viernes, 23 de septiembre de 2011

martes, 9 de febrero de 2010

sábado, 17 de enero de 2009

A year of service

I am now more than a year into my service. About 16 months in country. I am a lot healthier than when I came. I hace learned a lot and taught even more. I wish I could of done more work but I have learned that it is not at my pace that work will be done. The next year looks to be very promising. I had a great holiday season complete with growing and killing my own turkey and see Gillian Martha and mom for xmas and my bday. I am collecting photos and will post a blog abnout it soon. I promised my mother in the airport as she was leaving I would be better about blogong this year. I will. The rains have started again so i should have some free time on my hand soon. The picture up top is what I look like now. The one below is from my first month in site.


My grandma, wow how do I start? Gainge is an eighty-eight-year-old mother of two. She married twice. First to Pedro and his sister’s father and later to Don Crillollo. She was married to him for 42 years before he passed just a month before I arrived for site visit. For 22 years she worked in her own restaurant feeding the engineers from the German NGO that constructed the drinking and irrigation system in this part of the country. She had a fall a couple of years ago. She broke her spine in three places. After the operations she was not able to walk. She can still move but you can not really call it walking. She stands about four feet tall on a good day. She is very well versed in folkloric poems and songs. Unfortunately for me she will break into verse in mid sentence. I do not know what is going on. Is she telling me a story of her life or is she just ranting again? I smile and nod, smile and nod. The stories are always filled with slang from the 1950’s and end with, “Oh! Mateito you don’t understand.” What can I say, she gets me. Gangie slips in between dementia and sanity. For the most part she does not do damage to her self. Her health fluctuates greatly. Some days she is singing and others she can’t speak due to pain. Through it all she is still very young in spirit. She laughs every day. She is always is ready to tell people about the good old days. Gangie is from a time where things were very different here. I have to pick and chose from her tales what is real and not, but all in the same she has seen it all and then some. She says that she has a broken back a drying kidney, high blood pressure, and a menagerie of other afflictions. Due to this she ingests the most eclectic regiment of cure-alls. Now for the list of my favorites. BY no means could I remember all of them but these are the best. One time I came home from giving a gardening workshop to see two forest pigeons in a cage. I had heard that their meat was like chicken, but a little bit gamier with a smoky flavor. Needless to say I was anxious to eat some. I asked Pedro how does one cook pigeon? He told me there are a variety of ways, but these birds were not for eating. I was a little shocked I had not heard of anyone who grew pigeons. I imagined that it was kind of hard to manage a flock. He told me they were not for that either. I asked, “What are they for?” They were Gangie's joints. Her elbows had really been hurting her. What? Yes the pigeons were to be filleted and put on the joints. Remember that all of you that ache in the rainy season.
Second, for the longest time I had noticed that there was a large plastic bowl with a brick in the middle ans bread around it soaking n water. The bowl is covered with a mosquito net. After a while I had to ask. Pedro took of the cover and inside I saw that there were lots of tiny little insects that resemble beetles. He took some out and put them into a drinking glass. He put a little water in it and Gangie drank it. Live bugs and all. I guess it is for her kidnies.
Third, Gangie not only has put me under the table when we drink moonshine, but she also makes her own brand of home made wine. This she like to give to anyone that comes and visits. I have seen her get 13 year olds drunk. All for the better. When they pass out she does not know and she has some one to talk to for hours.
If you look at the second foto you can pick her out and then find her in the rest of the pics. As you can tell when I go to family gatherings I am the youngest by a good twenty years.
At this point I need to wish a very happy birthday to my beloved strongly missed real grandfather-. I miss you a lot and think about you all the time. Keep on chugging I will see you soon.

Host Dad

Perdro Caseres Alverez is my host father. He is a sixty-seven-year-old father of two. He is really does it all. I have never seen someone like him in my life. He fixes cars, tractors, chainsaws, tables, windows. He builds houses, shacks, ramadas, his own bee-hives, corrals, subterranean irrigation systems, and he welds. He wears many hats professionally also. He is a park guide at Chaparral, an active member of the board of ACOTURCH (the managerial organization for Chaparri), a beekeeper (28 hives, the honey is incredible!!!!), and he is a farmer. Not only a substance farmer, but he cycles his crops and he diversifies what he plants. But he is so much more than words. It is his thirst for education and pursuit to better him self that keeps me inspired while working here. On days he can’t work due to illness or in a strong downpour, you can find him in his room reading. He spends his days between his rice patty and the nature reserve. He does all of this while caring for his mother (Gangie, gain-gui as I call her).
The first time I met Pedro is a very funny story to tell. We have what is called counterpart day when we arrive for site visit, a week in the middle of training where break the ice in our sites. We meet the people representing who we will be working with for the next two years. After a day long workshop your counterpart/s take you back to see your site, host family, house and room for the first time. Pedro was not one of the people who came to the workshop. We got out a little late from counterpart day so we did not arrive to site until it was dark. It should be mentioned this is the first time it really dawned on me that I would be alone. This is where my inter monologue becomes a very intricate part of my life. We had to go all the way into Chongoyape to get transportation to my house. A rickshaw motor-cycle is the only form of transportation that would take us. I am ready for it. We pulled up to a large metal gate connecting two dilapidating adobe walls. The driver honks his horn into the pitch black night. After a couple of honking sessions an older man holding a table candle emerges to see about the commotion. My counter part yells to him, “Pedro, the gringo has arrived!” Pedro then opens the gate. We have a rapid exchange of formalities, and he shows me to my room. I could not see much until Pedro handed me my wax illuminator. As the my eyes survey my room for the next two years I was very surprised to see a bed that resembled something that I had slept on before. I was set. Pedro asked me if I had a mosquito net. I told him I would have one when I moved in permanently. He shrugged and said that it was not necessary but made life more comfortable. He assured me that when I came back in a month that I would have window panes. I shrugged and told him that they were not necessary but made life more comfortable. He got the joke. What a relief! He told me that his mom was sleeping and I would meet her tomorrow. There is no feasible way that I could have imagined what was in store for me. Pedro went back to sleep and I went to get comfortable.
My bed is made from a frame very similar to what we have in the states. The support is a series of mismatched planks. Not only do they very in length but also in width. My mattress is made of straw. This is perfect. I prefer to sleep on hard surfaces. I put my head to rest. As my I started to drift off I heard a fluttering noise above my head. I have to take a deep breathe convincing myself I really do want to know what is lurking about. It was nothing more than a bat. I remember thinking that as long as it does not land on me I will keep my cool. Plus they eat insects so in a weird way they would help keep my zone clean and safe. I drifted off once again, only to be awoken once again. The noise was much more disturbing than that of the bats. It was a loud howl. It reminded me of a monkey. Great bats and wild monkeys in my room? I did not sit up right away. I figured no one had slept in this room for a while so maybe the battling animals didn’t know that I was there. It was pretty dark, but I made out the monkey beast. It was not a monkey at but some nocturnal bird who’s call sounded like some kind of attacking chimpanzee. I guess my room was prime hunting ground for creatures of six legs or more. I put my mp3 player in my ears and went to sleep thinking about my next two years. At least I was not sleeping on dirt. At least the Pedro knew who I was. At least they were birds and not a troop of monkeys, but most of all. Where could I get windowpanes?

miércoles, 29 de octubre de 2008

So this is what a faily gathering includes. My would be grand fether passed a year ago. So as the custom goes we had a mas and killed lots of animals. The pig they are cleaning ws my first swine kill. I am a veteran of the goat. We dreank moonshine and native wine and sang lots of folkloric songs. It was a good time. I can not see the pictures right now so I can not describe them. I can tell you that the cleaning method for the pig is very different here on the coast then what I saw in the mountians. In the mountians they used a blow torch. They take there pig very seriouly up there. so the first pic is of my dad giving a nature lesson on bats. If you clic on the photo you can see it better. We found it sleeping in our hand drying towel. The rest are of the prosess of makeing the food. And one of my extended family.