Trip Start Nov 02, 2003
70Trip End Feb 14, 2006
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I expeced Valentine*s Day to be kind of depressing, but Callie and I actually had a great time: we made chocolate=caramel cookies and gave them to friends, hung out with Natasha*s family (who we*re both really close with now = Natasha*s cousin is my language tutor, and her dad treats us like surrogate daughters), and went to a dance. The dance was pretty funny: mostly horrendous Malagasy pop with a few traditional Malagasy songs and Celine Dion, and tons of men but very few women. While the men did dress up by putting on shoes (a rarity, for special occasions only) and celebrate with tons of beer and rum, they apparently decided that the dance didn*t merit taking their weekly Sunday shower a night early. Since Callie and I were two of just a few women, in addition to being white, there was even more of a beeline for us then there normally would have been. We were surrounded by drunk men, a few of them especially smelly and/or pushy, and eventually got really sketched out. There was one really drunk man in particular who followed me around all night while I very blatently tried to ditch him. After I got stuck slow=dancing with him (grimacing the whole time), the men in Natasha*s family grabbed Callie and me at the beginning of each slow song to be sure it wouldn*t happen again. It really does feel like I have a surrogate family here, which is wonderful.
So Valentine*s Day was Saturday; after the dance, I slept at Callie*s house, which is *downtown,* to avoid having to climb up the huge hill to my house in the middle of the night. The only other time I had slept there was after the incident with Claudia, the begging/abused little girl, and I didn*t expect to stay there again for quite a while. On Monday morning, though, as I headed down the hill to observe pre=natal consultations at the hospital, I leaned down to pick up my basket (it blends in better than a backpack) and felt like someone had smacked me between the shoulder blades with a 2x4. After determining the absence of villains with plywood around me, I realized that I*d had a pretty major muscle spasm and, moreover, that I couldn*t turn my head and was in a great deal of pain. I headed past the hospital down to Callie*s house and got in her bed, where I stayed until Wednesday afternoon. She, fortunately, was an extraordinarily gracious host, cooking for me and bringing me food and not laughing too much when I spilled soup all over myself because I couldn*t bend down to my spoon.
On Tuesday, Callie also spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a way to call Peace Corps to let them know what had happened and ask them what to do; the CB radios at the hospital and gendarme station don*t call out and the public phone in the epicerie wasn*t working, then charged $1.50 (more than we*d spend on food in 2=3 days) for a 1=minute conversation. Finally, I got through to the Peace Corps doctor, who prescribed Advil, which left me quite frustrated = I have prescription painkillers for my jaw, and even they weren*t helping my neck, so why would ibuprofin?? I guess he was right, though, because by Wednesday afternoon I could move my head without too much pain and I*m almost completely healed today. The only thing that still worries me is how to call Peace Corps in an emergency = I thought that I*d have no problem, with two radios and a phone, yet it still took hours to get ahold of them. Hrmm. On the up=side, I*m totally antsy and raring to get back to work after 3 days in bed!!
The only other news is that the next time I*ll be back is on my way to visit my friend Fran in her banking town, which is really exciting!! I*ll stay in my banking town the night of March 8, then head to hers, so be sure to write lots of emails before then!
Anyway, I hope that you all enjoyed Valentine*s Day and are doing well!
And now, some legalese:
The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are those of one individual Peace Corps Volunteer. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor.