Sunday, November 18, 2012

poop talk

                My bed has been voted as the Worst Bed in Peace Corps Lesotho.  It’s been compared to everything from “an old, thin box spring” to “like sleeping on plastic cups”.  Ever since I moved in, I’d been meaning to call Peace Corps and ask what they could do to fix the situation.  But the sad thing is that I’m used to it now.  Every time I cough and feel the springs rattle at the same time, it doesn’t even phase me.

                We share a lot of beds in Peace Corps.  Pretty quickly, I had to get over being shy at sleepovers.  Peeing in a bucket in the middle of the night, squeezing three or four people to a bed (or sharing the dirt floor with eight or nine people), and everyone waking up simultaneously hung over/eating leftover dinner straight from the pot is usually how Peace Corps sleepovers end up.

                Heather and I had a sleepover last night.  We had a couple of quarts of beer, per usual… nothing crazy.  Her bed is much nicer than mine, by the way. 

                The roosters and donkeys woke us up around 6am.  I could tell Heather was up and reading already, but I wanted to keep sleeping.  Once I finally decided to roll over, she was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and wanted to chat!  Three minutes later, we were lying down facing each other, our cheeks resting on the backs of our hands, deep into a conversation about the sustainability of projects in developing countries and finding meaning in life through volunteerism.  

                All this at about 6:15am.  I don’t think I had even rubbed the sleep clear from my eyes.

                I’ve had some of the best conversations with people during my time in Peace Corps.  Most of the volunteers in my group are in their twenties and almost all of them are nearly straight from college, but they have some of the most mature insights into international development, personal growth, overcoming challenges and accepting failure as an inevitable part of this Peace Corps experience.

                Heather told me this morning that the first year of Peace Corps is about failing, and the second year is about accepting failure.

                I’m trying to figure out how I’ll be able to have these same conversations with people from home.  I don’t think I’ll be able to put into words what this experience has been like for me.  How can I answer a question like, “so how was Africa?”?  Well, how long do you have to talk?

                I’ve also had pretty immature conversations with volunteers.  There’s nothing better than passing the time in a disgusting, crowded taxi by playing the game “Would You Rather” (most of the choices had something to do with poop, being pooped on, throwing poop around). 

                PCVs really love talking about their poop.  We have weird poops in Africa.  It's always too much poop or not enough, and we've also got great stories about places we've pooped.  We poop in disgusting latrines, in piles of trash, in buckets and bags, and sometimes in our own pants.  Now who wouldn't want to swap stories like that?

                Come to think of it, my skills as a “normal” conversationalist have probably deteriorated a lot since being in Africa.  If I can’t talk about the ups and downs of being a Peace Corps volunteer with the average citizen, and I can’t resort to describing my daily bowel movements either, I’m not really sure what I’m going to talk about with people when I come home. 

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