Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chapter 4: Settlements

i am a horrible blogger. and a horrible picture taker. i have a handful of pitures that i have yet to post on my web. i enjoy guate alot. i can't say it is better then other parts of the world. in fact for me it was just the relocation that was necessary for my life. i don't find myself planning or plotting out my next destination or move. i like discovering myself here. i am finishing the first trimester of being a teacher and now as i write this i should be in process of entering grades, but i am not.such a naught teacher i am. i am by no means proficient in spanish but i can get by and i have become quite the spanish text messenger. my location is also quite nice because i have a great access to various other locations for travel. there is so much to do and see and experience.

the challenge in being here for me is that no matter where you go you are still you and you revisit the same hang ups you had from somewhere else you were living. i get along with many people but i don't really have any best friends. i don't have many friends in portland either but when you start all over you tend to cling to people or be kind of a loner, like myself. i would rather be alone than in the company of people who i have very little in common with or perhaps that my values don't align with. so there are two sides to me- a crazy socialite and a introvert that wants her own privacy. i am kinda lonely, but before you begin to feel sorry for me it is not as if i could not make friends. i am kinda selective. i want to speak and practice spanish, but guates are not like portlanders so when i hope to find some bohemian like locals i find it quite hard.

dating is a whole another ball game. i don't deeply desire to date an upper class guate but it is also difficult to date outside my own class. here in guate i am considered very wealthy. if i try to date the working class they tend to be very jealous and envious of my position. you can't also judge someone by their job or class. we might look at someone in the US and say he is a bartender or waiter he could be doing so much more with his life. the opportunities here are minimal and the people don't dare to think outside the box.
so no hommies and no papi chulo.
it is okay. i have what i need. my charm.
espero que son salud y feliz. espero que van a ecritire y llamarme tambien. mi corazon necesita afecto y amor. i hope that you all are healthy and happy. I also hope you will write me or call me (011-502-5349-8142). my heart needs affection and love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chapter 3: Teacher- Maestra

I was hoping to take the time to be thoughtful about my life and experiences in Guatemala or Guate. Time and technology works against this intention. Because my internet is touchy like the sensitive little bitch that it is I will try to keep things concise. Who wants to read about peoples lengthy worldly experiences anyway.

How shall I entice you on visiting? My apartment building is called Con Vista – With View. The name serves it justice. You step inside and an immediate tranquilization hits your veins as you breath in the panoramic scene. You forget your worries, your thoughtless chatter at the door and watch the clouds drift by. Night time is my favorite. Especially when it storms from time to time and I have a front seat to a natural laser light show. I warmly welcome you into my humble abode so that you can decide for yourself what is what in Guatemala.

I am not actually on vacation which can easily be misconstrued when I have not yet shared about my occupation. Yes I indeed did come here to work, teach in fact. It has officially been about a month and a half. Surprises- teaching comes naturally to me. For the most part I can solve my classrooms problems or see to what my classroom needs and I can talk to parents. I have this voice and presence that sometimes spooks myself. I sound official like I am a legitimate teacher. Then there is a reality of creating routines, grading, assessing, and jamming as much education as I can from 7:30 in the morning until lunch at 11:40.

I love my school because...

-I co-teach with Tatiana Borrayo my favorite Guatemalan

-I have a huge classroom, bathroom included

-teamwork is for real here

What I miss about American schools...

-access to resources (but you get creative when you don't have what you want)

-not much really

I don't miss working in isolation, the inflexibility of time and creativity, and teaching in a monculture.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am more than an educator. I am a social movements leader. Don't you wonder who Baraka and Bush and McCain's 3rd grade teachers were? I do. When my students enter the classroom they look to me for direction and guidance. Hail Ms. Vida's little revolutionaries.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chapter 2: Guatemalan Immigration

i don't know where to begin. my impression of guatemala is my impression. that seems like a given, but if i tell you stories or simple observations you will be pulled into a belief that is only true for me. with that being said here is my guatemalan tale... i got off the plane and headed for customs (wait rewind) back at PDX the man checking me in for my flight asked in a stern manner why my flight was a one way. naively and excitedly i explained that i was to be a 3rd grade teacher. as if this guy gives a flying fuck. then he pumped fear in my veins...will guatemalan customs be aware of this? if you are unprepared with the correct information they could ship you right back to the united states. thanks airport friend for your friendly cautions and insight. i was going to shit myself as i stood in line with passport clenched in my hand. then it was my turn...stamp. stamp. bienviendos. the tension in my bowels settled as i grabbed my baggage and headed to meet my administrators. i had no fucking clue who these people were. all i could do was keep my eye out for a sign that read American School of Guatemala.

i didn't want to walk into this country or experience with any demands. so i prepared myself with a patient mentality for situations that may present themselves with my needs being unmet. maybe the school is highly disorganized- my housing blows, my work environment is chaotic and overwhelming. maybe i would be tortured with loneliness so excruciatingly bad that i would want pack my things up and return home immediately.

then the unexpected happened. i met my new life in guatemala. and it was the unimaginable. i met the other teachers and staff. i thought originally i was by my lonesome and everything would be in spanish, spanish, spanish. wrong. i am surrounded by many americans or people fluent in english. now while this is a slight pleasantry or affords comfortability it works against my goal of learning spanish.

to combat the gringo trap i have put a concerted effort in befriending the locals and spanish speakers. the beauty in this country is that it is so easy to be friendly. the people respond very easily. though i am native to a state that also presents a level of warmth, i have to say that guatemalans by far from all my travels are the most affectionate and endearing. everything is buenos dias, buenas tardes, and buenos noches (i haven't figured out accent marks on my key board yet and my spanish spelling for the time being will be off- i apologize). many of the workers have a common phrase- para servirle, which means i am at your service or here to serve you.

i love it here. the weather here is permanent spring. beautiful sunlight and a pleasing overall temperature. sometimes it has a tropical down pour and the sky explodes with thunder and lightening. the thunder is so loud that i have jumped or quivered with fright.

before i paint a very romantic and mystical picture for you i also have to level with you. it is difficult to live merrily and go about my life because i am the bourgeoisie and the elite. guatemala is a very poor country because it has a very unstable infrastructure that allows for few people to live within their means. this also puts my life in slight danger because when you are as poor as the people are here you get desperate, so desperate that you will target those with wealth and attempt to rob them blind. a gringo has very little security here. to a poor guatemalan a gringo, an american, light skinned, english speaker is dollars and money. they can't look at you any differently. they believe you have what they don't.

at this point you are probably unhappy and anxious in my decision to move here. to set your mind at ease remember that i camouflage. one glance at me and they think latina, in fact it is so unconscious that they don't even consider my presense. so i am not afraid and i understand that i have to adjust culturally and do things differently then i might do living back in oregon. for example i have become a stasher. i hide things in various obscure places so that if someone does have the opportunity to rob me they can't steal everything and i try to avoid carrying large sums of money on me and at night i try to go out with a group of people. see, i have my wits, and i do my best to do as the locals do.

no worries. mi vida, my life is a learning experience and a humbling one at that. as i learn spanish and customs i am in a constant upheaval of embarrassment. i mumble. i mispronounce words. i do the most awkward things possible in an attempt to connect and relate to the guatemalan culture.

every time i want to shrivel in shame or stay warm and snug in my little american comfort zone i remind myself why i came here. to explore and develop as a spiritual being, so i keep my heart glowing, hope for the best, and forgive in the worst.

i wanted to keep things short and simple, but how could i give you an honest international peek without any detail. in fact there is so much i left out. like my first attempt at being my own teacher that is soon approaching. i will just have to keep you posted...
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chapter 1: There is No place like home

Portland i miss your bridges, your bicyclists, your first thursdays, your last thursdays, your North, South, East, and West. i miss all the people that i made memories with the good and the bad. i miss all the people i will not get to know.
But Portland, Oregon if I may call you, we are better off this way. Going to new places and trying out new people.Your roads were too familiar and I was beginning to take you for granted. One day I shall return with a fresh perspective and terms of endearment. That you were more than a location. You were an infinite space within the confines of my heart.
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