But sadly not like Lil Wayne. Last week’s excitement over starting the job search may have been in vain as I think I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a potentially lucrative & rewarding career. My calling may in fact be to bring rain to desert areas thus enabling abundant growth & eradicating a little thing called hunger. How you ask? By doing my laundry of course. Washing & drying clothes here bez (without) machines takes some planning as many soaking & boiling processes are involved. Then comes the scrubbing & wringing & once that has subsided they need a good 6 hours of flapping in the wind to dry completely. Any misstep or alteration to The Plan can very likely result in mildew as clothes simply do not dry in my air-circulation-less apartment. Ever the organizer, I literally plan my whole weekend around the task. For instance my underwear (which I always hang inside over my bathtub so my 6th graders don’t have a front row view of Miss Alei’s underpants) need a full 36 hours to dry rendering my bathroom un-usable, so I need to make sure that I shower Friday night. Not Saturday morning mind you, because I already have to wake up early so that I can wash the clothes & have them clean & ready by 10 so they can be hung on the line with enough time to dry before nightfall. After all of this careful planning & despite my anal-retentive checking of the forecast 14 times beforehand, when I’m finally done washing & walk outside with a bucket brimming to the top of clothes to hang up it always is raining. Every. Single. Time. The whole thing is really quite amazing as both rain & laundry-doing are pretty infrequent phenomena around here. I’m no scientist, but the correlation seems too obvious to overlook so I should probably just accept my ‘gift’ & unleash it on the world at large. Fear not farmers. Me & my laundry hamper are on our way. While I’ve obviously yet to master the process I must say that I do love the smell of the clothes after they finally do dry. I don’t know if it’s the new Tide detergent, the joy of being able to dry stuff outside again without it freezing solid, or early onset nostalgia but one way or another I caught myself burying my face in my newly not-damp shirt yesterday & vowing to line dry my laundry when I get home too. Especially if I have a dryer ready & waiting for when I naturally make the rain cloud materialize.
I suppose that is a very long-winded way of explaining what I did the latter half of my Spring Break. Laundry, cleaning & relaxing with a good read. The weather cooperated on Friday which afforded me a nice walk around town & eager anticipation of more to come after the clouds clear.
The first half of SB2011 was also quite enjoyable, if not a little more exciting. The fun started bright & early last Saturday morning when Olha & the fam picked me up to take me to Vinnitsia. Them for dental work, me for a meeting with my manager & other volunteers in the area. I was expecting to spend a few hours alone since I was way ahead of schedule, but I was pleasantly surprised to find three of my friends already waiting at the American embassy (also known as McDonald’s) & spent the morning laughing & enjoying coffee in a to-go cup. Eventually we inadvertently rounded up about 10 other volunteers & headed to the meeting for a lovely 4 hour information session followed by a night of fruitlessly looking for a karaoke bar. The mission was a bust, but the company is always good.
Ashley, Kasey & Becky met me the next afternoon & we killed time meandering the mall & choosing hair-dye colors for each other until our overnight train to Truskavets, a vacation town out west near the Carpathian mountains. 10 hours is a perfect amount of time for an overnight train in my humble opinion & I woke up fully rested & confident that none of them would judge me on my awkward top bunk dismount. We’d read about our destination, The Hyzhyna Spa, online & had been impressed but slightly skeptical of the place with only a few jungle-themed pictures to go off of, so there was definitely a moment of panic when our taxi driver crossed over a rickety wooden bridge & pulled up to a white-washed straw & stone building. Luckily we pushed on through though because it turns out that was just the rustic entry way leading to a truly amazing & extravagant hotel. They held true to the theme with exotic plants, draping fabric, & jumping fountains everywhere. It basically looked like a Rainforest Cafe without the giganto fake pythons (clearly not my favorite part). From the huge suite, to the hot shower, to the continental breakfast it definitely did not feel like Kansas anymore.
We spent a solid three days lounging around in our robes & wandering from one spa area to the next, including a sauna, an aromatherapy room, a pool & a tepid (not quite hot) tub. My personal favorite was the Roman sauna which is like the inside of the Bean in Chicago but all tiled & warm with a constant mist of hot air spraying out. It’s a little tricky to describe but it prompted me to profess my love & desire to live there (in the sauna, not the town) multiple times.
The company was also a delight providing hours of conversation & shared confusion when the “hot” tub jets were set off & seemed bent on launching us into space. We managed to make it out of the hotel a few times (very reluctantly) but were glad when we did because there happened to be an amazing sushi restaurant nearby that cost even less than the hotel dinner. It was just one big, luxurious exercise in “Are you sure we’re in Peace Corps?”, but amazingly the whole trip was less than I would spend on one night in a hotel at home so I guess it’s allowed. Needless to say, we were a bit surly at the checkout counter but thankfully we were able to ease back into the real world with a long train trip back providing another good 10 hours of not-alone time.
The brief respite outside & few days’ absence prevented me from getting as bored as usual at home & by Sunday night I was pleasantly rested & ready to see my kids today. Talking with other volunteers at every stage of the Peace Corps journey has made me very appreciative of where I am now. I’m close enough to the end that I’m feeling motivated to make sure every plan gets put into motion & no smile goes unnoticed, but far enough away that I’m not yet frantic or checked out. Able to treasure the moments & opportunities left without being overwhelmed by a daunting end date. Comfortable enough that the cultural mishaps usually make me laugh instead of cry for a change, but foreign enough to never forget that my time here is fleeting. It’s a good place. Plus with enough events scattered through the remaining 8 calendar pages I’ve got plenty to look forward to. This month’s highlights include Easter & a 10K race in western Ukraine, followed by a trip to a beach in Turkey, a joint birthday celebration with Ashley, & graduation in May. Summer is ushered in soon after which just so happens to be my favorite season, especially here where the hot weather, friendly neighbors, camps full of grateful kids, & daily ice cream make the days fly on by. Oh yeah, & then there’s Paris. Bez problem 🙂