Saturday, March 13, 2004


Last night there was a bombing in Madrid. I don't know the details but was told there is a coming election. The 2 obvious sources are of course basque separatists and islamic radicals. I hope this isn't the beginning of a new wave of terrorism.

Yesterday was devoted to medical. We received our kits with all the needed medicines and accouterments as well as medical training in various areas. First we sat around and told the med lady a little about ourselves. I like her. She is kind of a no nonsense type of person that seems to give you things straight. I've run into a few humanitarian/fascist types that just creep me out with their bipolar attitudes towards mankind versus individuals. They are the type that will lead the revolution and kill the educated.

So after the session, we took a break and she took us to the bazaar to explain some local foods. The we had lunch.

Well, we had Ukraine pizza. It is a crust at the bottom of a metal plate, covered with sauce and cheese. It is cooked in the plate and you eat it like a casserole. It was OK but odd. The sauce had a distinct sweet flavor that was completely unexpected. With a drink the cost was 7 grebna. That is about $1.50. Our allowance is 7 per day for lunch so I'm finally getting in the ballpark. Then we walked the market. Med lady took us through and explained some of the various foods and customs when buying. Evidently 100 grams is commonly one portion of anything and important to know when ordering. You could think you're getting that whole chicken quarter for 12 grivna when it is actually 3 times that price.

Then we went back and viewed an AIDS video created by former PCVs that contracted the disease while on assignment. I have been bothered for years by the politicization of AIDS and the resulting dishonesty in the education that is offered. And this was no different. Of 8 people in the video, only 2 were men and only one man was possibly gay. When I asked about it, I was told that PC doesn't ask people their sexuality. But come on, there's no way you can randomly pull together such a group and so grotesquely distort the real picture. Afterwards we had a discussion in which Med lady was refreshingly frank (at my prodding I might add) about transmission realities and the mechanics of contracting the disease. I actually learned a couple of things.

She pulled out dildos and showed how to put a condom on. that is always fun. She had three types of three sizes and colors. I'm not sure if she had such a variety for whatever continent she might be in at any particular moment. Or if people request she demonstrate on different sizes.

Afterwards we jaunted over to the internet cafe. Computer games are big here and everybody rents stations so it was filled with young guys. We decided to come back in the morning.

For dinner we had a meat-filled dumpling in broth. They were great. I'm eating more new things than I ever imagined. Hunger combined with a desire to not insult my hosts has caused me to eat much more foreign foods than I ever expected.

I brought home a bottle of vodka and sipped a shot during dinner. I got tired of waiting for them to offer me alcohol so now I can comfortably reach for the bottle if I feel like a drink. A bottle equivalent to a fifth was around $2.45. And it is good stuff. But then that is the cost of lunch.

We are meeting the mayor this am. I've got my suit out and ironed my shirt. I'll be wearing long johns underneath. We are supposed to have created a list of questions but I will wing it. Maybe I should create a list? Hmmm.

From there we'll study russian yet again. I wonder if people get burned out after a while?

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