I know I’ve slacked off in posting on my blog. Several factors have contributed to the lack of communication. Besides not keeping a journal anymore (that fizzled out after South Africa and came to a complete halt after Europe), I’m just not motivated to write. I often think of things I want to write about and/or vent, but then I wonder, “Why bother?” No one but other PCVs (specifically those in Rwanda) will understand, and very few outside of this country even care to understand. I can make myself blue in the face going over the details of life here, but actually living it is a whole other story. Trying to convey the physical but especially emotional difficulties of living here just don’t translate to someone who has never had a similar experience let alone the full-on two year immersion we go through as PCVs.
I will share my main frustration with life in relation to the one I’ve left behind (since I voiced some of my frustrations relating to Rwanda in my last post) which is the one-sided communication. So you can’t understand what I’m going through here – fine. But pick up your phone, punch in my number, and let me try to tell you. Or at the very least e-mail/facebook message me. If I can do it, so can you – and it’s about a million times easier and faster for you. First is the issue of cost: To call everyone – about 10 people, not counting my parents who actually call me – to wish them Merry Christmas for just 15 minutes each, I spend the equivalent of almost $100 USD when you equate it to a percentage of salary. I may not have extravagant expenses here, but I’m not raking in the cash either. And those phone calls to you all can mean giving up other things important to me and my happiness and quality of life here; simple things that you all take for granted but make my life less lonely and isolated. We’re talking peanut butter and oatmeal here, not Western-style splurges like a nice dinner at an expensive restaurant or a trip to the salon/spa. (Though I do indulge about once a month – not even that often now that I think of it – in a dinner out for something fancier than goat on a stick with a side of grilled potatoes. And even that grilled goat is a luxury I don’t have very often!)
But it’s not so much the cost that bothers me, it’s the fact that little or no effort is made from the other side of the Atlantic. And then you have the nerve to ask me why it’s been so long since I’ve called? No. How crazy is this: 2 years after living in Africa and calling everyone at least once every month, FINALLY two people ask, “Well, is there anyway to call you?” Yeah, you just pick up your phone (or even use your speedy internet connection) and you punch in the number that’s been coming up on your screen once or twice a month for the past two years! And even if you had to ask me for the number, it’s a technological marvel, but we have these new-fangled two-way phones here that not only dial out but also accept calls. Imagine that! Whatever, don’t make the effort; just don’t criticize me for not making pains on my end.
Anyway, there have been a few exceptions to my one-sided misery. I want to sincerely thank LT for her continued communication through the post, Ness for a birthday-Christmas package this year, and Mags for the Starbuck’s VIA. Also my aunt and uncle for their Christmas package. Without those efforts, I would have felt completely abandoned. (That’s not counting my wonderful parents who call me every week and send a few packages a year. I REALLY appreciate all you’ve done for me since I made the decision to live in Africa for two years and support you’ve shown.)
So now that my service is coming to a close, how will I feel when I return to the States? Hard to say. I’ll likely carry back some of the resentment I feel now, but I’ll get over it. After all, I care enough to schlep across the country and visit you all. This post was more for me to vent since it likely won’t change anything. Let it be a testimony to the plight of the volunteer and the frustrations we all share and understand but have a harder time being translated to those back home.