Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Yes, I know, I’m a slacker. I’m trying to be better, and we’ll all have to settle with that for now. You have to cut me some slack because I’ve been busy these past two weeks, aaaand it was recently my birthday, so there ya go. Anyways, last week I headed to Baku for a training workshop the Peace Corps put together for volunteers and Azerbaijani counterparts from our communities. The workshop was called the Project Design and Management workshop, and I found it to be everything a good workshop should be. Fun and informative. Other volunteer friends were there as well, and of course, so was McDonald’s. Good times. Also, I got reunited with my site mate, Ashley. He was in Budapest for a music festival, which by all accounts, simply rocked. But now that he’s back, Lyka is no longer staying at my house which means that I am now able to sleep from 2-4 a.m. unless I choose otherwise. Sometimes I think about going out on my porch and barking at the neighbors for old times’ sake, but then I think of better of it. Also this week, I have been working with fellow volunteer and Lankaran resident, Tim Ong and a youth group on another project that they want to do with one of the local orphanages. We just completed planning and now are working on getting all the permission we need from the city and everything else lined up. More on that later. As always, I am still working on the tourism booklet and we should be submitting a rough draft very shortly, knock on wood. This Friday, Ashley, Tim and I will be presenting on different topics for a Freedom of Expression workshop that one of our friends from Lankaran has organized. On top of that, Ashley and I are wrapping up plans for the boys’ summer camp that will be in September (ABLE Camp). We’re all really excited about this and it should be a lot of fun. See, I'm busy, right?

As for my birthday, I had a pretty laid back celebration. Aside from when my friends and I were all in Baku before AZ3 and the Budapest music festival goers left at least. The day before I went to my host family’s house because it was my host mother’s birthday so we had a small meal and talked and that was nice. They invited me over for lunch the next day for my birthday, and when I got there, there was way too much food, and my host brother Ulvi got me a gift, which is pictured. That night before I was leaving work, my director cornered me and they all came forward presenting their gifts for me. From the office all together was a dog piggy bank. Also pictured. It’s pretty awesome. Aygun wrote a message for me on the bottom of it which reads, “Wish you such a life you never have to bark about! With love, CLEE Band, Lankaran.” As if I could ever forget where it came from. Also from the office was a bottle of whiskey equipped with a glass to drink it from. What more could I ask for, really?

That night I went home and decided to have a very special dinner for myself. I carefully selected a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese and prepared it with care and skill. I made it old school, too. Instead of just regular hot sauce, I added taco bell fire sauce packets AND bacon bits. Let me tell you, it was quite amazing. I wrote several texts to fellow volunteers sharing my joy and all responses carried a tone of jealousy with them. I followed this up with several hours of playing baseball, basketball and skitchin’ on my Sega Genesis. I’m not gonna lie, turning 25 felt oddly like being 7. I’m not complaining though.

On Saturday (that’s the 11th for those of you keeping track) Arzu came from Baku to celebrate with me and my office friends. They showed up at my door around 5 with three chickens stuffed full of lavangi, 5 fresh loads of bread and a good amount of beer. So, we ate, drank and danced. Arzu also gave me a little bear she had made and on the bottom is painted in Azeri “Ireli, Chicago Ayilari,” which basically translates to Bear Down, Chicago Bears. The bear is holding a glove and baseball, but that’s a minor detail. Everyone had a great time. Tim was over for most of the day as well. We also played games on the Sega which was a blast, especially when arguments broke out over who the computer was favoring. The Bear Down bear is pictured and one or two dancing pictures, as well. Those are for you Zach, I know how you love them so.

That should catch you up on everything. This week is exciting because the two volunteers that will be moving here in September are visiting for a couple days. They will get to meet their host organizations’ and families’ and us, so I’m sure they are excited as well. It’ll be nice to have a few fresh faces around here, that’s for sure.


Anonymous John (Tom said...

do you actually read our comments?

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Zach said...

Oh, he better read them! Otherwise, he's getting beat on.

By the way, that is one sweet dog

9:55 PM  

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