I suffer the risk of death while you simply have to suffer my horrible grammar.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Incontinence Happens

After a long day of digging ditches in Trojes, Honduras, I awoke the next day from a dream where I had named my future kid Carpe Suburbia thinking it sounded top shelf.

Groggy, I stepped out from my bedroom and greeted Lupi, my landlord, with our now regular daily salutation, "Is there water today?"
"No, no water today, Gustavo."

Lupi then got bold, "So, you install filters with Agua Claro, right?"
"You know, we need a filter here."
"Oh, like an air filter?" I was entertaining myself.
She let it sink in that she thought I was a complete idiot before looking both ways and then confiding, "No...like a water filter. You know, like the ones you install everyday."
"Ah, the cows would like that."
Huddling up, "No, for us, Gustavo..."

Wait for it. Simmer that dramatic pause, Craig. And...yes...a little longer--now, now, now, deliver!

"Lupi don´t we need to have water first before we have a water filter?"
She was befuddled.
I was late for work.

I arrived in the work office and we all exchanged greetings.
"Gustavo is there water in your house?"
"No, no water today."

We then got down to business.
"Gustavo do you see that man in the green shirt? Wait! Don´t look at him!"
"Like directly in his eyes?" I questioned.
"No. Like don´t look at him at all."
"He´s been sent by the town´s conservative mayor."
"Oh, to help us work?"
"No. He told us to not work today or their might be trouble."
I immediately stopped watering my cows on my facebook farm and promptly typed a message in a CIA secure email form explaining that there was dramatic tension in this hotbed political region of Trojes. I can provide names.

My coworkers had a less logical reaction, "We are going wait it out here for a while."
I decided to celebrate my patriotic act by getting breakfast.
"No, Gustavo...it is safer here in the office."

I left the office and greeted the leader of the one person picket line, "Is there water in your house?"
He went for his pocket.
I kept walking.

Breakfast in Trojes was always a simple affair. Did I want beans and rice...or rice and beans? Well, today was a pleasant surprise. Seems like I had been patronizing the restaurant long enough that I got the upgrade option: Beans, rice and a long ass hair. This hair was so long it snaked itself through every possible bite of my meal. It seriously could have been used for a suspension foot bridge.

"Gustavo how was your meal?"
"Great except I found a huge hair in my meal."
The office cheered, "That's good luck!!"
I decided to immediately test this curious logic, "Oh, and...I also found blood in my stool today."
The cheering ceased and a consensus of concern was expressed by my not sarcastic coworkers.
"Whatever...it´s good luck back home." I explained.

Later we decided that my streak of good fortune, the combination of my good luck hair and lucky stool blood, still wasn´t quite enough protection to risk working this morning with an armed man pacing in front of our work truck. We arranged to regroup that afternoon.

I returned to my farm to try and figure out what was going on with my evasive water. It took me two minutes of walking around the back of the farm house to discover the problem. My house was suffering from incontinence.

In respect to the sensitivity of the subject, I pulled my landlord aside and discreetly mentioned, in Spanish, that the house had peed its pants. For some reason, she was confused. So, I had to show her.
"I´ll bring in a plumbing expert." She announced.
I couldn´t wait.

Fredy called and said he was coming over to pick me up for work.
"Fredy is it safe to work right now?"
"See you in 10 minutes."

Normally, Fredy and I work with coffee farmers. So, all day we are served and wash back coffee like it´s contraband. Which is no biggie for although we push the legal blood caffeine level limit, the coffee energizes us to work harder.

Later we returned home fully caffeinated with humming bird heart rates, chatting away, sometimes even chatting away with each other, grinding are teeth and trying not to be too regular as I was proudly yelling phrases in the future verb tense to passing pedestrians.
"Help me! I´m going to vomit!"

When I arrived back at my farm, I was excited to see that Lupi had already called the plumbing expert--her college daughter. Laying around them, they had more tubes than a bad ass hamster fort.

After a while, they ran out of ideas of how to fix the water problem. I thought I´d take the opportunity to inspire them back into action with some PVC didgeridoo serenades.

The contractor and her plumbing expert sprung back into action and fixed the solution. I then had water. I was very excited about having water as I don´t think I´d honestly showered since I flew out of the Houston airport 2 months prior.

Lupi and her daughter didn´t stick around for hugs or the shower celebration. So, I rolled off my greasy clothes and bounced into the shower alone. In complete darkness, I was, of course, overwhelmed with amusement when I turned on the long awaited water and the house electricity immediately went out.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Said, 'Show Me Your Teeth!!!'

So, it seems that people in Trojes have a problem getting access to safe drinking water.

“Lupi, there’s no water in my house!” I politely yelled to the landlord of my farm.
“Oh, sorry. We had to wash the cows.”

First off, I’ve never heard of anyone washing cows that basically stand in around in their own shit all day. So, I immediately called a house meeting to discuss the hierarchy of evolution and to threatened to have my landlord smell my ‘don’t scratch and sniff' salty perineum that was growing a stalactite due to the infrequency of my bathing.

She got my discreet point and promised to refill my water tank above my room. I was off to a hard day of work, which might include the following games.

Ignoring Treachery,

Truck Surfing,

Albino vs. Latino on the Ledge of Doom,

and playing with cute turtles.

Generally, when we work we construct latrines and install water filters. My back has requested that I do not go into the details involving digging 8-foot deep latrine ditches or carrying 250-pound cement filters through the jungle.

I can tell you that after using the old style latrines I can understand why we have a waiting list for our new latrines. The old latrines are a stinky hole in the ground. They basically look like the farm has its own asshole that’s right there between your feet.

Hello, innocent stinky shit well. I’m going to drain my dehydrated bladder in you. Yep.

Easy enough. But, what every single person failed to inform this innocent first worlder was that open latrines seem to make great homes for wasps.

Oh, hello. What have we here?

Mid-stream, I was nervously watching a cyclone of black pissed on and pissed off wasps making a beeline for my tender and exposed parts. I was latched into a latrine, my romantic parts are vulnerable and there are more wasps than I have bug bites. I thoroughly soaked that old latrine with urine as I spun around trying to defend myself.

I decided I’d stay away from the latrines and stick to lying to kids. For example, I have a real soft spot for the look on kids' faces when I explain to them that on their birthday our filters will produce an ice cream topped with a brand new soccer ball personally filled with Messi’s own Argentinian breath. But, it’s not the look on their face as they want to believe that it's true. NO, no, no...it’s the little drop of drool that always forms on their lower lip.

I should also confess that at the time I hadn’t yet learned the word for smile. So, instead, I’d ask the kids to show me their teeth. Not the best solution but look how happy these kids are going to look on our Agua Claro Para Feliz informational brochure.

In general, I’ve been working out here for about three weeks now. It’s funny how you start to take on your surroundings. For example, look closely to the right in the picture below and you’ll be surprised to see that it is actually me.

Look, just trust me--it's me. You can tell by my badunkadunk calf muscles.

Anyway, after a hard day of lying to kids, I was looking forward to a hearty meal in my house. I arrived to hear the good news.
“Gustavo, we replaced the water in your tank!”
This was of course some of that world-famous Honduran sarcasm as there was no water in my house. So, I enjoyed some dry crunchy ramen noodles with the plan of using the empty styrofoam cup as part of my new rain collection system.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fruit of My Loins and I Don't Think I Am a Baby Smuggler

Before work, I just happened to peek in my manties to discover a protective spider and a sac of spider eggs. I wondered how long I had been brooding this little family. My fertility device was grateful that I adverted this genital disaster.

Later that day, I was taking more photos of one of our orientations in a remote community. My team was talking in Spanish about hygiene. So, yeah, neither the Spanish nor the subject of hygiene made any sense to me. Though I did notice when my boss mentioned my name at the end of the presentation.

I waved and greeted the community, “Yep, I’m Gustavo. Hey, folks.”

That’s weird. It looks like you want me to come up front.

I pretended to keep taking pictures.

And there it is again. That signal that you want me to come and talk in front of this group of farmers that pull out their own teeth for dice. Really, is this necessary to use me as an example of how not to be hygienic?

I was introduced again, “Yes, a few words from our volunteer…”
That’s funny, see, no joke, I actually only know a few words in Spanish. What the hell do you want me to say about hygiene?

“Okay, um, look…it’s best to cook with clean water. For example, ah, oh right, once I ate some dirty Chinese food in Nicaragua…”
The farmers confirmed, “Chinese Food in Nicaragua!”
Then the hee-hawing started.

Oh, they loved this. It was like I had missed out on a local colloquial cliché that everyone was using. For example, one could say, that movie was totally Chinese food in Nicaragua.

Oh, wait--duh. Obviously, the adventures of my blog had already spread to these rural UNICEF subsidized communities.

My story of how the tainted Chinese food caused me to produce more vomit than I actually weighed seemed to bring the community together. I watched feuding farmers slapping each other's knees listening to my story while they finished their enemy’s sentence with glee.
“He ate Chinese Food—“
“—in Nicaragua! I know! I know!”

I ignored the chuckling commotion and went on…

“So, like I was saying, clean water is way important and we like sell subsidized filters that totally aren’t Chinese food in Nicaragua.”

“Good work, Gustavo.”
With that, we jumped into the work truck to head home.

Of course, on the way back, the ocean fell from the sky. We had questionable visibility, steep inclines that made your ears pop, and cliffs on either side of a sloppy clay road where if we lost control I’d fall back into Nicaragua.

But, regardless of the conditions, the music in the truck was always sacred. Because Freddy the driver was busy text messaging, I was obviously in charge of the music. And, to be fair, DJ Caucasian would alternate MP3 players. It was an international musical exchange program between Freddy’s Amor Muzak and my cultural presentation of the The Locusts.

The really exciting part was the copper wire Freddy had fashioned to connect an MP3 player to the car radio. The cord almost worked. You had to hold the wire in just the right way. 98% percent of the time I was composing Sonic Youth ballads with the loud short in the copper cord. But, there were these rare moments where through the buzz, hiss and static of the bad cord, we heard real music.

It was glorious. I’d never heard jams from a single left speaker with a cardboard woofer sound so good. At the exact moment when I wiggled the wire in just the right way seducing music to play, I would go catatonic and actualize all that I once read about biofeedback to try and hold the sweet little copper wire in place.

Whenever music came out of the paper towel tube speaker, we were transformed. We’d forget the dangers surrounding us, all my bug bites would stop itching, and Freddy would actually stop texting to beam a smile as he drove just a little faster.

With the elevating changing bumps in the road, I was a human gyroscope keeping the precious copper wire in place. Freddy and I would both start belly-yelling the lyrics regardless if it were Freddy’s Latin passion beats or my favorite Lightning Bolt song.
“Yar, yar, yar, racka, racka, kah!!”
“Cemento, cemento…amorlolo, te, vida me donde suenos!!!”
Neither of us were singing the correct lyrics and neither of us cared.

Driving over truck-warranty-invalidating bumps, I was ignoring my horribly itching eye. I was hesitant to scratch my itchy eye lest I jam a digit in the logical node of my brain. While pondering my options, the rosemary hanging from the rear-view mirror, manically kept whipping my other functioning eye. Still, overall I was quite proud of how effective I was balancing death and zen while keeping the sacred cooper wire steady. What could possible make this challenge any harder?

Of course, at this moment the truck then pulled over. Freddy rolled down his window. The truck immediately filled up with 3-inches of rainwater as Freddy, without a word, handed me a sleeping baby.

Freddy put the truck back in gear and I understood that I had just been upgraded to a new level in this 3rd world amazing race challenge. Though, that’s where my understanding of what was going on stopped. Freddy and I both obviously knew what was more important between this stowaway baby and our theme song jams. But, before we got pulled over, I had some questions about the newest and weakest link in our karaoke trio.

Was this baby a gift?
Did Freddy visit this community 9 months ago?
Were we baby smuggling?

Though I have to admit, it was a relief to finally meet some who I spoke more Spanish than.

I was trying to figure out how I would explain to the farm help kids that this baby was not dinner, when we finally arrived back in Trojes. The truck window was rolled down and Freddy handed my baby away.

Confidently, I nodded back to Freddy as if I knew exactly what had just happened.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Am an Insectophile

I now live on a farm. Let me tell you about it.

After kicking back a hat trick of Wendy’s Frostys in Tegu, my coworker Oscar and I departed for Trojes. Because it was an 8-hour drive, I had lots of time to grill Oscar about new future hometown of Trojes.

"So, when does that hot-ass damaged and ready for a rebound Peace Corps volunteer arrive in Trojes?"
"Oh, yeah. The Peace Corps decided that Trojes is so remote that it's unsafe for their volunteers to be there."
"Well, that's just weird."
"Yeah, and they don't even know about the political situation we are having there either."
I gave my bottle of malaria pills that I was or was not taking a little rattle for good luck.

We later arrived in Trojes. What's the population of Trojes? It's 6,000. What's the current gringo population in Trojes? It's 1/6000 the population of Trojes.

I met my local Spanish-only work team before being dropped off at my new place. Oscar had kept mentioning how nice my place was. And really it was. It was quite a nice farm. That night, I enjoyed unpacking to the sounds of gunshots, way-early roosters and random hissing. I tried not to think about how much I was already missing the smell of Lady Foot Locker back home.

I was pooped so I retired early. Though, turning off my room light was the signal for the disco next to my finca to initiate the cochlea-rattling music to obviously celebrate the arrival of the town gringo.

I lay awake respecting this significant moment in musical history. I appreciated that I was the first outsider to ever experience this undiscovered musical genre. Far from slumber, I passed the evening on my back blinking to the beat of this original fusion of Latin Muzak and the animal cacophony outside my window.

Adding up the aggregate time of blinking all night, I figured I slept for 7 minutes.
"Gustavo!" The finca owner was calling me from her porch.
"Did you tell the farm help kids that you are a vegetarian?"
"But that you sometime like the rich taste of children’s non-dominant arms?"
"That doesn't sound like me at all..."
"Well, I don't think they realized that you were joking as none of them showed up for work today."
I figured this was a good time for me to head to work.

For my first day of work, I was to take photos of our health orientation in a local community. And when I say local, I mean three hours into the jungle.

The first thirty minutes was fun. The other 150 minutes on the back of the motorcycle reshaped my prostate.

After discussing the importance of the filters we were offering, we celebrated with a massive feast of food and drink prepared without our filters by this rural to the rural community. While I was pondering our marketing sequence, my coworker reminded me to wash me hands before eating.

After work, I walked home to my farm enjoying a little game I like to play called 'what bit me today?"

Following my avocado and watermelon dinner, I retired to my quarters. After spending the first hour practicing Spanish curse words as I flicked beetles off my face, I decided to see my room situation in a more positive perspective. I decided to see my room as an entomologist's ideal room. I mean, you could see cockroaches in three different sizes: mutant sized, eats mutant sized and 'could be mistake for an armadillo' size. There were also a cute variety of mosquitoes that strangely liked to taunt me by collecting on my anti-malaria pill bottle. In my room, I also had never-discovered lymph-node-drinking beetles. There were also enough fireflies that allowed the spiders to cast shadows over my bed. Of course, there was also some playful creature on my roof showering me with terracotta dandruff. Though, I noticed that the plague-resistant fleas and ticks in my bed didn't seem to mind this falling dander. And for the hell of it, I couldn't figure out why some cicada kept trying to spoon me--dude, really I'm a top!

I finally feel asleep dreaming that I'd created a new teen perfume called Bedazzled Food Court. Sadly, before getting to apply my product on supple bodies, I was awoken. It seems that a cow decided to give birth right under my window in the middle of the night. It was disturbing--especially how erotic it sounded. Yep, I live on a farm.