Friday, May 22, 2009

"Ow, my foot" or Ithaca summary with a side of Chacos pan and some complaining for garnish.

Because it's what I'm noticing most at the moment, I think I've broken my left foot. Not in half, not off, just have some weird fracture in there somewhere in the vicinity of my fourth tarsal/metatarsal area. It's a result of slacklining, but because feet are feet and you can't do much for them, I figured just walking on it and taking ibuprofen now and again was about the only thing I could do for it, But then I wore my sandals yesterday, and it got a lot worse.

Let's talk about the sandals. I've heard nothing but good things from everyone I know who has and wears Chacos. Chaco is a great company, located pretty close to me, hometown-wise (so, partially local), and generously offer a 50% discount to Peace Corps Invitees. I took them up on it, ordered two pairs of shoes. A pair of super-fantastic hiking boots, and a pair of ZX/2 sandals. I love the boots--they rock my socks. Actually, I rock them with socks, but that's (not funny, Katherine--shhh) not the point. But the sandals continue to confuse me. I wore them some, and it was fine. But then I started wearing them regularly, to hike all over Ithaca, for example, and started getting pretty bad blisters all over my feet, no matter how I adjusted the straps. Keep in mind, I really want them to fit, because I like Chaco, and I know that their shoes work really well for a lot of people. But they don't fit my feet, haven't started to wear to my feet, and have given me four thumb-sized blisters. Having gone slacklining with Jen (who visited me for three days--hooray!) and Sophia, and broken (or somehow messed up) the toe/its meta/tarsal, the Chacos exacerbate the swelling kinda painfully (I discovered yesterday), and I'm really about to disown them.

I may have to disown them anyway, though, because they're really a pain to slide on and off, and apparently I'll be doing that a lot in Mauritania. I'm kind of tempted to just get a few pairs of the Teva flipflops I like so much and wear 'em out pair by pair. After all, if I can play basketball in them, I can probably deal with the sand and so forth. But, the soft soles make me nervous. Anyway, yes, I'm frustrated at my inability to fall in love with (falling, I can do) with my ZX/2 and unimpressed at my foot, which is making it hard to walk and do things.

Let's see. Ithaca--I arrived here 4/22 or so and have gotten to spend a beautiful three weeks with all my amazing friends here. Kevin and I created lots of projects and mischief, Helen and I had adventures of all sorts, I discovered food that Erica doesn't like, and got to know the new Whitbees better. I also got to connect with Nick, Paul, Adam, Simon, Paul, Mark, John, Chad, Liana, Maddy, Sophia, Jen, Becca, and lots of other great people (i.e. if I forgot you, I'm sorry; I still love you!). Originally, I was going to camp in Danby State Forest, but then I chickened out, and have stayed in Whitby, doing chores and home improvement projects to pay for my room and board. Helen, and now Erica have left, so of course I'm heartbroken about that (second-time around goodbyes were even harder than the first, but hard goodbyes are the flip side of meaningful, important friendships), but Jen came to visit, so that's a good thing. She kept me from being too sad, because we laughed a whole lot, and yes, I broke the rule and made jokes after quiet hours.

And of course I miss Kevin a whole bunch, but it's a little bit hard to complain to him about his going to Kentucky on a really cool service trip for a week. I mean, it's easy to complain, but it's hard to not feel stupid for doing so. As he pointed out, it's funny if I'm complaining that one of us is going to go prohibitively far away and be outside easy means of contact for a longer-than-easy period of time to do public service-type work. Hi, Kettle, it's Pot, and, uh...I was wondering if you had a cup of sugar I can borrow? So, yeah. I miss Kevin.

But, all in all, Ithaca has been wonderful, I'm working on one last house project before I go, and enjoying my time here. I booked my tickets to staging yesterday, and am leaving at 8:11am on June 15th for Philadelphia. I'm also doing my best to ignore the fact that Mauritania's political situation is looking less than stable. That said, can we all just acknowledge right now that I'm a powerfully unfathomed weapon. Want an African country to have political collapse/unrest? Tell me I'm going there with some sort of institution in some sort of official capacity. You can even time it--it will begin to happen between a month and 20 hours before I'm scheduled to leave. Oh, and I called Peace Corps to ask what was up and guess what they said? "Flexibility and patience are key..."

I'll be back in Grand Junction the evening of May 28th. Happy Birthday, Toby!

[[Don't comment about: Chacos, "being patient/flexible" with respect to Peace Corps, "don't worry" about the political situation in RIM.]]


Sarah said...

Sorry to hear about the foot - heal quickly! And I'm just trying not to think about the political situation...nothing we can do about it anyways.

RE chacos, I'm used to flip flops too and the Z1/Z2s don't work for me either. I read some reviews and decided to give the Hipthong style a try instead...sort of a cross between flip flops and the Z1/Z2 style, with the hard chaco sole of course. I've been wearing them quite a bit over the past month or so and they're great! FYI Chaco also makes normal looking hard-sole flip flops and I got a pair of leather ones for my "nicer" footwear. Those have taken a lot more breaking in...less convinced on them. Just my two cents :-)

Sarah said...

I take it back about not worrying about the political situation...from a current volunteer's blog:

"Striking back at the travel and banking restrictions levied upon members of the junta, The Mauritanian foreign ministry has suspended the issuance of visas to US citizens. As someone put it to us at Schenkers’ the other night, the US has been unique among nations in refusing to make any accommodations at all towards the junta. President Obama had previously sent a letter of support to former president Abdellahi, ousted in the 2008 coup - in this respect at least, policy remains unchanged from the one administration to the next. Other nations have at least acknowledged the junta’s presence, to varying degrees of intimacy, and so it is that visas are no longer issued to Americans in particular.

This step may seem counterintuitive, from an economic perspective. It has already disrupted expensive travel plans for various friends and family of PCRIM Volunteers who’d hoped to visit the country.

Most of the current second-year Volunteers had been scheduled to stay through August, but many are now being allowed to close their service as early as June, in part to minimize the US footprint over here. PCRIM leadership has not yet seen anything to indicate a deterioration of the security situation, as far as we know, but this caution would surely simplify things, in the event things did go south in the coming months. Our gatherings will gradually grow quieter, in the meanwhile."