"Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese - goslings! They were juggled."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A real project?

The day I got back from Chimborazo was horrible...I won't go into the details but coming home was very disappointing. It could be taken as just a misunderstanding and a natural (??) desire to take advantage of a foreigner, but the way I see it, it was a pretty cruel thing that happened and I was offended.

The rest of the week I spent mostly indoors avoiding life outside. I didn't want to face anything related to what happened that Tuesday afternoon. My host even thought I was mad at her because I was so elusive, but she was too so we didn't actually meet until Saturday morning. I tried entering the kitchen as bright as I could manage with the required "Buenos dias" and though it was rocky, eventually things would repair yet again.

The week continued to get bad, pretty much ending with my folks announcing that they have to give up one of their dogs, Gizmo, because he has a major behavioral issue (like, almost ripping fingers off and sending both my folks to the ER). Gizmo's threatened and bitten my dad, mom, and even my best buddy back home who began wearing full motorcycle protection gear to my house to avoid his teeth. But he never bit me, so while I can understand his behavior is unacceptable, it's hard for me to feel like he's really a bad dog. But later that day my mom texted me to say they were giving him another chance but only with training. We'll see...

The weather was nice for a little while in early January but now it's back to being mostly rainy and quite cold. It's 55 in my room right now, which isn't a very comfortable temperature to be honest. My fingers are icy. My host had to cut grass for her guinea pigs and rabbits (which are all dying, along with the chickens and we don't know why) and came back soaked and muddy. So I've been doing a lot of indoor work myself.

Last night was a regular community meeting and I requested to have a word. I'd written out a long speech detailing what happened on Tuesday, about integration, about what I want from the community, and pretty much crossed all that out until what remained was a short bit on how I've been here almost a year, how I have a year left, and I want to DO something with that year but I need help and interest or I'm leaving. I had to write it out or I wouldn't remember everything, but the reaction to it while I read was interesting. At one point I listed a bunch of potential projects related to my program, and after a few there were loud (excited?) whispers. I recall doing this almost exact speech when I first came to the community, but now that one of my favorite people is president, I think I have a better chance of getting things happening with his support.

So when I was finished, the secretary next to me said she was personally interested in learning how to make things with used materials (trash), and a few others chimed in that they want an artesanias group. The secretary was fiddling with a plastic bag and held it up saying they could do something with it - and I added that yes, I can show them how to make yarn out of it, and it's easy (huge gasps and whispers). People in the front row agreed and said they have a problem with what to do with trash, and they especially want to stop burning it (my mouth might have dropped open at this moment). Turning trash into some useful materials may help the problem a little and it may begin opening doors to other solutions like reducing trash in the first place, recycling, and maybe designing a small landfill. Who knows... I just know I was thrilled with what I heard. Finally, THEY picked the day, the time, and the place. It'll start this Sunday at 10 p.m. in the community house. I'm planning on making a couple posters to announce the event to the rest of the community and at the first meeting we'll look at some things we'll be making (some examples I've made and pictures on my computer of other possibilities), and agreeing on a schedule of what we want to make and when.

Then my host next to me jumped in and told everyone how they need to make wood ovens. She told them how creative I apparently am, how one day I decided to paint my room and the next day it was painted perfectly - "like a man paints." (everyone roared laughing). Hah. Right. And she mentioned the 'marvellous' things I knit. So naturally, I can make ovens. Wood-burning is not at all ideal in my location because of heavy deforestation, but people need to burn fires so it happens. Good ovens help a little by convecting and conserving heat, reducing the need for tons of wood. Plus building them can introduce other topics like why not to burn trash, what kind of wood is best, how to cure wood properly for maximum efficiency. Again, there was a great amount of reaction and enthusiasm to this idea. One guy invited me to see his oven the next day - hello, oven-making counterpart.

So I left the meeting feeling like things were actually going to happen now. Finally. Maybe? I've learned not to be too optimistic. But I will be happy if one person shows up to the artesanias meeting.