Friday, June 26, 2009

Two years...

As of June 27th, I will have been in the AZ for two whole years. My oh my, how time flies. I thought I'd mark the occasion by listing a few of the things I've learned in the past two years.

- Qatiq (plain yogurt) makes almost anything taste better.
- Squat toilets are bearable.
- There is a point that you physically can't add another layer of clothing.
- Summer is a LOT hotter with no air conditioning.
- A lot of food is seasonal - like vegetables, fruit, and ice cream.
- Hand washing jeans is a horrible experience.
- Showering two or three times a week is just fine to feel clean.
- On showering, having a real shower - not a bucket bath - is quite the luxury.
- Inshallah (if God wills) is my new favorite word.
- 10 hours by bus doesn't seem unbearable.
- It may actually be possible to miss food more than people.
- Wearing the same outfit for a week just makes sense.
- Tea with raspberry jam is one of the best cures for a cold ever.
- The more sequins, sparkles, and bling you have your shirt, the prettier you are.
- Spiky high heels are not only attractive, but act as ice picks for walking on snow and ice.
- I hate roosters.
- When school's not in session, I can read a book a day.
- When school is in session, the average is 3 books a week.
- Titanic is possible the greatest movie known to man (or at least Azerbaijanis).
- Beef tastes different when it's primary source of food is the trash heap.
- Telling someone they've gotten fat is not an insult. Calling them fat behind their back is.
- Having a pet cat makes me strange.
- You should only pluck your eyebrows after you get married to protect your honor.
- Crystal Light is the nectar of the gods.
- Being a yaxsi giz (good girl) is one of the best compliments you can get.
- It is never too hot for tea.


- There really is no place like home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My New Home...

About two weeks ago, I was out walking and ran into my landlady - Hegiget. We exchanged pleasantries, and then she told me that the xanim bought the apartment and I would have to move in the middle of July or August. The week before, I had a conversation with Hegiget and her husband about exactly what date I would be leaving in September, so the news that I might be moving sooner than that was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

Now my azeri isn't great, so I was hoping that I misunderstood and she said the xanim was going to sell the apartment is July or August. So, I went to my counterpart and asked if she could call Hegiget to find out what was going on. She did and told me that I had to move by July 1st. Well, crap. We tried every form of negotiation possible - begging, pleading, offering more money - all with no success. Again, crap.

My counterpart is amazing and immediately started helping me look for a new place. We went to the mekler (basically a real estate agent) in my neighborhood. He had an apartment available on June 15th. We went to look at it to make sure it was ok. I've gotta be honest, needing a home ASAP to live in for all of 2 and a half months meant that there wasn't much that was going to make this apartment NOT be ok in my mind. Luckily, it is actually pretty nice.

Hegiget returned half of June's rent so I could take this place on the 15th. When I went to get the money from her, she and her husband apologized profusely and asked me not to be angry with them. My old apartment actually belonged to her brother. He decided to sell it, leaving them no choice. Sucks, but it does make me feel a bit better about Hegiget and Ziyad, who I have come to care a great deal about in the past 2 years.

So, with a lot of help from my sitemates, on June 16th, I moved into my new place. In a lot ways, I've moved up in the world - I have a lot more furniture, and the queen size bed is very nice. In other ways, I've moved a bit lower - my mini toilet isn't much fun, and 'm very sad to return to bucket baths. But, I have a home for the next 2 months, which is the most important thing! And, it got resolved very quickly and easily, which is incredible! Less than a week after I found out I had to move, I was settling in to my new home.

And so, here are some pictures of my lovely new abode. Home Sweet Home for the next 2 1/2 months. Inshallah :-)

This is my super-fancy living room. Check out that couch and armchairs! It's like I've died and gone to furniture heaven!!!

This is in my kitchen - a room that leaves a lot to be desired. That is my friend Whitney lighting the stove - with a pair of pliers because there are no knobs on my stove. The refrigerator is fun too - you have to lift the door up and hold it up with it is open, otherwise it falls off. Ahhh, the things that have become normal here!

Here's my bedroom - and the lovely queen size bed. And, I actually have a mirror, which I didn't have in the old place. Seriously, I won the furniture lottery in this apartment!

The mini-toilet. Not quite a squatter, not quite a western toilet. It's awkward. That big red bucket is my flushing mechanism.

And, last but not least, my new shower/bath. Sigh. Well, I guess it will make me appreciate American showers all that much more when I return home!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

From the bottom of my heart...

Thank you!

As of Friday morning, English Language Summer Camp (or Camp Jane the Sequel for short) is officially fully funded! For all of you who donated or passed to information along to someone who would be interested in donating, thank you so much. I appreciate the support more than I can ever truly express in words.

The big event start July 6, 2009. We're expecting between 150 and 180 kids to participate in the three week long program. There are already plans for water balloons fights and relay races and wiffle ball and popsicle stick bird houses and friendship bracelets and tye-dyed t-shirts and much much more. Becuase of your support, all of this can happen. As camp progresses, I will post information and stories and keep you all informed on how its going. Again, thank you!