Mary Kerr / TEFL 66 / Rio San Juan

I joined Peace Corps for the adventure. I can honestly say there is no lack of adventure in my life currently. I never know what kind of shenanigans I’m going to get myself into when I walk through the front gate. Sometimes I don’t even have to leave the house. This week was no exception.

Sunday night I took the bus home because I missed the last boat back to Sabalos. We got almost half way there and our bus broke down as it was trying to make it up a monster hill. We didn’t crash we just stalled. The brakes didn’t fail or anything. But we were stuck in that bus for an hour and a half till the next one came. The next day I took a bucket bath like I do every morning. Ok, most mornings. The water runs at our house every two days for about two hours.

So my family stores water in these huge 100 gallon barrels in the room where we take our baths. So, to take a bucket bath, you use a little plastic pan and scoop the water over your head. Well, I knocked my bar of soap into the huge barrel. It immediately sunk to the bottom. In order to retrieve the soap I had to dunk my entire body in the barrel head first. My arms are super short so this took at least five attempts. Not my worst bathing experience. But definitely one to remember.

Later that morning, I was walking into Sabalos to go teach. The day before a man had shouted out from his porch, “Hey baby”. I just ignored him, but it really pissed me off when I started to think about it. I didn’t know what I was going to do about it, but I knew I couldn’t just ignore it. So when I walked past him that morning, he did it again. I immediately turned towards his house, and in Spanish I said, “My name is Mary. My name isn’t baby. OK?” And he said, “OK” And I turned back towards the road and kept walking. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not good with confrontation. And this was in a language that I’m not very good at. My heart was pounding, but I felt really proud of myself. Had I not said anything it definitely would have continued and I’m not going to put up with that for the next two years.

After class I went back home. I went straight to the latrine because the bathrooms at the school are pretty gross. My latrine is outside. It’s your basic drop toilet. All of your business goes into a hole in the ground right underneath you. I’m very used to it by now. But this time, after I had gotten settled, the wooden seat that covers the hole shifted forward and sank down about six inches. Which is A LOT when you are sitting over a hole in the ground filled with poop. So I stood up faster than I have ever stood up in my life. I wiped, and adjusted the seat. Turns out it is removable. I check it very well before I sit down now.

So here in the jungle, there are a lot of little critters that like to get into your stuff. So it is very important to keep your things organized and keep your room clean. Anybody who knows me, knows that I’m terrible at keeping my room organized. It’s my fatal flaw. My host mother told me a couple of weeks ago that if I don’t keep my room clean then it will attract rats. And the rats will attract snakes. Then she showed me a picture of a three foot snake they had killed a couple of days before. And then I immediately went and OCD cleaned my room.

But that was before school started. Flash forward to three days ago. My room has clothes all over the floor. There might be a few half eaten bags of chips under the bed. During the night something woke me up while I was wearing my ear plugs. The chickens who like to hang out under my window started squawking super loud.

Then, I heard something come into my room through the window. So I freak out, as I do. I turn on my flashlight just in time to see a huge rat in the shadow of the light. At first I thought it was a lizard. But then I saw it, with its beady little eyes and its gross long tail. It started crawling all over my shelves. So I tucked my mosquito under my mattress and eventually went to sleep. I woke up to something crunching under my bed. It was eating the rest of the bag of chips under there.

These are just a few of the adventures, or misadventures, that I get myself into on a daily basis. These are the ridiculous things I will remember about my experience here. And these are the things that will make my life back at home in Missouri seem a little boring. I’ve learned to be even more patient and observant here in Nicaragua. Because things are going to happen that you don’t expect no matter how hard you try to plan. I’ve learned to just roll with it and make it up as I go.

I have mostly good days mixed in with bad moments. More often than not when I’m having a rough day and feeling sorry for myself, one of my students will pop out of their house or see me on the sidewalk and say “Hello Mary!” It’s crazy how much that helps turn the day around.

This post was originally written and posted on Mary’s personal blog.  Check it out to read more of her adventures.

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