Walking down the street with a fellow voluntario, speaking English sort of loudly.  We pass by a store with the lights on.  No one comes out of the store, but a voice from inside suddenly begins to bellow over and over:

“Hello!  I am Jose!  I am fine!  I aaaam fiiiiine!!”



Art therapy workshop was a big success. The women in both zones really appreciated it and the therapists are now likely to come out a few times a month work with them.  At first all the ladies were unsure of what this whole thing was really about.  It’s like, um, okay we’re doing art now? I’m busy.  I have mouths to feed, kids to take care of, clothes to launder, whatever.  How is this helping me?  What am I really learning here?  And why?  But eventually the women really came to understand what was happening.  The head therapist had the ladies go around and introduce themselves.

Each woman basically said her name, and then said she was a wife, a mother, a cook, a cleaner, whatever it is that they do all day.  And the therapist was trying to stress, these are all good things, all valid titles, but the point is you spend all day being someone else’s something.  Caring for people, cleaning up after them, whatever. So much so, that when asked to introduce yourself, all you have to offer are the titles of your responsibilities to other people.  No one said, “I’m so and so, and I really like this, or enjoy that.”  They just listed their responsibilities, really.

So the therapist was trying to stress that this one hour or so a day is an hour for you.  You.  Yourself.  Not your kids, or your husband, or your employer.  Just for you.  And taking that time for yourself will make you a better, happier person.  As westerners, we really take that idea for granted.  The idea that we need time to ourselves, to decompress, to think, to relax.  Here, these women don’t relax.  There’s no time for that.  They’re up at five a.m. hiking to the top of a tall hill to get water to start the day, cooking, cleaning, getting the kids ready for school, laundering clothes by hand, whatever.  Whatever they’re doing, there is never any time for themselves.  And really, they’ve never had a reason to even realize it’s something they could have.  Or should have.  Or deserve.

This little session didn’t cover much, but what it did cover was the value of taking time for yourself, and I felt like you could see in their faces how excited they were about it.  That they could come to this place that is usually associated with nothing but work and use it for enjoyment.  It seems like a no-brainer to us “rich” Westerners, but to them it was an eye-opener.  I hope we have more moments like that.


There is no way to be alone here.  It’s just  impossible. You share a bedroom with at least two to three other people who are basically always home when you’re home,  and gone when you’re gone, and there’s just no escape.  So the only way to ever really be alone is to try to be mentally alone.  You put your headphones on and stare at your computer screen, or lie in your bunk reading a book with earplugs in.  You’re not alone.  But it’s something.

The only problem is that there are some people here who absolutely refuse to respect the mental alone time boundaries.  The rules are unspoken, but really I feel like any normal person who found me  wearing a hat, a scarf, sun glasses, and headphones all while reading a book called “I hate people who insist on speaking to me when I’m wearing headphones” could see that I’ve obviously gone out of my way to erect every barrier possible between myself and the outside world.  I don’t want to effing talk to you!  And listen, if you’ve got something important to say, a question maybe that only I can answer, or something very specific that must be said right now, such as, I dunno, “FIRE!” maybe , something like that.  Then okay, sure.  Feel free to say it.  But at midnight on Sunday don’t walk over to me when I’m reading, pull my earphone out of my ear-!- and ask if this milk smells funny to me, too.  Or worse, definitely don’t open my closed bedroom door some morning, see me half awake  and launch into a conversation about Fairtrade regulations.  What?!  No!  No!  It’s six in the morning.  Six!  I don’t even get up to pee before six, we’re not gonna have a jam session about human rights issues.  Who are these people?!


The moment you realize you’ve failed as a teacher:

English for 6-9 year olds.  Exam.

Question 1:  Write out the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in words.

Eduardo’s answer: One true tree trour trive.

…….I guess we’ll have to go over that lesson again?


2 thoughts on “There is no way to be alone in a house with ten people

  1. I hear ya! I have trouble getting alone time too. Try sharing with 2 others and living in a house of 1000 where therenreally is NO ESCAPE. Nightmare!!!

  2. I’m glad these women are learning that they can take time for themselves! I felt enriched just reading that…oh really? I can have an hour for just me? …ummmm. Alone time…that’s so funny but not. Maybe wear a cardboard box over your head in the bunk…maybe they will get it then? I doubt it… No escape… take care~ xo

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