Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World Hand Washing Day

As a healthy schools volunteer I thought it would that World Hand Washing Day would be a wonderful opportunity to do a fun activity with the children about why we wash our hands and how we wash our hands. Unfortunately, the school year finished two weeks ago and none of the children are in school. My host sister, who is a third grade teacher, and I talked about what we could do to celebrate and incorporate kids outside of the school environment. We decided to have an activity day at my house with the kids from the neighborhood.

On Saturday morning eleven of the neighborhood children, aged four to ten, showed up at my house and we started with an ice breaker game in which each child had to say their name, their age and their favorite food. We segued from food into the conversation of washing our hands and why we wash our hands. My host sister did a wonderful presentation with them reading the story of Mariquita Cochinita with them. Afterwards we did a question and answer with them asking them questions like, How do you think Mariquita felt when she was sick? and the kids were very enthusiastic about the activity.

Afterwards I brought out water and soap and taught each of the kids how to wash our hands before we eat and after we go do the bathroom. We played music from the radio for one minute so that they could get used to how long they needed to wash their hands for. They had a lot of fun dancing around my porch singing as they washed their hands.

The third activity we did was a drawing activity. Each child had a sheet of paper with their name on it that said Lin Ka’ba Lain _______, Ut Lain Nin Ch’aaj Lin Ruuq. That translates from Q’eqchi Mayan to My Name Is ____, and I Wash My Hands. They got to trace their hand onto the paper and color the sheets however they wanted to.

Afterwards we washed our hands again, a few of our older kids were really excited and even recruited some of the other kids from the neighborhood and showed them how to wash their hands. Afterwards everyone got to choose between pineapple or mango slices for a snack and got to take home their new handwashing poster. It was a small project but the kids really enjoyed it.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Tarantulas are not a normal part of most people’s day. I do not have a normal life. As such I’ve been forced to deal with palm sized arachnids for the last 20 months. I’ve developed what I would like to call The Five Stages of Arachnid Cohabitation.

Stage 1: Discovery and Absolute Horror

There were about six blissful weeks when I first moved to Chisec when I saw no tarantulas. Sure, there were other large spiders but nothing as grotesque as a real live tarantula. Then, one day, I was cooking in the kitchen. I keep my spice jars in a basket next to the stove and I reached into the basket to get some curry powder. As my fingertips grazed the prickly fibers I panicked. Potatoes and chicken went flying as I accidentally knocked the frying pan off the stove and watched as my houseguest ran for cover behind the kitchen table. I was in shock. Had I really seen a tarantula? Was this some sort of nightmare? Was John Goodman going to come busting in through my door to save me? No. This was real. Goodman wasn’t coming and I had to take care of the spider myself.

Stage 2: Minor Fascination

After the initial shock wore off I developed a bit of a minor fascination with the tarantulas. I never went so far as to touch them, but after trapping one in the kitchen and escorting him outside with the broom I took some really cool pictures. Despite being creepy, they’re actually really interesting creatures. I Goggled tarantulas in Central America and it appears as though my new roommate is not in fact poisonous.

Stage 3: Acceptance

I actually came to accept that tarantulas were a part of my life in Chisec and while always a bit annoyed by their presence I usually just swept them outside or used the broom handle to scare them back into their hiding spots in the eaves of my house.

Stage 4: Surprise Attack

Only after I’d been lulled into a false sense of security did the tarantulas launch their full-scale attack on me. My brother Alex came to visit and we were packing to head up to the Tikal ruins. I dug up my running shoes and as I was about to put my foot in I noticed a rather large spider web in the shoe. A tarantula had moved in. I panicked; drop kicked the shoe outside and yelled for my brother. Alex spent the next ten minutes trying to get the tarantula out of my shoe. It’d hidden himself deep in the toe of the shoe and efforts to beat it out weren’t working. Alex suggested just squishing it in there but I didn’t want to ruin my shoes. I ended up taking my hiking boots (after a thorough inspection) up on the trip rather than the running shoes.

The story doesn’t end there though. The little shit managed to ruin my shoe and my week even after he was gone. A few days after I came home I put my running shoes on to work out. I checked my shoes thoroughly for spiders and hesitantly put them on. I thought I was good, but shortly after my work out my foot began to itch like crazy. Turns out tarantulas shed their hairs when they are frightened and the beating we had given it had turned the inside of my shoe into a formidable spider hairball. The rash on my foot took over a week to go away.

Stage 5: Mission to Kill

As my rash faded away, my anger bubbled up inside of me. I was on a mission to brutally kill every tarantula I faced. I’d had to throw out my shoes since there was no way of removing the hairs. One evening I caught a tarantula strolling across my kitchen floor. I trapped it under the colander that I use as a sort of tarantula jail and put him outside while I took a shower and contemplated how to destroy the creature. I have no idea if this was the same tarantula that ruined my shoe but in my blind rage all tarantulas were guilty of causing the evil rash on my foot

While in the shower I kind of chickened out. What if he could shoot his hairs at me and they stung my eyeballs and blinded me? Was this a smart idea to launch an attack on the spider on his home turf, two hours from the nearest hospital? I planned to release the spider but Peluche, the dog, had a better idea. While I’d been showering he’d discovered the tarantula underneath the colander outside. Best. Toy. Ever. The dog proceeded to scoot the colander around the porch trying to get the tarantula out and when he finally knocked it over and the tarantula went running for the bushes Peluche hunted him down. For the next hour he mercilessly tossed the arachnid up and down in the air and pawed at it as it tried to run away. In short, he mauled the spider to death. Peluche is now my favorite animal. Sorry Sasha.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


So I've decided that since I don't have enough crazy stuff to deal with up here in the jungle, that I'm going to attempt to tackle the LSAT. (this seemed much cooler when i was going to be taking it in Guatemala City, but now turns out ill just be one of a billion people taking it back in California since the LSAT decided to axe Guatemala off the list of places they offer the test)

Here is a list of reasons why preparing for the LSAT in Guatemala is actually a good idea.

* It's a really good distraction from facebook.

* Justifies me spending 300Q a month on high speed internet (for my online review course...)

* Helps me remember how to speak/read/write in English.

* Gives me an excuse for staying in site on the weekends and thus not breaking the Peace Corps travel rules.

* Provides a forum for interaction with other Americans (and a few Canadians) that I am otherwise deprived of since the two volunteers closest to me are gone. One got kicked out and the other quit.

* Forces me to have a schedule that does not go like this. Wake up. Facebook. Go to School. Nap in Hammock. Facebook. Eat. Nap some more in the Hammock. Facebook. Eat again. Facebook. Go to bed.

I take the test Oct. 9th at Cal State East Bay. Definitely ready to knock this one out, my hammock misses me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

why i'm in need of a vacation

Why im in need of a vacation...

My mom called me yesterday from the airport in San Diego, she and my dad have been down there attending the APA conference. Anyhow she told me that she felt just like me then went on to describe how she hadn’t changed her clothes in several days, she was stuck wearing flip flops because she couldn’t find shoes, she needed a pedicure so badly she was embarrassed to face the Vietnamese girls at For Your Nails and that her hair was so frizzy she looked like she'd gone back to her student days at Berkeley. At first I was kind of insulted, although assaults on my general state of cleanliness are nothing new, she used to tell me I looked like a homeless person when id come home from college with baskets of dirty laundry wearing sweats and old tie-dyed t-shirts. Then I took a look at myself and decided, shes probably right. Most of my clothes smell like mold, I’ve developed a bad case of what we refer to as “country foot” and I can’t find my razor so I haven’t shaved my legs in a month. Heres a good visual comparison…

Hurley from Lost /Me

also, tony just told me a look like a contestant on survivor...not what you want to hear from your boyfriend.


ok maybe tony had a point...

Scary dude from Survivor/Me

More animal tales.

Ok, so one more animal story.

I woke up this morning and there was a new dog in the yard. Im going to attempt not to get attached to this dog because the last two dogs I liked mysteriously disappeared and the one dog I can't stand won't leave. Anyhow. New dog is barking and barking and barking so I go outside to see what New dog is barking at. Well, apparently he doesn't like that the pig in the yard is tied up to the mango tree and he's decided to let the pig know this by getting really close to him and barking. The pig can't do anything about it because its tied to the mango tree, although I don't think the pig knows it should be annoyed at New dog. Also, New dog kind of looks a lot like this really pathetic cat my brother used to have named Jack.

Sasha, my dog back home would definitely bark if she came across a pig tied to a mango tree. Although unlike New dog I'm sure she would be much more composed even when facing a pig twice her size. She's jewish and all so shes good at avoiding ham. I haven't uploaded a picture of New dog and the pig yet, but heres one of Sasha.

ok so i uploaded the picture of New dog and the Pig...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Amusing/Funny/Unusual Things that I’ve Seen Animals Do In Guatemala

1. I was sitting on the bus the other day and I looked out the window and there was a pig, a really big pig, like 20 pounds of bacon worth, chasing a duck across a soccer field.

2. Walking into town one day there was this stray dog passed out on the side of the road and sitting on top of him was a duck.

3. This one never fails to amuse me. Entire truckloads of Guatemalans will erupt into laughter when they see this. So when dogs have doggie sex, sometimes they get stuck together, and when the male dog tries to dismount he usually ends up spinning around so they are stuck together, ass to ass. Then, if they are in the middle of the street and a car is approaching they try to run away but they’re headed in opposite directions so they don’t get anywhere. It may be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


So the airport finally opened and Tony was able to make it down safely. We spent most of our time in Chisec so I could finish up some projects before the two week school break. I'm in the middle of a bunch of big construction planning so lots of trying to motivate teachers, parents and masons as well as trying to find money for all these projects. ( US AID where is all this money you promised?) Tony came to school with me one day and the Q'eqchi women had a great time trying to figure out if he was a giant Guatemalan or an American. I wish we could have spent more time traveling around but unfortunately I don't have enough vacation days left to do that (saving them up for my 2 week trip back home in August). We did get to go down to Lanquin and had a wonderful time doing the candle lit cave tour and swimming in the pools up in Semuc Champey.
Nothing better than a man cleaning your room

Parent meeting in Pecajba

Waiting for a the bus in Lanquin

I've got my brother here now and Alex and I are heading off to Flores to go see the Mayan ruins before we head down to Antigua for the all volunteer conference and 4th of July party (which our country director decided to hold on the 3rd not the 4th, who knew she had enough power to move our independence day...)