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23rd October 2008

6:38pm: HOME!
Uhhh, Sorry I guess it's been four months. I've had a load of adventures since then. I guess the biggest for those that don't know, I'm home now. School finished in Guatemala and so I pretty much finished all my projects and decided it was about time to head home. So I'm home now. Living in Nature Boys neck of the woods. I'm waiting to hear back about a job and hope to be in the classroom by Monday, but we'll see . . . So I'm sure I have more to tell you about what happened during my lack of writing, but send me an email, I'll give you my new number and we can catch up, maybe in person! It's nice to be home, but I learned a ton while I wasn't I look forward to seeing you all!
Current Mood: accomplished

18th June 2008

7:07pm: One more thing . .
I called my school to double check if there is or isn't school tomorrow. I had heard rumor of there not being any. He didn't know and said he'd call me later, most likely tomorrow morning at 7, which is what he did last time.

But I finally visited the orphanage in town a few days ago and just now. I had become friends with the owners and their adopted children, but never at the orphanage. Not sure why. But anyway they are so sweet and fun! They have a great website, check it out!! (It's in English and Norwegian if interested) http://www.casahogarfeliz.no/ Enjoy the pics on there and have a great day! I think this is going to become my project since I'm never at school :)
Current Mood: calm
3:21pm: Volunteer or Zoo Animal?
I've been here about a year and a half now, and I'm still unclear as to what my role is. It's either a volunteer thats here to work with and help the Guatemalan people, or its to be a monkey in a cage, in other words, the funny American thats here to amuse Guatemalans for two years. Sometimes I lean much more towards the latter. Today was a great example.
There are two 15 yr old girls living next door, which is a huge oddity to begin with, but they are studying and their town is far and they have no relatives here. Any way so they moved in maybe a few months ago, but I didn't meet them for a long time. The older had enough guts to come and introduce herself one day as I was washing dishes. She's kind of awkward and will sometimes just stand for a while as I wash dishes, but she talks to me.
So today she wasn't home, but here roommate whom I've never met was (one goes to school in the morning and the other in the afternoon) She had three friends over working on homework, so I hear all this giggling around the corner to the back of their house as I was washing clothes. Finally I caught eye contact with one and told them to come out. The three friends came out giggling (the one that lives their just sat and watched through the window) pushing each other they finally made it in front of my sink. I nicely asked their names and what they were up to. They gave me short answers then just stood there in a line giggling as I scrubbed clothes. They soon ran away but continued to run back and forth giggling and hiding around corners, more attempts of conversation proved fruitless. This continued as I finished laundry, hung it up, and cleaned out the sink. I finally asked them that if they refused to talk to me they need to leave. I had to tell them a few times, but they eventually went away.

So in other news. Work at my schools is slow (nothing new). But last week some friends of mine had a mission group down to help with some projects they are doing. Soo on my days off of school I went with the medical team. I wrote out directions in Spanish to all the meds that they gave out. The group was really cool and fun the work with. The doctors were actually Guatemalans and really awesome. So they invited me over when ever I want which is cool. Also one of the older couples on the trip lives not to far from home. So they said when ever I go back to the states that I should go visit. AND one person on the team was a volunteer here in the 80's during their civil war. It was so interesting comparing our experiences and what it was like to work here during a war where massacres were common. I don't think I could have done it. This was her first time back since then though her children had been on this trip for the past two years with out her.

I'm looking forward to the 4th of July which we are planning a celebration for and also a confrence the previous day. Then it will be less than a month before I will visit home again!!!!!! I can't wait to see you all. I hope you are all doing well. I miss you and keep me informed!
Current Mood: irritated

21st May 2008

10:40pm: Random Songs
Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie

-Warning, I have songs on hear from lots of other people and it's not all labeled . . .

Opening Credits: One Wrong Turn (Greg Brown)

Waking Up: Some romantic salsa song

First Day At School: Falta Amor (Mana)

Falling In Love: A love song by Nat King Cole (in spanish)

Fight Song: Waiting on the World to Change

Breaking Up: Just like a Pill (Pink)

Prom: Another salsa song

Life's Okay: In the Garden (Pink Martini)

Mental Breakdown: Rosario Tijeras (Juanes)

Driving: more salsa sorry I don't have any of them titled

Flashback: Don't do Me like That (Tom Petty)

Getting Back Together: Shameless (Garth Brooks)

Wedding: If it Makes You Happy (Sheryl Crow)

Birth Of A Child: Pobre Diablo

Final Battle: Free Falling (Tom Petty)

Death Scene: Tea and Sympathy (Jars of Clay)

Funeral Song: Hold On (Sarah McLachlan)

End Credits: I'm not afraid to Die (maybe thats the name of the song?) (Johnny Cash)
Current Mood: awake
4:40pm: A Quick Update
I know, I know it’s been ages, so let me catch you up. I started a new school last week. Already ready they are falling back on things the promised me when they were asking to receive the program. That’s typical but drives me nuts! But on the other hand they are moving much faster than my other schools did in the beginning. Probably for two reasons; 1) I know what I’m doing and therefore know what to ask of them and the process moves quicker. 2) They came into the program already knowing a bit about it and what was needed, so they are jumping to start some parts of the program that I haven’t had time to explain yet. My others schools have kind of lost momentum (as have I) and been caught up in the whirl wind of school activities which knock out days or weeks of school at a time, much less the necessary meeting time during school when it does happen. So I’m struggling to keep up my motivation in order to keep them moving, but hopefully after this next week of exams (first week of June) everyone will have some renewed spirits.

In April my group of volunteers and I officially moved into our second year of service. So of course we celebrated a bit. A group of 12 (mostly girls and the two boyfriends we allowed to come along J ) Set out for the beach for a weekend. It’s the first I’d been to the beach after a year. It was so nice and relaxing. We rented out little cabins, four to a cabin that included a kitchen and a little pool for when we were sick out being pounded by the huge waves. It was the first time in a long time that we had all been together again. It was interesting to see how much everyone (both looks and attitudes) had changed as well as the group dynamics. Basically since we’ve all been thrown out in the countryside with unreliable people, transportation, water, etc, we all chilled out a bit. It was a fun weekend and marked 12 mos. left (now only 11 – not that I’m counting). That lead to a week of med exams and a day of meeting up with our director and going over the past year. The doctor visits were also interesting, Even though it was in the capitol things were still done differently than I’m used to at home. I was not a fan of my dentist. He put sandpaper between my teeth and then filled four cavities, but in the process he kept dropping bits of it in my mouth and the fillings are this rough whitish grey stuff. I don’t like it. All else is well.

That’s about all for now. Keep me updated from home!
Current Mood: nostalgic

27th March 2008

6:02pm: Holy Week – Local Celebrations
Well Holy Week just came to an end and it’s been busy! I’ll try and recapture for you the local traditions and in another post (because this may me a long one) I’ll update you on what I’ve been up to.
Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (Ha that sounds funny, like Holy Cow, but not, Ha . . .) the entire town smelled of sweet bread, MMMmmmm I typically don’t eat the bread here because I´m just not a fan, but I ate a lot of bread last week. It’s just regular sweet bread, but everyone made their own in their homes and gave it as gifts. They decorated the tops of the bread with extra dough or some sugary delicious mixture.
-Where all these traditions come from is kind of a mystery. When I asked some people they didn’t know then they thought about it and made up it’s history on the spot. So every one I asked the story seemed to vary, so when I give the history of something realize that I’m not really sure it’s just what someone in town told me when I asked. A couple times if they were in a group someone would start, then someone else changed the story and elaborated so these are just passed down renditions of where traditions may have come from. –
The bread is given out as gifts either to remember how Jesus multiplied the bread (and fish) and it was enough to feed the thousand. Or it’s a tradition that started because on holy week stores and bakeries would typically close so everyone baked their own bread at home. Because it was a special week and they only baked it once a year they decorated them and gave them as gifts. From there it became a tradition and the breads are now also baked in bakeries at the beginning of the week before they close.
On Wednesday people started to make archways through out the town where the procession would be passing. Each one was made by a different family and decorated with fruits. Possibly fruits because during lent meat is not eaten on Wed. or Friday (though I was given meat for lunch on Holy Friday and a teacher who had fed me fish on a Wed during lent and I know had fish for lunch on Holy Friday also ate pieces of chicken on her tostada the night of Holy Friday, so I don’t think every is very strict with that rule. Meat is also something that isn’t eaten all the time because people can’t afford it so when they can or when they have a special meal they usually try to include meat.) So they may decorate with fruit because they aren’t eating meat and then they can eat it once they take the arches down. (I think that was one tradition they didn’t know so they just made up the story, but it could be true.) In the middle of the arch is typically a plant called coroszo which comes from a manaco tree on the southern coast. (I would have thought it would come from a coroszo tree myself, but what do I know?) On the outside it looks like a huge papaya but they crack open the shell and inside it looks like a bunch of baby corn connected like grapes in a bunch. Once I get pictures up you can see what it looks like. The kids use the shells like sleds to slide down the hills (without snow of course – it was in the 70´s all week). These ¨baby corns¨ are hung as a bunch on the archways but individual ones are cut off and hung in the house. They have a very strong smell that fills the house and since they are only around during holy week people associate that smell with holy week. I was given some for my house, but I had to open the windows every time I walked in because they are strong.
My town in addition to these more catholic related traditions has it’s own with an interesting history, which I’ll give to you now because I will refer to it often. In Guatemala many people worship or bring gifts to a ¨god¨(I’m not really sure what they consider him) names; Maximon (ma- she- moan), Xutío (shu- T- O) (which I just recently learned after I’ve been using that word often that it’s also a kind of vulgar word), or as we would know him Judas. People burn candles of different colors for him to bring health, peace, etc. This isn’t done by every one and seems to be more of select indigenous that also still practice Mayan religious traditions, but obviously if Judas is involved its not purely Mayan. Any way each town or part of Guatemala has it’s own story as to how this came about. My town also has it’s own and goes something like this: One day many years ago there was a fairly lazy young man who lived in my town. One day he left his house and walked up into the mountains until he found a nice shady tree, sat down and fell asleep. Judas came to him in his sleep and told this young man how he is now suffering in Hell and that it is much better to take your penance while on earth. The man woke startled, decided it was only a dream and went back to sleep. Again Judas came to him and told him that if he helps Judas by spreading his message and bringing him offerings that he would help him while on earth. The man woke again and by this time it was getting dark so he walked home. When he arrived home his parents were furious that he again didn’t go to work and bring home any money so they began beating him with whips made of tree branches. The man stood there and took it with out complaint and the beatings didn’t hurt him. His parents stopped and asked why it wasn’t hurting and he wasn’t resisting. He told them about how Judas was helping him, which is why it didn’t hurt and he knows that he did wrong so he should take his punishments here on earth. The following Easter on Holy Saturday this man dressed up as Judas (suit and tie, I don’t get that part) and painted a mask with pigs’ blood (again I don’t understand) and entered into mass. Now the people were frightened and began asking who the man was. After church he explained about Judas and this was the day after Judas gave away Jesus. He then asked the towns people to beat him with whips so that he can take his punishments now. Another belief about Maximon is that if you bring him offerings (there are statues of him and ¨priests¨ who help you pray to him and cleanse you of evil spirits, the offerings are typically alcohol and cigarettes.) he will help you out, but you know you are selling your soul to him. I’ve been told of people who have been cured of illnesses and other problems through his “help.”
Back to Holy week; during the evening of Holy Wednesday a Mayan priest had made a life size Judas dressed in suit and tie with a red mask and they took him to ‘jail’. That night is when most people made their archways if they hadn’t during the day.
Holy Thursday Judas was carried up in front of the Catholic Church (the church they typically only use for special services or holidays) and someone made sure that he continually had a lit cigarette in his mouth throughout the day. Thursday night after mass (I think they did a washing of feet service) was a four-hour procession through town carrying a statue of Jesus carrying the cross. Throughout lent every Friday night there was a similar long procession through town, which stopped to explain each station of the cross along the way.
Holy Friday morning Judas was hung from the bell tower of the church (to represent how Judas had hung himself after giving away Jesus). In the morning was a long mass about Jesus’ crucifixion as they took a statue of him, hung it on the cross and placed a wig and crown of thorns on his head. The church was open all day with the statues of Jesus and Mary for people to come and pray. Through out the day people began to make elaborate carpets in the streets where the procession would pass out of sand, colored sawdust, pine needles, flowers, fruit, etc. Each one is typically made by a different family. Judas was taken down and back to jail before the procession. That evening began another four-hour procession carrying the dead Jesus and women carrying a crying Mary. At each new carpet the procession would stop for a man who had been looking to kill Jesus and finally found him already dead and another man who came to Jesus’ cross in tears. As always people sold food and hot drinks in the park and others chatted as they ate and waited for the procession to end.
Saturday morning the figure of Judas was brought out and burned after the clothes were removed. Another ‘procession’ began at 8am and started in front of the church this time one man dressed up as Judas and armed with long whip like branches came to the center of the crowd and waited for a man to challenge him. At this point the marimba band (which was on a truck bed so that they could follow all through town started music and the man and Judas began to dance with one another for a few seconds before whipping each other as hard as possible. This typically goes on for about a minute until one backs off, they shake hands and someone else steps up to fight Judas. After about two or three ‘fights’ Judas was ushered into the closest building to change so that someone else could play Judas and then any two men that wanted to fight stepped into the center of the crowd and began whipping one another. Mind you they were only wearing shorts and t-shirts so they ended up with some pretty good welts, bruises, and broken skin. They crowd then ran the next place where the fighting was to beguine to get a good spot to see. Then waited for Judas and the marimba truck to show up, some fought each other who didn’t want to fight with who ever was dressed up as Judas. Young boys also participated in the activity. This went through every street in town and ended about 3pm. They also raffled off some t-shirts and a coffee maker during the activity. It was a hot and sunny day so I ended up burnt.
A friend of mine from another town said that in her town the people also whip one another only it’s only within the family and they do it because it was for their sins that Jesus was hung so they whip each other to take the blame. She asked me if women had participated here and I said no. She said that makes sense since they probably get beat throughout the year so why would they do it voluntarily on this day. I’ve never witnessed spousal abuse here, but I can imagine that it happens quit often. I know other volunteers who have more of a problem with teachers hitting students in their classrooms than I do. I’ve never seen my teachers hit a child, but they will pull ears or hair to get their attention, but usually the students do as the please during class. Classroom management is something I’ve tried to work with a lot or make a point to use different techniques during my classes for the teachers to see.
Sunday morning I think there was a normal morning mass, but no special activities. I had colored 30 Easter eggs the night before by boiling them in red onions, (which turns them a greenish yellow color) beats, coffee, tea, flowers, and powdered juice (which worked the best) I hid them in the park along with candy and about 10 kids searched for them. They had fun doing so but then didn’t know what to do with the eggs. I said they could eat them so they all cracked them open with their dirty hands and shoved them in their mouths. I guess they liked them. The archways were all taken down Sunday or Monday night. And that was the end of the town celebrations.
Now, the celebrations here were much different than the town I was living in last year at this time and they do vary from town to town throughout the country. Hope you enjoyed that bit of cultural awareness and that you all had very good Easters with lots of yummy food!

P.S. "dirty" because my shower is broken again, so I don't make it a point to bucket bathe on a daily basis.
Current Mood: dirty

15th March 2008

2:06pm: Why vegetable bleaching is a necessary task . . .
As I wandered through the market the other day I watched a dog pee on a crate of melons. This, in turn, reminded me of a day in the old market when a little boy did the same. When ya gotta pee you just let it go in this country, it really doesn't matter where. Thus, I continue to wash my fruits and veggies though other volunteers laugh at my efforts.

The meeting with the school mentioned in the previous entry was probably the most difficult meeting I've ever been a part of. It was the superintendent, her assistant who was recorded the meeting, the 8 teachers of the school, and I. Once the meeting began and I was given the floor I nervously repeated the goals of the program and then went through all of those that weren't being met.
A bit of background information first; Guatemalans in general are not direct people and tend to beat around the bush for hours (or forever if they can) and in a confrontation such as this one rarely makes eye contact. But on the other hand they also rarely admit to their mistakes and are quick to find blame in others. Now this is a general overstatement and obviously does not apply to every Guatemalan, but it is part of the culture to not solve problems quickly and directly, as we are accustomed to in the states. Another learned part of the culture is that this country is given a lot of money by NGO's and other foreign help. Now, many institutions give money or supplies and then leave, it's not always customary for a donor to follow up and make sure that their donation is fully needed or being used correctly. And so the people here are not used to a foreign worker coming in and not offering a lot of money or material goods but only education and expectations for them to change their routines and habits. Which in short is what I am doing.
So during my little speech I expected a lot of interruptions and rebukes. When none came I continued and noticed that at least one or two of the teachers had the guts to look me in the eye as I was addressing them with the shortcomings of the program in their school. I finished and nervously asked for questions or comments, when still none came the superintendent said they should each have something to say for themselves and that’s when the accusations and excuses came flooding out. Well first the principal (who is a slim ball to begin with and once I made it very clear that I wasn't bringing any more projects to the school became increasingly difficult to work with) said that if its decided already that there is nothing more he can do, he's tried to work with me but apparently it wasn't good enough, I'm going to leave and that’s the end of it. (And I wish it had been.) It was a fairly a predictable response from him and thankfully the superintendent came down on him for it (and knowing that he was a big part of the problem to begin with ended the meeting with the suggestion that the teachers choose a new principal from amongst themselves, which is how it's done here). She reiterated how I had ended it that the program has already provided the schools with all the infrastructure, materials, and teacher training that is required and the only remaining part of the program is that the teachers implement what they have learned and that they are fully capable to do that on their own once I am gone.

Wow - I just realized how into the details of the meeting I'm getting when ya'll really don't know the ins and outs of my work here and probably don't really care to that detailed of an extent. So in short the meeting went for another two hours of the teachers telling me what I didn't do in the school and their for they could not have possible lived up to my expectations and their for it's completely my fault the program isn't continuing and that I should leave but come back monthly or at least at the end of the year to see that they’ve completed it on their own and still certify the school.

I've reflected on this for a week now and I know a large part of it was defending their job in front of their boss and had my boss rather than their boss been present the meeting would have had a much different outcome. I've also reflected a lot on how we worked together and gained some valuable lessons to use with my other schools, but when it comes down to it they just are not motivated enough as a team for a program such as this one and I have my doubts as to if anything will be continued (which was the main motivation for looking for a new school to start with). I also saw my landlord, a teacher there, a few days later and asked if he had any more questions for me. His response was that they hadn't discussed the matter yet. Which implies to me that it really wasn't that big of a deal after all. I've seen a number of them since then and they have not changed in how they interact with me, so I'm now confident of my decision and ready to move on. Though, finding a new school presents it's challenges.

Ok I think that’s a lengthy enough update for today and will fill you in on the happenings of holy week as it progresses. I hope you all enjoy the week and have a very happy Easter!
Current Mood: relieved

3rd March 2008

6:43pm: Whoa, what a few weeks it's been!
It’s been a busy few weeks! I have lots to tell you let me see if I can remember everything. Well first I had two trainees stay with me last week to see what I do and how I live. That was lots of fun. I had those poor girls running all over the place to meet my superintendent, to judging all of there health areas in the classroom (area where they keep all the kids’ supplies such as soap, towels, toothbrushes, tooth paste, etc.) On Tuesday I had a huge workshop with 6 schools about lesson planning, and interactive materials. So they helped me staple lots of stories and packets together and I spent way too much money on copies, but if the teachers actually use them then it was worth it. I feel like the workshop was successful and I received a lot of good comments back and the girls left with some ideas for their own that they have to give soon.
One school, who I’ve been having problems with all along because they just aren’t completing any of there part of the project, is supposed to be certifies this year, but the teachers didn’t even have their health supplies much less the students along with a series of other tasks that just aren’t being done. So my director gave me the go ahead to drop them and start looking for another school with the understanding that this school must certify in 3 years. (It normally takes 4 years, but the program is going to end in 2011.) So that would mean that I would need to do 2 years of work with them in the rest of this school year which is nearly halfway over. So I have a lot of work ahead of me. But it’s totally worth it. So tomorrow I get to have the fun talk with the teachers to tell them that I will no longer be working with them. One of the teachers is my landlord, but he knows that it’s not working so I don’t think he will hold it against me.
On Friday I went to a workshop on how to give workshops to students and teachers about HIV/AIDS. It was very informative, interactive and helpful, but pretty scary how fast it is spreading in this country. So I think this year I will start educating youth and teachers on this epidemic and probably do some family planning things as well. But first things first, I need to get that new school going before anything.
I had more to tell you, but I think that’s good for now. I think I’m gonna call it an early night (well most every night is early here) and go to bed. I’ve been fighting a pretty nasty cold this week and birthday celebrations haven’t helped it any. I hope to hear from all of you soon! Have a good week.
Current Mood: Stuffy

17th February 2008

7:24pm: Happy Valentines Day!
Well a few days late, but I hope it was splendid. And if not then just celebrate it over again today! It’s almost been two months since I’ve been back and thus far it’s just flown by! These last two weeks of February are crazy busy with two more workshops to give and a new trainee coming to visit for the last week to see what we really do. But I will be able to relax a bit in March. So I can only imagine this year will go by much faster than the last. The teachers and I are working really well together this year and are kind of in a rhythm that’s been working well, so hopefully that will continue through the end of the school year in November. I don’t have much for new news . . . I did get a library card for a nearby larger town, so the neighbors have been coming over every week to see what new kids books I brought home. So I hope you all are having a fabulous February and feel free to e-mail me and let me know how you are doing. Now back to workshop planning. . . .
Current Mood: cheerful

6th February 2008

8:11pm: Lice and marriage
Hey Ya’ll
So I thought I’d write you another and give you some fun anecdotes from school last week. So that I could be of more use and have some clue on what type of classes the teachers are giving I had each school pick a theme for each month so I could help give them al ideas for lessons at once. So, one school had lice as the January theme. (Yes, it needs a whole month to be taught.) At the beginning of this particular lesson, they’d been working on this theme for a week or two previously, the teacher asked for those who currently think thy have lice to raise there hands. At least half of them did. (Now I knew it was a big problem here, but as I usually pawn the searching of the heads off on to the teachers and I’d not seen them jumping form head to head, so I didn’t realized how big of a problem. I also figured when a kid had them you could tell a mile away like that kid on peanuts, Pigpen I think was his name.) She continues the lesson and as she’s searching heads again to see if they actually had their moms pick them out this week or not, she pulls one out of a girls head and has the girl squish it to show them that it’s drinking her blood. Gross. I’m glad this is not a huge lesson plan in the states! I returned home that day itching and immediately combed my hair with a fine-toothed comb. I don’t believe I got any lice that day, but I will wear my hair up to school from now on! This week I was talking to someone else about lice and started feeling itchy again at the thought, and well, it hasn’t gone away yet. I hope I don’t really have lice though I can’t tell. It wouldn’t be from the kids though because I haven’t been to school yet this week as I’d been traveling around the country giving and going to workshops. But I did stay at a dirty hostel one night (the good hotels were booked) and after staying there a night discovered they don’t change the sheets. Maybe I got them from a dirty traveler. Tomorrow I’m going to lunch with a friend of mine. I thought about having her check my head for me, but her dad is visiting from the states. I don’t think he’ll appreciate his daughter checking my head for lice after we eat lunch. What do you think? Anyway I hope I’m just paranoid or something because that would mean washing all my sheets, sleeping bag, and clothes! And I just spent two days washing clothes already.
In other news, I was talking to Nature Boy the other day when I realized that I would be 25 very soon and how old that seems to me. He didn’t think it was funny that I think 25 sounds old. (Don’t worry, it’s not old!) I was reflecting on that today because this weekend I had talked to a girl traveling for 5 or 6 mos. from Israel. She thought it was strange that I’m done with my college degree and I’m only 24. There after HS women have a mandatory 2 years and men 3 years in the military, then most take a break and travel before entering college. So by the time they start they are already 23 or 24. And just like us most wait till finishing college to get married. So then I thought about the average age of school and marriage here. Well since most are lucky to finish 6th grade, family planning and sex ed are non existent, and one just stays home and works for ones parents once he/she completes school until getting married and working in ones own home, it varies from 14 to 20. Or possibly younger since once a person is pregnant marriage automatically follows quickly and women are no longer allowed to attend school. I found it interesting how much our cultures play into when we do something or weather or not we feel ready to do something more than when we meet someone or feel mature enough for something. That was my random thought of the day. Hope you enjoy! Have a great lice free week!
Current Mood: Itchy

4th February 2008

11:26am: Whew, a whirl wind of activities!
So it's been a while and therefore I have a tone of info for all of your curious minds! Where do I start? So, yes, I did go home for Christmas. I didn’t post that before I left because very few of you knew that I was coming! Sorry to those that did know I was coming, but I needed some help getting from the airport and what not, so it was not so much for you all. And those that are just learning now, sorry I didn’t get to see you but the time went sooo rapidly and I was too busy to even actually sit and have a full relaxed conversation with anyone because we just kept moving. But it was fantastic to be home. So no, not even my family knew I was coming home and it was such a great surprise for them! I think as much as they say they would have like to have known, it was a happy surprise. The best two reactions were from my Mom and Granny. My Granny said hi, looked away, looked back and then realized who I was and covered me in hugs. There were a few others who also had double takes. My mom was talking with Nature Boy and my sis and didn’t know I was in the house so I just hugged her from behind and said “Merry Christmas” and she just didn’t know what to do. I was covered in tears, hugs, and kisses for about 10 min. it was great! I think my sis may have caught some of it on tape. A surprise was definitely the way to go.
I don’t know how I survived 3 whole weeks with Nature Boy and a weekend with him and his crazy brothers, his sister must have been his saving grace But how can I not be fooled by his cute dimple smile and sweet occasional charm  He even brought me some orange roses to the airport, awww. But the trip in general was a big reverse culture shock. I kept thinking about how much water was being used (though I did enjoy the great hot showers, and baths, and washing dishes inside with hot water! Or how much electricity was being used and what not. I also expected to go home and be freezing all the time. But of course we were inside with heat all the time. Here I’m used to it being cold at night and piling on the blankets but at home even though it was colder outside I woke up with no blankets sweating because it’s so much warmer inside. I wasn’t expecting that. I also loved the option of being able to cook if I wanted, but there are easy tasty ways to eat and home and not really cook. But we were showered with food every where we went so really there was no need to cook because we were always full. The tip ended with me not being able to read my agenda and missing my flight. But the extra unexpected night at home was appreciated!
So I got back here later than expected with a teachers workshop planned for 6 schools at the end of that week and a lot of travel to help with the new volunteers entering the country that week too. Luckily, of the principals is super amazing! She helped me plan and execute the whole workshop on short notice and it went smoothly! So school then is back in session and I have been crazy busy working with my teachers and new lesson plans and what not. Though the teachers seem much more receptive of me and the project this year and trust with the teachers so I really think this year will get a ton accomplished and I’m totally stoked about that!
Besides work at the schools I am the volunteer representative for my region so I had a successful welcome gathering for the new people in my district. We grilled out and ate some great American food and mostly everyone showed up! And now I’m at the training center for another meeting with the new group still in training. Which meant I was around a lot of volunteers last night for the super bowl. I only actually watched the last few min. including the last touch down, but I saw a lot of people and had some amazing fun!
I did get new pictures up, but unfortunately I can’t send all the albums to you all at once, so I will send them separately and you will get a million emails from me. Again, if you are not on that list let me know and I will add you.
I hope that brings you all up to date! I miss you all and please let me know how things are going at home, comments on what you think about my blog, or other things you’d like to know or for me to write about. Have a happy week!!!!
Current Mood: bouncy

8th December 2007

1:54pm: WATER WARS
I just finished the biggest water war of the year. Well, not that huge . . . but a lot of water . . . One of the neighbors bought little water gun from the fair we had a few weeks ago and convinced me to buy one too. Now, I have four little neighbors, all boys, who come over a lot. So I’ve taken to spraying them with my water gun (which only holds about 2 oz of water). So the one with the other water gun fights back and it usually ends in about 2 mins after we both have refilled 2 or 3 times. So smart me bought him a larger one for his b-day and he got a few other little ones, so all of them can now use one. But who ever has the large one definitely has an advantage. This morning only the boy who started this whole war and the oldest were home and luckily the large gun went missing. So I figured that it will be a normal war ending in about 2 to 5 mins with a little water on my hair and shirt. Now mind you I am gong to dinner tonight with a guy from PC Washington so I threw on my nicest pair of jeans and shirt. (that’s about as shnazy as I get these days unless it is a big school celebration or maybe a night out on the town with the girls) Anyway the boys discovered that buckets of water work much better! So we all ended with an extra bath for the day and my water bowl and gun broken. It was fun and my grass finally got watered. My jeans are now drying, but for those of you who don’t know the joys of drying clothes in the sun, jeans just don’t dry very quickly, so I may end up in a skirt for dinner after all.
I’ve been trying to organize all of my school material and prepare my lessons and workshops for the beginning of the school year next year. So I’ve not written on here or my other journal, because I’ve been trying to concentrate on getting this done and not letting myself work on other stuff that doesn’t need to be done until I get these things planned. But I have a feeling it won’t be done this week or probably not even before school starts so at least writing to you all and playing with the neighbors is more productive than staring at my papers and not knowing where to start. With no school for another month, beautiful weather, and lots of people to go see and hang out with I don’t know how any teachers get anything accomplished in the summer. I’m going to be in some trouble when I get back to the real world! But at least I did get myself organized this week! I had piles and piles of papers and other misc materials from the last two volunteers and some stuff of my own that I finally sorted through and put in folders. Now I could go through each subject and put the materials/ lessons in the order that I may use them, but at least if I’m going to give a lesson on nutrition, HIV, or environmental education I can at least go to those folders to sort through rather than endless piles that previously took over my house. I had a pretty nice bon fire too.
Oh, I was going to tell you about this great conversation I had about 2 mos ago, but I obviously never got to writing about it. I was at a school certification in a tiny little town where another volunteer works. We were waiting for the ceremony to start because some of the important people from PC who live in the capitol hadn’t arrived yet. So I was wondering aimlessly when a sweet old indigenousness woman with no teeth stopped me talk about something very important. Now let me explain how the languages work first . . . In most tiny town the people are all indigenous and therefore still speak the native tongue, but even if one town speaks the same language as the next the dialect is so different that they may not be able to understand each other. Spanish is taught in the schools so most children speak both. The languages are also very ancient and so some words have been forgotten or just never existed, so Spanish words are typically always intertwined in the conversation so that I can usually catch the drift of the conversation. Now I don’t know which of the twenty some odd languages is spoken in this town, but I have a feeling that even if I were fluent in that language that I still would not have understood this woman as she spoke softly, mumbled, and I’m not even sure she was speaking in any language in particular but just making some random noises, but like I said it was a great conversation. She was very animate with her facial expressions and hand motions (which are fairly universal here) She told me about growing up in that town, carrying goods on her head for miles, how very sick she and others had gotten and how great the health program with the kids in the school is. Who knows what else she talked about. I have a feeling that no one else there knew either because as we talked children and other community members with covered giggles, and looks of confusion and amazement slowly surrounded us. But by the end of the conversation we were in agreement, had shared many hugs and secret jokes (secret because I don’t know what they were about) and became friends. Now this woman’s spoken language baffles me and I will probably never see her again, but we are friends and I will never forget her beautiful, toothless smile. You should really try having a conversation in a language you don’t understand, how much you actually gain from this person may astound you.
Enough sentiment, I’m starving and need to go search my house for food, I think rice and beans may win me over today if I can convince my neighbor to go buy me some tortillas, because I’m too lazy to make my own.

UPDATE: So that was a strangely delicious lunch! I did convince my neighbor and made rice and beans. (well I guess not really made, I warmed up left over rice from yesterday and a can of refried beans) my neighbor came back empty handed because I guess the woman that sells them closest to our house didn’t make them today. He could have still gotten his tip and maybe a little extra if he’d gone a little further to a restaurant that sells them, but he didn’t. So I took some cold left over cooked veggies I had and decided to make a potato salad type dish with them. But I added too much mustard and mayo so I threw in a can of tuna. It was strange and delicious, but tortillas would have just been better with rice and beans.
Current Mood: chipper

15th November 2007

6:15pm: GRRRRRrrrr
Ummm Apparently about once a month is all you get. Sorry about my lack of writing lately. I´m currently sitting at the comp lab waiting for my project proposal to be sent. It didn´t go through the first time, and it´s taking forever trying to send it again. But of course it is due today . . . So thats a bit frustrating. I´m done with school, though is still seem to be busy. Doing what, I´m not really sure. The last few days I´ve been helping out a coffee shop - ministry who are workng on building on to a house which was completly filled in with mud during the hurrican Stan 2 years ago. So all day yesterday I was just shoveling and moving dirt. Today I took the day to write this proposal and work on school projects at home. What did I really do?? Sleep in, play on my comp, clean my house, and talk to Nature Boy. Now those of you who are sitting there saying to yourself ¨How come she always has time to call him but not me¨ Well my dearest friend, Nature Boy is about the only person who has bothered to figure out how to use both a phone card and the internet on a regular basis so that I´m not the only one participating in our communication. Which goes for this post as well. I post every once in a while, but it seems that I never get any sort of responce or evidence that anyone acctually reads it, so my enthusiasim to keep it updated on a regular basis is lacking. So no complaints please.

In other news, Mom and a friend of mine came down to visit me last week! We did a lot of sight seeing and had a lot of fun! I also got a lot of great goodies from home (thank you soooo much to all of you who contributed I really appreciate it!) And to clear up any confusion - I got a Brides magazine from my aunt who thought I was engaged. I´m not, but it is a lot of fun to look through anyway:) It was great to see those two again and be a bit of a tourist rather than staying work focused. And Congratulations to my mom who just got a great promotion! My proposal still isn{t sent . . .grrr, but I think that is all of my news for now. Back to surfing facebook . . . .
Current Mood: frustrated

13th October 2007

3:36pm: Yup, Still alive
My dearest wife has brought to my attention that it's almost been a month (well, she said over a month, but thats not true) since I've posted on my wareabouts. This is most certainly true, so sorry about that folks! I've been busy wrapping up the school year, which I still have one more school to finish. Today I am trying to get a lot of work I need to do on the computer or internet done. I have sent you all an e-mail (if I have your e-mail) inviting you to see my pictures at Snapfish.com. The other site is no longer working. You can't see my pics unless I've invited you to see them. So if you didn't get the note please send me an e-mail with your correct e-mail address and I will get that out to you. Unfortunatly I haven't added any new pics, just the ones I had up before. I'll work on that along with putting up a real post (I have PLENTY of crazy stories for you.) But at the moment I'm gonna go grab some lunch and get the work done that needs to be done, and then hopefully get those up for you. I miss you all dearly!!!! but I am infact doing well. You know that even if I don't update or send you an e-mail, call you, or send you snail mail, that if you contact me in any of those manners I would LOVE it and be sure to get back to you! So don't be strangers just because I'm 7 seas and 2 glalxies away, as Nature Boy would say. (Really I'm on the same contenent folks, incase you were confused.)
Current Mood: working

16th September 2007

7:15pm: Stolen Survey
So I could write a real entry, or stop paying for internet and go home, but I´ve been there all day (though I enjoyed it! I decided I didn´t care if my neighbors thought it wierd to wear shorts and a tank and lay out in the sun, so I did. All day!) So I´ll fill in this survey that I just took off of my friends journal. Enjoy.

1. Is your second toe longer than your first toe?
About equal

2. Do you have a favorite type of pen?
No not really. I usually use black.

3. Look at your planner for Sept 14, what are you doing?
That was 2 days ago. I ran into a friend at a coffee shop so we spent the day looking at all the pretty souvoneers that I´ve looked at a thousand times and someday will buy. Went to the lake, and then watched so school groups light the torch and run it back to thier village in preperation for independance day with was yesterday the 15th. When I went back home I was overtaken by a group of kids from one of my schools who begged me to run with them when they took the torch to thier school. Uhh I lasted about 5 minutes and got back into the pickup that followed them up the hills to their school, which is NOT close enough to my town to be running the whole way!! Then I went home and fell asleep!

4. What color are your toenails usually?
Al natural

5. What was the last thing you highlighted?
Hmm, Probably something in a lesson plan. I don´t remeber.

6. What color are your bedroom curtains?
Dark green

7. What color are the seats in your car?
Ahh to have a car. Those were the days.

8. Have you ever had a black and white cat?
I´m not a big cat fan. Though Cody, Roommates cat, was grey and white, does that count?

9. What is the last thing you put a stamp on?
Umm I have a few letters waiting for stamps. And official documents r anything with a signature has to have a stamp on it here to be valid. So I had my superindent put one on each diploma I made for the last workshop I lead.

10. Do you know anyone who lives in Wyoming?
My aunt and uncle used to, but not and the moment I believe.

11. Why did you withdraw cash from the ATM the last time?
Umm because I used a lot of Q this month and needed to buy food and have Q for the rest of the month.

12. Whose is the last baby that you held?
Aww the newborn and my friends house. He hadn´t even been allowed to hold him yet!

13. Unlucky number?
Don’t have one.

14. Do you like Cinnamon toothpaste?
Nope

15. What kind of car were you driving 2 years ago?
´99 Chevy Malabu, blue

16. Pick one: Miami Hurricanes or Florida Gators?
I don´t like hurricanes or gators, unless the hurican never acctually hits and just gives me a free night of friends a a hot shower!

17. Last time you went to Six Flags?
Last year for frieght fest

18. Do you have any wallpaper in your house?
nope

19. Closest thing to you that is yellow?
The writing on my t-shirt

20. Last person to give you a business card?
The driver of the moto taxi

21. Who is the last person you wrote a check to?
My host family

22. Closest framed picture to you?
Im in the internet place, so none in this room, but I´m sure there is a framed picture of Jesus or Mary not far from here.

23. Last time you had someone cook for you?
I ate a great mushroom stuffed burgur at a canadian owned returant the other day. Otherwise . . . some friends and I all made some fantastic tacos together not too long ago.

24. Have you ever applied for welfare?
Nope.

25. How many emails do you have?
lots

26. Last time you received flowers?
umm My amazing bf doesn´t believe in giving flowers ´cuz they die, but he did send me an easter card with flowers and said that should count.

27. Do you think the sanctity of marriage is meant for only a man & woman?
I´m agreeing AFO on this one;
Nope. If you are a consenting adult you should be able to marry a consenting adult, regardless of their gender.

28. Do you play air guitar?
nope

29. Has anyone ever proposed to you?
Proposed what?

30. Do you take anything in your coffee?
Lots of sugar and powdered milk at the moment. That seems to change with the country I´m in.

31. Do you have any Willow Tree figurines?
No

32. What is/was your high school's rival mascot?
No idea

33. Last person you spoke to from high school?
My wife

34. Last time you used hand sanitizer?
Umm I used hand wipes yesterday that has antibacterial in them.

35. Would you like to learn to play the drums?
used to, but I lost the ganas for that

36. What color are the blinds in your living room?
A Golden yellow cloth

38. Last thing you read in the newspaper?
uhh I read about electrisity in the economist.

39. What was the last pageant you attended?
Umm I´ve been to lots of school anniversaries, or other strange celibrations with a school queen or girl of sports or womething of the sort. Does that count?

40. What is the last place you bought pizza from?
I think it´s called Circus Pizza or something like that. It was delicious!

41. Have you ever worn a crown?
Probably a plastic one with plastic jewels.

42. What is the last thing you stapled?
Lists of NGO´s

43. Did you ever drink clear Pepsi?
I feel as though I have, but ´don´t recal.

44. Are you ticklish?
Don´t try, you may get kicked.

45. Last time you saw fireworks?
I hear them EVERY DAY!! But you don´t really see the fireworks here, they are just meant to be loud, not pretty.

46. Last time you had a Krispy Kreme doughnut?
Probably the last time I went to 6 flags


47. Who is the last person that left you a message & you actually returned it?
Uhhh phone message, probably Nature Boy.

48. Last time you parked under a carport?
Don´t remeber.

49. Do you have a black dog?
NO

50. Have you had your mid life crisis yet?
Nope, that may hit when I move back home and realize I don´t remeber how to act in a modern civilization

51. Are you an aunt or uncle?
Yes, 2 hansome nephews

52. Who has the prettiest eyes that you know of?
Umm I know who has the prettiest fish eyes . . .

54. Do you remember Ugly Kid Joe?
No

55. Do you have a little black dress?
I have a little black skirt . . . burried somewhere in a box at home.


Thats all folks, now you answer these questions . . .
Current Mood: bored

10th September 2007

11:47am: Random Stories of the week
I haven’t written in my personal journal in weeks, there is no school tomorrow, and it’s raining outside. So I’ll put it all here. This may be a long one so hold on tight folks (or quick find a more interesting website!) I finally bought some artists pastels, which confused the shop worker because she thought I was asking for cakes, but that’s what it says on the box. I hadn’t opened them until today because I was busy with visitors. I’m so excited! I haven’t really sat down and worked on art since high school. And my first attempt was awful (mainly because I was too excited to mess with the colors than to actually draw and plan out a decent picture. So it turned out to be a jumble of mixed and blended colors, but it was a fun process, so the next one I’ll put a little more effort into. And no, I’m not taking requests, just for the record.
My pila (large concert sink) appears to be leaking and I can’t figure out from where or how, but the water level is considerable less each time I go to use it. I was staring at it today because the water seemed to be moving though nothing was touching it. It looks like little bugs or raindrops just touching the surface of the water, but there are not always ripples like there would be with water drops. Also it wasn’t raining at the time and even if it were there is a little roof over my pila. After collecting all this data I came to the scientific conclusion that there are little invisible fairies that are drinking my water. I just hope that they can get out when I cover it with wood, which I do to keep out bugs and leaves. And as I was out there at 5 getting water I absent-mindedly turned on the faucet to fill it up again. Guess what happened. Water came out! I had water after 2:oo; imagine that! I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that it’s been raining like mad-crazy lately.
As you all know we were consolidated last Tuesday. First off my friend who owns a coffee shop in “tourist-town,” I think I’m gonna start calling it t-town can ya’ll remember that?, decided it sounds more like they are down sizing a company rather than saving us from the terrible rains and therefore some of us should be sent home rather than joined together to party. Second of all, one of the teachers from my Tuesday school called me on Wed. concerned that I wasn’t there and this is now the second time I cancelled a workshop due to consolidation. Obviously there are some communication problems within the schools. Back to my story, which may turn into two or more stories. (Whoa side note. So to get to my bedroom I have to go outside and since it’s raining the walkway was wet and so my sandals got wet. So I just got up to go get more coffee, like I need it J, and walked barefoot. This is rarely done and I remembered why when I stepped on a little slimy worm on the way back to my computer. Gross.) We only ended up being at the hotel for one night because the storm hit shore and calmed out. Also this week most schools had no classes due to the presidential elections. So a few of my friends were planning to come to my house anyway as we hadn’t seen each other in a while. My house is also the closest to our consolidation point so the ones who were at the hotel with me decided they would like to see these friends again too and also had no work the following day. So one night we went out salsa dancing with my med-student friends in t-town. My salsa skills are still lacking, but we all had a blast and learned that one of our PC friends has some major hidden dancing talent! So we all danced together for a while, but my friends were busy trying to get to know one another and my normal dance teacher was home sick, very sick. There was another couple there who were amazing salsa dancers and definitely center stage. I figured there was nothing to lose if I were to ask them to teach me a few steps. The female laughed but showed me a few steps and when she figured I was confidante enough with the repeated four steps asked her partner to dance opposite me. They showed me up, by a lot, but I had fun and may have learned something. I know that Nature Boy is thrilled by my new found hobby and will go racing out to take dance lessons himself so that I have someone to dance with when I get home, right Baby-cakes? LOL J The next day we all decided to cook a real meal since we usually make the minimal amount when cooking for ourselves. So we made some amazing tacos with really good meat from the market. I had run into my elder buddies (Mormons) earlier in the day and invited them as well. My PC friends who either had no previous encounters or not so hot ones with Mormons weren’t exactly thrilled because they didn’t want to get preached to at dinner, but they were pleasantly surprised. It was a strange mix with them, us, and a Guatemalan med-student as well, but we had a great time, awesome food, and intriguing conversations with no preaching involved. Just another example of volunteers learning more about their own country while in a foreign one.
Hmm what other fun stories do I have for you?? Oh oh oh I know! My bathing experience last week. I need to start you off with some background information. My daily bathing situation consists of waking up early and putting a pot of water on the stove. Once it begins to boil I add it to a bucket of cold water and then use a plastic dish to pour it over my head to wash. Other information; my superintendent of the schools is not originally from here. She actually just started in this town when I did. So she rents here during the week and goes home to her family during the weekends. She lives in a town where another volunteer from my training group is working. So she has been begging me for months to go home with her some weekend, get to know her town and make dinner with my other PC buddy. So last weekend I had a meeting at the training center, which is a few hours away so I stayed the night and on the way home decided that since I will be passing near this town and it was Saturday that I could stop and make good on my long time promise. They both made it clear that what ever we did I had to bathe there in their town. Now, my buddy had kind of explained his bathing situation before because we were discussing why he couldn’t bath daily and that it wasn’t possible to bath the way I do. so that he could get in a bath every day. I didn’t quite understand, because he said it wasn’t a water difficulty either, even though lack of water is a significant problem in his town. So anyway, I was fine with this as I hadn’t been able to bathe in 2 days anyway and was in major need of one. But it was too late by the time I got there and apparently bathing in the morning or late at night is not advisable. It’s best to bathe in the early afternoon after your body has cooled down from the warmest part of the day and yet before it’s too cold outside. Have I built it up enough yet? Well that’s how I felt. Before lunch her husband prepared the fire for me and after I had significant amount of time to digest my food and rest after lunch, it was finally time to bathe. It’s a little tiny brick house with an opening about the size of a doghouse door, well maybe a little larger, but not much. Inside is like a sauna. The fire must be built up about an hour before entering to get it nice and hot and so that it turns to embers rather than flames. The fire is built around a large metal drum filled with water so that the water heats up as well. When one enters they bring in a bucket of cold water and an empty bucket to mix the two. (I just went outside and the fairies must be thirsty because they’ve been at it again!) There is a board sitting a few inches off the ground to sit on so that when one bathes the water can drain out underneath. Now I know you are thinking what’s the difference between this and a sauna (besides that it’s tiny.) Well one (at least if you are tall like meJ) must sit in the center where the roof is the tallest to keep from your head hitting the ceiling. Sorry honey I don’t think you’d fit. Because of the size one is breathing in smoke and steam, which makes it incredibly hot and difficult to breath. I was forewarned not to throw too much water on the ambers because even though the steam feels great, the steam will cause you to be super light headed once you get outside (yes, these are built outside and not within the house). – Side story- I’d heard the story of my buddies first time in a tamescal (one of these little saunas) and he threw on plenty of water like one would at home in a sauna. He felt great until he crawled out, passed out, and woke up in his bed. He family got a great laugh out of that one. So I had a person sitting outside in a chair to make sure I was ok. She even offered to go in with me, but I had to draw the cultural integrating line somewhere even though I have another friend who does bathe with her host family. – Anyway it’s basically a bucket bath sitting down inside a hot little sauna and the cool water feels really good. When I was finished bathing and relaxing I dried off with my towel I brought in, and let the rest evaporate then carefully pulled back on my shorts and t-shirt. I don’t think they normally bring clothes and towels with them; they have a very open family relationship. Besides you need really good balance and flexibility to pull that off! But once out, I was definitely light headed for a good hour or more and my superintendent didn’t think it was a good idea for me to be going home after that. She said I should stay and take a nap. I certainly could have! But after resting and a glass of warm water (cold water is not good for you after that) I headed back to my friends house to tell him goodbye and help me find a bus home. During the ride home, even though I was crowded into a little bus seat with two other people, I kept falling asleep and was afraid I’d miss my stop. I asked the guy next to me (who I think gave me my second round of fleas, but at least they didn’t get into my bed this time) to let me know when my stop was, but I woke up in time anyway. I now know why bath taking is not a daily activity in his town. It’s a few hour process and better if the whole fam. takes one at the same time; well at least on after another. And after staying a night in that town I understand why a traditional bucket bath isn’t possible. It’s FREEZING! I slept in warm pj pants, a sweatshirt, and three thick blankets and still woke up shivering. My town is about 2,000 meters (about 6550 ft) and I think he’s about twice as high as I am. So if one were to bathe with just buckets of warm water they would freeze. I think they should build their houses all connected with a fireplace in the middle. Or at least connect the bedroom with the kitchen and keep the stove burning all night. Though, admittedly that would be significant amount more of firewood that they would be using. So that was my bathing experience.
I was just in the kitchen cooking dinner and for some reason remembered my nightmare last night. I don’t remember the beginning, but in the end I was being chased through a bus or train or something by a super creepy looking ghost demon thing. I hid in a bathroom behind a door (obviously I wasn’t in Guatemalan transportation!) He saw me and as I slammed the door his white arm went threw the door. I snapped my teeth to bite his arm, but obviously if it can go through doors, my bite won’t do much. I woke up at that because I actually lifted my head and bit the air in my sleep. I don’t understand where that came from because I haven’t even watched any scary movie or listened to any ghost stories in the past week. But it was scary none the less and now going to sleep tonight won’t be easy either.
Yesterday I decided to make another attempt at cooking black beans. It’s a common food that most people eat two or three times daily, but they take forever to cook! Last time after I got them cooked I left them on the stove to cool, just to find that my friendly house mouse (who now is no longer, by the way) had crawled into them. I was told that if I just put them on the stove again and cooked them really well that I could still eat them without getting sick. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, yesterday I chopped up a great amount of garlic and onions and threw them in with the beans. I even soaked the beans over night this time, but they still took about 4 hours to cook. I had checked them and they were close to done, but not quite. So I threw in some more water and went to my room to read. I got a little caught up in my book. It wasn’t really that great of a book, but some how when one lives in the middle of nowhere one is compelled to finish a bad book that one normally wouldn’t. In the end it wasn’t that bad, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I been 10 – 16 years younger. Anyway, I suddenly remembered the beans and found them burnt to a crisp. Even the ones on top tasted awful. So there went another 4 hours worth of gas for the stove. I think I should stick to can refried beans. I still can’t get all the burnt beans out of my pot even though it’s been soaking for over a day now. Hmmm.
If you’ve made it this far I commend you! And if you managed to follow all of my stories without re-reading you should win a gold metal. I won’t give you one, but you deserve it. I don’t think I finished one story without a random side note. I should never try to write a book. If I try you should make me read my own writing someday. Or find me a really great editor who can reorganize my entire book. That’s all for now. I hope this was a long enough distraction for you from your work with out getting you into trouble.
Current Mood: artistic

9th September 2007

2:04pm: False alarm . . .
So it didn´t accutally hit this far in, but did do some damage to the countries where it did hit. Buta few of my friends and I took the time to hang out and catch up since we did´t have any work to begin with this week. So it was a fun relaxing week. This week it´s back to school which is difficult being at the end of the year I really don´t want to start anything new . . . We´ll see how it goes. Enjoy your warm weather!

3rd September 2007

4:05pm: Hurrican Felix (like the cat?)
Well the last one may not have hit us, but this ones on a more direct path to wipe us out. So again we are consolidating. I will go to the hotel tomorrow morning and possibly from there they will move us all to a higher point. If it does hit I probably won´t have internet access but hopefully cell towers are still up and I will at least keep Nature Boy up to date so you can get info from him, But I´ll call more if I can. There isn´t much to worry about. they´ll keep us safe even if not all of our villages are. so no worries. Hope all is well at home and thanks for your concerns and phone calls.

24th August 2007

7:07pm: I survied the storm!

So it´s acctually rained more since I{ve been back home than when I was taking refuge. Oh well it was a super nice break even though I had to reschedual one of my workshops. They put us all in a hotel with a pool our own private bathrooms per room that had hot water that came directly out of the wall and didn´t have to be warmed by a frightening electric contraption. Plus it gave us time to get to know and hang out with the people we live near but never see. Plus when the last huge storm here hit many volunteers were stranded for a few days and this was thought to be worse than that one. But luckly we wern´t hit at all. So, I´m glad they took the precautions this time. I hung out with the Med students and had a blast. They are going to be nice to hang out with and keep me form the valuble one on one time I´ve had so much of with myself. Other than than that no new news here. But there has been some exciting news back at home!!!! I have a brand new nephew! I can´t wait to go home and see him. I hear his older brother is not so excited, but he´ll learn to love his little crying brother :) My boyfriend also got a new cat on the same day. Jenny, we took your advice. His name is Rico middle name Suave. I´m not sure I´m so excited about this new addition, but maybe he´ll grow on me. I hear he´s a short haired clam version of Cody. In other words, the same colors but exact opposite, so maybe I can get used to that!!! Thats all for now. Keep in touch.

Current Mood: refreshed

20th August 2007

1:40pm: Hurrican Dean
Just a heads up for all of you at home that are worried (and even those who aren´t :)) It is currently bright and sunny outside with no clouds as it has been all weekend. But unfortunatly it is thought that the hurrican will hit close enough tomorow to do some damage and bring lots of wind and rain (wich means mudslides since it is mountainous here) So all effected volunteers are being asked to consolidate, so I will be leaving my village. BUT no worries I will be fine. I will try and keep you all updated on here,ut if I can´t I will at least keep Nature Boy up to date and he will give you a call to let you know I am just fine. Thats all. I love you and miss you all, enjoy your week!
Current Mood: calm

14th August 2007

4:35pm: I was walking home from one of my schools last week, down the path I usually don’t take because it’s longer, but prettier and less steep. Anyway, it occurred to me that I’m trapped in the Wizard of Oz! I was walking down a brick paved road, which seemed to wind forever into the mountains beyond (it really doesn’t, but looks can be deceiving!) On either side of me were fields of tall corn. I half expected the scarecrow to jump out and point me in both directions. But alas he didn’t, though it would have been more fun! So this got me thinking. I am trapped in a strange parallel world to my own where the people I looked to for help and instruction in my own world now look to me for something that they don’t realize they can already do but rather need someone to hold their hand and help them do it. Furthermore the science and knowledge about the world in general or how to change their lives exists but they don’t necessarily have those beliefs, their own are much different from mine and sometimes I honestly just don’t get them. So it’s my job to sort through the mist and help them find the wizard. And last but not least is an evil witch lurking about somewhere with all sorts of seemingly meaningless hurtles and tasks to throw at us. And my own side of the rainbow isn’t looking so non-interesting anymore, in fact quit comforting.

Let me explain in non-Wizard of Oz terms. So at home I went to school for teaching and spent my time in the classroom learning from other teachers and how they taught. Here I am again in the classroom and again not my own. But the actual teachers are looking to me for ideas and to improve their job opportunities. And some, comically enough, for help in getting money for the school, which I don’t have any.
- But the school day is a funny thing here. The children could show up to school and have a normal school day or at least a normal class, but that’s a rare occasion. See at the schools here there are no principals, secretaries, janitors, or substitutes. So one shows up to school expecting to sweep and clean out the room from all the dust and dirt that entered over the night. After that all bets are off. You may end up spending the day cleaning up the school ground, meaning cutting the grass with machetes if you are a boy (yes of all grade levels) pulling weeds and picking up garbage, if it is a week or less before a celebration of some sort such as the school anniversary, mothers day, independence day etc. you will probably be creating decorations for the school and practicing your modern dace moves to ragaton music. Possibly someone will show up at the school who needs to talk to the director who is also your teacher and so you will just sit (or run around the classroom) until their meeting is done, or possibly your teacher won’t even show up because they are sick, have a training or any other of a million reasons, in which case you go home. Another option is some foreigner shows up to talk to you about something that really has nothing to do with you. For example this strange foreigner may be teaching you to wash your hands before you eat so that you don’t get sick. When in reality the reason for our illness is not that you ate candy with your dirty hands after playing in the dried up riverbed now filled with trash, it was because you ate fruit before you went to bed which is cold and you should only eat warm things before bed. Duh everyone knows that. But anyway this American sings songs, speaks funny Spanish, and lets you play games and run around which is a nice break from copying things from the board. Plus the teacher doesn’t have to teach so they are happy as well even though this stranger may be teaching useless things that aren’t needed here. -
So that’s my side of the rainbow in a nutshell. In other news, I’m giving a workshop tomorrow that I’m not fully prepared for, that will be what I’m working on the rest of the day. I think I have fleas in my bed so my sheets are lying in a pile at the moment ‘till I can wash them on Friday or Sat. (because I only get water in the morning which is when I work) and my bed reeks of Raid. I met some med students from the capitol who have to do their practice out in rural villages. So I’m gonna go hang with them this weekend.

EMAIL me or send me messages or something! Don´t wait for me to call you cuz it may take a while. I miss you all!
Current Mood: blank

2nd July 2007

5:18pm: Laa laa la la la laaa laa la la la laaa (smurfs song, duh)
SO, i just went to add more photos for you folks (ones that I was gonna add long ago,) But long behold Yahoo is no longer supporting photos so I must move the ones I have. I think just about all of the photo sites you must sign in to see my photos. I like this feature because then random stranges can´t be drooling over my beautiful pics (of Guatemala of course). But for all of you who are so dear to me, but yet lack computer knowledge this my be dificult and was why I was avoiding this situation. But I decided I´ll move them to winkflash where my sisters pics are at so all of you who already have a password to look at her pics can just add my name and then look at both of ours!!! But I´m too lazy to figure all that out today and so you will have to wait. I think I have to send you an email to invite you to look at my pics, but I will still put a link on this website to that one so you don´t have to look it up all the time. When I get that sorted out I´ll put up another note on here.
I did look at you pics though sis! Wow I can´t believe it! Q and your bellly are getting so big! I love the pics at the zoo! who´s house are you in? Did you get new furtanure? I like it! I can´t imagine how much more they will both grow before I get back. I miss all of you!
So on my walk here a guy was cleaning out his van and I though ¨Huh, It is a nice day to clean out my car.¨ Who ever thinks that? I really do miss my car though! Not paying for gas but it would be sooo nice to hop in my car turn up my English music and go for a ride rather than being crowded in the back of a pick up. Which I might say can be really nice on a sunny day to feel the wind in my face and see the beautiful country, but on not so nice days I can just end up cold, wet, and with a sore bum. Speaking of which todays ride to my school on a narrow single lane dirt road up the mountain was interesting. it´s usually long, but today a bus had to sit and wait for us to puch the truck back off of the brigde so that it could pass us and because the truck picked that place to die, though I was glad it was there and not while going up hill. But no worries. No one thought anything of it. It´s a normal occurance.
Schools last week and this are going smoother though they can be very demanding when they want me to get somthing done. This is fine just frustrating when it´s the otherway around. I think thats all for the moment. This month is super busy though! I will be out of town a lot with lots of trainings and helping put on the volunteer 4th party and an ex-volunteer is coming to my site to do research on my schools, so I´ll be helping out with that endever. So the moral of that story being don´t expect a lot of updates. I miss you all and will talk to you soon!
Current Mood: sleepy

25th June 2007

2:57pm: Rats, a good move, a frustrating week, and a great lightning show.
Thursday June 21, 2007

Well, maybe not rats, more like a baby mouse. . . So some neighborhood boys (around age 10 so no crazy ideas in your silly heads) came over today as I was searching for lessons and materials. I’ve been telling them a lot lately that I can’t hang out ‘cuz I’m busy. Well this stuff really doesn’t need to be done till Tues. Granted I wont be here all weekend so I don’t know when I’ll have time, but as this week taught me; it really doesn’t matter when things get finished, or if they get finished at all in this country. That’s a story I’ll get to in a bit, but back to the boys, So, I decided to abandon my work and hang out. They usually like to play Uno but I let the Mormons borrow my cards and I haven’t seen them around lately so that game was out for the time being. So I suggested a regular card game, but they asked if I had any movies. Well, I just so happened to buy a DVD with Sponge Bob Square Pants, Shark Tales, and Finding Nemo (no I didn’t buy it for Sponge Bob) off of the street. We put that in but of course it didn’t work. (That’ll teach me to do that again huh?) But I also borrowed Pans Labyrinth from a friend a while ago and never watched it. So, we put in and I just hoped that it was kid appropriate as I wasn’t sure what it was about. It’s a great movie (though a little creepy and or violent at points). It’s set in Spain during the dictatorship of Franco. It’s in Spanish but has English subtitles. Well it’s a WB movie so I would think it’s in English. I don’t know. Anyway it’s about this little girl whose father is dead and whose mother is pregnant but married to this heartless war captain. She (the little girl) meets a fairy who takes her into this labyrinth to meet Pan (a mythological god of nature in the form of a faun. The movie doesn’t explain that, but I looked it up ‘cuz I couldn’t remember which god he was). He informs her that she is truly a princess who died, but who’s father knew her spirit would be reborn and created a portal for her to return to him through tasks that she must complete. It has a dual story line about what’s happening in Spain, and what she is doing for this creature. You should check it out! The name is Spanish is El Laberinto del Fauno. So, the boys and I are watching this movie and I thought I saw something by the door, but there was nothing there when I looked, so I figured it was a shadow from outside. Well, at an intense part of the movie (well it’s all kind of intense) at little mouse ran out from under the bed. What did I do you ask? Well, I stood on the bed like a little girl while the boys crawled under my tables and ran around the house with a meter stick. They chased it into the kitchen and lost it. They decided that it ran back outside under the kitchen door, I believed them and hope that they are right and that it’s not stuck some where ‘cuz I don’t want a mouse dead or alive in my house. Good thing that the door to my bedroom is a lot closer to the floor. I haven’t found anything creepy in my room yet worse than a worm or little non-scary spiders – knock on wood.
After that excitement it was 7:30 and already dark, but the boys wanted to keep watching so I let them watch 10 more minutes and then said they could come back and finish it next week. I on the other hand, just had to finish it : ) Like I said, it’s a good movie, but kinda dark and has some creepy little creatures in it. I heard some noise in my kitchen but it sounded like rain in the window. I thought it strange that I could hear rain on the kitchen window when a) there is an overhang so it wouldn’t hit the window and b) I couldn’t hear it outside the windows right next to me (that’s ‘cuz it wasn’t raining) I took the flashlight that I still had from the mouse excitement and crept into the kitchen expecting to find a creature. Nope. When the boys left I put some noodles on the stove and had left them there long enough for the water to have completely soaked into the noodles and the rest to have evaporated. The noodles were kinda mushy but I didn’t want to waist them so I dumped in the homemade spaghetti and meat sauce I’d made about a week ago and warmed that up. Well, it tasted a little like throw up. It’s still sitting on the counter waiting to be feed to the worms in the morning. I decided that salad sounded good and I needed to finish up the lettuce before it wilted, but the dressing I made was frozen (umm time to change the temp in my fridge but at least it works!) So I set that out and made quesadillas instead. They have regular flour tortillas and real cheese, (maybe not great cheese, but it’s real so sometime it tastes amazing!) in the foreign foods market in the tourist town I live near. I put some Spanish olives inside (also found in the foreign foods store) and by then my basil, garlic, vinaigrette was back to normal so I put some of that on too. It was kind of a Spanish dinner except for the fact that Spaniards don’t typically eat tortillas of any type. But it still tasted Spanish and I ended up eating salad after all and ending it with coffee (real not instant coffee, full of sugar and milk of course). So, those components definitely added to the Spanish flair. I have a feeling that by the time I leave here most of my meals will be an Americanized version of a Guatemalan and Spanish mixture. I’m not really sure how that works, but it is good.
As for the super-frustrating week, I’m over it at the time being (at least until I go back to school). So you’ll get the short non-angry version. I wrote up lesson plans and made a bunch of materials for my two new schools, which neither ended up having more than a half-hour of class the entire day as they were both preparing for different celebrations. (I also had difficulties with rides to both of these places and in one case ended up paying a lot more money that normal.) As for my two second-generation schools, both are expecting that I continue to teach classes and basically do all the work because they don’t want to. Now that they are two years in the program they should be doing a lot of this on their own and are complaining that I expect that of them. In one case I was asked to help them get money for a project that really doesn’t need to be done and they want to do it before more necessary things are finished. The more frustrating part of that story is that the principal, who was asking me to do this, had just given a very poor, obviously unplanned, health lesson and gave the kids more busy work so that he could have time to ask me, while inappropriately staring at me the entire time he was pleading for me to help him get money for this project. And my phone is currently not getting service even though I can see the cell tower from my house.
But now the week is almost over and tomorrow I’m having lunch at the school that is celebrating its anniversary. (This is a three day celebration that each school has every year which basically = no school for three days on top of every other celebration they can think of.) None the less is will be a good time and a great way to get to know the parents and community better. Then I’m off to stay with my host family again and see the girls I lived by during training for that towns fair. So that should be a fun weekend and I’ll get to meet all the new kids that are in training now.
- Oh yeah, if you heard about an earthquake, don’t worry I’m ok. I felt it, but it hit more on the coast and therefore didn’t do any damage here. But, I’m obviously not used to earthquakes as the locals are still asking me what I did during it and that it was a pretty bad one here. But really, I just sat there like it was normal not thinking it was any worse than any of the previous ones. Apparently they all freaked out. But I’m ok, no worries. -
So about a week or so ago I was sitting down near the lake. It was a gorgeous night; the stars were bright in the sky above me, the lake was clear with the reflection of the volcano, that was directly across from where I was, shone bright on the motionless lake. As if that wasn’t beautiful enough, on the other side of the volcano it was cloudy and there was a lightning storm going on. The clouds were only on the far side of the volcano and the lightning was beautiful and illuminated the whole sky behind the volcano. Well, it was amazing from a distance, but I’m sure it wasn’t too fun to have been in that storm, it was a ton of lightning! It would have been perfect to share that with someone incredible, but I couldn’t. So a girlfriend and I just sat and watched it and chatted. It was a good time.
Wow, that was a long one. But that’s all for this week. Have an awesome week and I look forward to hearing from you and how it’s going back at home!
Current Mood: Jumpy

6th June 2007

3:45pm: Congratulations!!!
Somebody AMAZING got offered the job he was waiting for today!!! Congrats hon and happy moving!
Current Mood: ecstatic
3:33pm: Creapy Crawly Things
Tuesday June 5, 2007

Rainy season is gross. Not only does it bring a lot of rain and mud, but also creepy crawly things. There was a tarantula in my bathroom tonight. I thought it was one huge spider until I got closer and realized what kind it was. So, it may have been small for a tarantula, but still one big ugly spider! I knocked it off of the curtain and it fell into my big tub of water. I figure I’ll fish it out in the morning. (See hon, I do go fishing.) I also find other slimy creatures that like damp places. Being that my house is made of block it tends to soak up all the water that continuously falls from the sky. So my walls are damp and a great place for slugs, worms and other icky creatures to slither. My house isn´t exactly sealed either so these small creatures can slide right under my doors, or between the door and the wall for that matter. Keeping them out may be a losing battle. Jamie you ready to come visit? Just kidding, you´ll visit when the little one is bigger and during dry season when these creatures seem to stay away. That’s all, Have a good week.

Update: Those things (tarantulas) can swim. He was still swimm’n this morning, but the side of the bucket was wet so he couldn’t crawl out. I tried drowning, but that didn’t work. I didn’t dare put him on dry land to try and squish him. Have you seen those suckers move! They are quick. So I let him swim for another hour when I get running water at 6am then flushed him down the toilet. So during my bucket bath this morning all I could think about was spider poop in the water that I was bathing in. So did I really get clean? Ponder that one for the rest of the day.
Current Mood: nauseated
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