Getting Used to Boredom

This entry from my Peace Corps diary makes me think of what we’re all going through in the coronavirus quarantine today.

July 11, 2008

I really miss not having a car.  We are living a very rustic life, which is actually fine with me, but the worst part of it is that I cannot get into a car especially at night and go somewhere, sometimes anywhere.  The last bus out of this community of Guayaquil leaves at around 6:30 PM.  Once that bus goes, we are stuck here unless someone from the community is going to town and we can hitch a ride.  Since I can see the road from the shack, I can see that there are very few cars that travel it.  So the chances of that happening are slim.

And there is nothing going on here.  I am used to the weather.  I can bear it as long as we don’t exert ourselves and get overheated.  Sometimes we can even sleep without a fan.  Some nights I have to use a sheet to stay a little warmer.  The worst part of this is I go to sleep too early.  Usually it is out of a lack of something to do.  I do read both in English and Spanish.  I do listen to the radio in Spanish.  I do watch a little TV in Spanish.  But when I tire of these things, and everyone in the community is sleeping (as I can see from the quiet and lights out), we sleep.

Going to sleep early is not so bad when we get up early.  Many of the residents here do exactly that.  So it is a vicious cycle.  They sleep early, and they get up early.  Since they sleep early, there is no need for activity at night.  For me, I have to learn to be unoccupied.  It is a change.  At home I was on the go all the time.  Here, at least at night, there is frequently boredom.  I can see why the Peace Corps makes such a big deal in training about not doing drugs or drinking.  It would be easy to turn to these things out of sheer boredom.

Even if another Peace Corps volunteer were to visit us, they’d be caged in for the night once the last bus left.  That is the way I felt in Las Quebradas, where there was a 45 minute hike to get to site.  That was the way I felt at Isla Canas, where the only way out of the small community was by boat.  I think I called it island fever, as a variant of cabin fever.  And that is one reason I thought Cerro Punta was neat.  You could always walk a few minutes to a touristic hotel where you would likely find someone to talk to at the bar.  If I didn’t have Jackie here with me, I think I’d go crazy out of boredom.

Last night I went to sleep early, as usual.  But this morning we decided we didn’t need to be anywhere so early.  We planned on leaving Guayaquil after lunch.  This would save us the cost of 2 lunches (as our host includes lunch in our rent), but also means we couldn’t get a ride to Santiago with Professor Job.  So the free lunch effect is partially reversed by the cost of 2 bus fares to town.

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