It Really is the Little Things


It’s hard to believe I’ve already been here for over 2 months.  As I’m sure you can imagine, being thrown into an entirely new culture, country, language, and “job” can be overwhelming and hard at times.  But even when things are overwhelming, I’m feeling down, or things are just downright hard, there are so many good things happening in my life right now.

A few things in the last couple of weeks that have brightened my days:

Helping my host brother with some of his chores.  A couple of weekends ago, I helped my 10-year-old host brother cut the “stems” off the onions that my host family had harvested from the garden in order to store them for the year in the cellar.  It wasn’t hard work and I really enjoyed having something beneficial to do.  I’ve always loved working with my hands- and this was a way for me to help out my host family as well.  It made a day that was not going particularly well a lot better.

Eating Mac and Cheese at Smokehouse BBQ
Eating Mac and Cheese at Smokehouse BBQ

Eating mac and cheese (and then ribs, too) at an American BBQ restaurant.  My very favorite food is mac and cheese in basically any of its forms (though homemade is DEFINITELY better).  After 2 months here, I was definitely missing mac and cheese more than pretty much anything.  Last Friday, after swearing in, a group of us went to eat at Smokehouse Restaurant, which is an American BBQ restaurant owned and run by former Peace Corps Volunteers.  The mac and cheese portions were wayyy too small by my preferences (though that may have to do with the fact that I was seriously craving it), but it was very yummy!  Later, at the same restaurant, I had ribs- which were also very, very good.

Drinking tea and eating snacks with my host mom.  I drink tea everyday here.  Sometimes, if we’re eating a later dinner, or sometimes after dinner, we’ll have tea and snacks.  Generally, my host brothers (plus host cousin and sometimes a friend) are there, but every once and a while, my host mom and I get to enjoy a quiet “tea time”, which I really enjoy.  It gives us a chance to talk, and I know she really appreciates it as well.

A really nice Sunday afternoon out with my host family.  A couple of weekends ago, I went to the zoo with my host mom, host dad, and younger host brother.  Although the zoo is not quite as nice as others I’ve been to, it was really nice to spend time with my host family and get out of the house.  It was the most relaxed and carefree I’ve seen them, and it was a very relaxing afternoon- and we even got popcorn and cotton candy!  After, on our drive home, we stopped to see my host family’s grape fields.  I hadn’t been to see them before, so I was very excited!  The grapes weren’t quite ripe yet.  The fields stretched on further than I could see, and it was so pretty!  After, we had barbecued sausages and garlic rolls back at our house- yum!

When my host brother brings me chocolate…and fruit.  My younger host brother sometimes brings me a bar of chocolate or a fruit to enjoy.  One night last weekend, he brought me a chocolate covered cookie.  I went out to the porch to eat it, and then my host parents showed me the very first ripe grapes from their vines.  We ate them, as well as fresh watermelon.  Everything was very yummy!

Playing Uno with Mac, the cat...but actually with my host brother
Playing Uno with Mac, the cat…but actually with my host brother

Playing Uno with my host brother…and teaching my host mom as well!  I play Uno with my younger host brother most nights before bed.  He really enjoys it and it is a game that we can easily play regardless of language barriers.  Last night, we taught my host mom how to play as well.  After a round, she then taught me a game- I didn’t completely understand it, but it involved saluting when a king came up, pinching your nose when the jack was put in the pile, slapping the pile when there was an ace, and saying something for both the queen and the ten.  It was funny even if I wasn’t really sure what I was doing!

Skyping with 3 of my favorite kiddos.  On Thursday night, I got to skype with 3 of my favorite girls, who are visiting with my family in the US right now.  It was great to see and hear them- and they made me laugh a lot :).

And then of course there are the things that weren’t necessarily funny, but are good stories nevertheless:

One of our kittens fell into the outhouse hole.  We have two kittens, and one of them somehow managed to fall in the outhouse hole.  Using rope, my host parents somehow managed to get him out.  We had to give him several baths in the next couple of days, but he no longer stinks.

Junior with his bandaged paw- which is all healed up and fine now!
Junior with his bandaged paw- which is all healed up and fine now!

The same kitten got in a fight with a neighbor’s cat. When I got home from language classes earlier today, my host brother told me the kitten had gotten in a fight, then showed me his paw- it was twice the size it should have been- yikes!  There aren’t any veterinarians in our area, so we soaked his paw in salty, cold water for half an hour (which he did NOT like), then bandaged him up really well, with antibiotic ointment.  That’s what our Peace Corps-provided medical kits are for, right (no?)?

My host mom somehow managed to back the car into the metal stairway-railing that goes to a room above the garage.  I went to go use the outhouse, and when I got to the driveway, there was my host mom and host cousin in a bit of a predicament.  My host mom looked at me, flustered, and just said, “help!”.  I went over to see what was going on, and she had backed into the railing and couldn’t figure out how to get the car out without damaging either the car or the railing.  With my host cousin and I pulling the railing back with all of our weight and using a towel to protect the side of the car, we managed to get the car out without only one very small scratch on the car.