Gina writes:

This past weekend, seven volunteers from other parts of the state came to Koraput. Combined with the four Koraput-based volunteers (there are actually five, but Nancy was out of town), we were a group of 11 white foreigners traipsing about Koraput!

They came for a number of reasons: four of the 11 are finishing their placements in the next month and wanted to have a last social get-together, five of the 11 live in Bhubaneswar, which is big and crowded, and seven of the 11 live in places that are much hotter and more humid than Koraput. So they weren't looking for a weekend chock-full of entertainment (which is good, since that is not to be found in Koraput), just some good conversation and food in a relaxing and cool place. Pretty easy expectations to fufill!

Most of our activities revolved around food. Margaret is a great cook and prepared so much deliciousness -- pesto pasta, coleslaw, bean salad, parmesan cheese toasts, bruschetta, chili, potato salad, roasted almonds, granola, and more. Her frequent trips to Bhubaneswar to get ingredients hard to find in Koraput, her amazing herb garden, and her creativity combined to make one delicious non-Indian weekend!

We did our part (sort of) by hosting brunch on Sunday. We made Spanish tortilla (similar to an omelette), banana bread, and fruit salad.

When we weren't eating, we were drinking! Some of the volunteers are in placements where they are the only foreigner in their area or where drinking alcohol is VERY frowned upon, so they especially enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy some libations with friends! I was excited, because two of the volunteers from Bhubaneswar brought me wine, which is not available in Koraput. It was mediocre-quality, but so nice to have! I have one bottle that I'm saving for a special occasion.

Paul and AnnMarie brought their guitars, so we had some lovely music. AnnMarie and Jen brought hard drives with lots of movies and TV shows that we transferred to our harddrives, to sustain us for a few more months. The Bhubaneswar crowd filled all sorts of requests from the rural volunteers for muesli and earl grey tea and maple syrup and baguettes. We did visit the Jagannath Temple and the Sunday tribal market, but we really just spent the majority of the weekend eating, drinking, and chatting.

If a visitor were to join us for the weekend, he/she would have been bored to death! Why? Because a vast majority of our conversations focused on our placements, dealing with frustrations at work, talking about where to buy this or that, how to get rid of various pests, etc. It's so valuable to be in a room with other people all experiencing the same struggles and triumphs, a group that really understands why a situation is so exasperating (or remarkable).

All in all, the weekend was utterly exhausting, but incredible at the same time. I truly value the advice and camaraderie of my fellow volunteers. Paul, AnnMarie, Susie, Sheila, Jan, Margaret, Kate, Sarah, and Jen, thanks for a great time!