Hola amigos! Can you believe January is coming to a close? Time sure flies when you’re having fun, or in my case reading books and spending hours watching Netflix. You may be wondering why the heck I haven’t updated about school and why I am STILL talking about Netflix. Well, about 3 weeks ago, right before school was set to start and I was going to be liberated from the boredom, I got “The Call.” Since Christmas Eve, some volunteers had been getting phone calls from the Peace Corps office telling them that, for various reasons, they would be pulled from their site and given a new assignment. Some volunteers were moved for safety and security reasons while others were moved because our new country director wants to change the post from primarily urban to primarily rural. So by the new year, 4 of my friends had gotten “the call.” A couple of posts ago, I alluded to the fact that big changes were coming or school was going to start. Well literally 30 seconds after I posted that, my phone rang. It was our deputy director saying that I would have to be pulled from my barrio and placed into a little pueblo, or village, town, whatever you want to call it, outside of Barranquilla in the department (state) of Atlantico. Unfortunately, the office did not have a placement for me and were scrambling around trying to find a pueblo that met the Peace Corps’ strict safety, security and medical standards.
I had no idea what to think. Part of me was relieved that I finally knew and I didn’t have to jump out terror every time my phone rang however, as you all know, I LOVE my host family and my school. I was absolutely devastated to have to tell them that I wouldn’t be able to stay. That, coupled with the fact that I don’t know how well I’m going to handle pueblo life and the uncertainty of the entire situation sent me into a very unhappy place, mentally. Does the Peace Corps even want me here? What the hell am I going to do without 24/7 access to my closest friend, Netflix? Do they have grocery stores in pueblos? Am I going to spend 2 years covered in dirt and sweat? I better not live with cats or birds! These are just some of the thoughts racing through my mind. I don’t consider myself a diva, but I really, REALLY enjoy things like electricity and running water. As if I wasn’t traumatized enough, the water to our house was shut off about an hour after I received “the call” and it stayed off for 3 days. You guys, I could barely stand the smell of myself after day 1. But, you know what? I survived. It was fine. And everyone else was smelly, too! Chalk that up to another humbling experience that reminded me of how privileged I really am. This is just the beginning of a whole new adventure. Plus, roughing it totally builds character, right? 😉
So while I was sitting around, obsessively checking my phone and email for word from the Peace Corps, I google-stalked every pueblo in Atlantico. Obviously, I was hoping for a place right on the beach but I was regretfully informed that there will not be any spots along the coast. So, I started to find my second-dream destination. Let me tell you, it was slim-pickins’. As time dragged in, I became more and more despondent. I watched all of my friends go to school and chatted with my would-be coworkers and I was going out of my mind. This dark spiral led me to the conclusion that while I may love it, Netflix is not a healthy coping strategy for stress and boredom. I started working out every morning and spent my time reading, studying French and learning geography. I stopped feeling so worthless and began to enjoy my free time.
Today, I got “The Call 2.” Finally, I have a placement! I will be going to Rotinet, on the south-west side of Atlantico. I’m not TOO far from the beach and my town sits right in the edge of a reservoir! Hopefully it’s clean enough to do some swimming. According to google, Rotinet has a population of 6,000 and is near the site of the world famous egg arepa festival! Exciting stuff, huh? A small town will be a huge change from Barranquilla, which has a population of about 2 million. I will be about 2 hours away from my current home and to the west, is Cartagena, a super cool city that is only about 2 hours away. I’m feeling so excited to start my new Peace Corps experience and get to work! I’ll move next week so I’ll have more details about my host family and school then. A HUGE shoutout to my friends and family, Colombian and in the US who put up with my whining and mood swings. Mucho amor! ❤️