Friday, November 26, 2010

Twenty-One

Happy 21st blog! Finally I can get rid of this fake blog ID. I just tried to think of a creative acronym that is like the DMV but its where you get your bloggers license but I didn’t think of one. But imagine if I did. I’m drinking an American beer right now to celebrate this 21st blog. It was donated to me by a visiting fan. American beer is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread which was soaked in water and then allowed to ferment in a sanitary and temperature controlled environment with hops; thus producing beer.

I’m almost done with my water system. Kind of. Like, by Christmas all of the houses will probably have water but then there will be several kinks to work out before we can really call it a finished product. But nearing the end of this project has made me reflect back on this past year. And I’ve realized that, in a way, building this water system has been a lot like raising a child. I know what you’re saying. “Duncan how do you know what raising a child is like when all of your children are illegitimate and you don’t even pay child support because you’re a “volunteer”? Well I know because raising a child is a lot like building a water system and I’m doing that right now.

You see in the beginning I was like, I’m ready to build a water system but I just don’t know if I’m in the right financial position for it right now. So I waited till I got some money together and then I started the project. It was a boy! We named it Acueducto after its Roman grandfather.

So we started with the basics. Gluing pipes together. As the old saying goes, “You have to glue pipes before you can build a ferrocement water tank.” The workers had no idea what they were doing at first. They made lots of mistakes. Granted, I also had no idea what I was doing. This was my first water project. But I pretended like I knew everything and my word was the final word. Funny thing is they bought it. Or at least I was the bread winner in this project so they had no choice but to do what I said.

But eventually they started to get the hang of things. And with that they began questioning my authority.

- “Have you really built one of these before?”

- “Yes.”

- “But you’re so young and you’re still in school. Did you have pre-graduate constructions with another community?”

- “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

These were the beginnings of the teen years. They started to realize that I wasn’t as all-knowing as I pretended to be. They stopped showing up to work. When I told them I was disappointed in them they screamed, “I wish this project had never been born!” And it hurt. But I pushed on, knowing that this was a phase and eventually they’d come around.

And they did. Eventually they began to take more responsibility. And I began to trust them with things that I wouldn’t have previously. Sure they still showed up drunk every so often but who hasn’t showed up drunk to work before. It probably happens at NASA all the time. They began to appreciate what I was trying to do here and realized that it wasn’t so easy. Even if it was obvious that I didn’t know what I was doing every step of the way, I did a pretty good job in the end. (Props Mom and Dad. I was just kidding about the illegitimate children thing.) And soon will come the day when I have to let them go. They can basically build this thing on their own now. They come to me every so often for advice or bail money. But it’s time to let them screw up and learn from their mistakes. And then forget what they learned and screw up again. And so on. And then they’re 25 years old and living in a third world country and I have no idea what happens after that. But I’m excited.

We got “consolidated” a few weeks ago because of a hurricane/tropical storm that was passing by the island. To me the word “consolidation” is closely related with “efficiency.” One consolidates in order to become more efficient. Not so with the Peace Corps. This consolidation, which was meant to save us from a hurricane, ended up being nothing more than five days in a nice hotel with three buffet meals a day all to avoid a little drizzle on the fifth day. They pretty much spent on me four months salary in five days. Now I’m not complaining. I don’t bite the hand that feeds me. Because it’s my own usually. I mostly just wanted to thank you, the tax payers of the United States, for paying for my vacation. You really shouldn’t have. Like seriously, it was unnecessary. But I’m glad you did.

You know what would be a fun thing to do hypothetically? To collect the wristbands that tourists wear when they’re at all-inclusive resorts. Then tape them onto your wrist and go and pretend to be a guest at the all-inclusive and drink and eat for free all day and swim in the pool and act like a tourist. I suppose if I did do this I would pretend I didn’t speak much Spanish so as not to attract too much attention to myself. Sometimes for my own entertainment I would speak really bad Spanish (“Yo quiero un glasso of wino, por favor.”). Also I would probably spread out my visits so they didn’t start to notice me as a regular. Wouldn’t that be neat? If it wasn’t so dishonest I would totally do that. I don’t though. But if I did actually do it sometimes and I was just pretending that it was a hypothetical situation even though it was actually a real situation I would wink at you right now. But I’m not WINKing at you.