Friday, February 1, 2008



Random News from Cabricán:

Aneth is gone. L
Andrea, the new Art Corps volunteer, is living in Rio Blanco, the town over, and will be visiting next week!
We are getting a new Peace Corps volunteer in April. She will be in the healthy schools program, replacing Amber, who left in July right as I was arriving. Brian says I should save my enthusiasm until after I meet the new volunteers in case I don’t like them, but I am optimistic!

Random entertainment from Cabricán:

Xpint is currently sitting on my head and making Chewbacca noises. He is pissed off I won’t let him walk all over my keyboard.

Sitting in the office, the temperature drops a good 10 degrees, clouds roll in and it begins to rain. This is very odd, because it is January and it is not supposed to rain until May. So I question Norma, “It’s a little weird that it’s raining isn’t it?” to which she replies, “oh yes, very strange. I read about it in the newspaper the other day. It’s some weather that came in from another country. It’s not Guatemalan weather.” I found this explanation lacking, but unsurprisingly everyone else I questioned had similar explanations, or simply replied, “saber.” Later on, talking to Brian, I discovered the real source of the mystery rain: the remnants of a hurricane that hit Mexico.

I couple months ago I made my cooperative an excel spreadsheet to calculate the interest for their members’ accounts. It only works for 6 months at a time, so the other day Elizabeth asked me if I could make a new one. Since my job as a Peace Corps volunteer is to train, not to do, I explained to her that I would teach her how to make them, so that when I leave they can continue to use them. We settled on Thursday to start on the project, but when I showed up, Elizabeth had taken the day off. I returned the next day and asked if she wanted to work on it then. “I’m really busy today,” she replied intently studying Nuestro Diario, a Guatemalan mix of the Enquirer and USA Today. Frustrated I sighed and asked if Monday would work for her and she answered “it depends on how busy we are… but you’re still working on it by yourself right?” I repeated that my responsibility as a Peace Corps volunteer is to train, that we’re trying to create sustainable development. She stared at me blankly.

Leaving Brian’s house someone ch, chs me and yells “¡seño!” His neighbor runs out of her house and asks me if I know where Brian is. She explains they knocked on his door earlier but he didn’t answer. Since I don’t knock and just let myself in, Brian will ignore knocking if he doesn’t feel like talking to people. His neighbor explains that her daughter is studying to be a bilingual secretary in Xela, but she needs some help with her English homework. I’ve never been very good at saying no, so despite the fact that I was on the way to the market I get shuttled into her home. I spent the next hour not explaining English, but basic grammar. This girl, who is at least 16 and studying to be a secretary, has no idea what nouns, verbs, pronouns, prepositions, adverbs and adjectives are. That’s the Guatemalan education system for you.

Listening to Guatemalans talk, I’ve noticed they have a habit of repeating things they’re saying three times in different ways. For example, someone explaining that they went to the store would say, “So we decided to go to the store, we were going to the store, we went to the store.” This must be why it takes three times as long to accomplish things here.

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