The challenges of moving to a foreign country leave one feeling like a child. Your tongue fumbles over the simplest words, “C’est Jean-Mick qui va m’amener au lycée aujourd’hui!” (Jean-Mick is bringing me to the high school today). Carless and without so much as a bike, you do your best to familiarize yourself with public transportation, learning quickly that there are actually two bus companies, national and local, for an island only 30 miles at its widest point, and that the man giving applause next to you isn’t senile but wants to get off at the next stop. Your body takes a while to adjust to the time difference causing you to wake up at 3am every night to use the bathroom and to fall asleep around 9:30pm (like a child) and wake up at 6am. Eventually, however, you become smart from the challenges, you adjust, and slowly but surely, reclaim your adulthood.
So far, the little victories have included learning to sew a button on the waistline of my pants, finding the cheapest 1L container of lait soja (soy milk) in town, coming to understand the values of a rice cooker with a streaming tray, and finally, making peanut butter for the first time.
I had one hour of cours (class) yesterday at 4:30pm, after which I came home and removed my sheets from the balcony I left to dry. I went running to a beach called Ermitage a little more than a mile away, afterwards washing myself in our tub equipped with a tiny, trickling hose that you just get yourself wet with before running soap over your body and rinsing yourself off; it’s essentially the same as washing in a big sink. I prepared steamed vegetables with rice for dinner accompanied by half a baguette muliticéréales for 1,20 euros from the boulangerie on the corner.
After dinner, I huddled over a large glass bowl shelling an enormous bag of peanuts for half an hour. I could feel the skin on my thumbs and forefingers becoming raw as I fished out the tiny jewels from their hard little cases. After finishing, I dumped the bowl into a blender, added a little bit of salt, sugar, and oil. Done. Peanut butter! Thank you, wikipages. Making peanut butter was much easier than I would have imagined, but it left me feeling empowered nonetheless, if only to a small degree.
At the end of the day, I’m finding that the quickest way to adjust is to keep those small accomplishments in mind – getting “va m’amener” (vah-mah-muh-nay) down, catching the bus on time (and getting off where I need to), finally learning how hard it is to sew on a button. I’ll keep you posted when I make my first successful loaf of bread using the ingredients here. Everything is different by the way: the flour is milled differently and the yeast is a mystery. Fifth time’s the charm, right? I have enough flour bricks at the moment to stop every door in our apartment.
Finally, a very happy birthday to the most interesting guy I know, Matt “Hairball” Harrison. You should all message him “Happy Birthday” for the hell of it and then become friends or something :)