Ten Locks Later
So many huge things have happened recently. First and foremost, I moved in. On May 7th. Why it took so long: Thailand. When moving you must consider the moon, lucky numbers, and if you come from America and your principal is super protective, you must wait for your apartment to have six extra locks installed, making the total number of locks in my home ten. Six in front four in back.
Living in the community
One of my first mornings at my new home I bought salt before school. That day, on my way to school and while at school MANY people came up to me to discuss the salt purchase. I’m not joking when I say I am the talk of the town.
Where did you buy salt?
I heard you bought salt today.
Why did you buy salt today?
How much was the salt you bought? (Every time anyone buys anything, it’s normal for Thai’s to ask how much it was)
Beyond the salt, that first week I was taken from home, or while running, taken to various homes to eat. I have literally had people stick their heads and arms through my windows to shout and get my attention to come out with them. At these homes I was treated like a queen and told to eat everything. This was followed of course by photo shoots. I am constantly shown photos that have been taken of me and that are being sent to and from community members.
It’s all fun and game until I did what I do best. Forgetful Clark left home and forgot to lock her door. Shortly after I received a text from one of the teachers at school. Someone in the village came over, and in Thai fashion walked in my home to say hi, look at the food in my fridge, etc. Finally this person realized I wasn’t home. That day the school staff, including my overprotective principal, and majority of the town knew what I had done. I honestly have never felt more safe though, the whole town was watching my home for me to make sure nothing happened. It was the topic of discussion and still was brought up after a week. My principal will for sure never let it go. He continues to tell me to remember things and holds this, and me leaving my phone in a taxi in Bangkok, over my head.
Cockroaches, geckos, mosquitoes...Oh my
I still haven’t mastered this mosquito problem. With the layers of bug spray I apply I still manage to get at least one bite a day. Some days are better than others. In my new apartment, day two in the shower, three cockroaches ran past my foot. I ran out of the bathroom covered in soap terrified. Since then I have seen three more cockroaches. Hopefully I get over this fear soon because these creatures aren’t going anywhere. Geckos. They are everywhere all the time. I honestly didn’t really care about them. They haven’t affected me in any way until one terrible night. I was sleeping at a cute hostel in Trang city. This hostel had AC and was on the nicer end. I enjoyed going to bed in a room without bugs and without my mosquito net. But then, of all things to happen, in the middle of the night a freaking gecko ran or walked or hung out on my chest while I was sleeping. Somehow I woke up as it crawled off my chest onto the wall where it creepily starred at me and most likely was entertained by the scream that came from my mouth. Terrifying!
Just Do it
Nike knows how to trick ya. Just do it. It sounds so easy. Alexis Baker can testify, running a 10K was no easy feat for me. Part of that had to do with the fact that we ate noodles right before. Not my best decision. It didn’t help that we were running up and down some hilly parts of town. The best part was at the end the streets that were locked off for the race originally, were filled with cars, tuk-tuks, and motorcycles. Since Thai police are scarce and Thai’s don’t follow the rules of the road or signs, we spent the last leg of the race dodging cars...not how I envisioned my first 10K going. All in all, I did it. I couldn’t be more proud of myself or thankful for having such a great, motivational friend at my side.
I am fortunate to be placed in Southern Thailand where the islands are gorgeous and so close. A few weeks ago I went to Krabi, a province a few hours North of me. While there I found real pizza with real cheese...it was delicious! I explored and went on a boat tour of the islands. I went snorkeling and was within a few feet of a huge bright pink jellyfish. I saw sea urchins and so many other fish. I felt like I was watching Finding Nemo. Of course I opted for the party boat over the regular boat tour, so between islands I met many cool people and did beer bongs through a snorkel. It actually made me feel claustrophobic and gave me anxiety, but hey I had to try it. It was a much needed getaway and I am beyond blessed that I have access to such places.
And now the moment I have been waiting for....
School has begun! Our first day of school was Monday apparently. In reality I’d say it was Wednesday May, 16th. Monday was a parent meeting and book pick up. Tuesday the students cleaned the school and my teachers and I discussed and set our schedule for the year. I then spent the rest for the week meeting my students. I can’t wait to get to know them more. There are so many things I want to do and accomplish during my two years here. Now it is time for me to set a plan and goals for myself and get to work.
This is not just hard. This is challenging. Difficult. Exhausting. Tiring. Frustrating. Overwhelming. Underwhelming. Complicated. Unexplainable. Slow. Random. Fast. Hot. Itchy. Confusing. Demanding. Sweaty. Restricting. Awkward. Constraining. Necessary.
The first month at site is not an easy time to be a Peace Corps Volunteer...but now it's May 1st and the month is over. Today marks the day I can move on my own, which should help alleviate some of my troubles. True to the ways of Thailand, I did not move to my apartment today. For a change, I am not upset, or annoyed, I actually expected it, because while integrating this past month I have been slowly learning that patience is a virtue. I thought I was relaxed and patient before, nope, not at all. Let's take a look at my past month: my integration process.
Instead of staying at my host family's home I have been living out of my backpack at my host family's home, my principal's home, and my co-teacher's home (where I have semi settled and stayed the past few weeks where I share a bed with my co-teacher). How silly of me to believe I would have this time to settle in and unpack my suitcase. The only thing I can be sure of every single day is that I will sweat. I am literally ALWAYS sweating. In other news...my principal had me make seafood pizza for dinner, and it turned out pretty good once I convinced him it can't be cooked in the microwave. My co-teacher's family owns a noodle shop so we spend a lot of time there and after hours I help her mom cook amazing meals for dinner. I help around the shop peeling garlic cloves, filling sauce to-go bags, and cleaned the shop floor after a flood (rainy season is beginning). I participated in Songkran, Thai new years. Everyone throws water on each other with buckets and water guns to cleanse each other while wearing flowery bright shirts and splatters colored paint on each other. I eat all the time, like sometimes go out to eat, then drive an hour to eat, then drive back to eat and after start cooking dinner...no lie. Napping is a big thing as well. I read so many books, like an unnatural amount. I said I like working out and running so am taken running often. I signed up for a 10K which is huge because before coming here I've never ran more than a 5K. After we we're allowed to leave site I spent a weekend in Bangkok, left my phone in a cab, I am not shocked and you shouldn't be either, and my friends gave me the positive push I needed to boost my spirits. Last week my region was chosen for a safety drill, to practice where we go and what we do in case of an emergency. Ten others and myself traveled to meet at an awesome hotel which lucky for me was only 30 minutes away, but as much further for everyone else. We stayed the night and felt free.
So this is obviously a short snipit of my last month at site, but a lot has happened. Except moving out, and settling in, that hasn't happened. Moral of the story: I don't know what will happen, or when things will happen most of the time. I'm learning to be okay with that. I do know school is starting this month...still not clear on the start date but today we had a staff meeting. The planning and room decorating will begin tomorrow and I am super excited. Yeah I have had really terrible, nearly unbearable days...but if I step back it's really not so bad. I am pretty lucky, and I only have two years left of these crazy experiences.