Saturday, August 29, 2009

Preserving Party

For those who know me, food preservation is high up on my personal interest list. I love canning. There is something about spending half the day in the kitchen, drinking good coffee, slicing fruit, and chatting about nothing.

Here in the ‘Baijan, food preservation is a way of life. No, it’s the only way of life. Unlike America, Azerbaijanis don’t eat food when they’re not in season. If it ain’t growin, it ain’t bein’ eaten.

For local folks, this isn’t a big problem. Every family has a pantry full of preserved food. Compotes, jams, pickled tomatoes, you name, an Azer-family gots it. Unfortunately, for PCVs, seasonal foods is a big problem. When it’s not summer, most PCVs rely on multivitamins to get their daily dose of nutrients.

Me, of course, had the great idea of throwing a “Preserving Party”. A dozen or so manats later, I am sitting in my ridiculously hot kitchen, waiting for my make-shift hot water canner to get a-boiling. Needless to say, I am excited and scared at the same time. What does botulism feel like?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meet Donny (He's Leaving)

A veteran who loves experimenting in the kitchen (we are talking Dude Delight), can scan Nascar highlights while simultaneously reading current events, and out hikes even the most dedicated naturalist, D-Man is the man. Not only was he the pioneering YD Volunteer in Zaq, but he is also my bestie, my go-to-guy, my I’m-having-a-really-crappy-day-and-you-brightened-it-by-making-spaghetti friend.

And he is leaving.

Yup. D is going back to America. Not only is his time up, but I think D is ready for a new challenge. He’s mastered Az and now it is on to bigger and better things (like overcoming post office patiencelessness and mailing me a box).

Bye D. I am already missing you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Well Do You Know Your PCV?

What should you send a PCV?
A. A set of guitar strings
B. A tub of high fructose corn syrup Jiffy Peanut Butter
C. A homemade beer tasting kit
D. All of the above (and throw in some extra dark, orange flavored chocolate)
If you chose D, then you know me...but what about your PCV? Sending packages to PCVs is hard. There are tons of weird, unsaid rules:
Don't send useless crap (it is useless and we we feel bad throwing it into the mismanaged trash pile).
Send pesto packets, taco seasoning, curry mixes - but only the ones I like.
Don't send risqué magazines or books. It makes us look bad (and they will probably be confiscated).
Send vacuum sealed tuna and salmon and throw in a couple handfuls of beef jerky.
Don't send seeds. They will be confiscated.
I really did not need that ginormous sweater you sent, even though I wear it everyday.
Confused yet? When in doubt, send something we can't get here, we can eat, and we can share with friends.

Thanks for the kit Sara!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bug This!

I am not sure exactly what a mosquito's purpose in the ecosystem is...

Do they pollinate plants? Do they absorb CO2? Do they reflect harmful UV rays?

For whatever reason they exist, I still strongly dislike mosquitoes. I would venture to say that I hate them. Back in the A to the K, you can see a mosquito coming from a mile away (they are quite large). In the A to the Z, I am not even sure I know what a mosquito looks like, but I know they exist.

During my last visit to Mosquito-Land, aka Göyçay, I was bitten 38 times. 38 #*%$ times!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life in a Sandbox

My friends Emma and Mathias recently posted a great blog about daily living in Azerbaijan and men. For all those who received my email about Azerbaijani men, this explains a bit more.

Check it out: Life in a Sandbox [link]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Word to Prospective Az7


I know, I know. It is hard. A year ago, I was were you are. I worried. I planned. I packed and then re-packed. I drove my dad and friends nuts talking about what to expect, my expectation, problem scenarios, possible outcomes, future plans...

You have no idea what this experience is going to be like. You can't. You may try to plan for contingencies, for the future, but you can't. You may end up loving it here. You may end up hating it. You may get married. You may ET. You may get medically separated. You may get sat upon by an elephant.

You will get here and you will either have everything you need or your mom will have to send you more socks. You will bring your favorite camera and then leave it at the airport. You will bring a cell phone and then realize you never had it unlocked.

It will all work out. Enjoy your time at home because in 6 months, you will be missing flush toilets.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Broken Refrigerator

A new trial in Azerbaijan: My refrigerator stopped working.

At first, I freaked out (and I still sort of am). I had to make an impromptu batch of cherry torts and beg my next door neighbor to take my no-longer frozen chicken.

I also visited my landlady. Her unsympathetic attitude made me realize that in Azerbaijan, there ain't no thing as rental agreements.

Thus, my broken refrigerator is up to me to fix. After several frantic phone calls to my friend and her brother, the fix-it guy is due at my door any minute (well, he was due a few hours ago, but I have hope).Ugh...good thing I rarely eat meat. Now my ət money can go toward coolant.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Homesickness (It Happens)

Back in AK, I never got homesick. Sure, I spent semesters away from my family, but they called so much that we should have bought stock in AT&T. Come to think of it, my dad did get a 1-800 number...

Anyway, I originally thought homesickness would be an intense hit that would fade into periods of non-existence.

Boy was I wrong.

I have never experienced sustained homesickness and I hate how debilitating it is. Who knew that I would miss Tofutti Cuties so much that not even a Newman’s Own Dark Orange Chocolate could cut the edge?

I know now that I could never have prepared for this level of homesickness intensity. Still, I wish I had figured out a way to bring over a box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs cereal and some soy milk. I think a taste of home (accompanied with a couple hours of family/friends hugging) would really hit the spot.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just Another Sunday

Killing time in the Peace Corps is an art form. One can certainly sequester themselves in their apartment and watch re-runs of 30 Rock for hours on end. Lord knows I have done it.

Or, one can spend several hours performing mindless tasks, such as pouring salt on the carpet and then sweeping it up with a short handled broom. Been there too.

Or, one can mix a really big batch of sangria [link], submerge the entire metal pot into an ice cold stream, and grill up some hot dogs on a Sunday afternoon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

An Answer to a Prayer

It finally happened. It really did. And now I own it!

I watched the Star Trek movie.

It was good. I liked it. I mean, I obviously have my comments and my rantings as a die-hard trekkie, but, for purely entertainment purposes, it was okay.

However, I am upset how this influences some major TNG points - least of which, the relationship between Captain Picard, Spock and Sarek.

At any rate, thanks Jesse for the movie!