Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Solar eclipse and lunatic foreigners (ribelles)

Wed. was a rare solar eclipse, with people across the world flocking to the best viewing spots. Turns out the Marshall Islands is a pretty good destination. The day of the eclipse coincided with our first trip into town. The astronomers of our group found a welder's mask in a hardware store, a suitable prop for viewing the total eclipse of the sun.

Picture this: a school bus full of ribelles, each sequentially hanging out the window wearing a welder's mask, peering at the sun. Amusing when those white faces are hanging out on the right (the lagoon side), but nearly disastrous when they're hanging out on the ocean side. The masked foreigner peering up doesn't notice that a car is coming the other way on the one-lane road, leaving scarcely enough clearance even without a masked ribelle head out the window. Luckily the other driver does notice. The laughs of the idiot ribelles ripple through the bus all the way home.

Days are filled with classes about teaching, kajin majel (Marshallese) lessons, swimming in the lagoon, exotic food (octupus isn't my favorite, but pumpkin/coconut rice -- delicious!), deep sleep, and sweating!!! Very few of my fears are being realized, and lots of the gorgeousness of this place is seeping into my soul.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Safe, sound and sweating

I'm here! All 39 of us WorldTeach volunteers arrived, with all our luggage intact (most with our lunch intact too). Our month-long orientation is in a village on the capital atoll Majuro, before we fan out to our various assignments.

The country is indeed the beautiful island in the photos, where a single-lane road traverses the length of the island (70 miles, maybe?), but you can walk the width from ocean to lagoon in, oh, 5 minutes. Orientation is in Ajeltake village, where we're sleeping on mats in classrooms, taking bucket showers, and taking over the elementary school kitchen to cook our meals. The sea breeze from ocean to lagoon helps make the humid heat less oppressive -- I can actually breathe here. One of the volunteers said of this morning's rain: "It's not raining; it's the Gods sweating."

We're in town now (Day 2 of orientation), hitting the internet cafe, opening bank accounts in the Bank of Marshall Islands, shopping, registering in the healthcare system, etc. Not sure when I'll be able to check in again, but so far so good!

Thanks to you all for your emails of support -- I so appreciate it!

Until next time -

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ready to go -- No keys in my pocket

I have no keys in my pocket. Not one.

I have always had keys in my pocket: my childhood bike lock key and house key when I was in old enough to be trusted, a dorm room key and a gym basket key in college, followed by the car keys, house keys, and safe deposit box keys of adulthood. Today I have no keys in my pocket.

Each chapter of this preparation phase has been marked by letting go of one key after another.

I left my office key in the drawer and locked the door behind me late at night after I finally finished the handoff document to my faceless replacement (they're hiring sometime soon, I hear).

I left the key to "the marital home" on his brand new kitchen table, after removing the last remnants of my half of our twenty years together.

I slipped my condo key through the mailslot at the realtors, for the renters to settle in next month before grad school starts in the fall.

I put my car key on my mom's keyring. There's space in her Texas carport for two cars. She'll keep it in the shade for me, taking it out for a run into town from time to time.

I've placed each key where it belongs now. It's just me and my suitcases. My pockets are empty.