The One Where I Sat on a Caterpillar

Hi there, friends, family, and bot-followers! I’m back with a fun list to say sorry for disappearing for several months.

The excuse for my disappearance is not even an exciting adventure—I’ve been busy, life hasn’t seemed interesting enough to blog about, the internet has been bad, etc. But the story behind this post is an adventure, mostly involving me using a flashlight, mirror, and tweezers to pick stingers out of my butt at two in the morning.

My options were: (a) cry, or, (b) try to laugh at the situation. I chose option B and began brainstorming titles for the Peace Corps memoirs I will (probably) never actually write.

**Disclaimer: There are, like, 4 typos. I didn’t count, but I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate number. I apologise. I’m not going to fix them. I made these images using a trackpad and my trackpad finger has caterpillar stingers in it. Consider the typos to be an artistic choice, showing you my authentic, messy life.

1 peace corps memoir showers
Showers Are Optional But Shoes Aren’t (unless you want jiggers or worms)

This one is the only one that isn’t based on an experience I’ve actually had—others in my cohort have gotten jiggers, but the worst I’ve gotten was scolded by the PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) for being barefoot.

2peace corps memoir door
“Your Children Keep Shoving Rubbish Under My Front Door” Conversation Starters to Help You Integrate

This happened yesterday. The kids really love it when they shove junk through the 2-inch crack under the door and my dog grabs it out of their hands, but then they would not stop and I had to go tell my neighbour and get her to scold them.

3peace corps memoir multilingual
I’ll Have the Beans and Laundry: Adventures in Multilingual Miscommunication

This one happened to me during PST. I did, in fact, say this to the waiter at a restaurant. In my defence, the word for “clothes” (imyenda) and the word for “meat” (inyama) are somehow similar.

4peace corps memoir luck
Let That Kid Pee On You! Good Luck Customs Around the World

To be fair, no kid has actually peed on me. On my couch, yes. On my porch, yes. On my floor, yes. But when I called up a language and culture facilitator to ask how to explain that I don’t want kids in my house if they’re not potty trained, I learned the fun tidbit that in Rwandan culture, it’s good luck if a kid pees on you, because it means you will have many children. None for me, thanks…

5peace corps memoir toilet
Anything Can Be A Toilet If You Need It Bad Enough

I am not the worst about this, but, let’s be honest, if you have to run through pouring rain in the middle of the night to get to your bathroom, aren’t you going to find a better solution?

6peace corps memoir poop
Bird Pop & Other People’s Vomit Accessorising Your Peace Corps Wardrobe

I have done both of these. They are not fun. Fortunately the bird poop happened right outside a little shop that had napkins, and white bird poop matched my white shirt. But still.

7peace corps memoir occupied
This Seat Is Occupied! How to turn your body and belongings into blunt instruments to fight off manspreaders on the bus

To be fair, this is a problem worldwide, not just in Rwanda. Fortunately for me, many hours on the buses have taught me how to throw elbows and swing heavy bags with the best of them.

8peace corps memoir muzungu
Muzungu in the Mist Charcoal Smoke and Dry Season Dustcloud

Full disclaimer: I intend to buy a muzungu in the mist t-shirt before leaving this country.

9peace corps memoir caterpillar
Wet Toilet Seats, Spiky Caterpillars, and Other Things I Regret Sitting On

So the caterpillar story goes like this: after many hours of no electricity, a good portion of which I spent fighting insomnia, I finally got to sleep, only to be awakened around 1:30am by a dog barking. I got up to check whether it was my dog. It wasn’t. Sharp pain when I got back into my bed alerted me of the presence of one of the little fuzzy caterpillars that have begun to take over my house since dry season began. These little guys are covered with fur that looks soft but is actually entirely composed of tiny poisonous barbs that are almost impossible to get out. Segue to me sitting on the floor with a flashlight, a mirror, and tweezers, picking caterpillar stingers out of my butt in the wee hours.

91peace corps memoir waste
Just Chuck It in the Shower: A guide to waste management at site

To be perfectly honest, I have been chucking rubbish in my shower for most of my service. I have a high compound wall, so I can bathe outside in the sun. There is no good solution to trash at site. Hey, at least I’m not burning it all, right?

92peace corps memoir bump
Things That Go BUMP in the Night (or whenever you happen to be on the bus)

In interest of fairness, shoutout to Rwanda for having an incredibly functional public transportation system and amazingly well maintained roads for this part of the world. But still.

93peace corps memoir pcmo
Are You There, PCMO? It’s Me, Elizabeth (and I have a weird rash to show you)

Actually, I have never called the PCMO about a rash. Other things, yeah. But not a rash.

94peace corps memoir hp
Readjustment Allowance and Those 3 Kids Who Like Harry Potter (and other reasons not to ET)

Other reasons include my GLOW club leaders, my neighbour, and my dog.

95peace corps memoir milk
Milk Is a Balanced Meal and other things I learned in the Peace Corps

Actually ever since I stopped getting daily milk from my neighbour, milk for dinner is a luxury. So much protein packed into such a small space…

96peace corps memoir spider
Peace Corps’s Believe-It-Or-Not! Featuring never-before-seen 2-inch-long rat-tailed maggots and a spider the size of your face!

All I can say is thank God rainy season ended and those maggots quit crawling under my door. Google them. I am not even exaggerating. They take the prize for grossest living organism I have ever encountered.

97peace corps memoir wasp
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream …because a wasp nested in the front door handle

The wasps did not sting me. They did sting several neighbour kids. I felt simultaneously terrible that they got stung and a tiny bit annoyed because I had told them not to come visit me while I was tutoring someone.

And there you have it! Hit me up with the facetious titles of all your memoirs!