28 06 2007

A few things of interest, at least to me…

Monday was Teacher´s Day in Guatemala. What did that mean exactly? Well, school was cancelled, and because I live in a house with about five or six other teachers, I was greeted all day with hugs. Everytime someone said, ¨Happy Teacher´s Day!,¨ a hug followed. This town has a rocking cantina, and I also think the teachers used the day to partake in the sugar alcohol of choice. I´m thinking of initiating a similar practice back home.

There is a strong Israeli presence here. It´s strange, but I see it mostly in lots of Arc de Noe hostels, Hotel Kibbutz, or the El Shaddai Gym. This is partly because Israel had or has some invested interest here, and partly because after the U.S. wanted to publicly extract their economic support for the Guatemalan government, they channeled funds and arms through Israel. Lovely.

I made a guest appearance yesterday. One of the women in my house invited me to come visit her fourth-ish grade class, and when I arrived, she declared, ¨They are ready for you to teach. What have you planned?¨ So, all thirty-five children can now count up to twenty in English. When I asked for questions, they were incredibly interested in the names in my family, so all thirty-five spent fifteen minutes reciting, ¨El-lee, Tomas, Em-ma-ry and more.¨ We then learned to say words that were closest to their daily experiences (robber, soccer ball, and blouse). I was told I am to return Friday to administer a quiz.

This place is cold, and I broke down and bought a $10 sweater from the local thrift shop. My selection was between fleeces covered with heavy metal band pictures, Taco Bell ads, skateboarders symbols, or Nautica signs.

I have sadly developed a necessary and healthy fear of dogs here. Though I love the species, the dogs here become angry at night, sometimes angry during the day, and I often fall asleep to the sounds of packs of dogs fighting outside in the street. I now carry rocks whenever I hike and/or hide behind others. I´m going to need re-programming therapy…meaning I am going to need lots of times with the various kind and gentle dogs that I love in Boston. Get ready.

We continue to hike each morning, and we often pass men out gathering wood. It is incredibly common for the men to stop, break into a huge smile, shake our hands and remark, ¨You´re out just taking a walk! Ha! You´re out walking! Just a walk!¨ I´m not clear if it is the practice of walking…like…why would you walk if you don´t have to…or the idea that we have way too much free time on our hands that makes them chuckle. I find the whole exchange endearing.

More to come.



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