Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Which We Meet the Team

Why do I have to be Judy's daughter? I love my mother, and I feel lucky to have inherited every trait I could from her, except for one: I keep waking up ridiculously early. You could blame jet lag. You could easily blame the trains which are less than a block away, or the barking dogs in our neighborhood, or even the ticking clock on the wall. However, as the daughter of a woman who rises every morning at ever more ridiculous hours, I know that the real culprit is genetics. Or possibly nurture, since she also used to stand and watch me sleep in the morning, until those I'm-being-watched senses started tingling and I opened one eye - to which she would respond "Oh, Al, I knew you'd be up," which such enthusiasm that I was forced to join her for some pre-dawn mother-daughter time. Anyway, with no mother here to keep me company, the pre-dawn has become my writing time.

The rest of our group arrived yesterday, and we all met for the first time (finally!) for a team meeting at noon. We learned that we will be finishing a house for a family. I'm not sure what this means, but I did meet an American woman on the plane whose daughter bought a house in Bishkek and then had to finish all the details on it herself. I'm not talking details like shower curtains and grout. I'm talking installing bathtubs and light fixtures, putting up drywall and mud. So it might be something like that, which sounds a little more high-skilled than is ideal for volunteers, but we'll see.

We then went out for a big lunch under a tent at a restaurant with the authentic Kygyz name of "Edgar's". I had a pizza, with sour cream and mushrooms, in an attempt to choose toppings that the locals might eat, but it arrived swimming in grease, which was a bit much even for me, and I like my fat.

After lunch we went on a shopping spree for breakfast food. It was all paid for by Habitat (or, more accurately, by us, but a long time ago when we paid our trip fees), and our only instructions were to "be reasonable". It was like some kind of reality TV show. We divided into three teams and descended upon the grocery store.

Our team - "Team Penthouse" - consists of Tom, Paulina, Denise and me. It is the most age-diverse team, ranging in age from 20 to 70-something. We also each have our own breakfast needs, but we're all pretty aggressive and not at all jet-lagged having been here for two days, and so we managed to do pretty well for ourselves, operating like a well-oiled machine, and finding sweet and savory breakfast options. Denise even side-lined as the group organizer for staples like coffee, sugar, and water for all the teams.

The "Seasoned Travelers Team" consists of Jim, our team leader, and Dean and Suze, a married couple from New York. Jim had few needs, mainly yogurt and bread, but he had to man the cart for the whole group. Dean and Suze shopped well together because they already knew each other's tastes, but they wasted precious time looking for soy milk (soy milk?!).

Meanwhile, "Team Jet Lag", with three women in their twenties weighed themselves down early with a giant watermelon. Homa and Lindsey went to Bowdoin together and graduated the same year, and then coincidentally both signed up for the same random trip to Kyrgyzstan. Lindsey also spent nine hours in the Moscow airport with Elyse before the 8 hour flight here which arrived at 5:00 in the morning. Despite their jet-lag this group of acquaintances manged to leave the store with a full bag of groceries - and one giant watermelon.

By the time we packed up all of the loot, it was nearly time for dinner even though none of use was really hungry after that big lunch. Still, we piled into the van and made our way to one of the fanciest restaurants in Bishkek for a welcome banquet. We were greeted with a three course meal, and giant platters of food, including, yes, some plates of grilled meat. Mmm, meat. We also got to meet the local Habitat bigwigs, who were very kind and grateful to our team.

And then, because I am Judy's daughter, and it was nearly 9:00, I fell asleep before I could even finish one chapter of my book.


Greg said...

I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute a story. Please visit my blog for information about being interviewed for “Mom's Little Angel.”

Gregory E. Lang
Author of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” and more.

OneN said...

Maybe this is really what you will be doing for the next job, the one after you learn to teach Calculus!

Enjoying the stories!

Alex said...

ншлуы ершы шы шт кгыышфт!