Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Musings in Paradise

I'm sitting in my office.

I should be heading out to eat lunch, but instead I'm sipping a protein drink and writing to you.

It's almost impossible to find a meal in Palau that doesn't consist of white rice and breaded deep-fried once-frozen meat. There are no vegetables. Not even on the side. It's no wonder obesity is so rampant here. Anymore I feel like I have to sit in my office and sip a protein drink during lunch in order to avoid it.

There are ants crawling on me. That's not an exaggeration. There are literally ants crawling on me. My office is currently covered in them. I can feel a few walking up my legs. I just took a gulp out of my giant transparent water bottle and saw through to the bottom of it where 200 or so tiny ants were swarming all over the base. It looked like they were inside, and I almost spit a mouthful of water across my office. Are ants dirty?


This morning I woke up at 5:00 covered in sweat. The power had gone out, again, which caused the ceiling fan to shut off. My sheets were soaked and I was thirsty. I got up and realized that I had run out of clean water. I thought about chancing the tap water but it's been smelling particularly odorous lately.

Later today I'll go for a run. I'll sweat profusely. And I'll continue to sweat for an hour or so after the run. I'll have to sit on a towel in my apartment as drops of sweat pour down my face like someone is dumping a never ending bucket of water on my head. Showering is pointless until this slows down so I'll just have to wait it out.

Hopefully the power will be on again so I can cook. I'll reach into the freezer and pull out a bag of vegetables that have been frozen and thawed and re-frozen and thawed with each power-outage so that eventually it has turned into a flavorless block of ice and, suspended within it, dull-colored chunks of something that was once food.

Then I'll wander to the church to hang out with the teenagers. They'll tell me about all of the latest gossip at school and I'll worry about how interested I am in hearing more. I'll give a few of them rides home at the end of the night, wondering how they got to the church in the first place since I didn't take them there.

I'll head home and stare at the malaria garden on the balcony, contemplating what I should do with it, ultimately deciding to do nothing. Then I'll go to bed.

I'll laugh at what I envisioned "paradise" to look like one year ago when I was counting down the days until perpetual beach time and pineapple mastication.

I will be surprised to hear myself later honestly admit that I'm really happy that I came to Palau. And I'll cry my eyes out in two weeks when I have to leave, just like I did on Sunday when I had to say goodbye to some people who left before me. But the goodbyes and tears and pleasant reflections will have to wait a little longer.

For now, I'm just sitting in my office.

~It Just Gets Stranger

24 comments:

  1. Oh, Eli... The melancholy and joy at the same time - too much!

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  2. I love love love this post. It's so fascinating to read about what your life is like over there. The happy, the sad, the frustrating, the confusing. I love that you are willing to show us so many different sides of it. So many blogs out there paint only one picture and make the writer's life look either constantly blissful or perpetually miserable. Yours does neither. Your life just looks like . . . life. An interesting one, but a life nonetheless.

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  3. I can't decide which I like more... "Malaria garden" or "Pineapple mastication". They're both just so descriptive and somewhat surprising to read (let's be real, who actually uses "mastication" in their everyday vernacular? It sounds like another naughty word; hence why no one uses it... but it's still a dang good word).

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  4. And now we see why the comical diversions were so necessary to maintain your sanity.
    Paradise is not really paradise. Ants, no real food, no pure water. Come home to the land of fresh food, steady a/c or heat (you choose), family, and freedom from Leotrix.

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    1. Leotrix is dead, the malaria garden took care of that.

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    2. Or IS he??? What if that was just a decoy to get Eli to let down his guard so Leotrix could wreak further havoc on him? Hmmm???

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  5. Ants are dirty or at least they taste that way when they find their way into your unsuspecting mouth. Perk up and at least kill the ants. You'll feel better. It'll be like you're in control of something again.

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  6. Oddly, minus the ants, this is how I felt after you left Moscow. It made me sad just reading it. And actually, I started running after you left because I didn't know what to do with myself without you to race around Moscow until the metro stopped running.

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    1. Oh Kimbally. I knew the universe would one day make me pay for abandoning you in that place. Izvenitye, pojalista.

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  7. Replies
    1. Yes, I HAVE been working out! Thanks for noticing!

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  8. Awesome writing. You are quite the Renaissance man, what with being good at funny AND melancholy writing. I will subscribe to your newsletter, sir. Also-- hang in there. I am sure it is hard being in this weird transition, but hopefully writing will help a brother push through.

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  9. It sounds like you're pretty helpless without Daniel.

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  10. By "protein drink", do you mean ant water? That's not a good idea. They really ARE dirty. Ewww, ants!!!

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  11. Actually ants are fairly sterile and disease-free. So at least there's that.

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  12. It's really weird that your blog actually makes me want to move to Palau. Maybe I will start looking for jobs in Palau for my husband, I'm sure my kids would love living there!

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  13. Oh Eli, it seem as if you're having a down day. Your fellow strangers are here to support and love you. Remember that you really arent alone though you may be feeling like it right now. Any one of us is just an email away. your time in Palu is winding down, and even though it feels like there is a perpetual tornado running through your mind, things will settle down soon enough. Soon, you will be out of the land of Coconuts, you will be miles and miles away from leotrix (make sure he doesnt sneak into your suitcase and boxes) and will be eating fresh veggies and fruit. blessings to you my dear friend.

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  14. I am plagued by ants at my house in my tea kettle. I don't have them many other places but they are always in the tea kettle and thus always in the tea pot and thus always in the tea cup. My rule is if there are more than 5 in my cup, I fish them out with a spoon, but if there are fewer than five, I generally just drink them. People eat bugs all the time. Plus these are teeny tiny little ants (canadian ants, you know, are never seen in the winter only in summer), about as big as a comma, somehow I picture your paradisical Palau ants as being quite large. And 200?? Even 200 of my teeny tiny ants would gross me out completely.

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  15. Just try to enjoy it! Pretty soon you will be back, and soon after that, you'll start freezing your toes off! Utah does that to people, you know. :) Also, your ant story reminded me of https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151872395742953&set=a.10151872395642953.1073741826.633182952&type=1&theater

    It's from the Happy Hocky Family. If you haven't read the book, you should. It's weird and awesome.

    I hope that works. I didn't know how else to share it. And I don't have a FB account anymore, so I hijacked my husband's... :)

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  16. When you come home and start to miss Palau, you'll have this post to refer back to and remember how grateful you are for air conditioning and Raid and non-wilty lettuce.

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  17. This was written so incredibly well. I am seriously impressed. You have a real gift, Eli.

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  18. Aww Eli... I just want to give you a really big hug.

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  19. Put tape across your desk and see how many ants you catch? maybe you have found the cure to cancer (Medicine Man)

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