Merry Christmas from the Tropics
Everything is going fine here. I have two days until Christmas, but here, the big day is actually Christmas Eve. Tomorrow night we will have a big dinner, drinking, listening to music, and just hanging out with the family. The Doña who owns my house is in town to make dinner at my house, and on the 27th, we are going to host a Noche Bela, which is a big party to honor the saint of the house. We are going to kill a pig, goat, and lots of chickens to cook food all day long. Later, the fun starts. They pull out the drums and start dancing palos. People drink A LOT, and in the end, through the music and everything, some women become possessed by the saints. There are some that begin rolling around on the ground like snakes, others all they want is water. I guess one year, one woman put her head in the canal to quench her thirst! It sounds pretty intense. I’ll get some pictures after the day to show you all. I’m looking forward to having the party, and you never know, maybe I’ll be ¨montado con un santo.¨
Thanksgiving went relatively well. There was a big party in the capital with all the volunteers. We ate a lot of good food, danced, played football and swam in the pool. It was a great day to share with the other volunteers. The new kids swore in so we got to know the new people a little bit. The only thing missing was the Macy’s Day Parade, and whipped cream for the pumpkin pie.
On the work side of things, I finally got my youth group started. They seem really motivated to have fun, but I want them to do more. I want them to do service projects for the environment, but they don’t seem interested. I think I can get them interested in an initiative called Escojo Mi Vida, which is a sex education program that covers everything from teen pregnancy, STDs, HIV-AIDS, and just basic health stuff. I hope, hope, hope I can get them to do more than party all the time.
Our vivero is on hold, kind of. We are selling tickets for a raffle. They can win a sack of rice, a gallon of cooking oil, or a water thermos. The tickets are selling well. We’ll get enough money to clean our parcel. The problem is that the group wants me to write grants, write you guys for money, and just give them all the money. What I want to do is have almost all the funds come from within the community. They need to be owners of their project, to be invested in what they are doing. I’m afraid that if I get all my money from outside, they won’t maintain their project.
Lately I’ve really been struggling with being an American in another culture. I was at the store the other day and someone asked me if I was Columbian or Venezuelan and I was ESTATIC! When I’m in the street and I hear Gringa or Americana, I just get frustrated because of all the connotations that I hear in my head- Hey rich girl! Give me some of what you have! I feel like I can’t leave my house without some kid asking me for money, a mint, my dog. I am over charged where ever I go. I pay double for taxis. Triple for food. And the vendors get away with it, because I’m white, and I don’t know any better. What makes it worse is that Peace Corps pays us the minimum we need to live. I’m not a tourist on vacation. I don’t have the extra money to get screwed over on prices. And it won’t change. Not until I change my language, clothes, and skin color.
Anyway, I hope all is going well in the United States of America, or wherever you are. I still am waiting on some visitors. Get your Spring Break, Summer Time, or just plain old vacation time planned. I want all of you to see this country. It’s beautiful here. And it’s warm. Get yourselves out of the freezing cold and get to the tropics!!
Stay safe in the holiday season. Let me know how you are.
P.S. I have a new puppy. Her name is Shakira. And she’s beautiful.
P.P.S. I saw Shakira, the singer, in concert. And she’s beautiful.