Because it’s too hot to run, I insist on continuing to walk to work for some kind of exercise. This, unfortunately, means that I am dripping with sweat when I get to work. Good thing I show up early and can kind of fan it off before my students arrive. It really helped when my school finally turned the air conditioning on mid-July.
You couldn’t pay me enough to eat food from the bazaar in the summer where food’s been sitting out in the heat and covered with flies, so packaged food it is. That usually means cookies for breakfast. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but I’d rather eat too much fat and sugar than salmonella. For lunch and dinner, it’s usually a pasta or ramen dish with canned vegetables for added nutrition. I should add that I’m also limited in my cooking abilities by the fact that I have a small kitchen and one pot and one pan with which to work, if they’re not dirty. (We don’t have running water all day long so dishes have to wait to be washed). My host mom has been cooking more often lately, which is great because I like her cooking. She doesn’t usually make oily things and she doesn’t keep telling me to eat more and more. The Bbat Triad goes out to eat at least once a week too.
Because it’s so hot, I’ve been taking naps nearly every day. It’s usually too hot to do anything else in the heat of the day, and sometimes it’s too hot to even sleep. I just lay in a semi-comatose supine position until I muster the energy to move. On those days, I can’t even read a book; it’s too hot to concentrate. And it probably goes without saying that I feel disgusting every day and don’t ever feel completely clean, as I start sweating almost immediately getting out of the bucket bath.
Now that it’s getting to be the end of August, I think the heat has broken. At least, I haven’t been dripping with sweat when I get to work the past few days. So I decided I’d try to go for a run. I could tell it had been awhile. But I did four miles: two miles interspersed with 40 push-ups, followed by two miles of fartleks (jog a 200, sprint a 100, walk a 100) and a few bleachers. I probably overdid it for my first time out in two months (and I’ll probably really feel it tomorrow). That was for two reasons I can think of: 1) I wanted to make up for lost time and 2) I’m angrier and more frustrated than I was willing to admit for the last several weeks.
You see, it’s still another five weeks until what PCVs are calling D-Day, October 1, the day our visas expire. A good percentage of us are hoping the government doesn’t renew them because we see the futility of our being here. But staff is seemingly obtuse on this issue and relatively incommunicative. We know that the Turkmen government has denied the next group of volunteers (the T-19s) who were supposed to come in October and that Washington has given up hope that the Tmen government will change its mind. We know that Washington reassigned the T-19s to new countries without telling our country director. We don’t know what the implications of that are. It is especially frustrating to vacation to Peace Corps countries where volunteers can occasionally visit a McDonald’s or go to the beach or really do work or have family visit, only to return to the land of barrenness and barriers.
I will say that I’ve enjoyed my work much more during the summer because I only did clubs with advanced students. They are dedicated, motivated, show up and do the work. But soon, school will start and I’ll have to spend time in classrooms, which I hate here. I absolutely hate it. So September 1, the first day of school, looms before me like a first D-day preceding the other and I will have to be subjected to shouted “hellos” from every student I pass, (I mean, every student) not because they’re genuinely greeting me, but because it’s the only English word they can think of and they think it’s funny. And I’ll have to listen to teachers screaming at their students and I’ll have to listen to the mind-numbing texts of Turkmen curriculum being recited in monotone by the students, and I’ll be asked to take over classes because some teacher has been called away to a meeting (in the middle of the school day) or bribed their doctor to write a note getting them out of work for a week. My hope is that I can put in only a couple hours a day, three days a week and spend the rest of my time doing clubs. If not, well, I can always come home.