Well, I found out what the mystery "perfect" assignment would be. It is a literacy training and teaching program, probably similar to this Guyana assignment, but this is in Belize! My PO honestly felt there was no way in hell anyone would drop out because that country is highly-prized amongst volunteers. It's another English-speaking Caribbean mainland country, like Guyana, and I've always been curious about it. BUT, if I want it I'd have to wait around a year and, frankly, I don't think I want to do that.
This whole day I ruminated about the option before me. I have to admit, it sounds increasingly good: for one thing, its location is wedged right in between the Caribbean and the Amazon. I've always wanted to see the Amazon, and from what I hear many PCVs take breaks to do some travelling to relatively nearby locations. A jaunt down to the Purus River to canoe through the jungle would be just about the most amazing thing ever. Plus my father used to work in Venezuela in a place called El Dorado right across the border from Guyana and that's where his wife is from. (Funny, but our lives share some bizarre parallels in unexpected ways.) Living for two years with a family would suck, because I like me privacy and I don't want to be in a situation where I'm expected to be more social than I am, but the PC likes their Guyana volunteers to live with a family because it helps integrate them better into the community.
Looking a little closer at my motivations, I'm embarrassed to realize just how much I bank my expectations on the location of the site. When I think about it, the actual assignment, the job seems just as important, if not more. Could I be totally and completely miserable in -- for example -- Jamaica, if I had a lame job and/or counterpart? Oh yeah. Heck, I might clash with people and end up hating my assignment. This could happen anywhere. And if I were to hold out for a location, giving that more preference over the job, I could very easily end up doing something I don't want to be doing or that doesn't challenge me. I know the Peace Corps says "be flexible, be open," so I'm trying very hard to let the picky, fussy part of me let go.
Fact is, Guyana isn't bad. I was fully expecting to get something like Uzbekistan or Mongolia or Bulgaria. No offense at all to people serving there, but I couldn't do it. I was reading on one woman's blog, I think she was serving in Kazahkstan, and she wrote about coming home from her work everyday and spending fifteen minutes hugging the water heater just to warm back up. *shudder* Hell with that. I couldn't serve in a place like that, mentally. But my point is, I kinda dreaded finally hearing from my PO because I was afraid he would send me somewhere that simply sounded 100% unappealing. Guyana is nice; it's not precisely what I was yearning for, but it's damn close. It's still tropical, sunny, and has the added benefit of being English-speaking so I wouldn't have to labor for months learning something totally new (it has a creole, but that's much easier). Plus -- no hurricanes! It's too far south to get them.
• Close to Caribbean, including Barbados, T&T, and even St. Lucia; also Spanish Main!
• Close to Amazon
• Dad used to work near there
• Assignment sounds good -- teacher training is part of it
• Probably would be in a coastal city
• Departs in May
• Good climate with no hurricanes
• Not too far from USA, so I can get visitors and have easier time sending my writing to publishers
• Close, but not IN the Caribbean
• Not an island, which for some reason I really dig
• Permanent Homestay
• I'm already sick of Jim Jones/Kool-Ade comments (to the anonymous poster who commented on this: I don't mean you. I've received jokes about this from everyone I've mentioned it to, including people I didn't think even knew where Guyana was! It's probably something I'll have to get used to).
• Higher expectations for personal appearance (slacks and button-ups, which I don't think PCVs in the Pacific have to worry about)
• Not likely I'll want to stay there long-term (I fantasize about loving my host country so much I simply stay after service)
• Not sure it has good reefs for snorkelling ... (?)
I don't have the luxury of a lot of time to decide. "I recommend you commit to the Guyana program now if you really want to
serve in the program," my PO said in an email today. I'll try to make up my mind by midweek.
Still taking suggestions...