Well life just keeps getting busier and busier and this is an update from October that I´m only just now getting to put up. I will do a November update sometime soon, I promise!
One of the exciting events of this month was the All Volunteer Conference in Chitre, in teh Azuero Peninsula. It was a lot of fun. I got to reunite with the beloved asSASsins and meet a whole bunch of super cool volunteers. I was, however, a bit put out the first day because the schedule promised me snacks and the snacks were not forthcoming. I found this irksome, as we all know how much I love snacks. My favorite event of the AVC was the ¨Campo Olympics,¨a series of competitions including a soccer match, a ¨pop a squat¨competition, water bucket relay, orange peeling race, sardine eating and banana eating competitions, and human cock fighting. I personally represented my team, Group 65, in a gritaring contest (I think I´ve mentioned gritaring, or salomaring, before, it´s sort of a cross between a yodel and a yell they do in the fields). My teammate Chris and I placed 3rd, but our group won the overall competition and were presented with a Golden Machete and the title of ¨Most Dominant Group¨. This will soon be witnessable through first hand videos at Liz´s video blog, www.lizwilkie.blogspot.com, which you should check out anyway because Liz is a fellow Darienita and has lots of neato videos about life here (albeit in Meteti which is positively metropolitan in comparison to Candelilla, though not in comparison to anywhere else in Panama). I make a slightly awkward appearance in several of them. Anyway, even though AVC was a lot of fun it was also really intense. I was happy to get back home to the Darien, where at the border a billboard of a friendly ex FARC gives you an enthusiastic thumbs up and reminds you that there is¨another way¨ and the border polics assure you that your security is ¨one of¨their priorities. Perhaps not their TOP priority, but it´s up there with the others.
This month I have been spending a lot of time working on my house, which is still a little ghetto. Much larger but not nearly so charming as Zach´s cute little `palm thatch hut up the mountain. I have an obtuse pile of old cement in my yard along with old piles of burned trash and a few brush heaps, a dilapidated rancho, no windows, haphazardly nailed boards as siding, lots of termites and fire ants, cows and pigs who routinely destroy EVERYTHING, a latrine that at best can be described as unpleasant, a ¨shower¨(really just a spot to haul in a bucket of water) that is knocked together with old sticks and a collection of mismatched, hideously patterned sheets of plastic, and a mouse named Selma. Selma is incredibly destructive and also very noisy, often waking me up at 3 am and driving me to grab my broom or machete and rampage around the house flailing my arms and cursing her, her ancestors, her progeny, and life in general before grumpily collapsing back into my mosquito net, only to be awakened once again 10 minutes later with her incessant scurrying.
Yesterday I faced the problem of my table. It was outside, you see, and I wanted it inside. This may seem straightforward, but as it turned out was actually quite complicated, as it wouldn´t actually fit through the door. I started to solve this problem by sawing an inch and a half off the four legs. This seemed promising, and I started to get cocky as I wrangled the table through the front door. I was chagrinned to discover that, due to the fact that the doors don´t come in standard sizes here in Candelilla (and consist primarily of wood scraps hammered together willy nilly with odd pieces of metal which are deffinitely not nails), fitting through the front door was no guarantee whatsoever that it would fit through the adjacent door into the hammock room-library for which is was bound. So I twisted and turned and jammed the thing at every conceivable angle, to no avail. I then decided to be Panamanian about the whole affair, made a cup of coffee, and sat in my hammock contemplating the table, which was so near and yet so very far away. And, as hammocks and coffee are extrememly conducive to ponderous endeavors, it dawned on me that I could remove the door from its hinges, thereby increasing the width of the door frame by a good 2 inches. Having arrived at this conclusion I energetically (and a bit proudly, I´ll admit) set about removing the door from its hinges. No easy feat, considering the whole business was held together with variously sized, bent nails and random bits of wire all rusted into a sort of metallic birds nest one might find in the home decoration section of a country living magazine. Just replace the quaint wooden New England style song birds with giant cockroaches. Anyway, after removing the door from its erstwhile hinges, I was crestfallen to find that no matter how I cajoled, cursed and pleaded, the table simply wouldn´t fit. After another stint in the hammock, I realized, abashedly, that I could have just lifted the thing through my giant tienda window at teh start and have done with the whole rigamarole. So I wrested the table back out the front door and lifted it through the window in a matter of minutes, and there it sits in the corner, calm as can be, as if it hadn´t been the cause of me getting my knickers in an increasingly aggravating twist for a good hour or so. Side note about my tienda window - when I go out it is held shut with a piece of bent rebar and an old branding iron belonging to APVUC, whoever that may be. And that, my friends, is my table saga.
So as you can see, my life is very exciting what with all the tables and all. Not to mention the children who like to come over and stare, sometimes for hours at a time (Melvin is especailly adept at silent staring), the jovenes who like to drop by and tell dirty jokes which i pretend to understand (and sometimes pretend I don´t understand) and the adults who like to drop by and show off their freshly slingshotted parrots headed for the frying pan. People are also always sneding me food. This week I had oranges, bananas, yuca, plantains, chicheme, rice and three full meals sent to my house. The gente are not wholy convinced that I am capable of feeding myself. Their doubt arises from teh fact that I don´t buy rice much, so they are confused as to what I could possibly be eating, and are thus concerned that I may starve.
Anyway, you can look forward to an account of our goat roast and Panamanian independance day in my next update.
Love to you all, and don´t forget to keep it hip to the jive up there.