Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where's the Beef!

So as I’ve mentioned previously I really try not to eat the meat here.  I’m not a vegetarian and not trying to champion animal rights because meat is tasty and it’s the circle of life/food chain/etc.  However, I just can’t do it anymore.  Let me highlight some of my meat experiences:

Truck full of cow parts.  So there’s this truck, just a plain ole F150 but much smaller, and it delivers the dead cows to the butcher-or what I think is a butcher because it’s a non-descript building.  Anywho, the cow parts just hang out in the bed of the truck. Not in bags, not covered, just hanging out in the bed of the truck. Then to make matters worse there’s this trail of blood and flies and smears of blood all on the sidewalk and walls of this alleged butcher shop. Yum.

Cow head walking down the street.  So one day I’m heading to a meeting and walking with one of the teachers and a guy is just strolling down the street carrying a decapitated cow head. The teacher I’m with doesn’t notice or make any mention as I have my mouth dropped open.  He just carries on with the conversation. And, this is the part that bothered me the most- the cow’s eyes were still open.

Cow skull hanging out on the street corner.  Yep, just a skull hanging out on the street corner.  No biggie. Well, the horns were kind of freaky all attached to the skull. I know the horns are attached and all but it was still interesting to see it all fused together.

Chuchos gnawing away on meat scraps.  Chuchos are the starving street dogs who definitely take what they can get. Once I saw a chucho eating some random chewy looking piece of meat. I have no idea what part of what animal it came from but I assume intestine.   Mind you all of this meat is raw and probably crawling with worms. Poor chuchos.

You’re gonna eat what? So for the longest time I saw these huge legs in the butcher windows. They were so huge and cloven and just solid. I thought they were rhinoceros or something because they were that huge. Obviously not a lot of rhinos wandering around Guatemala but it turns out it they are just the legs of bulls- cloven hoof and all. And people eat this!  In soups or who knows how. Once I ate something called panza. I didn’t know what it was but I figured it was intestine of some sort. Turns out it was cow stomach. It was chewy and greasy and I pooped forever.

The taste. Meat here has this weird acidic sour taste. Even if you go to the Walmart and buy the “fancy” ground beef the weird taste is there. You just can’t get away from that taste. It’s so weird.  Maybe it’s what non steroid meat is supposed to taste like but I blame it on the lack of refrigeration and the fact they just cut off the coagulated part of the meat when they begin to sell it to you. I witnessed this many times and then proceeded to eat it because I didn’t want to be culturally insensitive to my host family.

The smell!  Oh the smell! My dad told me what would probably bother me the most would be all the smells and it’s definitely true. I hold my breath as I walk through the market because of all the carnecerias. I just want to get my veggies but have to walk by all the hanging off of hooks unrefrigerated meat. Then after I make it past the cow meat I have to make it past the unrefrigerated dead chickens. Those stink just as bad but in a totally different way. Buckets full of chicken feet and chicken organs. Oh and let’s not forget the fish. The nearest beach is about 6 hours away and I’m pretty sure they aren’t delivered to my town in a nice refrigerated truck and they aren’t sold in buckets of ice either. Once I ate a fish here- head and fins and all. It was interesting. I managed to not eat the skin until my host dad told me I should. In an attempt to not be culturally insensitive I tore off the skin, stuff it in a tortilla and doused it with lime juice. He proceeded to eat the head- sucking/crunching on the fish skull. I had to draw the line there.

Slaughterhouse.  So my site mate and I are pretty sure we found the local slaughterhouse. We would see truckloads of cows go in and not come out.  Fortunately the doors are usually shut and you can’t see in.  Well today I thought I would walk to my school and the doors were open. And I looked in. And I shouldn’t have. It was dark and dingy and bloody and I saw a cow. A cow that had just been slaughtered and was being dragged and meat hooked.  So I looked and walked away as fast as I could to only run into a dead dog on the side of the road and directly in my path. Yep. That was probably an omen.

Entonces, my meat days are probably pretty much over. Don’t get me wrong; when I get to the states in 99 days (who’s counting!) my first meal will probably be Whataburger and/or Popeyes. But not having eaten meat in almost a year will probably take its toll and I’ll be back on the fruit and veggie wagon.  I considered putting pictures up- of what I call the death truck- but I know my mom would not have appreciated that and figure my descriptions are probably apt.

Happy eating!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Munecos Gigantes (Giant Doll Things)

Ok... so here in San Juan there's this fun little tradition called the munecos gigantes. Well it's freaking hilarious and scary as heck.  I can not confirm or deny if I considered pushing little children down and out of my way as I ran screaming away.  To my defense I just didn't want to get hit by the 2x4 they swing at you and try to hit you with.  These are the frightening fun things they don't allow in the states! Sorry that the video quality isn't the best but try ducking and covering and deciding not to run the little kids over at the same time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Scathing Missive!

So this post isn’t about what I’ve been up to here since May but about how my perspectives are constantly evolving which is a byproduct of me living in a third world country.  And you’re forewarned… I may get a little liberal on you.  And I’m not asking you to agree but to at least hear me out and maybe even contribute to the conversation if you feel so inclined and differing perspectives are always encouraged by me in a judgment free zone.  I apologize if this isn’t what you were expecting from my blog and I promise they won’t all be like this but I do only write when I feel particularly inspired.

To begin, yes I streamed CNN live as the verdict was read for Casey Anthony and I had followed it for the past three years. I’m a news junky it’s true. I understand why people are so passionate about justice for Caylee and I totally agree that she deserves justice. However, statistically speaking the media focuses more energy on missing child cases/child abuse/child neglect et cetera when the child is of Caucasian descent. Read some books on media effects and you will see the trend that there is a media bias and the media rallies behind a certain type of victim. I’ll cut to the chase- white, female, middle to upper class. Some say it’s because the media likes to focus on the damsel in distress.  Another example in the media was when Jessica Lynch was ambushed in Iraq and taken hostage. There were two other women there- one who died and one who was with Jessica Lynch. Her name is Shoshana Johnson;  African American single mother. But the media did not think that viewers could relate so she’s left out on this one.  That’s upsetting to me and even to Jessica Lynch as she states in her statement to Congress. So to recap- the next time you watch ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX count the commercials and see how many products are geared toward one demographic. Or what roles the minority characters play. Or how many minorities you actually see depicted. Or if it is a show with a minority character as the lead is their act predominantly minstrel in nature?

And secondly, now that I have more time on my hands I read a lot of Facebook and I gotta say sometimes I’m utterly disgusted about how some of my “friends” view minorities.  For example, a recent post was how someone needed to learn to speak English before asking for a job at their company.  Wow. How about some compassion? As someone who recently moved to a foreign country and didn’t speak a lick of Spanish the compassion I’ve received from Guatemalans is tremendous and I’m shamed because I doubt they receive the same patience that they have given me.  Also, you probably don’t even have the faintest idea of their situation and why they want or need a job. Their country probably doesn’t have jobs, the government is corrupt, there aren’t any social programs (except when it’s an election year and they try to buy your vote with free doctor consultations or a meal on election day outside of the booth). So at least we have someone who is trying to get an honest job and I bet would be willing to do back breaking labor for less than minimum wage.  To say that at least Americans try to speak the native language when they travel is not true. What I’ve seen, in my personal unscientific experience, is that Americans speak louder and slower but still in English- the non-native language of the country they are visiting. And further furthermore, this nation was founded by Immigrants. Actually it was founded by the Indians but we also forget that part. I’m glad they didn’t build a wall to keep us out especially after we gave them small pox and all sorts of fun European diseases.  

I don’t have a concrete solution to my ramblings. I think the first step is awareness. Just take a look and be aware.  And don’t get upset when there are one or two tv stations or magazines catered solely to minorities.  Just realize that every other magazine out there (100’s) are catered to the Caucasian demographic.  Anywho, thanks for listening to my rant and I’m just appreciative that I can express my opinions (and these are solely my opinions and not the Peace Corps) to everyone back home. All is well here and maybe next post I’ll put some pictures and not get all bleeding heart political. Lots of love!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Little Medical Situation

I finally got some inspiration to update my blog. And you are forewarned… the inspiration isn’t necessarily a positive one!  As of five minutes ago I gave myself a medical diagnosis and I looked it up on Wikipedia, web Md and all the other places hypochondriacs go to self-diagnose.  And I also called the PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) and she told me to calm down and she’d call me in the morning since it wasn’t an emergency.  But, let me tell you, I’m thinking this is an emergency and all I want to do for the next 24 hours is sit in the shower. 

And of course the first thing I do is skype my mom to tell her my diagnosis and she was like, “Oh no. That’s what I was afraid you were going to say.”  Then I called the bestie and told her my situation and she was like, “How are you staying so positive in this situation?” And I’m thinking I have no clue! Ha!  But, actually I think I do because this is totally what I signed up for. You know, learning a new language, new culture, living overseas and just adjusting to a new pace of life. And then there are the things I knew I was also signing up for but figured would be ok and totally part of the experience. For example; lots of diarrhea, learning a new language, no tv, malaria dreams, sparse internet, no pop culture, no cheddar cheese or Whataburger or Reese’s peanut butter cups, boiling my water, putting my used toilet paper in the trashcan, marveling at the fact you can literally fit 30 people in minivan and then still riding in the unsafe situation, and did I mention no Whataburger or Reese’s peanut butter cups?  And now to add to the list is my new medical situation.

And really it’s probably not a big deal.  I think some medicine will fix it.  But there is a definite stigma, probably to most Americans, about this situation. And if I had a bathtub I’d totally sit in it all night long. But alas, all I can do is blog about it and try to avoid going to bed and sleeping in my bed tonight. But this situation is probably going to follow me regardless if I go to my bed or not.

And can I say… that when I found out I was moving to Guatemala I googled all sorts of information and read current Volunteer’s blogs.  The one that was the most unsettling to me was when someone announced on their blog they got bot flies. I was like, I’m going to die. Especially if I get bot flies which burrow into your skin and lay eggs.  The word burrow is just gross sounding enough without thinking of the actual activity behind it.

And furthermore… sometimes I think I’m a hypochondriac so I avoided calling the medical office because I didn’t want them to tell me I was overreacting.  I figured the situation would fix itself with some bug spray, itch cream and a little bit of patience.  But then I talked to my host mom again and she constantly tells me it’s an allergy.  And I’m like it’s not an allergy. But then she said something else different tonight, and I can’t remember what exactly, but then I had a big “oh poop” moment. And I actually didn’t say poop or the “sh” word… I said something much more uncouth in my head because I was remembering a certain medical training during our first three months in Guatemala.  And then I googled, and then I called my mom, and the PCMO, and the bestie, and then paced around my room for a good ten minutes trying to figure out if there is a way to literally crawl out of your skin because I’d really like to.

And in conclusion… I totally signed up for the glory and the not so glorious parts of service. We really are pretty nice and bubble wrapped in the US.  Everything is clean and sanitary and safe. And we can safely walk the streets of our towns after 6 pm (I’m indoors usually no later than 6:30). And in the US children get a free education with a constant abundance of electricity, water, bathrooms, sinks, water fountains, lunch, oh and a roof and a floor and four walls. And aren’t chronically malnourished. So I guess I’m trying to say is that we should be thankful of the automatic privilege we have being born and living in the US.  And I figure that if I got scabies because I hugged 100 little kiddos and made their day a little bit better than I’ll keep staying positive and working for them so that they can have a school with water, electricity, and legitimate walls/floors/ceilings.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Swearig In, First Week in Site & Tremors!

Sooo, surprise! It's been another month and alot has happened and I failed to write on a consistent basis but... it's not my fault! Ha.  Ok, it is my fault, I've been busy and too cheap to buy internet.  Alas, let me begin chronicling my adventures since the last time we chatted :o)

Swearing In

So I'm officially legit!  No more Peace Corps Trainee Kim Duncan- it's Peace Corps VOLUNTEER Kim Duncan thank you! The swearing in ceremony was ridiculous.  It was also in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of PC worldwide and was held in the residence of the US Ambassador to Guatemala.  Anddd, all the current volunteers were invited too. So, there were about 300 ish 400 ish people to celebrate us becoming volunteers and the 50th.  Not to mention the awesome press coverage where we landed on the front cover of the Prensa Libre which is basically the main newspaper in all of Guatemala.  And yours truly was in the front row so my face was bright eyed and bushy tailed for all of Guatemala to see!  After we took our Oath of Service to protect the Constitution of the US we were official. It's really neat, the oath is the same one used for the military, Congress, etc.  Following the fun times with the Ambassador, the media, and all sorts of PC officials everyone headed to the touristy spot of Antigua.  We had some good wholesome fun of dancing and singing and celebrating!  At one point I did feel like I was back in college- eek!  That was wayyyy too long ago. 

San Juan Ostuncalco (Also known as the hardest week thus far)

So you would think that the hardest time of acclimating to a new culture would be within the first three months of training but definitely not.  We swore in on Friday March 25th, had fun Saturday and Sunday, and by Monday night we had met our new bosses/counterparts and our new home for two years.

So first things first, we had two options for houses and of course one house was really awesome and one house wasn't bad at all however, lacked some privacy and was a tad bit overpriced.  I totally begged my partner to let me have the house with the family/kiddos and a little more sense of privacy and she graciously (emphasis on graciously) let me take the awesome house. On the bright side for her, she only has to live with the family for about 3 months and can get her own place and live solo. I'm pretty sure I'm committed to living with this family for the next two years which is ok with me!  I have my nightly coffee with them, and dare I admit it, the taste of instant coffee is growing on me.  Someone send me a Starbucks cappucino asap!

So, after I groveled for the house we still had no where to sleep so we headed to the local motel.  Mind you this is the best/safest hotel in town an if I was walking in the US I know I would have snubbed my nose at it and said no way. And it wasn't amazing... smells of smelly things and our tv locked in a cage but the food was good and the people as usual were very accommodating.  The next morning we mentioned to the owner of the hotel/ cook that we were in need of some beds and other furniture. They told us to wait five minutes and before we knew it there was a guy ready to drive us around town and help us buy beds. How willingly would I normally get into a truck with a stranger- not likely- however in Guate (for the most part) people are genuinely willing to help.  And our new host spoke 3 languages- Spanish, Mam, and English. His english was a little bit broken bc he hadn't lived in the states for awhile but he was just so gracious!  So we went on our journey for beds and the storekeeper was going to charge us Q950 but he was able to talk her down to Q800 ($100).  So we loaded the beds in his truck and really didn't remember where we lived but we made it!  Rebecca and I cuddled for the next two nights bc her room wasn't quite ready yet.  So fast forward to the rest of my furniture: I bought a table and a dresser and a ridiculous book shelf. Ri dic u lous. It is covered in pictures of 18 wheelers. I'll have to post a picture soon.  Essentially all of my furniture is resting on a piece of cardboard bc inevitably one or two legs are shorter than the other. But it's mine and I heart it. Oh, and price comparison: I paid Q300 for my bookshelf and for Q300 I could have also bought 2 things of CoverGirl mascara. I def opted for the bookshelf and thanks to a care package should have some mascara soon!

So why was this the hardest week thus far?  Because we didn't have a home, because we couldn't just up and get in our cars and drive to the local Walmart and buy furniture, because once you buy said furniture how are you supposed to get it to your said home, because we ate corn and bananas all day every day bc we couldn't cook, because I didn't have my agua pura yet, because we were officially on our own to sink or swim. Ha! 

All is better now, I'm definitely more settled in and not surviving off of corn, bananas, and the occasional ramen. I've waged war on the flies in my room and I've become very successful at providing the swift justice of my fly swatter. I have a broom so I sweep everyday to keep the dusty dirt at a minimum. And my shower is more or less warm.   And I'm going to start hard core studying/reviewing my Spanish so I can hold a decent conversation.

Was I Hallucinating or was God Spiting Me for Breaking Lent?

So I gave up ice cream for Lent. The main reason was because while living in my training town of Sumpango I had gotten into the habit of having my daily ice cream cone from Sarita. Strawberry cheesecake flavor to be exact.  So, when Ash Wednesday rolled around I said no to Sarita fresa queso!  And I lasted a good 30 days.  Thirty days.  The hardest part is the first 20 days and I had totally done that.  But after a really long day all we wanted was some ice cream.  And I should mention that Rebecca and I do alot of waiting.  Meetings that are supposed to start at 9 am and really don't start at all and it's 12 pm by the time they tell you "Fijese que we can't meet after all."  So we were waiting for three hours to not have a meeting. And then we had another meeting that started at 2 pm and thought it would only be an hour and come 6:30 pm when the meeting was actually over we desperately wanted ice cream.  I figured I was justified.  And plus I had a conversation with the Big Dude Upstairs and rationalized with him that I had already given up so much in the last three months and could I please have some ice cream.  I heard a "Yes" and proceeded to get a double cone.

Fast forward to the next morning around 7 am.  My bed is shaking, my door is shaking, and my water bottle is doing the whole Jurassic Park shake.  Literally the first thing I thought is that I was imagining all the shaking goin' on. Then I thought, "Oh crap. It's because I ate the ice cream.  Big Dude did not say "yes" he said "ten more days of no ice cream." And then I thought maybe this is an earthquake. And then it was over. So, lessons learned: 1) Probably shouldn't have ate the ice cream 2) Find out what to do in an actual earthquake- review training notes 3) Work on response time- ie: don't lay in bed wondering if it is God spiting you or if you're imagining things.

In Conclusion

All is well here in the new site. We have started to visit schools and meet people in the community.  The teachers are on strike in the country but it isn't affecting our school district for some reason so we've been keeping busy.  Somehow I even managed a four hour nap today.  It's my first nap in Guatemala so I'm actually pretty proud that I've only taken one nap in 3 months whereas in the States my whole weekend was one big nap. Now it is 11 pm and I'm still awake which is also probably a record too.

If y'all are interested in sending me care packages- no worries!  Mom and Dad sent three boxes of Girl Scout cookies and Double Stuffed Oreos so I'm pretty much set. Plus the cookies (oh so yummy) end up negating the weight I have lost. Woo woo! I'm losing some chunk!!!  If you do feel so inclined I can always use I-Tunes or books for the Kindle!  Books are ridiculously expensive especially since I now convert everything into Quetzales and I only make about well... nothing... ha!  I started reading Anna Karenina bc 1) it was free and 2) it's a classic and 3) bc I "read" it in high school and want to legitimately read it.  But I really have everything I need here and even though I've given up a laundry list of things all is well.  And who really needs mascara?  Ok, I do and thankfully that's being sent bc y'all know my eyes look really small and beady without makeup. Ha! But I digress....

I hope everyone is well in the states and that pop culture is still popping!  Someone let me know what Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen are doing! 

Lots of love!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Still Living it Up!

So I know I said I'd blog all my awesome and amazing adventures but really I've only averaged one a month.  I promise to get better! Ha!  I feel like there are so many things to update and this will probably be a rambling blog... but alas I will commence.  And hopefully the stigma of a rambling blog will encourage me to write more often.

Less Stress

A couple weeks ago it totally hit me that I am the less stressed I have been in probably 4 years. It's kind of weird to think that moving to another country, starting a new job, and daily bouts of explosive diarrhea would be less stressful but it truly is. I don't have the media constantly telling me to be scared of the world and I since I have less money I have less desire for things I never truly needed or wanted anyways.  And... the way success is measured here is completely different and I totally love it.  Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure I'm still a workaholic, but success isn't going to be about the bottom line but more about the relationships and capacity building along the way.  When I get back to the US and start the job hunting I think that the way success is measured in an organization will determine if I want to work there.  The fact that I'm already thinking about my next job in two years makes me think I haven't fully lost my workaholic ways.  I think I should probably work on my workaholicness- ha!  And worse case scenario... if I don't find a job when I get back I can always go for that Doctorate. Now, that would be ridiculous.  I have determined though that when I get back, instead of doing the responsible thing and saving the readjustment allowance, I'm definitely spending it all on traveling.  

I have a sitemate but still no site!

About two weeks ago I found out who will be my new BFF (that's best friend forever) for the next two years.  I'm really excited about my site mate- she's a spunky little firecracker!  So when I get all cracked out on work I think she'll definitely keep me in check. Anddd she's also pretty awesome because our approach and values/ideas for the Healthy Schools program are in sync since we both have the same goals and aspiration for success.  I think that was a run on sentence that lacked clarity. Oh well, you get the gist.

As for our home for two years we don't know where that will be!  We were supposed to find out last week but since there are so many awesome healthy schools volunteers they needed more time to find us the perfect sites.  I think I'm really ready to move on to my new home. Twenty four months of service sounds a lot less than twenty seven and these past three months have flown by. I'm a little apprehensive to start all over with a new family and a new city and with 6 less gringos in the same town but I'm also ready to starting nesting and cooking for myself.  This weekend I think it hit me a little more that we'll soon be on our own because Caitlin and I went to the market by ourselves and bought items for a whole meal. Her host mom was teaching us how to cook this friend egg/green bean dish. I'm pretty positive I paid too much for a watermelon and by too much I mean I paid $1 when I should have paid .75.  Either way, we went shopping without our spanish teachers or without others who speak better than us both.

But back to sites... I should find out where I'm living and where y'all are visiting on March 24th.  And then on March 25th we swear in as legitimate volunteers. And then on the 27th we're shipped off on our own!  Time to sink or swim and fortunately since this isn't a literal swimming situation I shouldn't drown.

Malaria Dreams

Total change of topic but wanted to ramble about this nonetheless.  I think I finally had my first malaria dream.  They say the malaria dreams aren't really scary but just more vivid. And to clarify, I don't have malaria, I just take two pills weekly (Aralen) that taste horrible so that I don't get malaria. I try to take them in the morning and not at night however about a week ago I took them before bed. So, my first malaria dream consisted of me fighting in a battle. I was fighting the giant, bright, and furry letters/numbers of Sesame Street. They were chasing me and I was running from the giant furries of fury. So I would classify that as a vivid malaria pill induced dream.  After the Sesame Street battle was over I had a malaria nightmare.  Apparently in this nightmare I had forgotten I got married when I was in high school and was trying to get a divorce. I was mad that someone authorized the marriage and allowed me to get married. Ha! So that was definitely a nightmare and thankfully I woke up and I'm definitely not married.

And in Summary...Pictures!

Cemetery- this section was for the babies :o(

Just a view of the cemetery.  It's a real colorful place. The large square structure is a mausoleum and caskets will be in each compartment.

Drunk guy in the cemetery.  I jumped when the construction workers cat called me (in the cemetery-gross) and thought it was the dead dude (which was actually just a drunk- there are tons here passed out in the streets).
Chucho with what we believed was a hip bone. Lucky find for this pup!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Legitimate Blog Post

Soooo... with my previous posts I usually only had about ten minutes and was wanting to give the brief Cliff's notes version of my experience. But now I have internet in my bedroom- woo woo!  I only paid for two weeks so I need to make the most of it now!  This may be the world's longest entry but I' going to try and be thorough this time!

What I'm doing:
Right now I'm a trainee for the Healthy Schools Program (Escuelas Saludables) and if all goes well I will be sworn in as a Volunteer at the end of March.  The mission of the Healthy Schools Program is to provide training to teachers and administration on healthy habits for the students.  I won't have too much interaction with the children but the hope is that by training the teachers this program will be much more sustainable in the long run. Some of the topics for Healthy Schools can be proper nutrition, handwashing, brushing teeth, self esteem, general hygeine, etc. Please know that Guatemala is a country with a high rate of chronic malnutrition which does result in stunting and learning deficiencies.  For example, last week I visited a school and there was an 8 year old boy but he was the size of a 4-5 year old. Additionally, water is not always available so that makes practicing hygeine hard. Another health concern for children in Guatemala is respiratory problems. There were many children (older children) that had runny noses with lots of mucus. And this is the norm.  So Healthy Schools is a necessary and beneficial program that will hopefully in time teach students and teachers the importance of hygeine.

A Typical Day:
During training it is very structured and I totally thrive on structure- surprise! Anywho, I digress.  Mondays are usually Spanish class all day. Tuesdays we head to the PC headquarters and recieve lessons on Health (ie: diarrhea and std's), safety (you're prob going to be pickpocketed so be smart/safe/always alert), and our technical program training.  Wednesdays includes tech training and so I visit Tecpan and see the Volunteers in action. Thursday is half day Spanish class and half day technical training in Parramos. Friday is spanish! And Saturday is usually cultural outings in the mornings.

A Typical Meal:
Not that I'm counting... but since January 13th I've consumed 64 tortillas.  Breakfast is usually two eggs with beans and some bread. Lunch is probably the biggest meal and usually includes beans, tortillas, and a meat.  My favorite meal so far has been helaches.  It's like this shredded beef tomato thing and it's tasty. I tried googling it to see a picture/recipe but nothing comes up. Sorry! I'm definitely not starving here!  I wanted to lose weight moving here but alas I don't think that's happening. Dinner is usally much smaller and has been tortillas and beans or maybe the same lunch but a smaller portion. 

I'm actually pretty proud of myself and my eating habits. As y'all probably know I'm not one to try new foods or sauces or veggies or meat with the bones still in it. However, I pretty much clean my plate every time.  Even the time I was served fish that still had it's face and fins staring at me!  And most of the sauces are tomato based so I'm in the clear there. As for veggies... I've tried all sorts of new ones. Chipilin, chintla (tastes like potato), quiskel (tastes like squash and I'm sure I spelled it wrong). At lunch today I think I had cabbage and I've never really ate that before either.  I also had beets and i think they taste kind of like dirt and this veggie that looked like spinach but wasn't also kind of tasted like dirt but... a tortilla helps everything go down!

My Health:
Surprise- I've been sick!  And no it's not the hypochondriac in me coming out!  I literally pooped in a cup and the lab results determined I had two viruses.  Two freaking diarrhea inducing viruses. That's all I should say about that. I could totally and elaborately go on but I won't.  And then this week I struggled with allergies which surprise then turned into a sinus infection.  So needless to say I'm a big wimp when it comes to being sick. I just ached all over.  And a fever. And snot. And etc. My host dad wanted to take me to the doctor asap so he called the PC and they said I'd be fine. ha!  I don't think he necessarily liked that response- he was ready to take me to the doctor stat- but miraculously I totally felt 100% better the next day.  I guess ibuprofen and sudafed can be cures.

About acclimating
In my opinion I think I'm acclimating with the cultre very well.  Living in Corpus Christi and having an understanding/appreciation for the Hispanic culture translates pretty well here. It's not the same but I think it's a start!  The value of family and God are the two main values here and I can totally respect that.

I've been to a wedding and witnessed a few funerals in the street. The other day I actually witnessed a burial.  It was really special.  Don't get me wrong- it was sad.  I was sitting at a school and the cemetary was only a few yards away- the kids were playing there during recess- and a procession walks by.  It was a funeral for a child or baby, I'm not sure, all I know is that the coffin was being carried by one man on one shoulder. They proceeded to lay the casket in the ground and one by one shoveled dirt in the grave.  I think the procession through the town and the literal act of burying a family member with your own hands is very respectful and moving. I don't imply this was a happy time but I think that it was beautiful.  I was freaked out when they would compact the dirt and then shovel more and then compact again. That bothered me but I took comfort in the fact that the whole town and family was in attendance until the grave was covered. 

Some Differences
There are lots. For example I think we like everything nice and neat and packaged. Gravediggers compact the dirt at cemetaries but we don't necessarily stick around to see that be done. Our funeral processions are in our cars not pysically us walking in the streets from church to cemetary.  And I understand logistically this may not be feasible and it's totally fine- just a different approach.  And let me tell you about the meat markets.  I totally prefer my food in a nice neat package.  I don't want to see the freaking head of the cow or the feet of the chicken.  Or do I want to smell the smell (it's a very distinct smell I doubt I'll forget).  However, seeing where my food actually comes from and what it once was makes me appreciate it more. When we walked the streets of a huge market in Chimaltenango and I could buy a baby cow for about $75 I got really sad. The cows looked sad, the pigs looked sad, and I think it's becasue they knew they were gonna be food eventually. And maybe they were sad because they were covered in their own poop.  But probably they weren't thinking any of that.  Ha!  Anywho, long story longer, I do still want my food in a nice sanitary package but I'm glad I'm able to reflect on the true origin of where my food comes from and have a little more respect for the animals and not just objectifying them as a literal piece of meat behind the counter at Walmart.

Anywho, that's almost everything in a nutshell. However, speaking of nuts. Google where cashews come from and how they are prepared.  I had no idea until I saw it in the market.  It's a tedious process and the raw cashew is highly acidic/toxic.  Jsut an fyi.

Double anywho, write me letters or emails!  Hope everyone is doing great and Happy Superbowl Sunday!  And... to show how uch I don't know about sports I just found out this week it was being held in Dallas.  Oops. My bad. I'm rooting for the underdog... whichever that team is... I don't even know. But I want them to win. ha!

Lots of love!