I have come to my last few days here in Puerto Viejo, and while it has been a great experience, I am definitely ready to move on. I have one last project to finish up at the volunteer center and then we are heading out. We anticipate leaving on Wednesday.
I am leaving the volunteer project with mixed feelings. I came into it not knowing how I would react and now after having done it for over a month, I have mixed feelings about it. I believe that it takes a certain type of person to be able to stick to a volunteer project long term. I see myself as more of a sprinter when it comes to this type of work. I am great for short projects, but I think I would be pretty lousy in the long run. I just can't get used to busting my butt doing manual labor and not making any money! I guess its just the capitalist background in me, I can't really say, but in the back of my mind despite the fact that I like feeling good about myself for helping others which is absolutely true, its tough for me to justify the expenditure of my time doing work that is not that enjoyable for free. Add to that the fact that you have people who may not know too much about what you are doing trying to tell you how to do the job that you have been given (micro management is a BAD thing!) and I find myself getting annoyed on top of not getting paid. I am the kind of person that takes pride in what I do, and work hard to do a good job. I have confidence in my ability to perform a task well, and if I do need help, I ask for it with no ego getting in the way. I am not the kind of guy who will not ask for directions if I get lost while driving.
So, when someone is trying to tell me how to do something that I know I can do very well on my own, or gives me a job that they expect to be done in an unrealistic time frame I get annoyed. I like to do things efficiently and on my terms, especially when I am not being compensated.
At any rate, I do not intend for this to turn into a negative post, only that it takes a particularly good leader to make a non profit organization run and to keep the members of the team feeling positive about it and working well. The way I see it, if someone is willing to come out and work for free, they are highly motivated anyway and should be left to their own devices, but that is just my opinion.
So, I will leave this feeling that it was a great experience, I am thankful for the opportunity to have helped people who needed a hand and for having had a chance to get to know a very foreign culture on a fairly intimate basis. I have a friend I made, Jeanie, while traveling through this area that will be doing peace corp. work in Morocco, and I plan on visiting her when I pass through that part of the world. I am very curious to see what that entails and I will help out there for a while if I can. Also, one of my best friends back home is going to go to work in the non profit field and I would love to join up with him and do some work if it is feasible and we are close to one another at any point. Plus, it would be great to just spend some time with friends.
Tamarah and I are going to head out and meet up with some friends to explore Nicaragua for a week or two. I am really glad that I have had the chance to meet such a great person. She is a giving, intelligent, fun and a friend for life, without question. Traveling brings you into contact with so many wonderful, adventurous people. It is the best and worst thing about it, as most travelers will tell you, because these fantastic people come into your life but inevitably will leave it again in a short time frame, often to never be seen again. But, the brevity of these relationships also makes them so much more special. When you have a time limit on a friendship of any kind, it forces you to cut through the baloney and just see the other person for who he or she is and accept or reject them based solely on those characteristics.
Lastly, I just wanted to say a few thing about the elections that just took place. I will keep my personal political views to myself as that is not what this blog is for, but suffice it so say that the world is ecstatic about the result. No one here thought Obama had a chance, most of the people I talked to from other countries figured that after what happened with Bush back in 2000, that the conservatives would just take the election through underhanded means. Now, I know most Americans do not believe that will ever happen again, but that is what a lot of the world thinks looking at us form the outside. I have been traveling on my own around various parts of the world off and on since 2002, and the opinion of the world that I have had immediate contact with concerning the USA has been overwhelmingly negative ever since the Bush administration took control. It is perfectly acceptable and commonplace for people from other countries to talk trash about the states. I have seen graffiti in multiple countries with hate messages about our country and especially about President Bush. It drives me insane as I love my country and am proud of who I am and where I come from and what my country was built on and stands for, even when we stumble and make mistakes as we have seen in the past 8 years.
I had gotten so sick of defending my country from people who make constant negative remarks about it offhandedly as if it were OK to slander an entire nation of people. Most of them do not even know what they are talking about, they just have a deep seated animosity towards America. The thing that always drives me nuts, is that people say things in public that if you were to substitute American for any other group of people they would be considered to be a complete jerk and possibly a bigot. But it has been OK to say these types of things about Americans for the past 8 years. So, I feel that my crusade to defend my homeland will be that much easier in the least.
Now, from the point of view of foreign relations with the average Joe from another country, America has gained mountains of respect. I see that as a positive, and it is my greatest hope that now that we have a new President he will live up to the expectations we have for him and help to bring the United States to where I believe it is capable of going. For every citizen back home, if you wanted Obama to win or not, he is our new leader and deserves our support. I am very excited for the possibilities of what this history making event can mean for the country that I love.