Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) is like nothing you could ever imagine. We discuss things that are not generally considered as acceptable in “polite society.” One the most frequently discussed topics deals with bathroom issues. We have an RPCV who tells people you are not fully integrated until you have humiliated yourself by emptying your bowels somewhere other than in a toilet (i.e. your pants). You also will find all kinds of bathrooms and have to learn to navigate them. And oh, yes, don’t forget to carry TP with you every where you go as there probably isn’t any available if you even find a bathroom facility. Life as a PCV is not for the squeamish. We even sing songs about the challenges we face. Take for instance this lovely musical selection: Poop in a hole. Yes we can and do poop in a hole at times.
But there are other issues we discuss too – like bras. I came to this country with plenty of bras to last me for 27 months. But the detergent and water and washing machines have wreaked havoc with my lingerie and that of my fellow female volunteers. The hooks are bent, the colors are changed and the white ones are now gray–and not a pretty gray–pretty darned dingy. Additionally the underwires that I need in my bras are popping through their little enclosures and really beginning to stab me. So I have decided to get rid of some of these bras and replace them with ones I can buy in country. I take the old ones with me into town and get rid of them in a dumpster. If I tried to get rid of them here, they would try to salvage them and recycle them. I have no desire to provide brassieres to the locals! I’m funny about recycling underwear.
So time to go looking for new bras. We start at the bazaar because they have everything. Every thing I find is either a training bra–which I definitely don’t need, or a padded bra–also something this 85 C girl doesn’t need! The bazaar has tons of these babies! And oh the colors and designs!
But call me a bit squeamish, I’m not sure I want to buy a bra that has been hanging around at the Пит Базар for heaven’s only knows how long and there is no place to check the fit. What if I get it home and it doesn’t fit? Can I exchange it? You don’t get receipts there.
So I decided to go the traditional route. There are a number of stores at the mall carrying bras–none of which are like a Macy’s. (There is no such thing as a department store here. They are all speciality shops–clothes, shoes, jewelry, make-up, stockings, lingerie, perfume, pharmacy items) Not many carry my size so I have to hit them all. And then when I do find my size, it is padded or a bizarrely bright color. I’m learning to wear colors under my white (used to be white) shirts and t-shirts. When I find a bra that is not padded and is in my size and fits comfortably when I try it on, then I buy it. And man do you pay for them when you go to these speciality shops. I paid $53.45 for one bra! And it wasn’t anything super special. Plain black bra, no padding and felt like I wasn’t wearing one it was so comfortable. By the time I get home I may have nothing more than one or two bras! I’m used to paying $35.00 for them but almost $55.00 for nothing special? Yikes, I don’t like that option!