Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 43

Today wasn't the best of days, but there have been worse ones.  For example, today I bought myself a nice "new" sweatshirt for 25 cents.  It says "Animal" on it, but the letters are very stylized, and it's warm and without holes.  I also got a torn plastic shower curtain for free (with purchase of other stuff) which I'm going to use to line the litterbox.  A holey sheet (yes, you read that right; although I suppose it is technically a blanket) for another 25 cents which I hope to give to the kittens to curl up on...once they get the litter box down pat.  And I bought a nice red and pink long-sleeve shirt for 12.5 cents.  Should be good for Valentine's day, I hope.

Speaking of Valentine's day, I am planning on extending my time here beyond the minimum 3 months.  While I do have tough days (and I'll tell you about the tough part of today in a bit), I really feel like I am helping change lives.  This is not to say that I can't change lives in the United States, but it's simply more difficult as the US has a lot more regulations and, amusingly, I'm not qualified to help people out in most places in the US.  That being said, I am planning on booking my flight in the next week or so.  I've notified Orphan's Hope to send the money for the plane ticket to my account.  I'm looking at March 9 to March 23.  (Those are Wednesdays two weeks apart for those who don't want to pull out their calendars.)  The round trip will be costing me $337.46.  This is actually 2 round trips.  If I were to book a flight from Guatemala to Detroit (which would have a stop in Ft. Lauderdale), it would cost me $446.76.  Believe me, I can find something better to blow $111.30 on.

Anyway, today wasn't so hot because I had kids who didn't want to learn English.  Now, our classes have a very regular schedule.  If their "teachers" want to change when English class is because it isn't convenient for the boys, I'm very flexible.  Currently, the Peques have English from 10-10:15 am; the Medianos, in two groups, have class from 2-2:30 and 2:30-3; and the Grandes, also in two groups, have class from 4-4:30 and 4:30-5.  The Medianos are almost always late (so I rarely have that hour gap between the two), and the Grandes, at least yesterday, tend to be timely.  Today, the first group of Medianos didn't show up until it was nearly time for the second group.  The second group of Medianos left just as the first Grandes lesson was supposed to begin.  However, NEITHER GROUP of Grandes showed up at all.  So, at 4:25, I went out and asked Gloria (the older bilingual woman who is usually here on Tuesdays) why it is important to know English in Guatemala.  Good news is that she told me nothing new.  So, I went and played computer games in the classroom until 4:50 when I started packing up.  The boys know when English class is; there is a sign in their dorm telling them when it is, and it has been at that time for a week.  I'm a little annoyed, but it is ultimately their lives and their futures, and I really can't force them to learn a skill (speaking and understanding English) which can get them better jobs here in Guatemala.

In other news, Mia and Bella--my two kittens (I have a third, but I'm looking for someone who wants a kitten)--made their debut into society today.  They did pretty good; I was proud of them.  Bella even got loose (jumped down from my shirt) and didn't run away completely.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 42

I know it has been a long time since I last updated. It can be blamed on a few things, but I can talk about that at the end of this entry.

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent. Most Latin American countries have a strongly religious community. (I won't say anything about their faith as that has an interesting range, but the religious traditions are strong.) So, since Advent is religious--the road to Christmas, so to speak--they celebrated it in grand style. In the morning, we went up to the village for church. With the Salesiano group on holiday, we are no longer spoiled with our own private services. The seminarians came by and walked us with us. (Have I mentioned that I REALLY like having that seminary near us and that I'll miss them when they go back home to Colombia on December 18?)

Church was fairly uneventful. We had the usual disruptive boys problems. I'm thinking that us adults need a separate mass so that we can actually get something out of the service. There were quite a few baptisms and a children's choir. I don't know if that stuff is normal or not since this was our first Sunday in town. (I reckon that the baptisms are not normal every Sunday.)

After church, we were supposed to go down to the seminary and play on their ball courts, but that was only until noon, and since there were not only baptisms but the priest was being long-winded, we didn't get back to the Hogar until 11:45. By the time we had gotten down to the seminary, it would have been time to trudge back up the mountain. So, the guys just helped us watch the boys at our place for a little while.

After that, we just continued things around the Hogar without them. I did some correspondence work and uploaded photos from Saturday (I'll have to talk about that too) from my camera. Since Sundays are visit days, there were some parents who wanted to see pictures of their boys, but since I sort by day, not boy, that was a little difficult. Finally, the boys just gave me a day to look at and that went fine. I had some pizza for lunch (sadly, pineapple ham pizza, my least favorite), and after lunch, I played keep-away with some of the guys. They didn't really like my play style, but I'd rather wait and watch for them to mess up then to wear myself out trying to make them mess up (and maybe not succeed). Worked just fine, if you ask me, but I guess it made the game too slow for them. (Not that I was ever in the center that much anyway. Despite never being a soccer player, I can actually kick with both sides of both feet.)

Around 4:30, a group showed up to do our advent celebration. First they played a game where the leader would say a word, and the boys would have to run to grab a baton (was actually a ching-ching, but I'll save you from weird cultural words at the moment) and run back to their group. Whatever group ended up with the baton had to sing a Christmas song with that word in it. The next activity was to put on a Christmas skit. Each group had part of the Christmas story and had to act it out. They used crepe paper to make costumes. If it had been a costume contest, I would have voted for Danilo Polanco's angel costume; he made such a formidable looking angel.

After the skits, we had a parade with a nativity up the mountain to the chapel. Each group took a turn carrying it. We did some call and response sort of thing at the door. And once it was inside, they did a few more readings and a few more songs. After that, we went down to the ball court again, and they set off some fireworks for us. I'll admit that I was a little concerned being so close to the fireworks, but with metal roofs and cement walls, I guess it isn't such a big deal. Once they were done with the big ones, they gave the boys sparklers (which they call "estrellitas" or "little stars") and set off some other flare-type fireworks on the ball court. After that, they passed out some Christmas presents to all the boys. The Peques all got a wind-up car, a wind-up airplane, a spikey ball, and a bag of candy. The Medianos and Grandes each got a backpack and a cap.

Finally, it was time for dinner where we had tamales and hot chocolate. (Obviously, I didn't have the hot chocolate, but it made me wish there was some hot cider around as it was a very cold evening.) Once most everyone was done eating, Daniel came in with his guitar and played some sing-along music. It was a fun evening. If Christmas itself is half this fun, I might just make it.


I believe I've talked about Escuelas Abiertas before (maybe about 2 weeks ago). In case I didn't, it's basically this government funded program where the schools are open on Saturdays and Sundays during their big 3-month long break. Supposedly, the boys can go for all sorts of activities, but I haven't been that impressed by what I've seen so far. (Okay, I got to meet about 7 of the Miss Guatemala contestants, but that isn't really a big deal.)

Anyway, Saturday was their big national conference, and the Hogar was invited by the Satellite school where some of our boys attend for classes. So, we went. Daniel and I shared one of our few conversations in which we were in agreement that the event was pretty pointless. You couldn't see anything since the stage was a million miles away. You couldn't hear anything since there was talking and bands playing all around. And you couldn't really do anything.

I do have to say that they had quite the security at the conference. There were four lines for entering the facility. Two lines for men and two lines for women. Each gender had a line for people with bags and coats and those without. Since I was wearing both a coat and had a bag, I went through that line. The woman who was running security for that line asked me to open up my bag so she could look inside. She only looked in one compartment and didn't even pat down my coat pockets which were hard and bulky. About an hour later, the President (of Guatemala) walked onto the stage. This is actually the second time this week that I've been within 500 feet of the President and haven't had to go through any sort of intense security check. (The first time, there was none at all.) The President didn't stand behind bullet-proof glass, and only one guy proceeded up onto the platform before him...looking mostly at the steps in front of himself. If Obama could enjoy the privileges afforded to Colom, it would do wonders in restoring any sort of belief in America.

In the afternoon, there was a playground and a few activities for the boys. So, it was a bit better. I'll still admit that I was glad to come back to the Hogar.


As for being busy, it mostly comes down to the cats and my boss. I don't have the time, interest, or patience to take care of three kittens. Even two is pushing the limit. At any rate, I only have two hands, and most of the time, those are needed for typing and doing work on my computer. I can't spend all my time dragging kittens off of my keyboard. And when I get up to go to the bathroom, I have to find ways to safeguard against random typing or the computer getting shut down. Additionally, what order I take the kittens off my lap in plays a large factor in either my success or failure as some are more prone to climbing back on (and two hands vs. three kittens is a losing battle). Additionally, I can't find a lot of the kitten supplies I need in Guatemala; so I have to be creative. Sadly, I don't have the time to be creative. One of these current issues is a litter box. I have a basket of sorts (but it has holes in the bottom and sides) which has the bottom lined in plastic with a chunk of cardboard on top of the plastic. It needs dirt, and I was told by Estuardo where I could get dirt, but unfortunately, I never have the time to go get dirt for it. So, last night was a cold night as I had only a fleece blanket to wrap myself in; the kittens peed on my sheets and quilt. (Fortunately, I noticed them doing this; so I tossed them into the pee basket and put the sheets and quilt in the shower.)

My boss is apparently not happy that I spend my mornings in my room. This is not something that she has talked to me about. It is, again, an overheard conversation. However, those are mornings that I spend preparing English lessons for the day. Apparently, she thinks I should be out "helping," but the understanding which was reached before I came here was that my jobs were not with the boys.

  1. facilitate faster communication between Carmen/Diane and the Hogar.
  2. help organize the store
  3. teach English

So, since I'm in my room working on either 1 or 3, I'm not sure what she has the right to get flustered about. If I had a key to the store, I'd work on that in the mornings, but I haven't been given one (nor have I asked for one); so I can only assume that she doesn't actually want help with that.


For posterity sake, I should note that on Thursday night/Friday morning, I ate Taco Bell for the first time in...forever? I am typically opposed to "fake Mexican food," but that I was eating it in Guatemala at 1 am with a 15-year old and a 20-year old Guatemalan was just too funny.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mia "Mia" y Mas: Day 35

I'm now a single mother of two...kittens. Mia was part of a litter of three. The original idea had been to take Mia and leave the two gray tabbies to keep each other company. However, when we were getting Mia out the other day (and maybe even a day or two before that), I started to notice that there were only two kittens, not three. Now, I am absolutely positive that there were two gray tabbies and that I wasn't just seeing the same one twice.

However, with there now only being two kittens, I couldn't leave the other one to be lonely; so when we went to get Mia the other night, we were also going to get the other kitten. The stress and panic of the kittens was such that we couldn't find the other kitten after we had gotten Mia; so we decided we'd look another day. I left a little food in the room where they usually are and shut the door. Sunday was just too busy and hectic; so I went back today (about 40 hours after getting Mia) to look for her sibling. I opened up the door to the house--not to the room they had been in--and there was the other kitten. That means that she (I think) was probably without food and water for nearly 40 hours. (Although, drinking out of the toilets was a possibility.) I had little trouble getting the kitten in what I am assuming was a weakened state.

I got this kitten back to my room, and she was worse off than Mia was when I got her. Mia at least had some fight in her. This kitten didn't really want to eat or drink anything, but Mia was a great influence on her sister. I come in and sit down on the bed and hear Mia hiding somewhere where I don't want her to be; so I call out to her, and she comes climbing to see me. Her sister was pretty much too weak to perk up at seeing Mia, but there was a slight improvement. It was great to have Mia already used to me. I think the going mentality around the room right now is "Well, Mia eats the food; so I guess I can. Well, Mia drinks the water; so I guess I can. Well, Mia loves being touched by the human; so I guess I can try it too." I know that's sort of my mentality; I give the attention to Mia, and when her sister is ready for it and comes looking for it, I give it to her as well.

I'm toying with a few names for Mia's sister (if it is, in fact, a sister). One of them is "y hermana" ("and sister"), but that puts a lot of pressure on Mia. I have also considered "Kitten" since I am teaching English here (among other things I do); however, when she gets older/bigger, I don't want her to still be called Kitten, and I'm not keen on the name Cat. Granted, if the sibling turns out to be a brother, I think I'm okay with the name Cat; we'll see. (No, I don't need a biology lesson. They both look female, but they also look different from each other; so I'm reserving judgement.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mia "Mia"

So, for having survived a month, I hereby give myself a cat. The act of taking a cat is not something which I do lightly. While a cat could travel to the US with me, it's also something more...a decision to raise an animal in a home. So, Mia, welcome home. :)

By the way, she isn't as thrilled about it as I am, but I figured that might be the case. She was trying to find the best hiding spot in my room. Fortunately, most of them so far have been pretty lame. She hasn't yet found "under the bed."

Now, however, she's decided that my bed is her bed (which is sort of what I want considering how cold it is), but she's at the foot of it. She has also claimed the pair of socks I've been wearing to bed, but I guess that's fine since you're apparently supposed to give the cat something with your scent so they get used to you...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 32

I really love aguacate (avocado) trees on the mountain. They pretty much grow sideways and are pretty much amazing for climbing, taking naps on, and playing horse. We took a walk out to the campo (countryside) yesterday where the trees grow. I didn't take my camera with me or else I would have taken pictures of the trees for you all. Some of the boys picked avocados for the kitchen while we were there. Sadly, I can't really see them up in the trees...green leaves and green avocados; must be some sort of survival of the fittest.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I probably shouldn't post this until it's actually in my possession, but I am getting a kitten! She is an adorable little sweetheart, and I plan to name her Mia. (Besides being a name in English, it is actually a Spanish word as well. It means "Mine.") She is an orange and white tabby. She also has two siblings who are gray tabbies; so if you know anyone in Guatemala who wants a kitten, I've got some to spare. (Or if you want to come and pick it up and take it back to the States, that's fine too. Cats can cross international borders very easily.)

We actually found Mia and her siblings about a week and a half ago. There were American doctors here at the time who approximated their age at 6 weeks. My friend Theresa advised not taking them from their mother until they were at least 8 weeks old; so we all just kept quiet about it. However, today the boys had to get some beds out of that room; so it was inevitable that they were found. As soon as the boys came out of the house yelling about "gatitos" ("kittens"), I knew I had to act fast. I mentioned to Estuardo (the husband of the woman who runs the home) that the American doctors had mentioned finding rats in the pharmacy while they were cleaning it out (and no, it wasn't a lie just to get a cat). It just so happens that the pharmacy is in the same part of the same building that I live in; so, if I had a cat (kitten) who I was caring for, that animal might feel like going hunting and decide to kill the rats (when it's a little bigger, yes, but for now perhaps the smell of cat will keep the rats at bay). Besides, I've always wanted a cat, one I could wake up to find laying on my head or, preferably, my stomach.

So, tomorrow Estuardo and I are going to go shopping for cat supplies. I have to say that I'm pretty excited about it all. BUT...no getting too excited until tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 29 (evening)

So, when you have 52-ish boys between the ages of 2 and 15, there's apt to be some roughhousing. Yesterday, I walked out of my room to find 8-year old Mardoqueo with a cut inside of his lip about an inch long. It was technically given to him by his own teeth; however, it happened while an 11-year old was throwing a fit. This really happens more often than I would like; so I decided to do something about it. Yesterday, I started teaching the boys wrestling.

Wrestling is a sport. It's one which I was involved with my senior year of high school. Granted, as far as my weight class went back then, I was pretty lousy. However, I've got a good 50 pounds and a foot in height on most of these boys. Wrestling, unlike the brawling they've been doing on occasion when everyone's back is turned, has rules to it. They can't grab someone by the neck and throw them to the ground. In fact, they can't even choke them. (And if you honestly have control of what you're doing and of your opponent, you can even be nice and set them gently on the ground.) There's no beating on the other person until they're humiliated, bleeding and/or crying; it's just a simple 2 shoulders on the ground for 3 seconds. Comparatively, it's quite civilized.

Granted, I'd love it if they learned to work out their differences by talking, but one step at a time. Let's learn respect first, and then let's learn the difference between competition and solving problems.

(And yes, I took on two boys at once a few times tonight, but after one was pinned, he was out of the "battle." That's seriously the last time I leave my room for a band-aid, walk out of the dining hall with two sandwiches, and end up giving wrestling lessons...needing more band-aids than I left to get in the first place.)

Day 29 (continued)

Today I was a big spender. I bought a Geoffrey Hayes leather jacket with the lovely fleecy lining, a pair of size 10 heels, a calf-length black skirt, and curtains made of 100% Indian silk for two of my windows. Now all this expensive purchasing cost me a whopping Q10.

For those of you playing along at home, that's $1.25 USD.

(Yeah, someone failed to mention that I'd actually have to get dressed up from time to time. So, I didn't bring any dressy clothes, but we have first communion on Sunday, and if I'm not dressed to the nines--or at least to the fives--I'm going to hear about it. And I thought my khakis were fine.)

Day 29

I've survived 4 whole weeks here in Guatemala. This is, I think, the longest I've ever been in Guatemala at a time, but the time has flown by. I've accomplished less than I wanted to accomplish so far, but things seem to be changing.

I've started getting materials ready for teaching formal English classes, researching some methods and drawing on my own language learning experiences (of which I have plenty). The biggest problem I anticipate is phonetics. Spanish is a very easy language to read aloud. Every consonant has just one sound (and in a rare instance, a second. The only one I can think of at the moment is "g"); every vowel has just one sound. How it all sounds is very set, very specific, and you never have to guess as to how a word sounds.
Now, English on the other hand, seems to have no rhyme or reason. I started this list when I was working on phonetics with Moises this summer, and I will try to remember it for you. Just read it aloud and enjoy.

car - bar - bare - are - air - bear - ear - tear (like crying) - tear (like ripping) - pear - pare - pair

Now, go back to the bear...bear - beer- ear

What psycho thought up our language?!? It's supposedly as difficult to learn as Chinese. The only saving grace of English is that the verbs (despite all being irregular) are easy.

Spanish - caminar                                                                English - to walk
yo camino    nosotros caminamos                                I walk        we walk
tu caminas    vosotros caminais                                   you walk    y'all walk
el camina    ellos caminan                                            he walks    they walk
There's just one little change in the English!
Granted, sometimes there are two which is lovely and confusing:

Spanish - estar                                                                     English - to be
yo estoy    nosotros estamos                                           I am       we are
tu estas    vosotros estais                                                 you are    y'all are
el esta    ellos estan                                                         he is      they are
So, yes, I expect my biggest problems to be with phonetics.

Anyway, off to go be a productive member of our society!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 27

Today, Christian Josue and I talked to an old man who informed us that the administration of Alvaro Colom is one of socialism. He went on to note that while it is a socialist government, it is not a communist one. Furthermore, he stated that it was the first socialist government which was not communist in the history of the world.

Sorry, America, you're just not socialist enough to compete. Try a few more health care reforms.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 26

Mostly I'm posting to let you all know that I'm okay. I think I'll chalk the whole week up to being rough; although, there have been some nice spots.

On Thursday, Karen (my "boss"), Estuardo (her husband), and Maria Andrea (their daughter) came back from their vacation in the US. The rest of that day was just a mess. Anyone who could find a way to avoid Karen did. She spent the afternoon walking around the hogar saying how things were done wrong and how she couldn't trust anyone to do anything right while she was away; then she would continue by saying how much she had to get done. I took a lot of the brunt of this and it really hurt. The biggest problem, as I see it, is that she didn't give clear directions to everyone who needed to be involved in what she wanted done.

Yesterday, Friday, we took the kids (and a good chunk of village kids) to IRTRA. It is a Guatemalan amusement park; however, that's only about half of it. The other half is a zoo (and I'm not talking about the kids!). I saw a jaguar, lion, and puma yesterday! (No tigers.) A good deal of it is actually birds. Jean (one of the American volunteers) and I asked one of the boys if there were Quetzals (the national bird) in the zoo. He told us there were, but we never saw any and forgot to ask him about them again later. I actually rode a few rides as well. (The coasters weren't as big and crazy as those in the States, but it's still odd to think of getting me on a coaster.) My biggest problem is that they don't allow glasses or hats on the rides. On one of them, I had put my hat on my belt loop, and they made me stick my glasses in my pocket; however, on another they actually made me pass my glasses off to someone else. (Fortunately, when you go to the park with over 100 kids, there's usually SOMEONE in line that you know!)
After lunch, I spent my time with David (the 22-month old...who I should probably post a picture of sometime for you all; it's not like I don't have plenty!). We walked around for quite a while, and then people started asking us (me) to hold stuff for them while they were on certain rides. The only trick to this was that they had to find us because David was busy exploring the world. I carried Daniel's backpack and hat the rest of the day. I finally got tired of walking around with David; so I suggested a ride. We went on the ferris wheel (only 8 seats on it). He wasn't a big fan of it and started fussing; so I put him on my lap. After about once around, he just fell asleep. After that, I took him on the train because he's just a touch heavy to want to stand around with. Then I went and got an ice cream and sat on a bench and ate it. Finally, I decided to start walking toward the entrance, but I found Alba (our cook) with her daughter Migdalia; so we sat with them for a while while Migdalia ate her ice cream (and shared it with David). When Migdalia finished, she went and rode an airplane ride 3 times in a row, and afterward we started heading toward the entrance as a group. We did stop and do one more ride on the way out. It was these little semi-trucks which went around a track (it was a ride, but the kids had ineffective steering wheels and effective horns). Migdalia and David rode it together. Last stop was the bathroom before our 2 hour ride home in traffic. (We left the park around 4 pm and got back to the hogar around 6...definitely rush hour traffic through the capital.)
I was tired and didn't feel like standing up for the trip home; so I got Kevin (one of the medianos) to give me his seat if I let him sit on my lap. It was a deal, and I slept for the first hour of the ride. Kevin and I played "I spy" for the second half.

Other good things which have happened are the possibility of me getting a kitten. There is a feral mother and her three kittens near here, and they're pretty much adorable. The home gets "useless" stuff like donations of cat food; so, I don't expect a huge cost in supplies. I still need to talk it over with Karen, but I have a few things around here that I'm doing to make things more efficient (i.e. put her in a good mood) and there are a few sanitary concerns which came to attention during the gringos visit which a cat could help with; so, I'm hoping to find my kitten a job here. She's an orange tabby, and I'm still looking for a name for her before I bring her home. (She's also only 7 weeks old; so I'm waiting another week at least before even thinking about moving her here.) Anyone have any name suggestions for a female Guatemalan orange tabby?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

oh wow...what a day

I wouldn't be posting about today if I didn't feel I had supporters out there reading. As Daniel and I closed the gates today, he asked me how my day was, and I replied "loco" ("crazy"). He admitted he was tired as well.

Today we had a woman (gringa) break her arm around lunchtime. Now, it is bad enough that Karen and Estuardo aren't here to deal with the emergency, but the only support staff around (besides me who feels slightly culturally inept still) were Naneth (the psychologist) and Juana (one of the teachers). Daniel was out driving Jennifer around. So, not only were we a little out of our league, the mission leader wasn't even around. Jennifer has a phone, but no one knew what the number was. So, we asked Naneth for Daniel's number to get a hold of Jennifer. (The only non-stressful thing about all of this was that we had at least 2 doctors (maybe 3), about 3 nurses, a wheelchair, and plenty of thoughtful and attentive people.) Anyway, Daniel and Jennifer came back and took the woman to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a compound fracture to her left arm. She needs to get surgery tomorrow.
So, the group had to change some flight plans and figure out who was going back with the woman. Additionally, the bus which was supposed to pick them up at 6 wasn't showing up. To make matters worse, Jennifer's phones (she has two) were receiving calls but not sending them. It kept saying that she was dialing the wrong number. So, not only could she not make calls, but she couldn't check her e-mail either. So, I pulled out the laptop and my phone and handed them over. It was quite the evening with phones ringing while she talked to someone or another with mine and the internet being as indecisive as usual. A bus finally did come to pick them up around 7:45 pm.

So, in all the craziness of today, I got a flu vaccine (which I had planned to get before leaving the States but got that horrible cold on Sunday evening), took some pictures, and hopefully found a kitten I can adopt (to keep the bugs down in my room and also because I've always wanted a cat). (I need to run that by Karen first, but I think I'm ready for it.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 21 (morning)

How to take a shower

  1. Sit in your cold room for about an hour replying to e-mails and facebook posts (so the water doesn't seem so cold)
  2. Get undressed, put on your shower shoes, and wrap yourself in your towel (you'll want it later)
  3. Leave your room and go to the shower room (the best place to take a shower)
  4. Hang your towel on the hook furthest from the shower head (so it doesn't get too wet)
  5. Turn the water on strong enough so that the water is diverted to the secondary (mobile) showerhead (so you can direct the water where you want it.
  6. Turn down the water (so that there is not enough water running through that the overhead still runs)
  7. Get your hand ready to rub anything that you plan to wash (the friction of the hand will keep it from being quite so cold)
  8. Shower (getting only what you want to clean wet)
  9. Turn off shower (water is a big expense)
  10. Wrap your towel around you and get out of there.
  11. Scurry back to your room and crawl under your fleece blankets for about 15 minutes (to defrost)
  12. Get dressed.

Things to not do while taking a shower:

  • Wash your hair if it doesn't need it. (If it does, bend over so that the water does not run down your face, neck, back, etc.)
  • Shave (unless the act of shaving will allow you to wait longer until your next shower)
  • Brush your teeth (the water isn't safe for that)
  • Stand close while trying to figure out the system.

Please note that these directions apply to normal living in Guatemala and should not necessarily be used when considering all accommodations in Guatemala.

Friday, November 5, 2010

brr...! Here in Guatemala (at least where I'm at), the temperature during the day keeps between a comfortable 60 to 80 degrees; however at night, it can dip down into the 50s and maybe lower, although the boys aren't acquainted with snow.

Here in Guatemala, while they have glass windows in many places, the windows are not typically sealed/caulked/whatever allowing cockroaches, spiders, and the cold to come in around the edge. (A rough hole size is cut out of the cement blocks--at least it's cement here at the Hogar--with a saw or a machete, and the window is placed into that space and screwed to stay.)

So, here in Guatemala, I tend to be cold at night. Tonight I'm trying out a new sleeping configuration using BOTH of the fleece blankets I brought. That said, I will wish you all sweet dreams as I bury myself (and my frozen fingers and toes) under a sheet, two fleece blankets (admittedly, one is wrapped around only my feet), a quilt, and a Mayan blanket.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 17

Hi, Mom! Hi, Jani! I know you're out there reading this. The two of them actually wrote to me to see if I was okay, and I am...just pretty busy.

On November 1, I moved into my new room. That night, I froze.
On November 2, I didn't freeze, but I deadbolted my door at night because the main door was open much of the day and I'm usually paranoid. The next morning, I couldn't get out of my room.
On November 3, I kept hearing crazy noises in my room which kept me awake until about 1 am.

The gringos have taken over the Hogar. This has given some good changes and some not-so-amazing changes.
Good change: the boys have something to do during the day.
Bad change: a lot of the keys seem to have vanished and I can't access everything I need to.
Good change: less frijoles for meals.
Bad change: the gringos don't know to ring the bell for meals; so I've still eaten about as many meals as I did when we ate frijoles.
Good change: more people to speak English to.
Bad (?) change: more people expect me to translate all the time.

When I was here at the home for two weeks last summer, Christina and I decided that we didn't like groups coming here. "The Americans" became something that meant "people who come in and disrupt the normal workings of the home." There's one person in this group who is trying my patience. I'm sure she's a wonderful woman who has had many children and grandchildren and knows all about raising them, but the fact of the matter is that she doesn't know these boys. She wants little David--the beautiful 22-month old baby who I'm a touch possessive about--to walk places on his own (never be carried), to be awake during the day (never nap), to sit at the table and eat with a spoon all by himself (never be fed or held while he eats), and to use the toilet like the older boys (never wear a diaper). And, you know, I guess I wouldn't have a big problem with this if it were the United States and she was his primary caregiver. However, down here, that job (honor?) has pretty much fallen to me, mostly by my own choice. My parents say that when I was a baby, I always wanted to be held; so I don't mind indulging him in carrying him around. However, we have started cracking down on who holds him; we no longer let him just change arms whenever he wants. He is still a baby; so as long as he has a set nap time (which he does, more or less), I think a nap is just fine for him. (This woman exhausted David so much that he took a nap on the "driveway!") The eating thing is something we have been working on, but when he is tired, he wants to eat with his hands. Also, this 22-month old is using the same table to eat at as the 12-year old boys. The top of the table is just too high to be convenient for him which is why I often let him sit on my lap while eating...sort of as a booster seat. The diaper thing is understandable, though. And Karen wants people to start working on that with him as well; so I don't mind that at all. You just have to keep a close eye on him as there are no training seats! So, my patience is tried. It is anyway. Karen calls him a bad child (just a touch spoiled, really, and she doesn't help), and this woman treats him like he should be 10. There's a happy medium that neither of them is hitting and it's really, really frustrating.

Anyway, I spend my days translating, taking pictures, dealing with crowd control, and corresponding with Diane (of Orphan's Hope) and Carmen (of Celebrate Children International). And I have been busy. Not only have I not updated this journal, but I haven't downloaded photos from my camera or sent pictures out to Carmen either. (Diane pulls them off of Facebook where I sometimes post.)

And how I got out of my room the other morning? Around 6:30 am, Raul--one of the teachers here--went down to unlock the gate. I called out my window to him and told him my problem. Then I asked if he would try opening it from the outside. Sadly, what I had tried to accomplish for an hour, he managed in less than a minute. I know I wasn't a stupid gringa, but it was mildly embarrassing.

Okay...time for my post-lunch nap. Hasta luego. ("Until later.")