Greetings from the East! Sorry you couldn't make it out in January, but there's still time. Shall I entice you with stories about what the sky is like out here, the colors of the sunset, the lushness of the hills? Maybe you'll feel more adventuresome later in the spring.
Speaking of adventures, there's certainly no shortage of them, is there? But they aren't the kind most of us expected, I think, at least not the kind I expected. I thought the hard part would be the bugs, the food, learning the language, and doing without TV. But that was easy. It's the people that are the challenge (and for whom I'm no doubt a challenge as well, as I remind myself when I'm being rational and objective, which isn't very often). I've made a couple of friends, I think, but I've got a lot to learn about friendship in this place. One of them, a guy I work with, invited me over for dinner last week, and as we were eating he asked me if I could "help" him with a problem he's having at work. I said sure and asked what it was. It turns out he wants me to lie for him about an incident that happened two weeks ago, when he said he had lost a report that in fact he just hadn't had time to write. The details don't matter, but I was shocked he would ask me this.
This same man can be very kind, too. I was a bit taken aback a few days ago when I happened to mention in conversation that my grandmother had recently passed away. I think he was hurt. He got a bit quiet and asked me why I hadn't told him sooner. He was very solicitous, asking if there was anything he could do. The next day he sent me a card-I guess they give these out at the church-announcing that he was having two masses said for my grandmother sometime next month.
Things at work are going as well as can be expected. The hardest thing to get used to is the casual attitude some people have toward their jobs. We were really busy last week, getting ready for the visit of the Minister of the Interior, and right in the middle of this, one of our key people suddenly disappeared for four days. When I asked where she was, someone said her cousin had died. I felt sorry, of course, but the cousin lived right here in the village, and I know the funeral took place on Monday, and this woman didn't come back to work until Friday.
Can you keep a secret? I think I have a girlfriend. I would say I knew I had a girlfriend, but it's a little hard to tell. She accepts my invitations to the movies or the pastry shop, but she always manages to bring someone else along with her, her sister, a best friend, once even her mother! We haven't held hands yet or kissed (is this getting too graphic for you?), but she did wear a pin I gave her. I'll keep you posted. At this pace, we might start using each other's first names before I complete my service.
Well, I could go on and on (and usually do in my mind), but it's time for my walk through the village. I started doing it for exercise (to the other end and back here takes 45 minutes), but now I do it as much for the show this place puts on. There's always something to learn or something new happening. I've decided that either this is a very interesting village or it's a very boring village and I'm one stimulus-starved individual.