had dark leafy greens inside. Tasty!
Luckily for me, the director is a local and a well-known one at that, so I was able to take photos with no one minding. I got a couple of really lovely shots of women – portraits. I love the diversity here – people have backgrounds that can be anything from Maroon (people who are descended from escaped slaves), Hindustani (people who are descended from immigrants from India), Creole (a mix of white, black, Indonesian…most anything, really), Javanese, and more. This makes for some really lovely people!
It was hard not to buy anything when we were there, but it was only the first of many of these we will see, including some that will be put on my our own organization. The artisans are so creative in what they make jewelry out of – seeds, pits, nuts, and other organic materials.
Today I once again had intentions to go explore, but after going out food shopping on my bike and then preparing my dinners for the next week, I wonder if I should go back out into the sun. I am still trying to get used to how strong the sun is. Because where I am is so close to the Equator, the Sun appears to go in a little circle in the sky, which means the sun is shining most of the time – something to which my white, white skin needs to adjust. I am also finding that even the smallest amount of exertion means I sweat – a lot! That’s fine – my body is cooling itself…I just need some time to get used to it all. So maybe the exploring will wait another week…maybe I’ll do some tomorrow, I never know.
To that end, I am finding that I am still living in the moment – something I had to learn to do in Ukraine. I am starting to enjoy it, not having so much structure (at work, structure is necessary, but at home, not as much), trying to get to know my new home and being able to take the time to do so. I am also processing as I go along – the rapid adjustment to living here combined with the processing I am still doing relating to my most recent experience (Ukraine) and the beginning thoughts of if I am only here for six months, what’s next. My mind seems to not want to take a break!
And…I got a photo of the little bird who comes to my kitchen window. It’s not the best photo in the world, but I had to stand back, so as to not scare him off. He looks like some sort of little woodpecker…he pecked at the glass, which means either he thought he was pecking at another bird, or ???