Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Par For the Course

So after being in country for almost 3 weeks, I have observed a few patterns:

  1. My main mode of transportation has been the North Miami Community and Tippicanoe Valley County Yellow School Buses. The original designers of these buses intended the seats to hold 2 children per seat; however, Guatemalans like to squeeze 3 adults in the same seat. Par for the course!

  2. Municipal Elections, as well as national elections, occured last week. My host family is very pro-"Mano Dura." (Hard Hand) I woke up at 11:30 Pm ( I go to bed early b/c the rooster wake me up early) when someones phone went off with the news that the Mano Dura candidate for mayor won. The house erupted (all five people sleeping in the parents room, even though i only live with one couple) and fireworks were set off (m-80 cost 25 cents at the local tienda.) Guatemalans love fireworks and set them off at a hint of a reason to celebrate. Caravans of honking cars drove through the streets until 1:30AM. Then roosters woke me up at 5:30Am. Par for the course!

  3. Last Saturday was the Guatemalan Independance day. Myself and some other trainees near Santo Tomas went to the Park to see some of the local customs including the Palo Asavado or greased pole. We were sitting on a bench at the park waiting for the event to start, when a drunk "bolo" with rubber boots, dirty black jeans, and a independance skating hoody approached us with an outstretched hand. His fly was down and his "situation" was visible. The Municipality was passing out chicha (think papaya, gasoline with eu de fart.) The bolos did not need any more but were being handed free cups of chicha. Par for the course!

  4. So, the greased pole. Think of a 65 ft telephone pole stripped and greased with cash prizes at various heights with Q500 at the top. At 3:00PM the drunks attempted to conquuer the greased beast. The would stand on top of eachothers shoulders (an impressive feet in itslef becasue they had a hard time standing) They would fail to get any higher than 15 ft, would slide down and fall over. Finally after the bolos had lost all strength to continue, the varsity greased pole team stepped in. They would systematically climb the pole that had been wiped down by someone before them, climb alittle higher, wipe a little grease, and trade off.
They managed to climb the first half in the first hour, and the last part took about another hour. By then, only won had the skillz needed to master the climb and wipe method.
Check out the video that I took of the guy reaching the top.

The town does this every year on Independance Day. It was a blast to watch. And was par for the course!

I'm doing well and I'm happy to be here. My host family has taken me in as one of there own. Although not close enough to sleep in their room. Spanish and tech training are going well. I'm currently working on a project to help my family understand costs of producing tomatoes and how to add more value to some of their products. I feel much more relaxed about the whole thing here. But still miss everyone at home. This Sunday I head out to San Jose poaquil. a.k.a. SJP to visit a volunteer for 3-4 days to see what its like to be out on your own. Let me know how things are going on the home front.


Mary said...

Don't the plebes have to climb the greased-up Herndon Monumnent (?) in order to graduate from the first year of Naval Academy? That could have been you! Did you attempt to climb the pole or did you just give out free chichas to bolos? (look at me I'm speaking spanish!)

You seem to have found your niche down there and I can't be happier for you. Keep up with the posts! Speak soon.


Geraldine said...

I loved the greased pole video, Michael - indeed I think your blog is great! I'm so delighted you are settling in. Can't wait to read the next installment of the adventure!

I've started as Chaplain. My first day was Wednesday 26th. It was wonderful to see my "big bad boys" again. Maybe we should introduce the greased pole into the prison! They would love it!

Much love, many hugs,