Thursday, July 31, 2008

Postcards from Guatemala -- 30 July 2008


the library has a new clock. it reminds me of welcome to use grace phone. it says, in curly gold letters, ¨High Class Quartz Clock¨ and it has a little gold butterfly on the second hand. unfortunately, the butterfly is so heavy that the second hand takes several tries to get up past the 9 on the clock face. every minute, we spend a few seconds going backward and forward in time.

charlie told me the story of how caneluche, one of the project´s friendly dogs, but peculiarly short-haired, got shaved. it´s that kind of dog with fur that comes out like a lion´s mane around its face, and has a black tongue. what´s that breed? in any case, when i got here, i heard all kinds of crazy rumors about how caneluche bites. but i´ve never seen it bite anyone, and i´ve seen plenty of people pet it adoringly. charlie says that in the month before i got here, caneluche had long fur that was getting all snarled and catching on everything, putting caneluche in a permanent foul mood. and making him/her bite people. charlie, to hear him tell it, had the brilliant idea of shaving the poor thing, but all the guatemalan employees kept saying, ¨no, no, that´s patricio´s dog, he loves it, he sees you shaved it, he´ll kill you.¨ and then patricio arrived, took one look at caneluche, and said, ¨SHAVE THE DOG!¨ charlie shows up at work the next day, and caneluche is hairless.

i don´t think i´m going to use the pimsleur at all anymore. i skipped 12 lessons and listened to the first couple minutes of the last tape in my set, and i understood every syllable of the opening conversation. boo-yah.

the power keeps going out, so i´m glad i have my flashlight from the evening volcano trip.

i´m not sure how i´m going to be able to eat, back home, without a tortilla in one hand. we eat tortillas with everything, including pasta and baked potatoes and soup.
joy esboldt left today... she´s been around since june 25, so that´s sad. i´d lent her East of Eden for her last four days, and she plowed through at least half of it. we both like steinbeck a lot, even in large print. she just graduated from carleton, majoring in spanish literature. she gave me a book that she didn´t want to take home with her. it´s by paul theroux, whom i´ve heard of, and it´s called The Old Patagonian Express. it gets all philosophical about the nature of travel, and travel by rail in particular. it makes me kind of WANT to take the train home from boston! and theroux went through guatemala... but he didn´t seem to like it much. my favorite thing is probably theroux´s translations of his spanish conversations. sedaris does a good job with translating conversations, too, you know? like in Me Talk Pretty One Day.

i had two cool discussions in the library today. one girl in second grade looks a LOT like a boy in third grade, so i asked her today if she has any brothers, and she said yes, she has two in our school, one in third (YES!) and one in fifth. so that´s cool. and then i sat on the couch with another girl from segundo while i reread a good bit from east of eden and she read junie b. jones. she´d stop every once in a while to show off to me how fast she reads (MISS! FIVE CHAPTERS!), but eventually we both got tired and had to take a break. at which point she wanted to know about my book. hoo boy. it felt like one of those impossible questions that a language teacher asks you, knowing that you´re going to struggle and maim your answer, but wanting you to have the experience. but i ended up doing a decent job explaining it, i think! it helped that she didn´t want the whole book, just what part i liked so much. and what the title meant.

rosa has been treating me to more mealtime discourses. the latest was about her three dogs. she tells me that they are usually fine with extranjeros. especially if they´re blond, because then it´s obvious they´re not from guatemala. and also, her dogs are fine with people who don´t give off the smell of fear. her dogs are not fine with any extranjero who smells of fear, nor with anyone chapín (that is, guatemalteco). at all. she told me that the potable water delivery people will no longer deliver water to her kitchen, they insist on leaving it at the front door. she had somebody in last week to put in some garden soil in the courtyard, and the unfortunate worker brought his little child. you really have to see rosa tell it, because she bugs her eyes out and acts out how the worker had to sweep up his sobbing kid and run out into the street. and the next-door neighbor won´t come over to the house anymore. rosa knows why. it´s because her dogs can smell the fear on that lady. rosa can go over to her house just fine, because she´s not afraid of that lady´s dog toffee. she just says, ¨hi, toffee!¨ and walks in like normal, and toffee leaves her alone. what do you think of that? it´s because they can smell fear.

yesterday, we celebrated 25 years of patricio being in guatemala. there was a ceremony with the whole school, and we invited Sra. Cofiño, who, if you´ve read The Dream Maker (am i the only one so far?), is the mcdonald´s manager who gave patricio and his herd of starving kids free fast food during the lean years when the project was just an empty house patricio had bought, and he was the only worker. patricio used to mash everything up and add water and packets of ketchup to stretch it. imagining that, this anniversary was incredible. all the kids in their uniforms, and prepa and parvulos did a dance, and there was a projector showing old photos of patricio, and segundo processed in with candles, and there was a commemorative cake and a plaque. a boy named dennis dressed up like a cowboy and sang a song, which was pretty much classic. all the volunteers in the school love dennis. oh, and the clubs de madres made little speeches, and brought patricio gifts. the club de madres that meets on tuesday had a bigger gift than the club de madres that meets on wednesday, but everyone managed to be civil about it.

today is día de piloto, so some of the tuc-tucs and some of the chicken buses have balloons on them. did i tell you about the chicken buses? they´re US school buses. most of them are elaborately painted in rainbow colors, and have extra hardware and colored lights on them, but some of them still say DAWSON COUNTY SCHOOLS on them and stuff. the other day i saw one that only said OOL BUS.

i think the power´s about to go out, so i´ll stop here.

love you all!
¡besos y abrazos!


No comments: