Sunday, March 29, 2009

day 40: detox

When I lived in the States I was online hours each day. Between work and home, research and play, I sat in front of the computer a lot. I also sat in front of the TV.

When we moved here we decided not to have a TV and while we do want internet, it's taking a long time to get it connected. So (as you've heard me complain before) I use the computer maybe 3 hours a week, mostly for email and writing here. I don't read the news (ok I check the headlines just to make sure Obama is still hanging in there and fighting) but otherwise I've divorced myself from all of it: crime and celebrity and reality and drama and news and gossip and world affairs. In some ways it's making me ignorant, and ignorance is never a good thing. But in a whole lot of other ways it's the best thing I've ever done.

I don't miss TV. I thought I might but I don't. At night we read or play games and M occasionally watches a DVD on our laptop. I am a kick ass Monopoly player now and not half bad at Scrabble. I've been forced to break the dependence on these two things and use the time instead for more useful things, cooking (recently attempting to bake bread), cleaning, reading, being outside. I honestly didn't know how I'd feel about it and I am not saying I don't cherish my brief moments online checking in with you because I absolutely do, but I am not the laptop warrior I used to be, I go for a couple days at a time without checking mail and I've seen a TV once in 5 weeks and the volume wasn't even on (but Obama looked good up there and I'm sure he was being thinky about a lot of important things). I am not saying this makes me happy all the time, at times I find myself restless and melancholy, but I am getting more in touch with these things instead of pushing it aside and mindlessly entertaining myself.

Besides, all the woes of the economy? Terrible crimes? Horrible accidents? All those things the media throws about you like verbal pukeage and leaves you sitting in it with no idea what to do except lock your doors and be afraid? It wasn't working for me and I just didn't know it. I know it now and for the first time I can understand why it matters, or better yet why NOT having it in my life to that degree matters. The sun feels better than puke any day of the week.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

day 37: getting real

One of the things we promised ourselves we would do when we moved here is to live more sustainably. In a lot of ways you can't help it - we buy mostly local and compost a lot. But in other ways I am still full of shit.

We had to go to the City yesterday to deal w/ J's stones (he's much better today thank you for your good thoughts) and on the way back we stopped at a Real Grocery Store (ok, not real as in US, but realer than some of the whacked out versions locally) and I went a bit nuts. SWISS CHEESE, CREAMER, TURKEY BACON, BROWNIE MIX) and bought a bunch of stuff. After we left J started telling me how wrong he thought this was, that we are given an opportunity here and when we take the easy way out and buy imported big brand things we are cheating ourselves and the planet. Great. Nothing says guilt like tossing the PLANET into the conversation.

At first I resisted, it's just a treat, we've been living very simply, why can't you just leave me alone but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I only buy these things for momentary pleasure, for comfort, for ease. I am not buying it because it's the right thing to do or because we need any of this stuff. I am doing it because I am conditioned to do it, and because I am conditioned to rationalize that I deserve a treat in some way. That my consumption doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of a dying planet. But at what cost?

So today I made a decision to focus on how to make things instead of buying them, like baking my own bread, making hummus, (they don't have that here anyways so it's not like I'm killing Nebraska in order to have it but what the hell, I found dried garbanzos), making my own refried beans, pasta, growing and then drying my own herbs (anyone know how to dry herbs in a way that they can be preserved?) basically to stop being lazy and to wake up in terms of the opportunity and the reality, that even here we can continue to be blind consumers and if I am going to do that I might as well do it with more hot water and less bugs. And a much more reasonable kitchen.

What do you think? It's certainly harder and not as much fun. It takes longer and makes me work harder. It requires more effort. But this is my chance to get my act together, to put into practice something I feel. The problem is I am lazy. I am lazy and can do the wrong thing because of it.

Having all this time in the jungle makes a girl think harder than sometimes she wishes she had to. I'm not giving up beer though. It's local and they recycle the bottles. I'm drawing the line at beer.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

day 35: stoned

J woke up yesterday in terrible pain and we figured it was kidney stones since he's had them in the past. He actually tells me he needs to go to the hospital, an enormous first for him. So we figure out who can take M to school and we find out which hospital is the best and off we go for parts unknown. The hospital was pretty laid back, not a lot of bureacracy, you just check in and then tell someone what's wrong and they pick a doctor and you sit outside their door till they come out and then you sit on a bench here and then move to one over there, hang out here and then come over there. Everything is bare bones and folks just sort of congregate but all in all we had no complaints for how they cared for him or for how long it took.

All of it together only cost about $100 US but none of it will fix the problem, the laser machine he needs to break up the stones don't exist in this country, so it's either Cuba or Guatemala or of course, back to the States. So we'll see another MD tomorrow but chances are he'll have to leave for awhile to get this taken care of and thankfully our US insurance is still in effect. After getting pain medication he starts to muse that it might be kind of cool to go to Guatemala to get it fixed but I smack him on the head, pain or no that just seems dumb to go where you know no one versus going home where he'll have a place to stay and the language is the same. I suppose you can take the boy out of the adventure but you cannot take the adventure out of the boy. Besides that I'd totally pick Cuba but whatever, it's not my kidney.

So now that the crisis is managed I can breathe deeper, but for a few moments this morning I felt so entirely alone, that one false step can throw us under, that we really don't know what we are doing here at all and then things fall into place and it's okay again. If there is one thing that I keep learning here it's that things work themselves out, they do because they must and because life is easier than we think if we just take it one step at a time. Already the word of his illness is making the rounds of our little community, some non traditional healers are reaching out to us and J's interested in exploring that too so maybe we'll fix this sooner than we think. Like I said, things have a way of working themselves out, everywhere of course but lately it seems especially here.

M at school (the one looking at the camera). Aren't the uniforms cute? Every school here has some sort of uniform. Every school here is religious too, at least the public ones. Not as cute, but she's learning all sorts of new stuff, including about that guy who died on a cross and CAME BACK! He was bleeding everywhere and still CAME BACK! Nice. Thanks for that.

In other non medical related news, I had the chance to meet Jen this weekend. She and a group of friends were in the town near our village so we agreed to meet at a bar. I was running a bit late and had no way to contact her but as I drove through town I saw a woman on the street. I've never met her but she'd sent a picture and even in the dark I just knew it was her. So I'm yelling her name out the window and she sees me and jumps in the car and we head back to the bar. Pretty funny, given that if I'd not seen her I might have missed her altogether but I happened to find her in the street. Small country, this one. So we shared a beer and talked and she, because she is entirely amazing, actually lugged a whole bag of school supplies and even some presents for M. She has no idea how happy she made my child and about 20 others just through her simple kindness. It was so wonderful to meet her in person, and it makes me laugh that our first visitor is a blog friend but in actuality it makes perfect sense.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

day 33: the puppy

Things were really, really going just fine. M finally settled down, I've figured out a way to manage daily and even enjoy myself. So when some new friends plied me with drink and then convinced me that the best thing in the world for M is a puppy, how she can grow up along with the puppy, how she needs a puppy to feel like a complete person in the universe...I go ahead and cave in.
Meet Kuhkay (Koo-Kai) which is Mayan for firefly in case that matters at all. I should also point out that I'm probably spelling it wrong but I'm a gringa in a non gringa world so bear with me.

She's nearly four months and is quite possibly the second cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. She's a mini-guard dog in training, barks at everything that comes near our porch until something gets too close then she runs and hides. She sleeps under my bed at night right next to my head. And she wakes up at 5am and she's not house trained so guess who gets up? Me! Love it!

In retrospect it was probably adding one too many things to an already precarious and adjustment filled time but sometimes you've got to go with the flow. And she's a remarkably good puppy, rather calm and listens well enough and hasn't bit M even though the child is terrorizing her every single day in every possible way.

Here's M and a friend in our backyard. Picture iguanas and toucans and parrots in those trees if you can. We had a band of wild peckory pigs come through this week, boy are those suckers loud.
And here's what our house looks like from the back patio. I know, you could never live here right? Am not always sure I can either but for now it's good. Notice how hammocks have multiple uses? And rain does sound nice on a metal roof.
In other news, everyone is sick. M has more bites than a child should ever have to endure, J and I are both down with colds. It's a lot less fun being sick where things are already more challenging, but such is life. The fabulous Maggie sent me a yoga mat, which meant so much (getting packages is fabulous I tell you) and is being put to good use as I stretch my way out of sickness and back into light.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

day 30: novelty and reality

We've been here a month now, in this time we've learned how to shop for eggs and produce at the outdoor market, where to get the cheapest milk and chicken, where the best panades and garnaches are and how I can feel full on .50. I've learned the fastest way to get a collectivo (taxi), figured out M's school (and even managed to ask you all for help), had one visit to the MD and one to the moon, got a puppy and a hammock, learned how to cook with butane and have wielded more packing tape to ancient screens in the name of bug whispering than a girl should ever use in her lifetime. I've got some time here now, and all of this has led me to a few observations which I will kindly share with you.

1. To the makers of Charmin toilet paper: What gives? You make one kind of paper for the US and one for everywhere else? Do you think people here don't deserve to wipe their asses the same way as folks in the West? The crap you peddle here is ridiculous, I can't believe you put your brand on it which goes to show how little you must think of us, we who still need to wipe our asses even outside of the States. It's so thin it falls almost off the roll, and are the smallest rolls you can imagine. What gives, makers of Charmin?
2. What gives, makers of ice cream? Have you not found a way to import your wares into this country, so that we are forced to rely on the local ice cream, which is really just frozen milk and air and generally filled only about a third of the way up the container. What gives, Dreyers, Breyers and Baskin? There's a market here waiting for you. I don't even like ice cream but my kid does and this might be the least you can do.
3. Jungle bugs. You dudes are such suckers, literally. Must you bite us into oblivion? Must you be so creepy, falling off the walls and popping out in the dark? J stepped into a tick nest and who had to pull out 15 of you little suckers? Me, that's who. Using tweezers that once were for my eyebrows but since I haven't worn make up in a month haven't had to use till now) That's just gross, jungle bugs. The frog I accidentally grabbed this morning when reaching into my washing machine? This goes for you too, buddy.
4. What gives, sudden rainstorms? I'm feeling decidely amazonian, watching my freshly (and frog free) laundry swaying in the breeze between two palms like little prayer flags when suddenly it starts pouring, pouring, pouring. I think you like seeing me race out to the line and snatch things off like a crazy person only to stop raining as soon as I'm done. I get it, I'm a newbie. You could go easier on me is all I'm saying. Stop laughing at me.
5. What gives, jungle roads? People drive crazy, there are potholes and craters everywhere and I literally bounce along everywhere I go. You try carrying home eggs in a bag (no neat little egg cartons here folks) down those roads. Be sure to watch for the wild horses. And the dogs. And the pigs. And the roosters. And people. It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride every single day. No matter that M loves it, she rolls her window down all the way and hangs her head out screaming HORSES PIGS DOGS CHICKENS everywhere we go. No matter if that's really cute. Ok, it matters some. I don't really mind you that much, jungle roads.

The lovely Painted Maypole has kindly offered to facilitate getting supplies to M's jungle school. She is happy to have folks ship the donated items to her in the States and then she'll forward things along in one package OR she's offered to accept donations via paypal which she'll use to then purchase educational items for the classroom. If you are interested in either option, please email her directly at Isn't she the coolest chick ever?

Here's what the school looks like, the outside of the classroom and part of the playground. More pictures coming soon.

So if you'd still like to contribute to stocking a little Central American preschool with much needed educational supplies, this might make it easier for you. You can also scroll down to my Full Moon post and read the list of stuff they need. And for everyone who has already contacted me, I thank you so much. It's consistently humbling and amazing how this community of ours always seems to say yes.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

day 28: rattle

It's almost as if everyone who has any sort of psychic/alternative plane/serious juju ability all have come to live in this one place. I've never before had conversations like the ones I'm having now, the ways people engage in the world, the vibrating energy levels. Everything here can be solved by a salve or a potion or a ritual or a tea or a touch or a shell or..

I find myself strangely open to all of this, these women I am meeting and their elder wisdom that comes from plants and animals and the moon. I notice myself bumbling around everywhere, at breakfast yesterday I was with two psychics who performed a rather elaborate ancestoral ritual before they would eat their food, something I noticed only moments after I started stuffing food in my mouth and then felt rather boring, not feeding anyone except myself. Or after, when I drove three miles down a dirt road and 1/4 mile on a track to stop at a light pole and walk down the stone steps into the jungle across a rickety footbridge with missing slats to climb back up a hill to a woman and her luscious veranda, only to have her throw her snow white hair back and laugh because she saw angels sliding off my fingers. I mused that perhaps I should be holding onto them instead of letting them go and she laughs again and reminds me it's free will, that one thing we all share. We sat on her veranda and then she gave me a massage, the sounds of the jungle all around us and more angels with sparkles this time flowing out of my head.

I don't know what to make of all of it but I notice my own awareness, the subtle shifts of consciousness when something feels good or something does not. The knowing who is on your porch before you see them with your eyes. The sense you must do that one thing and once you do you realize why. This place, I swear. This place is freaking me out and making me fall in love all at once. this place is hard and soft and dirty and alive and scary and safe. This place.

Oh, and I almost forgot. We got a puppy. Holy shit. She's magic too but also a pain in the ass. More about her later.

PS. Thank you everyone who asked for my address or asked me to email them. I've just had an offer today from someone to be the US receptacle of items so everyone won't have to ship things all the way down on their own and as soon as I know a bit more I'll let you know, this will save money on shipping and saving money matters, I know.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

day 26: otherworldly

I recently met a woman and when we met I was immediately drawn to her. She's older and originally from the Caribbean but has been living here awhile. She runs a Foundation and is very well known around here for her work with children and also for her art. After I left I came home and told J that I feel like I'd met her before in some other life. She's fierce, this woman. An artist and a visionary, a mover. She radiates power all the way from her flowing dreadlocks to the bottoms of her feet. We talked mostly about her foundation and she recruited me to work on an upcoming project with her and we left agreeing to have coffee to get better acquainted. We couldn't be more different and yet I couldn't seem to get her off my mind.

Then she called me yesterday and for lack of a better way of saying it, she blew my mind. I answer the phone and without introducing herself says I see M everywhere. I see her on the highways, she comes and sits with me, she and I talk and talk. I've known her for lifetimes. I've known you in other lifetimes too which is why when you saw me you felt you immediately knew me, but your daughter, mon, she's the reason you are here. How lucky you are that she chose you as her mother, because she chose you on purpose, you know.

I should point out that I never told her I had a daughter, nor did I tell her M's name.

I am understandably taken aback, I am silent, and I think my mouth is hanging open. I manage to say her name and she laughs and laughs. I just blew your mind didn't I and I promised myself I wouldn't do that. But you are here for exactly that, M will be able to help show you the way because she is not as blocked as you. All you need to do is trust yourself. This is why you are here. This and to help the people here.

She goes on to tell me more things about M, about how they are communicating telepathically, that M is here because she is supposed to be here, that many children are here for the same reason and M is like them, one of the special ones. That M is happy here and will be happy here and how important it is. My mouth is still agape but I manage to ask her if she wants to meet her and she laughs again. Child, we meet every day but if you mean in the traditional way of course we shall meet. And then she proceeds to invite me to a sacred pyramid ritual, something she feels I need to do. She can only invite two people and she wants me to be one of them. The rest of my mind blows straight out my ears.

I try and decide if I am afraid and I decide I am not afraid but am cautious, this woman and her power and her knowledge, I start to wonder if she can see what I am doing through the phone and I sit up a bit straighter just in case. She asks me if I've done moon or sun or other rituals before and I tell her no, that I've spent the last 15 years inside shelters and she says well why didn't you bring the rituals there, that would have been a good place for them and my mind races through the years and I have no good answer so I simply say I have no idea and she laughs again. There's still time she says. This is why you've come.

This woman has completely blown my mind.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

day 23: full moon

The Moon Ritual was amazing, there are no two ways about it. A new friend invited me, so at the appropriate time we drove high into the hills to an amazing house where a group of fantastic women were gathered. We ate, drank and then moved into the ritual space where one of the women (who is also a Shaman) lead the group through the process culminating with burning our arrows in the fire. I am like a sponge, humble and open and yielding, so each encounter feels authentic and I am starting to understand why I was drawn to this place. I was drawn to this place to learn to trust myself and to learn from the wisdom of women elders, that became clear to me last night and is scary and exciting all at once because no matter what, this place is going to change me in ways that I want and do not want but if I want to walk through these new doors there are people here who will and are showing me the way.

So much of this place is hard and that's not me complaining but acknowledging a truth, someone recently said this country chews you up and spits you out and yet you come back for more and it made so much sense because this is not tropical america no matter how much you want to think that it is. It is foreign and different and complex and yet at the same time there is magic and wonder and mystery here. It's just coated in bugs and dirt and heat.

Speaking of hard and different, if you still want to help M's preschool I finally have the list. You should know that shipping things here is expensive, probably cost $20 or more to send a package so please don't feel any obligation but if you are willing I'd love to help out in some small ways, these kids are lacking in basic supplies that would mean so much.

In no particular order she's asked for:

Crayons: the kind you get at learning places where you can get a dozen or more of the same color, like 12 reds, 12 blues and so on. If not she'll take regular crayons but specifically asked for this.
Felt board cutouts for story time
Markers - washable
Puzzles (ages 4-5)
Construction Paper
Googly eyes
Pipe Cleaners
Story books (ages 4-5)
Play doh
Paints (washable)
Paint brushes
Coloring books
Laminated word cutouts. Not sure what this is but you preschool teachers probably will.
Basically anything educational or crafty

She has about 25 kids in her class and supplies are really hard to get here and what you can get costs a lot and is terrible quality. So if you are game send me an email at girlplustwoATyahooDOTcom and I'll send you the address. I think she'll be happy for whatever she is able to get to help the kids. She can't believe folks are willing to help but I told her I come from a very good village and that seemed to make a lot of sense.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

day 21: being in community

One of the biggest distinctions between our old and new lives is being immersed in community. In the States, I had work friends and blog friends and family but I mostly stayed home, evenings with friends were a rare treat amidst the race to work and school and store and home. People stayed indoors where I lived, coming out only when there was something to do. Here everything revolves around community, there are always people calling and coming round, you actually have to make an effort to have time alone.

This weekend was just like that, Friday we were invited to a friend's home, a place where she also hosts travelers in little cabanas on her property. She is responsible for cooking for her guests and even though Friday was a full house she still wanted us there. I noticed she wasn't feeling well so I insisted on coming back early the next day to get breakfast going so she could sleep in. So early the next morning I find myself bouncing up a terrible dirt road too early in the morning to make eggs and toast for travelers headed out to different adventures, whether caving or tubing or ruins or waterfalls. Later that day we helped volunteer at a village fundraiser, they are trying to improve education for the kids so we helped with t-shirt painting for awhile. Later we had dinner at a new friend's house, her land is perched high on a hill and we ate dinner under a palapa with cold beer and delicious food, a night I never wanted to see end. The next day I had 4 or so kids underfoot before we walked over to a neighbors where all of them played in the water and the adults sat around talking. I got to meet some folks from one of the Cayes and now I know where I'm taking Neen when she comes later this month. We fall into bed exhausted nearly every single night.

I keep thinking it's going to end but I don't think it does, I simply think that's how things work here, whether expat or local, native or foreign community is what drives us and it's how things get done. Folks look after each other, check in on each other and do small and thoughtful things and it's amazing to be a part of it and also a bit daunting, I can't easily whip up a batch of enchiladas like the women here can, I am often feeling lame for not having something more meaningful to share in return.

I've been invited to a Full Moon Party tomorrow, women only and I hear there is dancing around a fire. I'm supposed to make an arrow that has something I'd like to let go of written on it and toss it into the flames and I can't wait to go, I've wanted to go to one of these for a long time and never had the chance and here of all places I do.

PS. I've got the list from the preschool teacher but I left it at home. My next post will be about that, I promise. Thank you for continuing to check in.

PPS. Random funny story: M picked out postcards for her grandparents, one of which was a picture of two frogs mating. J bought it because she wanted it not thinking she knew what the frogs were doing. We figured we'd send it to the grandma with the best sense of humor and all would be fine. So last night I asked her to write her note on the cards and she picked up the one with the frogs and said i think grandma and grandpa need to get this one so they can see two frogs doing it and I said what does doing it mean? and she says making babies and just like that I thought holy shit I am not entirely sure I am happy about this newfound reptile knowledge and am also not quite sure how to stop it once the gates are open.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

day 17: universal languages

We took a taxi to the border yesterday and walked into Guatemala. Ever since my Canadian trip I've had a bit of trouble at borders. I guess I must look suspicious in every country lately because the Guatemalan border could not understand why I wanted to come and visit but patience generally wins out and across we go.

I'm travelling with a local friend from our village and her soon to be daughter in law, a young girl who's having a baby and in need of maternity dresses which are expensive and hard to find here. The girl speaks mostly Spanish and I speak mostly English so communication so far hasn't been easy but it's easy going enough and our mutual friend doesn't mind doing a bit of translating. So I'm quieter than usual, perusing the stalls in search of a hammock when we see the store with the dresses. I turn to her and her eyes light up and all of a sudden communication is not an issue, we are both picking up dresses and holding them up. She's laughing now and we together find a few she likes and she goes behind the makeshift curtain to try them on.

She comes out and she's beautiful in sundresses that will work till she has her baby and words don't matter now, we are finally speaking the same language, the one where women want to feel beautiful no matter the situation and no matter how hard life is or how different we are, in those moments we are just two girls on a shopping trip. Her shyness recedes in these moments and I love watching her, the simple joy of knowing you are able to get something you want in a way you can afford.

She makes her purchases and I find my hammock and we stop to eat papusas and two of us enjoy a cold beer. We are getting ready to go back home and as the quietness settles back in this time it's lovely, filled with satisfaction for a job well done. I'm still a bit nervous, you are reminded how little you belong somewhere when you realize that neither country is interested in your welfare and you have no rights in either and home is a place very far from here. But some of it is the stuff I make up in my head and from watching Midnight Express one to many times in my youth.

PS. Today I have the best internet connection I've had in weeks so am going to attempt to come visiting so don't be surprised if you see me pop up.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

day 16: i hear the children laughing

I wish you could have seen her. Her first day went so well. When I went back to pick her up (I forgot to mention in my last post that aside from the horses and roosters and dogs and kids I also have to drive through a checkpoint, boys with machine guns but so far smiling and waving seems to work out fine) I walked slowly so I could listen before I was seen. The teachers were winding down, they make the kids stand together with hands folded and they pray to God and Jesus. I watched through the window (no screens or glass) as 25 local kids and my American girl stood together and finished their day. When they were done there were hugs for everyone and M skipped into my arms and asked if she could come back again tomorrow.

We drove home and I gently probed, how were your friends how was your snack did you learn any words in Spanish what do you think of the Jesus stuff do you like the teachers and she was excited and reticient all at once. I've learned this about her a long time ago, she only tells me what she wants to so I have to play along. She has two new best friends and Teacher Miss Joy is her favorite (and she's mine too). We were concerned she'd have trouble understanding folks when they speak, both the spanish and the accents so we practiced how to nicely say can you please say that again but she said she never had to say it, her only complaint is that we had to do a lot of sitting so to me that spells success.

I am off to Guatemala today, a neighbor here has invited me on a shopping trip, I understand there are things they can get a bit cheaper right over the border than they can get here so I'll tag along for the day, crossing a border and back and maybe eating a taco along the way. I've also got a new post up at BlogHer, but I can't seem to link a damn thing so if you want to read it you might have to click on the old BlogHer posts on my sidebar and find your way from there.

PS. I promise, promise, promise the lack of pictures is just as annoying for me as it is for you. I so want to show you around. Also, I really miss you. I haven't read your blogs for weeks. If someone is pregnant or is kicking ass or has rocked the world I so want to know about it so feel free to drop me an email and tell me all about it.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

day 14: every little thing is gonna be alright

We leave early, I am determined not to rush. We drive away from our house down the dirt road, I dodge a rooster and a wild horse. Too many dogs to count and children are everywhere, there are no sidewalks so they walk in the road. The dirt road gives way to a paved one right outside the village and we head farther into town. M is happily chattering in the back, she can't wait to get there. If she showed the slightest bit of hesitation I'd not feel the need to start her today but she wants to go and I marvel at her bravery on her first day of school.

We arrive and she runs to the yard and starts jumping on the old tires and battered see saws while I talk with the teacher. I see the shelf where her snack bag goes and I place it there. I glance at the bathrooms and like every bathroom here I have to take a deep breath. I am hesitant to leave, I figure I'll stay as long as she wants but after 15 minutes she tells me I can go. Tears prick the backs of my eyes.

I tell the woman who runs the preschool that I am leaving and she tells me M will be fine. She sees my face and says oh baby, I will love her like she's my own and pulls me into a long hug. Still hugging me she says I promise, because I know how much they matter. My son died last year, his birthday was yesterday. Now the tears fall from my eyes and when she releases me she's crying too. I am so sorry, I say and she says Thank you. He was only 21. I lean over and give her a hug, it's me hugging her this time. We look at each other for a long moment and she says you do not worry, she will be fine. And I believe her because I knew it from the moment I saw this place last week, for everything it's not it's entirely full of love. I reminded her I have friends who want to help with supplies and she promises to make me a list. Friends from where she asks and I tell her from the North and she looks at me and smiles, I don't know why they'd want to help a little school all the way down here but it's how God works and that's how I know that even today everything will be okay. And I leave then, getting in our car and driving back down a little dirt road leading to a paved one and then back onto the dirt.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

day 12: tenuous harmony

The MD couldn't have been better, just as long as you can refrain from comparing anything here to anything in the States. The clinic was tiny and clean, the doctor was lovely. He talked with M, showed her everything he was going to do before doing it, asked a number of questions and used high tech equipment like a magnifying glass. He determines she needs an antibiotic and scratched a note on a paper. We take the note next door and we are handed a bottle, the woman tells me to read the directions and reconstitute it at home. The whole thing cost $40 US, our co pay at home was nearly that AND the medicine was more. So with a degree of trepidation and a bit of what the fucking hell I am not a chemist I go home and reconstitute. I apparently do a good job because 2 days later, her thumb (and her cough, apparently they were related) are good as new. But enough about that, let me tell you about how laundry works here because it's waaaay more jacked up than the doctor.

So we have this plastic machine on our porch, there are three dials and two bins for holding clothes. One says wash/rinse/drain and one says spin, and one is a timer that is 9 minutes long. I put the dial on wash/rinse and put a garden hose (I am not kidding) into the bin and some soap powder and fill it up. It swooshes the clothes around a bit and then the timer runs out. So I turn the dial to drain and the water drains out. Then I put the dial back on wash/rinse and fill the bin up again and set the timer again. Repeat with the swooshing minus the soap. Then I turn the dial to drain again. You get the picture here, yes? Then I squeeze the excess water and put the clothes in the other bin and turn the timer again and it spins with a rather shocking velocity. Then I remove the clothes and hang them on a line between two trees. This is my life, I wash then drain then rinse then swoosh then spin then hang and sometimes if I really quite unlucky I forget the clothes on the line when the rain comes. There's a consciousness to it, a determination.

That's what I am finding about a lot of things here, it's harder to do things and so the doing makes you more aware, and you live more in the moment, and in that moment a load of laundry feels like a really big deal. Everything is like that, a sort of tenuous harmony, whether it's with people or food or machinery, it all seems to be held together with duct tape and toothpicks and no one quite seems to mind.

I am running out of my alloted internet time and there's more to say so next I'll be writing about how a group of villagers have asked me to help them with doing planning for their new and fledgling non profit, they don't call it that but that's the best way to explain it, a mix of Mayans and villagers and Belizean-Americans together, and we start next week. It happened at random but now I've said yes and while volunteering won't pay the bills it seems like a good place to start.

Still no connection at home, meaning limited access and I can't post pictures and i fact I'm not even proofreading so forgive me. I keep hearing it's coming soon and I can't wait, so I can get back to blog reading and actually showing you our digs!

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