Monday, June 1, 2015

Field Notes

Today we have our students over for some debriefing time and good ol' gringo food. They are full of stories from their time here so far, so we thought you would like to read their first-hand tellings.

Yesterday we had the whole family over for lunch just before church.  We began the morning by killing 3 roosters (which I am eternally grateful for because they crow at 3am religiously).  For lunch we had a chicken stew.  As I sat down, they eagerly followed me with 3 bowls.  The first? Chicken breast, chicken leg, wiskill, carrots, and potatoes.  The second had chicken broth, noodles, potatoes, carrots, and wiskill, and the third was filled with about 15 tamalitos (which are little tamales without anything but the corn dough stuff).  I knew that I would not be able to eat all of that so I took the chicken leg and put it in the soup and set it aside.  I started in on the chicken breast and happened upon the wishbone.  I proceeded to ask if anyone knew what it was, followed by lot of blank stares.  After explaining what the wishbone was, the uncle decided he would indulge in my "crazy American tradition." He won...  I decided to use this opportunity to get my bowl of soup off on someone else.  After all was said and done, I told him that it was also an American tradition that whoever wins "gets" to eat another plate.  He immediately caught on to my scheme.  We then flipped a coin to see who had to eat the soup.  He won, so I told him that a 2-time winner was required to eat the soup... And that, ladies and gentlemen is how to get out of eating something in a culture where it is not socially appropriate to deny food.  Thank the Lord for the wishbone!

Also, cultural differences between church in Guatemala and the US:

A. Men and women do not intermix... There is a side for men and a side for women.
B. There is an old man who walks around with a stick and pokes people that are sleeping.
C. You never know whose hand to shake and whose cheek to kiss.  Its always a surprise.
D. People leave in the middle of the sermon to go get snacks at the nearest convenience store.
E. Communion is taken out of shot glasses carried by a muffin tin.

This week I was really sick to my stomach (I think I accidentally overdosed on my antibiotic!), and my family was really worried about me.  My "mom" and "dad" called Dr. Lisa and walked to 2 stores for nausea medicine.  When it wasn't there, my dad drove to the pharmacy in a town close by, while my mom and sister-in-law brought a cup of hot water to my room.  My mom ended up falling asleep on my bed, and my sister-in-law teased about her snoring.  It felt so nice to have a family here to take care of me while I was sick, and in the morning they said "Gracias a Dios", which reminded me to thank God that I felt better.

Living in the highlands has been heaps different than coastal life. Even simple tasks like going to the bathroom now require much more thought than I anticipated. I was walking toward the out-house for the first time at my new family's house, and when I opened the gate to walk down the "stairs" I was greeted by a hoard of poultry. I finally made my way through all of the chickens and turkeys and thought I would be safe once I locked myself inside the stall. Unfortunately, there is a 1 1/2 foot gap between the door and the ground where two large turkeys thought they were welcome. I started kicking at them, thinking that they would run off. Lesson learned-- never kick a turkey. They furiously began pecking at my legs and feet, and tried to completely come in the stall with me while making a terrifying sound that I hope to never hear again! I was starting to think that I was going to lose the battle, when I heard all of the other chickens start running away. My 50-something year old Tia Josefa came charging down the hill carrying a large stick, yelling in Ki'che, and proceeded to beat the attack turkeys away from my door. When I came out of the stall, she was bent over laughing and helped me get back to safety. I've definitely been humbled in a lot of ways during the MET program, but there is nothing like having to have an older lady stand outside your bathroom door every time you go to put you  in your place.

I've also learned that things are not always as they appear. A Health Talents worker took Heath and I to a traditional Guatemalan restaurant for lunch two days ago. I decided to play it safe, and try the duck soup. Well, now I know that there is a large difference between "caldo de pato" (duck soup) and "caldo de pata." My food came out, and it was a bowl of broth with an animal hoof inside of it. Apparently, "pata" is not a female duck-- it is a cow foot. I tried to eat it, but the consistency was somewhere between rubber cement and a sinus infection. I got a couple bites down and tried to clean my hands, but they were so sticky that the napkin wouldn't come off. And now I've learned another valuable lesson about language acquisition.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

Great blog, Lisa and Kemmel! The students had a good day in Saquilla today. Be safe in The City and see you soon!