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Sep. 17th, 2005

11:43 am - ow....my head hurts.

I have some kind of fever. I don't know how bad it is, because I don't have a thermometer at the moment and I'm kind of afraid to look anyway. It hurts. I had "the flu" as diagnosed over the telephone by one of the peace corps doctors 2 weeks ago on my birthday. It was not fun at all. Thank goodness for wonderful filipino fiances. I've been pretty much over it, except for the cough (which isn't helped by the fact that the library I work in is COVERED in concrete dust)...and then the fever started creeping back. I slept all day yesterday (instead of studying for the test I had to take this morning) and now that I've taken the test, I think I'll go back to sleep for the rest of my life. I'm in Cebu right now (2nd largest city in the philippines) cause I had to take the Praxis II in Social Studies for grad school. Not even counting the headache, I'm not sure I got higher than a 50%...and I'm sure the headache and cough syrup didn't help. That test was HARD! So anyway, now I'm going to meet my friend here at the mall for mexican food (yea!!!, one of the only mexican restaurants in the Philippines) and maybe shop for a few minutes, cause I'm like the country girl that's been let out into the big city...and then I'm going back to her house to take many painkillers and antihistimines and sleep and watch DVDs of american TV shows for the next 24 hours. I'm hoping this is stress related. If I still feel bad when I get back to Iloilo tomorrow afternoon, I may just go straight from the airport to the hospital and get Dex to check me in. I know I'm not sick enough to require hospitalization, but if I'm lying in the hospital bed, I don't have to think about anything and they come in and perform all the required tests while I'm in my pajamas. I'd just kinda like to collapse and have someone else take care of me for a while. Talk to you guys soon!

Aug. 22nd, 2005

10:47 am - Forever and a day....

I know...it's like I dropped off the face of the earth. I actually have a few moments to sit here in front of this computer today with no one breathing down my neck due to a random school holiday that the president proclaimed this morning. So...what's new with my life:

Dexter and I are still waiting to hear from the Embassy about the next step for his visa. I don't imagine there will be many problems with that, though...I think everything is pretty much squared away there.

We are in the process of planning the wedding for May (6 or 13??). To be held in Birmingham, AL. To involve southern barbeque and something vegetarian. There will be official invitations eventually, but in the meantime...pencil it in. Dex and I are going to some printing shops in Iloilo later today to check out invitations and I'm doing the rest of the planning mostly through email.

Dex and I have a new house. It should be finished by the end of this week. It's made of bamboo and has a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and small kitchen. (And a front porch). I'm getting pictures of the construction developed right now. If it's not terribly expensive, I'll try to scan them in and post them later. It will be so nice to have our own space! Living with anyone's mother, especially your future mother-in-law can be stressful. Now I can cook whatever I want and I only have to fight with Dex for the remote. Yea!!

I started teaching at the High School last Monday. It's going pretty well. I like it so much more than my job before!! It's still hard though. Lots of work and you really have to be on top of things (especially with 53 students per class!!). I'm doing OK. I'm not the best teacher, but it's still only my first week. I'm learning though.

The High School library is starting to look awesome!!! The world map on the wall is 56 feet by 28 feet!!! We have lot's of great books that have been donated and I'm going to try to add some more after we get kinda organized and I can see what else we need.

We went to the beach Saturday with Dex's mom and all of the carpenters working on our house. It was great fun. I won at Majongg (finally!!!).

Spark (the dog) is doing good, but she's kinda lazy. Dex's sister's dog (Fiona) is super hyper and follows right behind you everywhere you go (even when I go to the market). I think she thinks she belongs to us. I'm hoping when the house gets build we can bond with Spark more without Fiona jumping all over us.

Dex got 2 white mice. It sounds kinda gross, but they're actually really cute. They have little people-hands and cute front teeth. We're making them a big cage so they can run around and play. The girl mouse is pregnant. Their names are Mags and Migs.

That's about it for right now. I hope you guys are all doing great! Talk to you soon!

Jul. 1st, 2005

09:05 pm - COS conference

So...I went to the COS conference. The venue was REALLY nice. I ate some bad eggs one day, but at least I had a nice comfy room with cable TV to recover in. I'll try to post some pics on webshots from the conference.

The conference itself was really informative about looking for jobs after PC, writing a resume, etc. It was kinda hard for me though, cause everyone else is getting ready to leave and I'm just not at the same place they are right now. I'm glad I'm staying for a while, but listening to everyone else talk about the things they're going to do when they get home made me really jealous. We had a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) panel that was WONDERFUL. They had volunteers from the Philippines who had just left last year, people who served in other countries a few years ago and now work in Manila, and some volunteers from back in the 60s. It was really great. I got to talk with Dr. Kral and his wife who served in the PC in the 60s. He went on to work in various embassies and is now working at US AID. His wife has worked as a teacher/tutor in the US and tons of other countries. They were amazingly supportive and had a lot of good advice. Also, the woman (and a couple of other women that were there) are on the US Embassy Club panel which is who funded my Sari-Sari Store grant project. Anyway, I made a lot of great connections and had a ton of fun. We all went over to the Country Director's house the last night and had dinner. It's great to get together with other Americans who really value the experiences of being in another country and have traveled a lot. It's really fun to meet all the former PC volunteers and to see what they're doing with their lives now too.

So, I've been through all my lab work, physical, dental, etc. and I'll be heading back to site tomorrow. My batchmates leave the last week of August, but who knows how many of them I'll see between now and then. It's going to be hard to let these people go. We shared such a unique and life-changing experience and we'll probably never be together like this again. I know I've said this before, but Peace Corps is definitely the best thing I've done with my life so far. I've grown so much personally and professionally and I actually feel fulfilled and happy, which is something I had had a hard time with in the states. I think it was a lot easier for me to get a grasp on things by stepping out of the picture for a while and being able to gain a better perspective. I'm also just so proud of myself for actually accomplishing this. Two years ago I stepped on a plane all by myself and travelled to the other side of the globe...and I did it!! and flourished!! I have more self confidence and self awareness now than I ever thought possible...it's amazing.

It's funny cause one of the things we talked about at COS is how when we get home, we're going to want to share all of our photos/thoughts/stories/experiences...but people mostly only want to listen for 5 minutes, because it's not part of their experience. I'm starting to realize it's good that I have this online journal...I can just ramble on-and-on and you guys can edit selectively...I'm still going to talk your ear off when I get home though...Sorry in advance. I'll try to keep it down to 5 minutes at a time. :)

Jun. 25th, 2005

10:01 am

I'm in Manila right now for the conference. It's really rainy and stormy. I don't know if you guys have heard about "Gloria-gate", but all kinds of recordings of "President Gloria" are showing up...one about her being involved in illegal betting, one about fixing election results. So far it's just a bunch of grumpy old congressmen...but if anyone with guns shows up, I'm outa here.

I'm gonna be in a wedding in July. Dexter's Uncle is getting married (they already had a civil service, but now they're doing the church thing). I'm the Maid of Honor. My dress is gold....I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. Anyway, all the relatives should be getting here soon.

Jun. 21st, 2005

12:02 pm - COS Time

So...In Peace Corps...and in the Philippines, acronyms are a big deal. You've got PC/W (Peace Corps Washington), PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer), PCT (Peace Corps Trainee), LCF (Language and Culture Facilitator(Language Instructor)), LA (Living Allowance), RA (Re-adjustment allowance), QTA (Quarterly Travel Allowance), etc. Anyway, you get the idea. So on friday, I have to fly to manila to meet with the PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) and then to Cavite to meet with my APCD (Assistant Program Country Director) and the other 262 PCVs at the COS (Close of Service) Conference. Basically, the COS Conference takes place about 3 months before the end of our service and it involves a lot of filling out government forms and health exams. I should also find out if I got chosen for my extension during the conference, which will be both exciting and depressing, since everyone else will be saying goodbye and going home, and I'll be here for almost another year. It's hard to see my batchmates go, but I really do enjoy it here.

My dog, Spark, is at the vet right now. She got her booster shot, heartworm test, and flea drops. She is by far, the most spoiled dog in the philippines. I have to pay $20 when I go to pick her up. That's like 1/5 my monthly salary!! I hope she appreciates it!

Anyway, I'm doing well here and I miss you guys a bunch! Talk to you soon!

Jun. 3rd, 2005

01:58 pm - Sign Language

The past week has been a whirlwind. On monday I did a training on Classroom Management for the local High School teachers. Tuesday and Wednesday I accompanied Jaja (the deaf boy from my town)to SPED. His mom, sister, and I learned basic sign language and he enrolled for the upcoming school year. For the first time in his life, he saw deaf students who knew how to read, write, and communicate and he made tons of friends in the first five minutes. On Wednesday, after the training, I offered to help his mom buy him his school supplies (the list was really small and his dad only makes like $10 a week). I bought him new crayons, and pencils, etc. and spent a total of 160pesos ($3). He was so happy I almost started crying. How can 160 pesos be nothing to me, but to him, it can keep him from going to school because they can't afford notebooks and pencils? To me it's one value meal at McDonalds and to him it's his future. I've already taught Dexter's cousin at the Sari-Sari store some sign language and Dex and his sister know as much as I do. I'm determined that this kid will be able to have a basic conversation with anyone in town before I leave. Most people think it's really fun to learn and cool to be able to talk with him. It seems like such a small thing, but his mom told me yesterday "His life has a purpose now."

Current Mood: accomplished

May. 26th, 2005

09:30 am - Trip To the North

I went up north to Nueva Viscaya province to help with the training in Bayombang and had a chance to see the Banaue Rice Terraces ("The 8th Wonder of the World"). There's an article here:  http://www.islamonline.net/english/science/2003/09/article10.shtml that explains a lot of the history.  I don't know why it's on an islamic website, since the people up there are mostly tribal (think Native Americans).  If you search for "Banaue Rice Terraces" or "Ifugao People" you can see more pictures.  One of the really amazing things about the terraces is the irrigation through the mountains.  I don't quite understand, but apparently it's really difficult to get water to flow through a mountain.  A local guy told me about all these experts who came from Manila to build this huge government project that was supposed to be a new irrigation canal, but now the water is going back to the source instead of running through the pipeline.  He thought it was hysterical that those "experts" from the capital thought they could build an irrigation line.  The place is just beautiful and breathtaking.  The culture is very different from what I'm used to on my island.  Very structured by family clans.  I was surprised by that article, because I've heard that the Ifugao people are some of the best conservationists here, because they understand the land so well and before you affect it in any way, you have to ask the clan elder, who understands the effects of deforestation and landslides in a very practical way (it affects his income).  I was amazed by the culture and the natural beauty.  I would love to go back and spend more time there.