Foremost, the entries in this blog do not express ideas or beliefs of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps. Following that though I will mention the third goal of Peace Corps: "Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans." Time (and mainly your comments) will tell indicate my level of success.

Friday, August 13, 2010

1 Great, 2 Funnies and 1 @#$% #* (i.e. someone tried to steal my dog)!

How to start what will likely end in a frustrated rant ... well I returned from a two week trip home last Friday (August 6th) because my sister got married, my first time leaving Guatemala in 7 months. The occasion was a beautiful outdoor wedding complete with gluten-free cake (which was surprisingly tasty). It was great to see all my family. Though for all PCVs returning home to a big affair I recommend a general Q&A session with family and friends before said gathering. Why? Because some of us would have liked to eat the lovely wedding meal ... I enjoy talking about my time here in Guate except during dinner when I went to use the ladies room and by the time I returned my food had disappeared because what should have been a 5 minute bathroom break was really a 20-30 minute interview. I love my family. Congrats Kerrie and Nick.

That was not the frustrated rant so much as a loving one with regard to my family. AND while my sister's wedding was awesome it is not the one great thing I mean to talk about as indicated by my title.

1 Great thing:

In Guatemala I rent two rooms from a family, one for a kitchen and the other a bedroom. Upon returning to site I found that there was another Gringo (a somewhat derogatory term, which I have been told is purely to be used with Americans, but can generally mean white person) had taken temporary occupancy of the extra room. Initially, folks were only told that this gentlemen, Seth, was a friend of Laura and Markus (Gringos that live permanently in my site, more about them some other time). Seth was traveling through Central America and wanted a home stay experience in a scenic place. Well it's very scenic here, what with a rather large lake to look at and some volcanoes.

He had already been here a day or two by the time I returned. I didn't spend much time with him besides playing Bananagrams and talking about my dog Chispa (more about her later). He spent his days here, well, doing the touristy things: fishing with locals on the lake, hiking one of the many trials in the area, taking a tour, visiting the weavers and so forth (lots to do here – FRIENDS & FAMILY, VISIT ME). Before he left he comes up to me and says something like, “Hey, just so you know I am a travel writer and came here so I could write a piece.” Okay. When I asked Laura (my soon to be new boss at the NGO I work with, an American boss as a PCV nonetheless) what paper/magazine he wrote for she said she would tell everyone at the next staff meeting. Who was he? Well read the article ... . It should be great promo for the town I live in.

2 Funnies:

Numero uno, having two rooms, only one of which with an actual chair, limits my options of where I can sit and chill out (though since these instances I have acquired one of those camping chairs with a foot rest), so, usually I can be found at my kitchen table in a plastic chair. Comfortable. The door and the window to the kitchen are always propped open being that my site is on the hot side. Any who, this past weekend I was sitting at my kitchen table (from this perspective I can look out my kitchen door and be seen by any and all passer-byers) watching Dear John.

A quick side note: during training we soon to be volunteers are taught that in our sites we will be the town celebrity, or oddity, and gawked at appropriately. Well, due to the nature of my site and the number of tourists being the exciting new town addition has not been an issue for me ...

Back to the story: Dear John is a sad movie at parts, as are most Nicolas Spark stories.

{about a two hour writing break for lunch, in which important information regarding the 1 @#$% #* was learned}

Anyways, I was watching Dear John and crying, not so much audibly as visibly. At this moment the neighbor kids decided it was a grand idea to play peek-a-boo at the Gringa next store. Upon seeing me crying, they continued popping their heads over the fence and giggling. Ha ha, crying Gringa. You try watching that movie and not crying.

Hilarity numero dos: involves my back turned towards the door while cooking on my stove and my lovely dog, Chispa, chasing a chicken into my kitchen. Then startled by the suddenly close confines, the chicken started fluttering around hysterically looking for a way out of this odd enclosure, all the while trying to avoid the jaws of tranquilla Chispa. Of course this startled the shit out of me ... for those that don't know me and are still reading I do not mean this literally, even with the known developed stomach sensitivities of PCVs ... and resulted in me screaming and my host family laughing at the humor in it all.

1 @#$% #*:

So, Chispa. Who, when I left, weighed 20 pounds of a somewhat excitable, almost all boxer puppy and upon return found a 30 plus pounder of rocketing insanity who now knows roll-over (among others) and will do so whenever she feels a treat is within reach ... even when that couldn't be farther from the truth.

When choosing a collar for her I opted for the slightly more expensive (an important point regarding PCV pay), more durable option she could grow into. I came home to a puppy that had no collar. I wish I had known before leaving home, because I could have brought one of the many left over from family dogs growing up. The original story regarding the missing collar was simply (in Spanish mind you), “She left the house once for a short time and came back collar-less.” Okay, shit happens, move on. The general consensus was someone wanted the collar. Odd. It was dusty, partially chewed.

Well, this morning I learned more of the infuriating story from the daughter of my host mother, Raquel (Though so we are clear, I was not mad about the collar. I just wish I could have brought a free on back). Apparently, one day when I was gone my host mother, Graciella was walking home and saw someone on our street trying to capture Chispa, i.e. steal me dog!

I walked around all morning ticked to say the least. Pretty much everyone knows Chispa is my dog, as a result of us walking around on the street with me training her (which really means a lot of, “Chispa. CHISPA. CHISPA!” and everyone knowing my dog's name before they know mine). Hmph.

During lunch, my two hour writing break, I talked to Graciella because at this point I was almost in panic mode and wondering if they would try to steal her again. A few days after the incident, which Graciella luckily was able to intervene in, the culprits approached her to apologize. They said they did not know Chispa had a owner. Or were they sorry to be caught in the act? I have been told who were the almost thieves and I know they have seen me with Chispa. So, did they really not know? Well this is Guatemala. Just another reason t be super careful.

My post will not be ending in the anticipated rant. But I will be doing a lot more jerry-rigging of the fence enclosing the house to be sure Chispa can not get curious and wonder to far on her own into undeserving, wanting hands.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Waking up in Guatemala.

My spanish ability has yet to reach the dreaming stage. While I do find myself trying to translate even when I am talking to someone who knows english, my conversations with my host family are still quite laughable. And slow.

I have been in Guatemala for almost a month and have two months left of training until I swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I can not imagine I have any clever, oringinal ancedotes about what life as a trainee is like. Peace Corps keeps us really busy with language and technical training. And they also do not permit being out of the training site at night, though that maybe Guatemala specific.

Here is a fun fact. This blog will stop here for the moment, because I have need of a bathroom and I need to go find one.