I can’t seem to stay up on my blogging at all. It has been put on the back back back back corner burner and has gotten a bit cob-web like.  Here is one!

In late September (Sept 23 to be exact), I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of being in Peace Corps.  I left New Hampshire on Sept 23, 2010 to begin my adventure with the Peace Corps and eventually fly to Azerbaijan.  I cannot believe it has been a year already!! Life has been tough with a
few shining moments.  I’ve probably been more stressed out, confused, and overwhelmed than any other time in my life.  Despite all the downs, the few shining UP moments have held me through.  The promise of lots more keeps me intrigued and persistent to stay and accomplish what I have set out to do.  What did I do one Sept 23, 2011 to commemorate such a life changing life decision?  I went to America.

I took a two week vacation to America.  It was a much needed break too.  I went mostly because my brother was getting married.  I got to see family and friends; most importantly I relaxed.  My stay in America made me realize, even more, all the things I miss about being there.  I also realized all the things I missed about Azerbaijan.  Here is a list of things I missed from both countries.

America:

1. LINES!  In America, we wait in lines. We wait in lines at the bank, at Dunkin Donuts, in traffic, and many more places.  In Azerbaijan, we wait, but not in lines.  Rather in a squished group of people.  There is order in this chaos because when a new person comes up, they will ask who is
last.  Somehow, you remember who you are behind even though he may be standing on the opposite side of a mosh pile.  For me this type of “order” is intimidating.  While we may hate waiting, I have begun to love LINES to wait in. When I got to the airport to leave Azerbaijan, we waited to go through security and formed a line! It was magic.  It was then I realized that I was among foreigners and not truly in Azerbaijan any more. My vacation had begun.

2. Smiling.  I smile in Azerbaijan, and Azeris do too.  It’s different than in America.  For example, in Azerbaijan I do not smile at people on the street.  I do not smile at strangers, and I especially do not smile at men.  Smiling while I walk or at strangers will attract unwanted attention and would probably increase my harassment.  For a while, I had to remember to keep a stern face as I walk.  In America it didn’t matter.  I could joke and exchange pleasantries with the clerk at Radio Shack.  He would think nothing of it.  The thought of marriage or prostitutes would not enter his mind.  I would be forgettable.  Just the ordinary.

3. Granola bars and beer.  The beer in Azerbaijan is truly horrible.  I like dark beers; none exist here.  I miss buying beer and it not being a big
deal.  I miss granola bars.  I can make granola here and realize all the sugar that goes in them.  I miss grabbing a granola bar as a snack or running out the door with when for a quick meal.  There is no such thing as a quick meal in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan:

1. Friendliness of strangers.  Not all strangers in Azerbaijan are friendly.  There are the taxi drivers who think they deserve more money from me or the bus driver who quotes me a higher price because I’m foreign.  In spite of them, there are these incredibly nice people in Azerbaijan.  When I was on my overpriced bus ride home, the lady next to me fed me.  She had brought food on the bus for the 6 hour trip.  She offered me everything that she ate.  I had grapes, a banana, bread, candy, and sunflower seeds.  I even tried to refuse some of this food because I wasn’t really hungry;
refusing food from an older lady never works in this country.  I complied and obeyed.  It was very nice to get food because I had forgotten to bring a lunch.

2. Ease of traveling.  Traveling may not always be pleasant in Azerbaijan when you’re squished in a mini bus, when you’re having your knees jammed against the seat in front of you, when there is no back to your seat, or when your bus driver makes about 20 random stops and you’ll get to your destination an hour late.  But traveling here is easier than it is in America (I believe), even if you live in a village. Here I don’t need a car. In America, I need a car.  I was blessed to have a car while I was in America for 2 weeks, but if I hadn’t been, the vacation would have been a bit boring.  I can get to and from remote places on public transportation in Azerbaijan.  It may not be glorious, but I like it.

3. Walking.  There is a pleasantness and calming factor to walking.  I walk everywhere in Azerbaijan—to work, to the market, or the main road
to catch a bus.  Even when I don’t have to walk, sometimes I do.  I can walk to the corner store if I forget something.  In America, it’s a bit harder to walk somewhere for me.  I lived in the woods, and it was a good 20 minute ride to town with no stores until you got to town.  Even the villages here have a “city like quality” that you can walk to get what you need (almost, there are limitations).  In America, I have to drive to do that.  While I was there, I didn’t walk as much as I do here.  Not even a comparable amount.

I limited each country to a top 3 (or rather a random 3 I thought of).  I could go on and on forever, but no one wants that.  From this experience it is safe to say, I will always be missing something no matter where I end up.

Advertisements