Thursday, August 7, 2008

Postcards from Guatemala -- 6 August 2008

bueno. no tengo mucho tiempo, porque esta computadora funciona increíblemente lentemente. no sé porque.

mom, you are a newsletter goddess. i LOVE your updates.
dad, that looks like a very fun beach race. i feel really out of shape here, but i´d love to do it with you. maybe i can run every morning when i get home and get myself ready .

several of my facebook friends have listed me as their tattooist, mostly people from ASH, from the Earth Day fair when i was working the watercolor-pencil-tattoo table. now i´ve been commissioned to design an actual tattoo, for aníbal, a project employee. his niece julieta dinora marroquin king died, and he wants her initials in arabic on his back. i tried to do one of those elaborate word-pictures, like the logo for Al Jazeera, or like you see in islamic art, but everything i tried looked really dumb, so i went to the library at la cooperación española and found a really old arabic-spanish dictionary, written by a catholic priest, that had the arabic in nice-looking calligraphy, and sketched out the initials based on that. cool.

the chapel that Barrio Antigua meets in doesn´t have a basketball court, but the chapel in chimaltenango does. if the public basketball court near my house in colonia manchen is any indicator, the good church members of chimaltenango probably use it for intense games of fut. ring any bells, guys? nairobi?

la cooperación española has a new permanent exhibit: three giant sculptures of beans on its back lawn. there´s a black one, a white one, and a red one. beans, according to the interpretive panel, are an important symbol of chapín culture. they are seed, fruit, birth, and possibility. and a lot of other poetic things i don´t remember. then it says (in spanish, so maybe my translation is bad), ¨They don´t mean anything. They simply are.¨

by the way, i found a guatemalteca feminist newspaper in the library there. i´m quite pleased.

it turned out, on the day of la carta mensual, actually about halfway the through the day of la carta mensual, that we didn´t have to do 16,000 letters after all. the actual number was very close to our usual 12,000. so i spent a good hour or so UNstuffing envelopes. hah. the happy news is that i did it with two new volunteers, nicole and katie, who showed up together after lunch. nicole is from utrecht. katie is from alameda. HOW AWESOME IS THAT? but they´re the kind of volunteers who you never really see, because they hardly ever come, and if they do, they clean the kitchen.

i liked having all the teachers there for letter day. my colleagues! they acted exactly like our students act when we´re trying to teach them: profe josé (de sexto) and profe isabel (de cuarto) kept throwing wads of paper at each other when the other one wasn´t looking, and profe bilma (de primero) kept having gossipy little whispered conversations with other women at our table, and profe cesia (de quinto) started a hopeful, ¨hamburguesas! hamburguesas! hamburguesas!¨ chant when lunchtime rolled around. it struck me that most of the teachers are really young. i wonder how old they all are.

today my replacements showed up. sigh. angel told me that they´ll start teaching on monday, so my last two work days will probably be picking up donations with diego, or making social work visits with carlos and julian. my replacements are a couple from arizona, Harold and his colombian wife Elvia. they´re old, he´s a retired optometrist, and they´re here to take some mysterious alternative medical treatment in guate every afternoon. they figured they could volunteer in the mornings. hal speaks no spanish, but elvia´s there to help him out, obviously. sighhhhhhh.

i told some of my classes today that i´m leaving, and i actually got whole-room moans. it made me perversely happy. one girl from segundo accosted me in el recreo and said, ¨¡que no te vayas!¨ (awwww) and proceeded to pose me with a bunch of nearby girls from quinto so she could take my photograph with my camera.

aug 4 was my end-of-TASP anniversary.

when does everybody start school?

and. both CSA and SLC gave me a home-printed, plastic-spiral-bound Spanish grammar and a similar workbook, included in the price of my lessons. i want to leave them behind, maybe giving them to hal so he´ll have something to study. is that ok with you guys? i think the real value of the lessons i took was in the interaction, and that if anyone in our family wants Spanish material to study, the textbooks we got on Amazon will be just as good or better.

love love love you all!


PS excited to see you in almost exactly one week.

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