100 Degrees and Rising

March 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm 2 comments

Are you guys enjoying winter? Could you send some snow down here please? All you Denver-ites, I heard about your blizzard. Jealous. I have almost completed my first week in my new town, Pespire. Let’s just say that the heat has not brought out the best in me. I have had a few temper tantrums so far, but, so have my friends, so I am not too worried. We got dropped off last Sunday and had to navigate the cobble streets with our very large awkward luggage to find our new houses. After being harassed by a very drunk man the entire journey (who by the way drooled on my friend’s shoe) in 100 degree heat, I finally found my casa. My living situation here is very different from my fam up in Zarabana.

Mom is a local elementary school teacher, my Dad works for an NGO in Tegus, 2 sisters (10 and 14) and an employee, her son, and a nephew all living in a house. And a large guard dog names Duquesa that bites my ankles. No bucket showers. And a TV in every room. Sounds like the Real World, right?

This week was the first week of field-based training. I still have Spanish classes everday, but our training is a lot more tech oriented. This week, we had to give talks to members of the community explaining who we are, what we do, why we are here, etc. It went really well, considering our Spanish is less than perfect. And of course, the 17 gringos ARE the talk of the town. The past three days the group did a topographic study for a water system design on an adjacent mountain using Abney levels and GPS’s (yes I used my new GPS, thank you gentlemen!). Hotter than hell, but actually fun. We had a herd of cows following us for a bit, which added an element of excitement (see photos).

You could say Pespire is definitely more rural than Zarabanda. It is about 2 hours south of the Capital, but you can really see the difference in attitudes. Most every one here was born here, and the cultural roots run deep. Lots of folks are farmers or own their own little pulperias (really tiny 7-11’s). Mango trees are everywhere, and all you need is a rock to satisfy your hunger between breakfast and lunch. While I am here, I will learn how to milk cows at my abuelos farm. . . . and then I will make cheese! IF only the cheese down here tasted like cheese up there. The cheese here tastes and looks like feta, but it is cow-ier, and 10x saltier. There are no words in the English language to describe it. So, the first person to come visit, por favor bring some sharp cheddar, or a wheel of brie.

Pespire is also really conservative – that’s where the most of the frustrations come in. I had an eye-opener week and realized that I am a second-class citizen and a guest in their culture. Sure, I’ve been accepting of all cultures, no matter what. But to actually live in one is another story. No drinking, especially for women, curfew at 9, church (and it is Lent, by the way), gossip that runs like wildfire, and other things that I will filter out of my blog. If you want to know, I’ll send you an email. But, after thinking for a while, I have accepted that this situation is a little personal challenge, or perhaps a secret lesson god decided to give me. He/She/it is probably still mad at me for sleeping during church all of those years. Went to Stations of the Cross last night, partly to not insult my mom, and partly to see what was up. For all of you non-catholics, it is a ceremony that happens every Friday during the Lenten period. It tells the story of Jesus’s journey to execution and resurrection. There are 14 stations (I think?) and it takes about 3 HOURS. You stop at each station, explain it, read some bible verses, and say a few prayers. However, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. All of the stations were setup along the cobblestone streets in the town instead of the blazing hot church. The people walked through the streets singing happy guitar songs while visiting each station. What a cool way to see the town! I also entertained myself by counting my mosquito bites and by trying to calculate the volume sweat I produced today. Did I mention it was hot here?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

More pics I tried to add last week. . . I love cheese.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. An old Gringo  |  March 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I know you are up to the challenge. Remember that invaluable saying: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

  • 2. queensboro  |  April 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Is the Old Gringo, by chance, David? I agree. You are definitely up to it!


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