Friday, July 23, 2010

My House Under Attack

I have had a bit of a crazy week in my house. I think that the rain is making all the animals (and children) act a bit crazy. For some reason my house seems like a reasonable shelter to them all.

Sunday night I woke up about 2am to the sounds of a rat chewing on cardboard, running across the ceiling (between the ceiling and the roof) and then running back to chew on more cardboard. My assumption was that it was building a nest. So didn't sleep a lot that night, never imagined a rat could be so loud. The next day I went to borrow a rat trap from my host sister and planted it in my ceiling with a nice big piece of plantain in it. Either my rat doesn't like plantain or he just is a bit to smart to walk into a metal cage.

It was two more nights of him running around building his nest. So finally I took down the cage, and removed the now moldy piece of plantain, replaced it with some bread and set it on the floor next to my bed. I managed to catch him the next night. He was surprisingly small, and I felt a bit guilty taking him to my host dad for him to feed to the cat, but I was excited to be rat free. So I carried him next door, and they brought out the cat. The cat was watching him intently, so I opened the box and the cat intently watched the rat run away :(

So my host-sister then decided to point out the fact that it takes more than one rat to build a nest. So we decided I probably had two. Now I realize I definitely have two, as they both went running up the wall to hide when I walked in the house last night. Back to putting out a trap again.

As if rats weren't enough, I also have these unpleasant little fire ants building their nests inside my house. I saw a big nest outside my house and walked inside to look and sure enough it was inside too. So I moved around my stove and table and taking advice from my neighbor I poured boiling water all over them. Four kettles later and a lot of mud they were all dead. I spent a while cleaning the mud up, but was happy to be rid of the biting creatures.

The next morning they had moved to the opposite corner of my house. So I went through it all again. Then Wednesday they had moved to the middle of the wall and set up another home. Thursday was when I really regretted not having any kind of ant poisen, though, as I woke up and stood up and uncomfortably discovered they had built their nest next to my bed. They didn't come back today, so I am hoping I am rid of them for a while. Any one have any suggestions on how to get rid of the tiny red ants that like to attack my feet? They are also building in my water house, but I decided I can live with that for now.

Between the rats, the ants, the ever present dogs and chickens from my neighbors I thought my house was pretty well occupied and that I had had enough battles for one week. So I sat down Wednesday to rest in my hammock for a bit in the afternoon when a soccer ball flew into my house and nearly hit my head. I got up to go talk to the kids that like to play in my yard and ask them to relocate their goal a bit. This was our conversation...
Me: Your goal cannot be my front door, okay?
Juan: It is not your door, see the cans? (Two cans placed about 5 feet apart and sitting maybe 2 feet in front of my door)
Me: Oh so if you don't stop the ball and they score a goal, you will stop it in the two feet before it goes in my house?
Juan: Yes :)

Anyway, it was a good week. A lot of fun was had as I wandered around trying to meet the three new families that moved into our village this week. The women in my village have decided they would like to start a women's group, so I am working with them on that whole process. It has been a bit frustrating at times, but a good project to be working on.

My host sister, Safaria, decided that I finally needed to get my Maya clothes made. So she went with me to take them to a lady in the next village and I picked them up this week. Maybe I will have pictures soon. I haven't worn them yet, but probably will Sunday when we have our next women's group meeting. Safaria and I finished sewing my uuq (skirt) together on Monday. Looks good, I think.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ha'an Awi...

I can't believe it is already July! I am not really sure what happened to the month of June... I am going to try and figure it out right now, though.

The beginning of the month started off with a wonderful birthday I already told you about, and a little too much bus riding for my taste. After that I got a few weeks to hang out in the village.

School came to a close in June and with it came a lot of last minute finishing of projects. We finished purchasing everything for our school feeding program and the kitchen looks amazing now! Looks amazing may not be the right words, but it functions very well now that we have pots, pans and a stove! We were able to cook a few meals for the kids the last week, and I am looking forward to seeing how things develop next year as more women get involved in the cooking. I appreciated my dear friend Emily coming to visit and helping me out cooking with the ladies and doing some organizing and planning in the library!

I did some talking with different village leaders and we have come up with some ideas for projects that I have been researching this month in terms of planning and figuring out who to approach for assistance. I have no idea where any of them will lead, if anywhere, but it is exciting to be working on some projects that are more related to my field and would be great for the community. I will talk more about them maybe as things start to progress a bit.

I am really thankful to have made some good friends in my village. It helps keep me going. Sometimes the work is really slow (well always) and sometimes it can be really frustrating, but to have people that I know genuinely care about me, people I can laugh with and joke with it makes life so much more enjoyable. There would really be no point to do things like this without the relationships. I love seeing that people are trusting me more, and used to having me around, they comment and give me a hard time when I leave them for a few days, and it is neat to feel at home here. I know the stronger the relationships get, the more work we will accomplish eventually. Plus it is helping out a bit with language learning. I feel pretty confident in my ability to understand what people are saying in Q'eqchi now. I am not always the best at speaking to them in return, but at least I can understand a lot of what they say. I got some help with verb conjugation and tense and whatnot so hopefully with some practice I will manage to say the right things eventually.

Alright a lot of rambling, but more to come still...

So we had a practice hurricane consolidation. As a lot of you know I don't actually have any way to be reached when I am in my village. My phone doesn't get service, the satellite phone they gave me a long time ago got taken away because it was broken, and we don't have a community phone or any vehicles. So I may be right on the highway but I never know what is going on. I knew sometime in June we would be having a hurricane consolidation drill and it got to the last week of June and I was just kind of wondering which day it would be. I ran into town with a friend because we were planning to go to the beach for a day, but when we arrived all these texts came in saying "you are on alert, you are on standfast please do not leave your site and prepare your emergency bucket for consolidation". So we sadly went back home and I got all my emergency supplies that I felt like packing for the non-hurricane packed up in my five gallon bucket and we went to town the next morning. Normally they would have come to get me because I wouldn't have known, but when I arrived they said alright we will be consolidating tomorrow so please just head into town. Drills are always a bit weird to me, but the day of it was pouring down rain so I guess at least it felt appropriate. When I arrived to the PC office in Belmopan and met up with the 100 or so other volunteers things felt a bit chaotic and weird. They gave me the satellite phone and made me feel rather disaster ready with my giant phone, plastic emergency bucket and my somewhat chewed up (by a rat) solar charger for the phone.

Before I even made it back to my site after the consolidation drill I got a call that Tropical Storm Alex was on its way. We didn't end up getting consolidated and it didn't get too bad, but definitely has 6+ inches of rain fall on Sat/Sun.

Alright I think I am done with some rambling for now, maybe next time my thoughts will get a bit more organized :) Miss you all!


I realized I forgot to explain "Ha'an awi" . It is Q'eqchi and it means "the same thing". For some reason it is the new favorite saying of the kids in my village. They will say "Megan" and wait until I look or say what and then they will just say "Ha'an awi". It seems to be turning into a battle of who can say it first. I have no idea why it is so funny, but they do it to everyone. Drives their parents crazy too. I am pretty sure it is the only Q'eqchi Emily learned during her visit. Makes sense, though, with as much as they say it... :)