Sleep Tight


Last night was one of my worst nights in Ukraine. There is another Peace Corps Volunteer that lives in our city and now, by the fate of misfortune, she has become our roommate.

For two years she has lived with a Ukrainian and recently discovered that her home has been infested with bed bugs. The Ukrainian, embarrassed by what her neighbors will think, has chosen to live with the bed bugs in secret rather than spray her apartment. This is what brought Sitemate to our doorstep. When she arrived she took special care to boil her clothes to ensure no eggs had hitched a ride over. After a few days of this she left to visit another country for a week. She did not finish her task and bags of clothes remained untouched.

Last night she came into our room and informed us that the bed bugs are back, that they have grown a new offensive and are looking to expand their colony. I instantly looked to my arm where I had been scratching what appeared to be four mosquito bites. I have a few more on the other arm and one on my hip.

Anger boiled up. Anger because I didn’t want a new roommate. Sitemate only has a couple more months and it would be extremely unpleasant and difficult, especially here in Ukraine, to find a new place to live. As she stood on our doorstep she was homeless and letting her be our roommate is the right thing to do.

Anger because I have enough problems to contend with, that I am already too near to that breaking point, the one that was stalled in madness during the rainstorm. Anger because I have been having trouble sleeping and now I have to wonder about nocturnal bugs crawling out and biting me the moment I finally get some sleep.

There was also anger from America; calls and emails from a parent that may be falling off the wagon, forcing me to play the grownup again, to talk them down, rationalize their problems, do the research to give them a way out, and convince them to put down the bottle.

I had to cancel my weekend plans to not risk spreading bed bugs anywhere else and currently I am sitting in a chair, feeling itchy all over, while I wait to find out about having the apartment fumigated. I am down to my last clean outfit and I am going to wear it until the apartment is sprayed. To avoid boiling all of my clothes I am going to lay them out to be sprayed with the apartment, and then I will do my laundry after.

While we wait for this our Peace Corps manager has sent us a complicated and time consuming government reporting file for us to fill out. He would like for it to be done before he arrives at our site on Tuesday. On that day he will visit my school and talk to my director and counterpart, hopefully about the numerous problems I have mentioned in this blog about my teaching schedule, time commitments and about being treated like a person and not property.

I am near the one year mark of being a volunteer living in Ukraine. Life is not getting easier.


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