Thursday, June 26, 2008

Postcards from Guatemala -- 26 June 2008

i have decided that the brothers karamazov has the best chapter titles ever, when taken as a group.
this week at the dreamer center, i have:
cleaned beans (this means sifting through a bucketful of black beans, palmful by palmful, picking out little clods of dirt.and once, a tiny seashell. while the regular kitchen boys, apparently spoiled by dona ana and dona mari who normally run the kitchen with iron fists, blast reggaeton and dance with brooms. there's a tendency in the project to do things in the most manual way possible. so, even though jackhammers exist, they would rather have us chip concrete with picks. and even though there's a photocopier in the volunteer office, we trace coloring pages with black marker. curious.)
chopped radishes (this was awesome to explain to people later on, because i didn't know the word for radish, but the second i said that it was a growing thing that was red and white, everyone knew immediately what i meant. is there nothing else red and white?)
rode in the bed of a pickup truck!!! this is actually very common, i just hadn't done it yet.
opened the monthly newsletter, "signed" it (john and mary kang... not ruth pimentel), refolded it, stuffed it with other flyers, put it in envelopes, and sealed and stacked the envelopes. this took something like 9 hours, because there were around 12,000 newsletters to send out. the entire volunteer crew at the dreamer center did it together, like an assembly line where we took turns at different stations. incredible. i want us to be on the mailing list once i leave. good thing we don't have to do the addressing; that happens in bismarck.
actually, i took a traitorous break in the middle of newsletter day, because angel came in and said, "we need two people." i thought it was for moving chairs or something, but it turned out to be for driving 10 minutes to san bartolomeo to harvest pears in a donor's orchard. what. the. heck. it was so fun. i got pretty dirty for a couple hours (i climbed a tree, and there were some sinkholes that i sort of stepped in), but then we went back to newslettering.
i did some stuff with the social work office, too. we took a street guy in to a treatment center called talitha-cumi. and i got to see the scheel center, which is part of asociacion nuestros ahijados, but it's a school that teaches elementary stuff to much older kids/adults, and it has clinics, too, but without the funding to be continually open (unlike the dreamer center's). scheel is about 10 minutes away from the dreamer center, in jocotenango/san felipe. it's a truly scary neighborhood. parts of scheel don't have windows, just for protection. the whole thing is completely gorgeous, though, with deep light wells and fountains and an unparalleled view of volcan agua.
i think there is probably not a single shop in the whole of los estados unidos called "the gethsemane shop". not so here.
last night, i tried to go to instituto with ana, and when we got there, we found some other members of the barrio waiting, but nobody showed up with a key. we called el obispito (even the BISHOP gets a diminutive!!!), but i guess he didn't want to come or something. or couldn't, i don't know. i spoke french, or tried to, with a guy waiting with us. i kept throwing in "si" and "pero" instead of the right french words. sigh. but i got a copy of the antiguo testamento manual, from 1 reyes to malaquias. muy bueno para practicar.
i found out that some of the cafe/bars in town show american movies. you can watch them if you order something. bagel barn (slogan: "relax, it's just like home!") is showing Big Fish this afternoon, and Cafe 2000 is showing The Prestige tomorrow night... tempting.
june 30 is national army day, so i don't have work. who knows what i will do with myself.
july 25 is also some huge holiday, and apparently there's stuff going on all month. i'm kind of excited.
june 25, ellie's birthday, was teacher's day, so somebody set off really LOUD firecrackers at like 5:30 am in my neighborhood. i woke up thinking someone was shooting at us. ellie, i went out onto the dreamer center's highest balcony in the morning and sang happy birthday to you! and i bought a bar of dark guatemalan chocolate to celebrate.
dad, do open keri's note and tell me what it says... patricio told me that the surest way to mail me something (like the copy of keri's cd, or actually anything) is to send it to the bismarck offices (i'm assuming there's an address online or something?), and people who are coming here from there can bring it along with them. when patricio just came to us from ND a few days ago, he brought some magazines to a guy named charlie who's been here for a couple months. i'm long-term like that, so it would probably work.
jessi is a triplet, it turns out, and her brother matt is also at harvard. awesome. talking to her makes me super excited for fall. too bad she's leaving on sunday. there are lots of young female volunteers, though. i haven't seen a male one except for charlie (who patricio brought magazines to) and a for-lifer, practically, named Luke. right now in girls, i have Susie, who is a californian high school senior, Irene, who is about to be a college senior at University of the Pacific, and her friend Katie, same situation. also another Katie, who's way older than us, and better at spanish. and Joan from minnesota showed up this morning.
i think i'm going to try and get susie (who's going to be here until late july) to sign up with me for a trip up volcan pacaya. that's the active one of the three volcanoes. i've heard there are agencies that will set you up for $7, but the cheapest i've seen is $8. apparently, you get added to a huge group of other people who want to climb it, and they put you in their truck and drive you to the base, and then you climb with the other tourists and a guide. it's "awful" for a while (maybe really steep? not sure what this means), but then it "gets better". and at the top, the lava, of course, moves very slowly, so it's safe. you can go in the morning or in the afternoon. the sunset is supposed to be amazing. and if you wear sandals, the volcanic rock will shred them. sounds beastly.

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