I’m the Greatest

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Wednesday February 11th, 2004, Day 11 9:01 pm.

Yes this pen works.

Hello again diary,

I lost my pen today at teaching so now I use Adam’s. It works real fine. I think I got my ear plugs in better than ever because I hear nothing. It’s kinda weird. I am around people all day. Occasionally, you have to fart in front of them. Last night I kept farting in my sleep. These farts were loud. Ha ha.

Today I had fun not working. I taught English and that was nice. The teacher Maria said maybe you could tell a story and I’ll translate. The kids really liked my story about tobogganing and I got hugs and kisses. I am Tia now. Lots of kids asked for my address so maybe I will get a letter. Then we went to the ruins at Tecpan. I keep thinking about what I saw. I feel the gas coming back. I hope there’s no more of last night. They’re sneaking meat into my diet and screwing me up. I was sick again today. Oh well. I can’t wait to get back to my own food.

We climbed pyramids and saw a ceremonial site. Then in the museum we saw skulls and huge rocks with eerie faces. Pictures of artefacts – a special gold ‘crown’ and a femur flute. Very neat and lots of little faces. We were too rushed and then I felt sick. The toilets are a hole in the ground. We laughed about that. When we got home the volcano was going off. Tomorrow I work and do water duty (with Evan). I’ve been warned that it is no fun with him (by his wife). Oh well. Each day brings new challenges and so far I’ve passed through with flying colours. Adam brags he’s on page 28 in his diary. I count 29 for me. Ha ha I’m the greatest! Oh yeah, that’s what I said when at the top of the pyramid. Bow down before me! Ha ha. That was fun. Today Tone gave me a postcard of Rigoberta Menchu to keep. That was nice. He knew I was reading her book. At the special sacred site I made an offering of a flower and prayed. Later the sun was being special for me.

Good night diary.

Love, Me.

Oh, Secretary!

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February 9th 2004, Day 9 8:17 pm

Dearest Diary:

I am feeling much better, but I missed pancake breakfast. Oh well. I am getting sick of the food I guess. I don’t get to pick what I eat or how much I am served often. Kinda like University I guess. You get sick of no choice/freedom quickly. Things here are good and bad. The vibe tonight is very happy. I was playing games with others in the kitchen and looking at Adam’s map. The Guatemalan girls flirted with Jaxon.

Outside the orphans said “Hello, how are you? Good night. Etc.” I didn’t even know these boys, but they knew my name. That was nice. I said good night to the doggies and petted them. Then I found a kitten who was friendly. His name is Sputnik I say. He likes being cuddled. The young Canadian lads were nice and said I was the best at Connect 4. Unbeatable. I had fun playing with them. So lots is happy here and the kids are playing the marimba and singing. The bad is the air. Smells like polution at me olde tent. Oh well.

So, I feel better. Isn’t that great? Tonight I will read my book and sleep. My tent is all tidy and swept. But I lost my light that my step-mom gave me. It’s no-where. May have been lifted or just lost. Oh well. I miss it. So, it was fun to stay at the hotel in Panajachel where Paco the parrot lives. I took his picture. Oh, it was funny when we checked in at the hotel because I went down to sign in. It was all very formal. Name, citizenship, age, marital status etc. and occupation. I was flirting with the guy. I put down secretary and he said “Oh, Secretary! I see!…”. I smiled. I like being popular here. Also our boat guide was nice, he also was impressed with my occupation. Shucks. In San Pedro La Laguna I bought two bags of coffee for 25q each. Apparently, (because our guide says) best coffee in Guatemala. Hippie town they call it and there were some. In Santiago Atitlan I bought a table runner for 50q. The town near us is Parramos. Perhaps I will go in for some Gallo cerveza later this week.

Tonight Evan and I played double solitarie and it was pleasant ot see the kinder gentler side. Tomorrow I go to Chimaltenango and the baby house again. The lads from Toronto are nice but sadly quite young. Sigh. Today I caught some girls looking in one of the guys’ tents. Oh well, my money stays locked up now. Wednesday we go visit some ruins. No one knows where. My guess is Iximche and I will research this tonight. I played cards with another sickie today – Cindy (also my hotel roommate), she’s great. Only in grade 10 but cool. I like some of the girls and Jaxon is nice too. Not much more to report friend. I miss my book that’s up at the kitchen. I wrote a lot today I see. It’s better to feel better!! I hope it lasts. Moral: take it easy. Tomorrow I only work in a.m. and I will take it easy. P.S. Charlie has no hard feelings as he keeps being friendly when he sees me. A little too friendly though so I just walk on.

Bye now.

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Shitting Myself

Monday February 9th 2004, Day 9, 9:42 am

Well, I really am feeling better. I am making plans for the future which they say is always a good sign. Encouraging. I have eaten a bit. I will rest, drink, tidy my tent, write about our trip, pee, go to lunch etc. and tidy myself up a bit (the worst is always looking so bad).

Well, I am back from the bathroom now after accidentally shitting myself. It’s all good. Just part of the daily challenges of Guatemala. But I had a nice visit to the bathroom. Mary knows the right things to say. She said that so many are sick and tired that no one will even notice I’m not working. Lori says it is a good day to take it easy. Time for more Bismol. No more trying to eat. Only slow sipping.

In being nice, people bring up other matters (besides my problems :-)). Tone said you feel badly for people, naturally. He feels badly because he told one of the Guatemalan bosses to halt work on the clinic for now. But the Guatemalan “boss” won’t because he’ll have to lay off workers and that is no good. But they need to quit laying block now for some important reaon that I forget. As you see, there are many touchy issues he says. He’s nice. Mary says there’s more intrigue realted to the going to town saga. You see last night our leader made a ‘rape’ speech that was not well recieved by some of the young women. They are being risky going to town every night for beer. Mary said Tone spoke about the issue and said changes must be made. That was nice to hear about other probelms besides my own. ?Apparently someone has been stalked? Oh well. I think last night they went anyway even though our boss said better not. I wonder if they did (Yes). So, that’s what’s going on. It’s hard to hear the men say “no ladies you can’t do that either. If it were us, that would be fine but you are not men.” But, they are right that it’s not safe. I haven’t gone in for that reason.

Rich world traveller

Sunday, February 15th 2004, Day 15 8:25am

Well diary, I haven’t written for a few days. I am lying in my “Miss America” room as they call it. From my bed I look up and see the white canopy that drapes around my bed and the chandelier and huge Cristo figure being crucified. Then there’s the light filtering down fromt the sky light above my bed. The first thing I hear is doves cooing. Now bells are ringing and ringing. They make a big deal out of Sunday. Just like they make a big deal out of Valentines day which was yesterday. We saw a wedding at the five star hotel where we were supposed to be staying. The bride and groom were kissing and I just sighed. Everything here was ++ romantic yesterday. We had a big dinner last night by candelight in a fancy hotel courtesy of the orphanage. There was nice live musc and fireworks. We get taken out again tonight. This is all nice but I am ready to come home. Today I go for an hour massage and use of the jacuzzi and sauna and steam room at the “best” spa here in Antigua. It all costs 22 American which I figuerd was too good to miss. Bill (one of our leaders) said it was the best massage ever. So a bunch of the ladies and I were going to go but now they don’t want to so it’s just me but that’s OK. Maybe there’ll be sexy ladies there. I really have no idea what to expect but it’s an adventure. Today is my fantasy day when I pretend to be a rich world traveler. Or is it just the first steps of a future rich world traveler? Ha ha. We’ll see how it goes.

Then I plan to have lunch and go shopping. More resting at the hotel followed by our free meal. I don’t know what time we leave for Canada tomorrow but I am ready. To say a little about the last few days. Thursday water duty with Evan was fine and I wrote home. Friday was our last day and I got to go the market. Friday is the busy day and we had fun at the supermarket where they play really loud dance music on Firdays apparently. It was Friday the 13th. The announcer /D.J. was so funny I took a picture of him. He was also a soap seller. He talked like a reallycheesy DJ but what he was saying was about sales at the shopmart. It was bizarre there. I made shoppers laugh by dancing to the beats. We bought a lot of candy for the party hosted by the Canadians for the kids. It was Cindy’s idea to have a bonfire and dance and everyone says how great it was and there were games for the kids. Before, people liked to say it was a dumb idea but it really was neat. We bought Coke for the party (lots) and that was interesting but I couldn’t take a picture. The armed guard was very serious. He took a long time letting us in and wouldn’t let us out until we showed him our receipts. Even the simplest paperwork is treated with the utmost respect.

Anyway, the party was magical. Cindy and her friend are here. They are in love with Guatemalan boys. They paid a surprise visit to our room last night, then they spent the night together until 1:00 am. Now Cindy’s wearing his shirt in bed and listening to his favourite C.D. They are being a little reckless but at least they are having a lot of fun. Who am I to intervene? Other older hens on the trip are all in a flap though. Ah, young love in Guatemala. Cindy’s nice. She just said ‘I’m so happy we’re roommates’ and I said me too. Anyway, the party was so much fun and my job was pouring Coke and handing out candy and hugging kids. At the play time earlier in the day I had fun playing a basketball game. The little girls were lining up to take a shot. I taught them a song (chant) “2 in a row, 2 in a row” or you can say 1 or whatever for the situation. If they missed we would say “Oh, so close”. They didn’t know what the words meant, just the gist of it. They would sing “2 lee lay low, 2 lee lay low”. We had so much fun. I lost my voice. It’s still not normal today. I will spend the day on my own today I think and talk very little. Now it’s 9:15. I have to get going. Yesterday we came here and had a tour which was long but good and that is everything. Talk to you later.

Love, Me.

Happy Day

Tuesday, 10th of February 2004, Day 10 8:52 pm

Hi Diary,

Today I had a great day. I feel much better. I had fun doing rebar with the ladies today. In the afternoon we spent several hours and rode on a chicken bus! The babies warm my heart. I had such fun interacting with them, finding games to play. My favourites were Frederico and Margarita. He made me laugh, she was adorable. All the kids were just great. One was really huggy. He gave me the greatest hugs.

I made up a clapping song and all the kids loved it. It had some Spanish words that I knew and they would laugh and laugh. They would all line up and say “Me next”. At one point I was so covered in kids I could only clap with one hand. They still loved it. The kids would just hold their hands up for me to clap. One boy was handicapped somehow. He asked to be picked up but the lady came and said “No No don’t hold him”, so I put him down. I think that was the gist of what she said, I couldn’t understand any words. The children’s choir sings now and sounds so nice. Anyway, that was a shame. Then later he shyly said he wanted to play the clapping game (non verbally) so he held up one hand and I looked at him and sang while clapping with him. He was so happy and we just looked at each other and smiled. It was so heartwarming. We played all kinds of games but they loved the clapping one best. At first we played on the swings. When I pulled them up higher on the swings I would make a funny noise. Then the kids would repeat that noise again and again so that I would pull them up again. I laughed for hours ’till my face hurt. God, I hope those photos turn out. They will be priceless. One boy would lean back on the couch a little to see if I would catch him and I would. He would keep doing this and flop in my lap. Then I got to tickle him. He laughed lots and then started the game again. Gosh, they were cute.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to write much. One more roll of film. Tomorrow to the ruins at Tecpan. I’m going to read about it now. The choir sings Won Ton Amera. They sure love Wontons here.

Good night, Love Me.

P.S. I am happy today.

Misunderstandings

Monday February 9 2004, Day 9 8:42 am

Well, diary: I’ll tell you something that happened. I’m in my tent crying and feeling very frustrated. I wish there was another way I could express frustration or embarrassment. Cry for everything. Hungry – cry, sick – cry, tired – cry. Anyway, I’ve been sick for three days now if you include today. I can’t eat or drink anything without having diarrhea. Yes, I am taking Pepto Bismol, yes I am taking it easy. I hate not working when everyone else is. I did it once last week and said never again.

Well, here I am. It’s depressing. I may stop crying and go to breakfast. But that is soon. I can do it. The hardest part is facing everyone. They’re concerned. I don’t want to be the topic of Christian concern today but I so am. That’s what happens when you burst into tears at the job site. Ha ha. What a jackass I am.

So anyway, as you know I have been sick for days. But I was determined today to prove that I wasn’t a big softie. I hate being ridiculed for not working hard enough. There is a lot of pressure. Maybe I am not alone in reading more into a situation. I hate not working. When I come to work late because I am too sick, just people saying “Hello” makes me think they are judging me. As you can see it’s a vicious cycle. A dog or kittie came by my door. They know I’m sick too and at least I like their sympathy. A kitty came by the washroom when I was sick today and then waited by the door. I like to say he knew I was feeling bad and came to cheer me up. So, there was a “misunderstanding” today. You will understand.

I was working very easy and starting to feel better about myself when I had to go to the washroom again to be sick. As I walk up I can hear someone explaining “I think the weekend off made her sick”. Fine, they can talk about me if they want. I set my gloves down and about to go into the nearest toilet when a Guatemalan worker “Charlie” follows me saying could I get his picture. At least that’s what I thought he was saying. Anyhow, I explained that I didn’t have a camera but maybe later if he wanted. Fine. Then I was allowed to shit. I didn’t even care that he could hear me from next door. At least maybe he would leave me alone. No. When I came out he was wearing my gloves and very happy. I said those are mine can I have them back please? No. take his picture. Those are mine etc. I’ll give them to you on Friday but I need them now etc. No No No. Take his picture. I said I didn’t have a camera. He said go get one at the work site. Then I thought Oh! He wants a picture wearing the gloves and then I’ll get them back. So, I asked that. He said Yeah! Picture. So, I went and got Jed’s camera which is digital so you can show them what it looks like. I took his picture wearing the gloves but didn’t know how to show him. “Low battery”. I said I got your picture. Can I have those back now? No. Etc. Believe me, at this point I was fed up. I said “Do you want those?” Yes. Fine and I walked away. I didn’t even care that much. They were just gloves. Except that I had already given my other pair away. I was planning on giving them away anyway. So, I wrote it off.

Later I was talking to one of the ladies in our group. I told her my funny story. She was concerned. She would lend me her extra pair if I wanted but I really ought to tell ‘Tone’ the boss about it. That ain’t right, you need gloves etc etc. If you can’t tell him I will etc. etc. I said I don’t know. I really didn’t have the energy to make a big deal out of it. She told Tone and I explained that I wasn’t upset about it. I didn’t know what Tone was going to do and I worried a little.

Then I saw Charlie back over at our site wearing my gloves. I said “Hi Charlie, could I have those back etc. asking several times, smiling etc. No understande. This was in front of everyone so one of the guys says “Tone we need help here”. Sigh. Tone comes over and interprets but Charlie doesn’t get it. “They were not a gift?” Tone asks me for him and I said “Friday, I’ll give them to you Friday”. At this point I started to get upset. I wanted to tell Tone to tell him “sorry”. This Charlie guy was really he upset he was fighting back tears. Perhaps this was an act but he was upset and I felt really bad. He gave them back. I turned away and started to cry. This all happened right in front of everyone. Mary talked to me and said “it’s OK”. I really didn’t want to cry. Then Tone came over and comforted me making everything harder but he really said some nice things like he said he’s had the same problem personally. I was so mad at myself because I was determined to prove that I could work even though I was sick and I end up making a fool of myself. I have felt like I have to prove myself from day one. Because I am a young woman, they think I can’t do most jobs. They’re still talking about how bewildered they were to see me push a wheelbarrow. It sucks. The hardest thing to deal with has been 1. Sexist stereotypes 2. Diarrhea/dehydration.

If all I had to deal with was hard work like the men I’d have it easy. They won’t let a woman do the interesting jobs because it makes them feel less manly. So, we are forced to baby them while we feel useless doing nothing. Then they tease us for not working hard.

There, that said I feel much better. Now if only I didn’t look and feel so awful, I could face breakfast. Well, I’ve decided to skip breakfast. The worst is people, I can just picture them now at breakfast trying their best to sort out how best to solve my problems. They’ll be choreographing an interpretive dance for the natives to perform for me as I watch from my sick bed. “We’re sorry we upset you, please feel better now we send all our loving thoughts etc.” and the Christians will hold a prayer gathering, Topic: My moods. Oh well, it’s not that big of a deal I’m sure and my old saying applies. It could be worse. Now I will get some Gatorade and granola bars into me and then lie down for a nap.

Bye from Sickie me.

Dehydrated

Friday, February 6th 2004 Day 6 10:01 pm (bed time)

I am in bed again after another day at the orphanage. Today for a change of pace we went to see the orphans perform a play. It was the older kids doing “Little Shop of Horrors”. It was cool. Now we sleep. Tomorrow we go to Lake Atitlan I guess and stay overnight. We leave at 9:30 in the morning. I’m going to take lots of pictures. I am getting tanned but not too much on my face. We will have to fix this. Today was not so great for me. I think I got a little dehydrated working in the hot sun. In the afternoon I had a nap but his did no good. I won’t do that again. Anyway, I feel better now and think tomorrow will be fun. In closing, I am tired, the play was cool and funny. Time to read booky.

Things are Good

Thursday, February 5th 2004, Day 5 8:43 pm

Oh Hi Diary,

I’m in bed now ready for sleep. Today was just a regular day. I got to call Mom. I saw a second lizard working at the job site. Perhaps tomorrow they will let me lay some blocks. Tomorrow we go to Antigua for a performance. That’s good. Then Saturday to Late Atitlan and hot springs etc.  Goodie. We had a Spanish lesson today and that was good. I want to get more of a tan and work my muscles more tomorrow. That’s the plan. I am still happy here. Still have clean undies. I’ll read the book now.

Highs and Lows

Oh Hi Diary, 8:16 pm bed time

I am all tucked in and rubbed down with ointment. People here aren’t that great. Ha ha. I am getting sick of people. Today I hit my finger working. It’s a little purple now. That got me very angry. Plus no one would listen to my good suggestion. Later they listened and I was right. Anyway, people bug me. Today we saw the babies. They have it rough. The ladies work hard I am sure but it was depressing too. One baby arrived just two days ago. All he does is cry and have diarrhea. We tried (George and me) to cheer him up but then we had to go. I got some pictures. I don’t think I told you, we met the nurse yesterday. She said that one boy that is here was sick and had to be in a wheelchair. Before he came here he was left in a bed for years. Now he has holes in his back from bedsores etc. Today we ere driving through the town laughing. Then I saw a man sitting by the road weeping. These things are scary. It felt nice to get hugs from the babies (3 or 4 yrs old). I needed a hug. I am lonely and sad but also having a good time. We went to Antigua today. We saw a slide show at a fancy hotel. I thought, imagine what it would be like to be rich enough to stay here. Apparently, we are because then I found out that’s where we’ll stay for two nights. It’s fancy. Very rich and touristy. All kinds of young, rich, Europeans very blond and tanned walking around. Weird. I don’t know how I liked it yet. But good places to take pictures. I want to go to this place Bill says is the best massages in the world. That’s my plan. St. James is important here we learned. That’s all. I choose to read and go to bed now. Book is good. Buenos Noches.

Secretario

Day 4 12:30 pm Wednesday February 4th

Hello diary. I am feeling very rested and organized which is quite a feat here. Oh, plus I am clean. In an hour we leave to go see the babies but first we will eat lunch. I am looking forward to both. We will also get to shop in the village so I brought 10 Quetzals. I think that is lots. I hope I get photos of the babies. Today I did see a lizard. It was running along the fence by my tent. I followed it but it went so fast. I was just thinking how I could only say I saw one from far away then he stuck his head up and looked at me. Then he ran away again. That was cool. I saw a bug too. It was a moth type because it had tiny feathers you know? He was rainbow coloured on his back. Today we helped teach English in the classes ages 14-17 or so. Those kids were cool. They asked about my family, job, Canada, etc.

In the second class they were older. When we started class we would go around to introduce ourselves in English. The Canadians would say their name and their profession. I said that I am a secretary at a hospital. The class said “Ohhh secretario. Cool! Oh Ah etc.” That was nice. They thought I have a cool job. In Guatemala secretaries are very young and pretty and don’t work very hard my book taught me. That sounds pretty good to me. I gave them my address and mom’s email. But who knows if it is right. Maybe they will write to me. Teaching was loads of fun. One of the girls (Brenda) gave me a strawberry. That was nice. Everyone (students), volunteers, leaders, say how they are happy we are here. In the speech last night the leader of the boys dorms said thank-you for being here, it encourages us to keep going. They have hard jobs. They want us to volunteer to live here and work for one year but I don’t think I could do it. You have to give too much. Time for lunch. I think I‘ll tell you about our trip to town when I get back.