After a request from a dear penpal, I'm working on post on about my project work, goals, and reflections. I realize I write very little about work - these first six months have been way more about adapting and integrating and just living - but I think six months in is a good time to write such a post - it's just going to take a little thinking and pruning before I release it off onto the web.
In the meanwhile I realized I haven't mentioned much about a major life change, my new kitten, Oliver! My whole host family knows I like cats, and that I'd been feeling down about Mishi since he took off. One day about three weeks ago my 5-year-old twin host cousins came back from their grandma's house, knocked on my window, and announced that they had a "regalo" for me.
Typically this would be a total trick and they would just want an excuse to be let into my room in order to run around screaming and wreaking general chaos, so I ignored them. Yet after a little while my older host sister, too, knocked on the door, and so I answered. And there he was in a little box: a tiny kitten of maybe 8 weeks of age. Originally I wasn't going to get another pet if Mishi didn't come back; but with a motherless kitten on my hands, I was feeling kind of flexible.
At any rate, Oliver has been great. After an initial night of crying and hiding he's gotten used to the environment and seems content with eating, sleeping, digging in his improvised litter box, and tearing around the room chasing everything from my toilet paper roll to the cat toys my parents sent. And he's so tiny, my room is plenty big for the moment, which is great. (My little host brother calls him "Botz Mishi" which means "Small Mishi" in Mam... too cute.) I am hoping we will be together for the rest of my 18 months here, but at the same time just really enjoying the time we have here together now.
As for Mishi, I still think of him, but his fate is definitively out of my hands unless he comes back. And I feel okay about that, since I think that as a time-hardened callejero he had earned the right to come and go as he wanted.
Hmm... I am definitely headed for total cat lady status, aren't I, though? I'm pretty sure I've already secured my status with my host family in future volunteer stories as "the one who loved cats."