Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Feeling guilty

I just booked our trip to Tikal this morning. The whole affair was very quick (we were done in 10-15 min). But I was asked by the accountant living in my house, how much it cost. I felt so guilty as I uttered the number. And within hearing distance, was Maria :( The cost for one person is a few times her monthly salary over. I struggle with how I feel, I feel, about this. We can go into a long discussion over the merits/disadvantages of a society where people are not, and are not treated, equally. But that will take way too long.

Another thing I have mixed feelings on is how good a listener I am when people tell me about their injury/ies. As you can imagine, I hear a lot of stories about how the person sustained his/her injury. I know my reaction to people asking me about my injuries varies all the time. I just hope that I strike the right balance of respectfulness, sadness, (maybe) optimism. I think my tone of voice is tries to be very matter-of-fact about the cause of the accident i.e. what happened, happened.

I always love seeing the volcano under different weather conditions each day.


(Un) fortunately at least procrastination transcends language. I'm such a bridge :)

Had a terrible morning, but life improved in the afternoon. My morning started off with my usual 6am visit to my favorite panaderia. where I bought my usual assortment of delicious, warm bread. When I get back to the US I am going to miss having a panaderia on every corner.
I was so dejected this morning, during and after my Spanish classes. My pronunciation is shit, my memory of verbs is woefully small. My inability to memorize things is something I was shocked by. I didn’t realize aging had such a tremendous effect on my memory. This does not bode well for medical school :( Shit, now I’m really worried that I won’t be able to hack even pre-med studies, let alone med-school.  I have an excellent memory when it comes to people, their background, preferences etc. but memorizing foreign words makes me feel like I have the memory of a gnat. Maybe I should have been a lawyer. The only consolation is that gender is very easy to figure out in Spanish (unlike German, say). And regular verbs are easy to conjugate.
Not sure how much longer I will continue with Spanish classes. For one, and as expected, classes are not terribly exciting. Tedious, even. Second, paying for Spanish school is getting expensive! Sigh Writing all this makes me feel even shittier.
Some of the people I try to talk to are too polite to correct my awful Spanish. I’ve told them not to do that. And some people like speaking English. And some, probably, are so fed up with trying to decipher me that they revert to English.
Oh, I am not being facetious or trying to be funny here, but this afternoon as I chatted with the girl behind the counter (and wrought-iron bars), a dwarf came by. I have never stood next to a little person nor do I see how they go about daily life in general. Of course I was going to help her, but first I was curious to see how she dealt with reaching the space between the iron grill. As an aside, I forgot to mention that every window, some entrances, any space where a transaction occurs, has iron grills and a small space where money can exchange hands. I still find it a bit odd. One store put grills on the entrance to the store, so if you wanted an item, say a Coke or chips, you had to ask the person behind the grills to get it for you. I’ve noticed that many things (sometimes everything), even items of not considerable value are kept behind the cashier counter.  Being free to wander down the aisles in the supermarket or drug-store, touch the product, choose from so many choices, will be a bit of a shock for me when I return to the US.
Anyway, in the end little person could almost reach the space between the grill if the panaderia girl reached way out to pass it to her.
My afternoon was infinitely better. I went with Edson to la mercado to look for children’s books. There is so much vocabulary in these books and the texts will help me with my pronunciation. Although I think I might be a lost cause for that :( We ended up finding one text that seemed suitable. The selection is very small as you might guess. Edson and I spent much more time sitting on a bench in el parque just chatting for a good two hours. He is a teacher so he’s a pretty good person for me to talk to because he will correct my mistakes and is patient. We spent quite a bit of time talking about religion, what Buddhism is, what being Buddhist means, Buddhist beliefs and tenents. I am looking forward to visiting the Special-Ed school on Thursday.
My Spanish practice continued with the girl behind the counter of the panaderia. I see her almost every day. She is 18 years old. She works from 6am-8pm everyday. I have so much respect and admiration for her. She asked if I was Japanese. She had not heard of Hong Kong, nor did she know anything about China. It was very interesting but so frustrating that I couldn’t tell her everything or explain things to her. She was particularly stumped by Buddhism. She had not heard of it, and was most surprised that there existed a religion that did not involve praying to a God above. It is incredibly interesting to find out what information is widespread, what are people’s misconceptions about a place/race… Oh, as an aside, chow mein is consumed here :) And they call it chow mein. Of all the things to cross the ocean, chow mein is one of them. Maria’s version was rather delicious and I had to make the dish a talking point with Maria and Giovanni to generate some conversation. Giovanni is difficult to talk to because he is timid and quiet. I don’t think he has ever initiated a conversation with me. I am not sure if he does anything else besides work, watch telly and read a little. There’s a guy who works. His schedule is the same every day, he has never deviated from it. From Mon-Sat. he leaves the house at 6am and makes the 25 min walk to his work. He comes home around noon for lunch and then leaves in time to make it back to the office by 2pm. He then gets back home at around 8pm. I have such major respect for that. That’s also a lot of walking…nearly 2 hrs worth. The thought of spending 2 hours of my day in the US walking is almost unfathomable. I suppose I used to spend 2 hrs a day doing some sport/working out, so I guess it isn’t that crazy. Man, I miss my old pre-accident body :( I am now dumpy and have no muscle tone. And I have a pot-belly. I never used to put on weight around my waist. I know that given what I’ve been through blah blah blah, that something like this is absolutely trivial and I shouldn’t give it a moment’s thought. But the truth is, it does :( I miss the endorphins, the feeling after a tough work-out, the gentle fatigue…if I write/think more about this I am going to get very sad so I’m going to stop now.
I’m just procrastinating, trying to put off the inevitable memorization of a shit-load of stem-changing irregular verbs. *Aaarggh*

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Ever wonder where those yellow school buses in the U.S. go to die? Well, some of them at least, are resurrected in Antigua as camionetas. They get all pimped out, get a paint job, chrome grills, beefed up engine and then work away. I am going to take one for the first time today. They don't have the best safety record and do break-down fairly often but eh, if Guatemalans can ride the bus every day, twice a day, so can I. The steps will be a bit hard to negotiate because they are quite high and the bus doesn't actually stop when you passengers embark/disembark. It just slows down, keeps rolling while a man standing at the bus door shepherds you into the bus. I'm hoping I can alight without any problems.