I have told myself, multiple times, that I have adapted to the Mediterranean heat. Which has turned into a mantra I utter throughout the afternoon. I made it through last summer. I can do it. Even if I have to stay camped out one foot away from my fan, I will be somewhat productive!
I can’t lie, the heat does get to me. Let’s just say, I am a bit more, uh irritable. Much like if I am hungry for prolonged periods of time. So, when I plugged my beloved fan in one evening, I about jumped out of my skin when there was a tiny explosion.
All I could do was stare. And want to cry. (The heat may give me a bit of a dramatic flair as well.)
I try not to dip into my American money unless it is absolutely necessary. I once survived on $5 for almost two weeks because I was too stubborn to withdraw from my personal account. Five dollars goes a lot farther here than it would in other countries, but I was definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel to get through. After my fan fiasco, it wasn’t fifteen minutes later, that I was marching my sweaty body straight to the bank. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Quite frankly, during an Albanian summer, a fan is worth far more than the $20 I spent.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of catcalls and obnoxious phrases yelled at me the last few months. If summer is to blame, then I have decided these boys should just stay in school. As I carried my new fan home, it helped me let their comments flow in one ear and out the other. Lucky for them, I only gave them half of a death stare. But, inside my head, and almost every other day, I just want to yell…
Another plus of summer, is the influx of bugs (the heat has provided me with an extra dose of sarcasm). Creatures I have never seen before have been invading my apartment on a regular basis. The fact that I live on the ground floor doesn’t help matters. One morning, I was talking to my counterpart, about how I spent the evening catching all the spiders in my living room. I described, how I grab my designated bug jar (YES, I have a bug jar, and it’s cool), sweep all the creepy crawlies into it and then flush them. Well, apparently Albanians do not go about killing spiders like this because she starting laughing hysterically at me. She then proceeded to tell me what I should be doing differently. All I kept thinking was, is there really a wrong way to go about this, as long as they ultimately end up dead?!
After our spider conversation, I lent her my notebook. As she was handing it back to me, some sheets of paper fell out. When she bent down to hand them back to me, my face turned three shades darker.
I had completely forgotten about the photos I had stuck in there at some point. Which, for the record, my old coworker mailed to me as a joke ( I SWEAR!!) As I stuttered and stammered through an explanation as to why I would have these with me, every single day, she just laughed at me. It was quite obvious she didn’t believe a word I was saying. So I just shut up and sat there embarrassed. However, after sneaking a peak of the beautiful men in those photos, I did feel a tiny bit better! 😉
Due to political changes, the Director of the hospital changed this last week. My program manager, counterpart and I had a meeting with her. I am excited to say that it went really well and she would like to collaborate with my office. She is a doctor who has worked in the surrounding area for the past 28 years. One of our main hopes, is to organize trainings on a variety of health topics. We will be targeting the nurses from villages on the outskirts of Permet. Her experience is going to be an invaluable resource as we tackle projects together this fall.
Work can be slow here and a lot of times, it is hard to see any progress. I have learned, in this environment, you have to pick something you are passionate about. The hoops to jump through and the overall resistance to change, will weed anything else out. Which is why, it’s no secret to the residents of Permet that I exercise a lot. They now call me “Sportiva” and everyone from my veggie guy, to the post office women, to the store owners have mentioned they see me running. I preach to anyone who will listen, about the healthy benefits of physical activity, never quite knowing if I got through to them. However, a few days ago, on my morning run, I spotted two other girls jogging towards me. This is extremely rare and for a second I thought they might be tourists. As we crossed paths, I couldn’t suppress my grin, as I recognized them from my GLOW camp. They puffed out their chests and proudly kept jogging passed me. They had listened!
Seeing change here is rare, and sometimes, it may not be exactly what you had envisioned. To me, being a healthy role model to these girls, even if it is just to show that running outside is okay, that is success. That is the kind of influence I want to have. That is a small step in the right direction. And when you can actually see it with your own eyes, it’s enough to make all of your sacrifices flow right out the window.