Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Streets of Chocolate Milk

OK. Sorry for the lame post Sunday, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here! I just haven’t had time to get to the internet café for a while; I just got over the flu (typical Jessi move, having some kind of illness, I know) and it just gets darker so much faster so finding the time to make it to Sumgayit to the internet just gets harder and harder. But here I am now, ready to give you more of an update and hopefully more explanation of the pictures I just threw up on Sunday.

When it rains in Azerbaijan, which seems to be more often now, the streets turn to chocolate milk. My walk to school slows down to avoid the creamy stains on all of my dark colored clothes and while there may have been great debate over to bring or not to bring my north face coat, it has in fact shown its face many a time by now. The paradox of weather here is hard. Streets are made of dirt, therefore turn to mud, and when I say mud I mean wet clay, when it rains and this obviously gets all over your shoes and flips up onto clothes, you get it. But it is very important to be clean here and even at school there should be no sign of the chocolate milk that you just had to fight your way through on your clothes or shoes. We have found this to be impossible, but therefore have had to put up with sometimes more then just funny looks at our somewhat stained professional fashions here in AZB.

While learning how to manage the weather of AZB we have also started to do practice teaching, so many new experiences at one time! The picture from Sunday of Lori, Beka and I with our scarves on our heads is in fact not only the first day of rain for us, but also our first day of teaching. As I said, we were not prepared for the weather and the scarves were our only possible attempt at keeping our teacherly domineers from dripping away in the rain. As it turns out the school was not prepared for us either, so we ended up killing time drinking tea and playing word games at Mike’s house, hence the next picture below of us lined up on the couch. Eventually we made it to school, through the flooded streets and thunderstorms to try our hands at teaching English. I was scared out of my mind to get up in front of those kids, but it ended up OK, and by the end of the week I could envision many fun ways of teaching that I could do with the students. I guess the point of this little story is that even in the rain the laughter has kept on coming, sometimes laughter is all we have here

On Halloween we had no power so the night of pumpkin carving and bobbing for apples that was planned did not pan out, but we improvised with the one flashlight and battery powered ipod speakers we had to have a makeshift American Halloween in Azerbaijan. They do not celebrate Halloween here, but a lot of people, at least around here, knew what it was and knew that it was in fact a national holiday in America J That same weekend is where the candle light tea party picture comes from. The day after Halloween my sisters had a get-together with their friends at my house. We ate a beautiful meal outside that my mom spent all day preparing and then moved inside to chat and drink tea by candlelight. Mary, another volunteer, got to come because her host brother is a school friend of my sisters. The two of us had a good time trying to understand all that was being said and just experiencing this younger generation of Azeris.

This week brings on another set of teaching practices in actual classrooms and the usual language lessons, among many things that I could never predict, as everyday does here in Azerbaijan. My focus is on getting better because I really don’t want to get the flu again and on figuring out one-how to say cornstarch in Azeri and two-where I would find it. Miss you all and appreciate all of your letters, messages and support- it keeps me going here!