Today was one of those days where every damn thing happens all at once.
It actually began last night. There's a Peace Corps conference going on in town for the previous volunteer group, GUY 15, and I was hanging out with them at a friend's house. Right around midnight everyone left to go back to the hotel and so I walked back with them part of the way. Not too far out I discovered I left my new cell phone behind. I could have gone back for it but I was feeling lazy -- boy do I wish I had.
The second thing that contributed was the fact that, on the way back from the hotel after saying goodnight, I chanced upon a local guy I'm friends with. He's working as a night watchman for a shop in town where I like to buy cheap CDs. SO we stood up on the side of the road gaffing for a couple hours, and so I finally stumbled in and went to bed at 2:15 a.m.
Fast forward a few hours to 9:00 a.m. This morning I was to meet a couple of Peace Corps admin at 10 to go check out a house I want to move to. However, the phone is ringing off the hook while I grumblingly try to cling to sleep. At last, my host comes back home from work on his motorcycle to tell me all those calls were coming from my BOSS, who needed to see me "urgently." Problem was, my host didn't know what it was about, and the time was conflicting with when I was supposed to visit with Peace Corps admin. And since I had LEFT MY PHONE I had no way of talking to her and making other arrangements for later.
So I rouse myself out of bed, cursing and fuming, and without getting to bathe or eat or even brush my hair, I slip on some nice clothes and shoes and walk through dusty, hot New Amsterdam to see my boss. When I get there, she tells me that Peace Corps just called her and is breathing down her neck about my work schedule. Seems they're skeptical that I'm even doing anything over here. But here's the problem: unlike Primary and Secondary school teachers, I work with adults who sign up for classes. That means there isn't always a demand. Right now the class I was supposed to teach is not happening because nobody signed up for it. Partly that's also because there was no way to advertise it in the short time since I arrived in New Amsterdam.
But Peace Corps is also freaking out because I work in the afternoon, not the morning. Still the same amount of time in the day, but all they can keep asking is, "But what are you doing the REST of the day?" They don't ask the other teachers that... But that's because the other teachers work in the morning. So, they work in the morning and have the afternoons off, while I have the mornings off and work in the afternoon. ButI put in the same amount of hours!
Pissed off about this, I go down to the hotel here in town where the Admin and volunteers are staying for their conference. There, I discover that only one of the people is there to see the apartment (Peace Corps rules are that both the Safety Officer and the PCMO must clear the house before you can move there, for security and health reasons, respectively). Damn! But the PCMO went with me and checked the place out. She gave it a thumbs-up... and when later I write about the place, you'll understand why.
Okay. Next problem. I call the Safety and Security Officer to see why he left town and won't be able to see the house. My ability to move there hinges upon his final approval. Fortunately, he says to me, "Tell Terrence [the APCD] to do it for me. I trust his judgement." So on Friday I am to go with my APCD to do a final check on the place. Score!
Next, I talk to him about my work situation and the hours it requires, and finally he understands that I am working the same hours and that I'm going to be doing stuff out here, so that loose end is tied up.
I return to work to deliver the good news, and I find they've set me up to do some reading tutorials with some kids at 1 p.m. two days out of the week for a little while. Good -- so that's something specific. Also, the local tech guy/computer teacher wants to set me up teaching basic computing, starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. Fine, I say, because though I'd rather not work in the mornings, I felt I couldn't really turn it down because I need to be occupied.
So having already accomplished tons of things, I decide I need to find out whether I'm teaching at the University of Guyana's local branch for once and for all (my e-mails were never responded to, and class starts next week!) so I break down and call the Dean. He asks me to come out and meet with the Head of the Education department for more information. So, taking a quick opportunity to take a dang bath and finally get some food, I dash home and attend to those necessities. Then I walk down to the Town Hall to catch a bus out to Tain. The bus circles and circles until they've not only filled up all the available seats, but have crowded in about eight more people than they are legally allowed. By this point I'm already past my meeting time and I haven't even left New Amsterdam!
When I get out to the U.G. campus, the Dean had already left. But, fortunately, the Head and the Administration Officer was there and I had a great session with them, hammering out what the class will be like, what goals I should accomplish, and how much freedom I have to construct the class as I see fit. I am also introduced to the available technology, including a laptop and projector I can use to facilitate lectures.
So -- the next few days have gone from being empty to being packed. Here's my schedule:
Thursday the 8th (my 34th birthday!):
- 9 a.m.: Arrive at work to teach the first session of a 2-hour computer basics class.
- noon: Take a lunch break.
- 1 p.m.: Lead an informal reading session for some students for an hour.
- Evening: Party with GUY 15
Friday the 9th:
- 10 a.m. Go with my APCD to check out the hopeful future house.
- 1 p.m. Pay another visit to the U.G. extension campus, to hammer out travel reimbursement and other pending issues.
- Evening: Party with GUY 15
Saturday the 10th:
- 8:30 a.m.: Attend the U.G. New Teacher's Orientation.
Monday the 12th:
- 1 p.m.: Informal Reading session
- 4 p.m.: First lecture class out at U.G.
Tuesday the 13th:
- 9 a.m.: Computer Basics class
- 1 p.m.: Informal Reading session
Wednesday the 14th:
Same as Tuesday
Thursday the 15th:
- 4 p.m.: First College Tutorial session at U.G. extension
Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
At least now I have a better idea of what I'm going to be doing. And it all happened in one crazy day. Funny how there can be nothing going on for days and weeks, then everything dog-piles you all at once. But sometimes those are the most important days!