2001.10.05

It’s been a rough week in Cha-am, Thailand where Peace Corps Bangladesh has set up their English program in exile.  It’s tough to decide each day if I should go in for a massage or spend time on the beach.  Should I visit a temple or hang out by the pool and work on my tan?  Should I avail myself to the air conditioning in the room or at the internet café?  This really is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Actually, it’s not all as wonderful as it may seem for some.  Stepping away from Bangladesh has made many people think about what they were doing there, what other places they could be in stead, or just loose interest in their projects.  The waiting really is beginning to annoy some people as we live each day wondering when we will go back.  Some people are convinced that we aren’t going back at all, some are just treating this as a vacation.  It’s interesting to watch the way different people react to the situation.  Some sit in their rooms all day and play cards, only to leave at night to drink their emotions away.  Some are fascinated by the TV available in each room.  Some are worried about finishing their service while some are glad to have an excuse to quit.

Personally I’ve tried to deal with things by keeping busy and taking advantage of the situation.  I realize that there are many people in America who save all year to spend a few weeks on the beach of Thailand with no responsibilities at all, and here I am living out their dream free of charge.  I do appreciate it and am trying to make the best of it.  I have sent out some post cards and have found a Thai tutor who’s teaching me some words and phrases every day for an hour.  I’ve visited some of the local attractions and need to see some more of the area while I have a chance.  I’ve also enjoyed meeting some of the locals and befriending a few of the shopkeepers in town.  Swimming in the ocean has not been too productive yet due to the abundance of jelly fish, but since tomorrow is Saturday, which should bring a huge crowd of Thais for the 3-day weekend, I’ll probably join in the fun and hope I don’t get stung.

Of course I have also taken this opportunity to get some computer time from the laptop that our program director brought.  I enjoy tweaking the web pages a bit to get a better design, and finally have a chance to write slightly more coherent messages.  I can also rebuild the site a bit as the old one was destroyed due to the attacks in New York.  I’ll even try to do some spell checking, but my first goal is to copy out some entries from my paper journal to fill in some of the gaps.  I didn’t even think of this online journal when I first arrived in Dhaka, but I did write in my journal about it.  I’m going to try and type in those entries and post them so that you can follow the whole range of emotions and experiences that I have had in Bangladesh.  All of the editing, however, will be done from Thailand!

We don’t know if or when we are returning to Bangladesh.  There was a big change of government and the party that lost is of course claiming that the election was flawed.  There are some planned demonstrations over the next few days, a rumor of some anti-American protests scheduled in the capital, and the threat of non-cooperation and hartals.  There have been a few people killed in the country since the election, but fewer than during the campaigns.  Apparently Peace Corps negotiated their contract with the party that is now defeated, so I don’t know if the new party will want Peace Corps to come back or not.  Most people want to return though.  I want to.  Patia is my home now, with my extended family living there and many things to do.  I wont’ deny that sometimes I think that it would be great to keep traveling and never turn back, but I have an obligation, I have projects that I started.  I feel like I’ve just begun although my service is almost 25% finished.

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