Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And a run makes everything better

I slept like a rock last night. Although it was only about 45 degrees (F) in my room last night, I was so glad to be back in my bed. It may not be the Tempurpedic that I used to have, but it felt pretty close after sleeping in hostels, airports, and moving vehicles for the last two weeks. I finally woke up at 11 a.m., feeling a bit groggy, but well-rested.

After a wonderful breakfast, I spent over an hour washing the clothing I'd been living in during my travels. Hand-washing is not an easy task, but can I just say that I am glad to have hot running water in the bathroom where I do my wash, and I don't have to cart my clothing down to the river like they used to do here! Three loads of plastic-tub wash - each load holds around 6-8 articles of clothing - a little powdered detergent in the tub, warm water to dissolve it - then the clothes go in. Each piece of clothing gets personal attention - plunge, scrub the material together, turn to a new spot, plunge, scrub the material together, repeat until its as clean as it's going to get - dump out the nasty, dirty water - then rinsing happens the same way - twice - wring everything by hand as hard as possible - take the basket of clothing to the line on the porch - snap out as much extra water as possible - hang. The clothing that I wore in Egypt was the dirtiest - no surprise there!!

It was raining off and on all day (and for the last three days, Tea said), and I wanted to run. But I didn't want to run in the cold rain. That's the worst. Warm rain is great - cold rain is not. So I cleaned off the travel dust from my boots and puttered around getting things ready for school tomorrow. Then I got online and uploaded some photos to facebook and checked my email. That's when I got weepy again. I love getting messages from friends back home, but sometimes I miss Home more than ever when I get emails. (But please don't stop sending them!) One message in particular brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I hate being so sensitive. I shook off the tears and determined to go for a run. Thankfully, the rain had stopped and the sun had started to peek through the clouds, so I knew I had a good window of clear weather. I changed my clothes before I could get weepy again, and headed out the gate and down the road.

I was amazed to find how familiar this village is to me now. Although I liked the experience of running along the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul and along the Nile in Cairo, I was glad to be running down the horribly broken-up road here in Shamgona - it's familiarity was comforting. I knew where the worst potholes would be. I knew which side of the road would be less muddy in certain places. I knew the faces that I passed and greeted with a smile and "gamarjobat." I even knew some of the cows who had come home and were waiting for their people to let them in the gate. I knew which dogs would run along the inside of their fence and bark at me the length of their property. I knew the smell of the wet ground, especially by the river. I knew the police sitting in their truck at the beginning of the village, and I knew they would smile and wave at me both times I passed them. While I was thinking about all these things, I came upon two of my high school girls. They smiled and called out to me, so I stopped to greet them. They each gave me a kiss on the cheek, and we talked for a few minutes about what we had been doing over break and how ready we are for school to start again. They are so glad to have English classes this next semester, and expressed how they want to learn as much as they can. I said I would see them tomorrow and waved a farewell with my heart feeling much lighter.

I keep forgetting why I am here. When I get down and missing Home, I lose focus on what I am doing. I start questioning what in the world I am doing so far away. Then I see my students who love learning - and they love learning from me. That's what I am doing here - I am teaching. I am giving these kids a chance to learn as much English as they possibly can so they will have a better chance for a good job in the future. And I am here for Tea - she wants to better her language skills, and I am here to help her.

Now, if I can just stay focused.....

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