May 24th, 2005
I have just come back from a 10 days trip to Washington DC and California. The main objective of the trip was to relax. Ha! I really needed a break from the third world and was looking forward to getting some quality sleep, not worrying about malaria infected mosquitoes and doing some much needed shopping (namely, batteries for my flashlight, camera repair, clothes to replace to raggedy items I still own and two pairs of work shoes to replace the ones that were stolen, various food items, and do a lot of hanging out with friends that I missed dearly).
Target Achieved? Only partially.
I ended up with:
(1) a head lamp, from my previous experience with frequent lack of electricity, this is a good idea
(2) one pair of yoga pants, two gym T-shirts, with the expectation that I will really work my little butt off
(3) one dowdy-looking dress from Ann Tailor and various assorted cheap make-up for a wedding in Santa Monica
(4) one pair of nice work shoes and one pair of niceish sandals for the field
(5) a quick dry towel and miny mosquito net (for the field)
(6) 2 deodorants, always a good bet in a hot country like Congo)
(7) almost no time for shopping calmly and with a level head
(8) no time for myself or sleep in. OK this is a lie, I had one morning of sleeping in.
(9) a nice BBQ with old friends from high school and from Baltimore. I wish I could have hung out with them longer. (Note to all reading: I promise I will spend more time in DC next time)
(10) a beautiful albeit a wee bit stressful trip to California
The trip to California was excessively planned. Typical day: from 10 to 12:30 Getty Museum, then hop in the car and set off by 12:34, drive for exactly two hours assuming no traffic, get to the hotel by 2:34, check-in, get showered and ready for a wedding in Santa Monica by 3:00, take the shuttle that is located 15 mins away by 3:12, hop on it and voila!
The trip to California afforded me little rest, and I ended up feeling tired for most of it. I actually looked forward to coming back to the Congo for proper rest!
Santa Monica is a city full of designer people: nicely manicured nails, hair that is done up in Salons, beautiful unique clothes.
Needless to say that I am making sweeping generalization but the people really REALLY made me feel very peace corps: dirty raggedy clothes, unmanicured nails, hair au natural. Glad I shaved my legs for the evening though.
In truth, the reality shift was too strong for me—especially after having spent two weeks on the field—and I ended up feeling depressed.
I will post
Photos of the trip
Photo of friends