Monday, September 6, 2010

the news from Casa Guatemala

Even after just a couple of days I feel like I'm settling in nicely here at Casa Guatemala. I guess that normally there are about 30 volunteers but right now I see only six. I guess that two are on their break, but still, not too many. I am interested to see where my head is in a few weeks. The rest of the volunteers want out for sure. They are sick and they are tired and they are frustrated and they are angry and they are negative. I'm going to do all that I can to make sure to keep in perspective what we are doing and why we are here and that it just isn't all that bad. Of course I've been here three days, so what do I know? I know that it's much harder to keep your spirits up when you've been sick for weeks and weeks. And when you've been eating the same simple food meal after meal, day after day, week after week. There are always beans. Sometimes there are eggs and vegetables, sometimes there is pasta, sometimes there is rice. There are always tortillas. Luckily there are also plenty of spices and the beans and vegetables are delicious. I would love to have beans and vegetables and tortillas every meal but so far we only had vegetables one day and the other days have been beans with rice or pasta. Seems to be the same-ish meals all day – certainly not going to throw anything away. So far I don't mind and actually feel pretty good. I'm not hungry between meals and I'm not having the carb sugar crashes that I'm so used to so that's great.

I drink about a gallon and a half of water a day and only pee twice or three times which amazes me. Never not sweating. We had a little rain last night preceded by a nice wind. It was after bedtime for the girls but I let them sit out on the patio to take advantage of the breeze. I couldn't lay in bed and didn't think it was probably fair to make them do either. We'll see if I get in trouble for it.

One thing I hadn't thought about is that because there are teenage boys and girls here that there are boyfriends/girlfriends/fights/breakups and none of it is condoned by the powers that be. They like to think that there will be no contact and so there is a constant struggle to keep things on the up and up. Last night as I was trying to get all the girls inside to watch a movie on the computer there was a breakup that happening so I just stood there to act as witness. One of the boys said I could go in, that she would be along soon. I told him that I had to make sure that nothing bad happened and he said that was why he was there and I didn't have to worry. So I put out my hand and told him that then everyone would be extra safe with us both there and I was glad to have an ally. He wasn't sure that was what he wanted but he didn't have much choice so we shook on it and waited it out. I'm not sure what to do with that stuff yet. I guess you just do the best you can. The girls were watching a movie last night and a girl who is really surly – the toughest customer – came in and sat in my room and talked with me the whole time. At first I thought that was pretty nice but I eventually realized she was there to keep me from checking and that someone had snuck out to meet a boy. I mean, maybe not, but that is the simplest explanation and the one I know is true. Until I learn all their names and faces and personalities though, there just isn't much I can do about it. Interesting.

The doctor left a few weeks ago mad about something and there is no medic here now. The littlest kids have some crazy kind of rash that looks aweful and it's hard to know what it might be and so you want to comfort them but kind of you don't want to touch them. I just figure that whatever it is must be curable and if I get it I will get cured also. It might just be heat blisters but it sure seems severe. Right now all the little ones are being given antibiotics every day with their morning teeth brushing and I have to wonder if that is mean to be the case or if they were on a cycle of them when the doctor left and this is the result of a miscommunication. Or are they actually fed antibiotics everyday? That can't be good. And one of the middle aged girls just went to town with heb B and there isn't money to inoculate the other kids so they just take their chances.

I am here to learn and it is really interesting to see what happens when your resources start to dry up and your volunteers quit coming and your kids are sick and you can't afford to help them. Even if the ranch starts with two kids and never gets bigger than ten I realize how incredibly unfair it is to promise to take care of someone and then not be able to. I'm sure they are still probably better off than they would be without this place here at all but it's a little heart breaking. It is also inspiring to do your very best and be gentle with yourself when all that you can do isn't enough. To not own the guilt of knowing better.

So good and bad, just like expected. I think I chose well to come here. It definitely feels more like the type of experience I was hoping for than living in Peru did. Not that I would trade it – I wouldn't, I'm just grateful to be here now and I'm grateful that in December I will be headed to the mountains where I will need a blanket and maybe a sweater.

I hope you are all well,

oh yeah, I haven't investigated yet but a couple of people have written asking if I am in the mudslide areas and I am not. I don't know where they are and when I'm done here I will get on the internet and take a look at the news but I am safe.

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