Last week I participated in Adopt-A-Cluster. This means a mature and brave Peace Corps Volunteer steps down from his or her station of service to teach the uncivilized, uncultured, and uninitiated trainees a thing or two about the life of a volunteer! A lot of the week was spent like this, “No, I don’t use toilet paper” “Yes, I live on my own” “No, I am not trying to date a Filipina”* “Yes, I sort of have a life because I drink with the locals” “No, my toilet doesn’t flush” “Yes, I have running water” “No, you can’t judge your personal experience based on anything I say”
I could use this post to write about their separate personalities. Shashank – the cool Cali dude of Indian decent, Beej (B.J.) – the 60yr. old poet, Britt – the tall sporty chick, Mel – another tall former vegetarian girl, or even Will – the cool kind of “everyman” of the group. I could write about their teaching styles, or their training site, or if I had no filter; I could write about who I think might leave, who will leave, or who should leave.
Instead, I will write about … The Hat Trick.
For the uninformed, a hat trick occurs in a sporting event when some dazzling feat is performed 3 times in a game by a single player. The term apparently originated in cricket,** but; I am more familiar with its usage in the mighty game of hockey. When a player scores 3 goals in one game, the fans will throw their hats on the ice in congratulatory celebration. My magical 3 times in a row achievement awarded me no hats or congratulations.
Ok, so as an adopt-a-cluster resource volunteer, I was expected to live with a host family. My fellow RPCV Dan Thalkar stayed with a family that did not have a trainee. I, however, got to stay with Shashank’s host family.*** He is a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian. The arrangement was wonderful. I impressed the family wih my limited, but better than the average bear (American) Tagalog and had a great first night. They cooked delicious food for us all week. The thing is, well, I’m not an amazing cook.
My diet generally consists of(in order of frequency of consumption): Ramen, Eggs, Rice, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Monggo Beans, Chop Suey, and Unripe Papaya. I eat these things day in and day out with little to no variation. My body wasn’t prepared for any new varieties of food.
Monday alone had my tummy filled with bean sprouts, radishes, malunggay, and various other veggie stuffs they had lying around. Tuesday, they fed me more radishes and bean sprouts, but also, banana blossom cooked in coconut milk. They filled me a couple glasses full of brandy to wash this down. I went to bed with a happy buzz and a full belly.
I woke up the next morning in a desperate panic. I ran to the bathroom, found the toilet, and my panic subsided. I picked up a bucket of water to rid the toilet of any evidence and poured it into the bowl. In normal circumstances this would flush the toilet. In this case, the water rose and fell. My, um, evidence was still there.
“Oh well”, I foolishly thought to myself and tried once again to flush the toilet. This time, the water level rose. It did not fall. My panic returned. The imaginary lightbulb over my head illuminated. I walked out of the C.R. and politely asked,
“‘Scuse po, nasaan ang … um, toilet plunger ninyo?” (Ya’ll got a plunger roundabouts somewhere?)
“‘Di ko alam, Tatay lang. Alam na siya.” (Sorry brotha’, I ain’t got what you seek. My pops does though)
“Oh, Sige. Nasaan si ‘Tay?” (Cool beans, where’s Poppa Bear?) I asked while blocking passage to the C.R.
“Babalik siya mamaya. Hindi matagal.” (He’ll be back in a cool minute.) I nodded and decided to wait in front of the door
No way am I letting anyone in that bathroom! 5 minutes passed and I was running late.
“Dammit!” I thought, and went to my room to grab my bag. I had every plan to reposition myself in front of the door. However, in the 30 seconds it took me to complete the task, someone had already entered the bathroom. I stared at the closed door in horror. I admitted defeat and left with Shashank to language class.
That evening nobody mentioned it. I was presented with yet another amazing display of culinary excellence. I thought about the morning and the words of reassurance provided me by Shashank earlier that day. I was wary of eating a lot, but I figured lightning never strikes twice.**** So, I ate my fill. I attempted to learn the card game Tongits and had another glass of brandy or two. The next morning I felt another rumble in my stomach.
“Not again”, I thought. Surely, I can wait. I’ll just take my shower and find a different toilet. Well, as if my bowels were aware of my close proximity to a toilet. I, um, well…
Unfortunately, I am unabashedly optimistic in most situations. This means I had hope when I should have had none. I did the deed. I picked up a bucket full of water. I poured it into the bowl. And…
However, another fleeting glimmer of hope was in the corner of the C.R. It was a plunger … kinda’. Normally, when I think of a plunger, a stick with a big red rubber suction cup on the end comes to mind. Well, the plunger presented to me was a stick shoved through a flip flop. I shrugged and went for it. I jammed that sucker into the toilet and went to work.
All I managed to do was make a frothy disgusting soup. Once again, I am running late. What’s worse is that nobody else is around to tell or even to unlock the gate. I jump the gate and leave my “Chunky Soup” in the bowl for someone else to find and deal with.
OH, THE SHAME!
Thursday night, we hung out. I played with the youngest host brother, I didn’t drink any brandy, and I tried not to eat too much. It did not help.
I woke up the next morning and immediately thought, “Why me, Lord?” Yes, it happened again. I spent 45 minutes in the bathroom trying to defeat my own worst enemy. I flushed, I plunged, I even tried using the snake***** Defeated, I exited the bathroom, looked Shashank’s host brother in the eye and said, “May ibang clog tayo” (We have another clog)
Now, a hat trick is only 3. We established that fact early on. Thus, theoretically this story should be over. Yes, that was indeed my last clog, but…
Saturday morning at about 4:15am I woke up and thought, “Oh no…” I would not clog the toilet again. My eyes darted around my room. I looked at my water bottle. No freaking way. I looked at my window. Nope, that won’t work. *grumble* I’m losing time! I ran to the bathroom. I stared at the bowl in defiance. Nay!
I’d rather not immortalize the following happenings forever, so I shall use a few images that capture the main idea of what I had to do.
Equals peace of body and mind.*******
I am not proud. But, they say that pride and summer come before fall, so I’m still standing tall.
– Brandon Holly –
*Then again, I’m not trying to date anyone at all at the moment.
**Yeah, I site my sources … like a boss!
***His name is NOT pronounced like Shawshank, so don’t do it. (It’s more like ShawShawnk)
****Which isn’t true scientfically or logically.
*****This means my hand went places I wouldn’t normally ever place it.
******I pooped in a tabo and flung it as far as I could into the weed covered field beside their house.