Wednesday, January 27, 2010

sidewalks and escojo

-A sign was posted by our municipal government on an abandoned building, because that’s apparently where people are supposed to read signs not pertaining to said abandoned building. I may be the first person who actually noticed or read the sign. It stated that we will be getting 4 sidewalks installed in our little community which is a place that doesn’t often see the presence of our municipal government. The first thing noticeable was that it was written very obviously on a type-writer. This is a little unnerving considering an official government document, stamped and sealed by a notary and the sindico is not being saved and documented in a computer file somewhere (we’ll see if we get those sidewalks). But the sidewalks are also notable for other reasons. First, we don’t even have a paved road. Our road is dirt and sand and the plan is to build cement sidewalks. On top of sand. Before an actual street. Second, is the idea that the notice said that the sidewalks were being put into place for the safety and education of the children here, when our teachers have been asking for months, if not years, for a second classroom so as to have only two grades at a time in a single room instead of four. Hmmm.

-I started my first real project this month with the first real functioning meeting on Sunday (17 jan). I’m working with an initiative called Escojo Mi Vida which means “I choose my life” and it’s a youth group with charlas (classes) dedicated to healthy decision making, sexual education and health, and adolescent changes. The idea of standing in front of a bunch of teenagers giving lectures in Spanish about their changing bodies gave me an anxiety unmatched since the incredibly uncomfortable (and not in the funny way) sex talk that my mother’s friends forced her to give me in the eleventh grade—which may not be too late here but is about seven years too late there, sorry mom. My anxiety was only heightened with the realization that my first talk, about values and self esteem, was easily the most boring subject in my laundry list of sex, drugs, and prostitute lectures I would eventually be giving. But then this amazing thing happened: they were totally into it. Every teenager wanted to tell me exactly what the value respect means and how it’s the same but different from the value of tolerance. Every teenager wanted to share what they thought made them special so that they could remember it when their self esteem was low. The only giggles were born out of that special awkward feeling you carry around like your own soul when you’re fourteen, not because this far too old woman who butchers the language is teaching you stuff you already know. Probably because they don’t already know it. Rather unfortunately I suppose, self esteem and values aren’t shoved down Dominican throats like they are in America and beyond that, kids and teens here seem especially starved for adult acknowledgement and attention—even if that comes in the form of some woman who is way too old to not have kids (I’m 25) talking about sex. But at least I’m trying.

-I just saw my neighbor club a chicken. Wednesday is chicken day. This is the day that a guy comes around in a truck with a chicken coop in the bed. His lady friend (wife? sister? niece? girlfriend? business partner?) brings a scale over and attaches it to the awning. Then depending on the quantity of chickens one desires a teenage boy either brings over a bag full of chickens (live mind you) to be weighed, or what could be called a bushel of chickens that are weighed by the foot of the chicken at the top of the bushel. Then you get to decide. You can either have them take the chickens away to an as yet undetermined location to be plucked and beheaded a la the chickens we all buy in the supermarket; OR you can keep your live chickens to club yourself and then pluck and prepare. At the restaurant we receive them like butterballs, but the club-your-own option is actually pretty popular as chicken foot is a delicacy here. Unfortunately I’m not a fan. The texture is like chewing on baby fingers.

-My second Escojo charla sucked. The third is about reproductive organs—here goes nothin’.

-The other day Franklin asked me if I wanted a mango. I said of course I want a mango. He took 25 pesos out of his pocket and bought 8 mangoes. That’s like 72 cents. For 8 mangoes. They’re two bucks each in Oregon.

-I have a rat and between 2 and 4 lizards that live in my little bedroom. I do not like the rat because the rat is eating my clothes and pooping on my things and I’m probably dying from hanta virus as we speak (please do not encourage my grandfather to look up hanta virus, it was a joke). I love the lizards because they are eating the bugs. Now if only the lizards could find a way to convince the rat to move then I would keep them for pets.

1 comment:

  1. What a random, lovely find. I work for the Oregon Public Health Division and I have google alerts for anytime "Oregon Youth Sexual Health Plan" pops up on the web...and your blog had all the words. Thanks for sharing your story. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Benin, 89-91 and Malawi 92-93), I was intrigued by the blog title. Interesting the parallels between OR and DR of struggling teachers and teens just wanting to be heard. Best wishes with the charlas and the everyday life!

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