I had my 27th birthday yesterday and it was pretty great. Most of the trainees got together at the beach nearby and we had a party. The other trainees were so sweet and made my birthday really special. They made me 3 (yes 3!) cakes and posters and gave me fun little presents and everything. It was pretty great. And we got to spend the day swimming in piranha-infested waters. Fun fun fun. It's funny how the things that I thought I would never ever do (like swim in a river that has piranhas), I'm now doing without much fear or worry. I guess you get used to just about anything.
Speaking of getting used to things, I'm starting to feel really comfortable and happy here. The language is coming along and I'm able to actually have little conversations with people, which is super rewarding. I talked to an old woman yesterday who was drying out the rice she had harvested. It just felt nice to have a human connection about something. Not speaking a word of a language is frustrating on so many levels and it's nice to start overcoming those frustrations.
Tonight was fun. The little teenage girls gathered around and braided my hair and some teenage boys came and played the guitar on my porch.
I know that I'll have a lot more really hard times where I'm lonely, or homesick, or just physically sick, but these happy days are really encouraging. It really makes me feel like I can be really happy here. I hope that my future site is as welcoming as my training site, because everyone is so great here. Every day I just wander around this community, ending up in people's yards, next to their wash house, where they are half-naked and washing (sometimes fully naked) and they are nothing but friendly and welcoming. I've been very impressed by the people here.
So I'm hearing more and more about my future site and it's apparently really deep in the bush. Another volunteer was telling me today that I'll probably see some pretty crazy animals. I may even see a jaguar. I'd rather not see things that want to kill me, but I guess I don't have a whole lot of choice.