I’m sure you’re all dying of anxiety to know if we had a piñata or not on Sunday. We did. This time, we had an Angry Birds piñata. Kershena killed it on her first turn! Kershena left shortly after that, which is a bummer. Everyone is slowly trickling out. No newbies yet.
For dinner, we had PIZZA! Feliz Lizzie! It was really good pizza. Isolina didn’t have time to cook since she threw a party for Kershena so she and Maynor left us with the kids for a minute and went and picked some up somewhere. At dinner, Isolina was so excited because Kershena offered to take some gifts home with her to Texas from Isolina to her brother who lives close to Kershena. She apparently has not seen him in 10 years. He was only visiting the US, but ended up staying and neither party can afford a visit to the other. Isolina is very sad and really wants to see him and visit the States just to see what it’s like. It made me sad. I so very much want to help Isolina’s family. They are so good to us and deserve all the blessings they can take.
I’m a little upset because I found out I’m paying more for the volunteering than I would be if I just went through Máximo to take Spanish classes and find housing. Money I could have used to help Isolina or put towards some of my trips. I will never fully understand why you have to pay to help someone and it really puts a damper on your desire to do so. But, Máximo is going to give me a breakdown of my costs so I can better understand. They also said if I go on long term trips (i.e. 1-2 weeks), I can’t get my money back, but I can get credit towards other things so I may use that to tack on more salsa lessons, spanish, or if I have enough credit, TEFL certification. But I’m still irked that I’m paying money to give my time and help to others.
If you want to offer your support, please be aware of the support page on this site. Normally I fundraise for a volunteer trip, as I did for my mission trip in high school, but this was such a spur of the moment decision that I didn’t have time to do so. My darling sweet wonderful perfect Aunt Mary has paid a large portion of this trip, as a graduation gift that she does for all her nieces and nephews (sends us all somewhere for a vacation), but I like to think of her contribution as paying for all the fun stuff since that’s the vacation aspect! 😉 Thank you, by the way, darling Auntie! Love and miss you dearly!!
I will remind you of this page again later, as I am headed to the Dominican Republic in January to help build houses. If you want to help another way, please contact me. I just want anyone who is interested in contributing to know that all contributions go to help cover the costs of my volunteer trips, this one first, then the DR. I cover the additional costs of things that I’m doing for fun, and any money that I receive over the amount it costs me to participate in these programs will be put towards spending money to use on the people for whom I am volunteering. I may also start a separate fundraiser for Isolina’s family as I would really like to be able to get them a trip to the US, but I will have more info on that after I think about it longer. That would be a large amount of money to just gift to someone, but they are just near and dear to my heart already because they have come such a long way and work hard and are thankful for all the blessings that God gives them. We also heard the story of how they met and looked at wedding pictures. Maynor said he saw Isolina working at the market one day and thought “She is mine.” He asked for her phone number the minute he met her and she didn’t want anything to do with him. Her friend gave him her phone number and Maynor pursued and pursued until Isolina got so sick of him calling that she finally agreed to go on ONE date with him. Isolina finished the story with the wedding pictures and she talked about how she cried and cried the whole day because she was so happy. Congrats to Maynor for having the balls to pursue her despite her resistance. That’s a real man.
Ok, enough with the sappy stuff….On to the updates… I’m better!!
And this time I really do think I’m “100%” better. Energy levels have been up since Monday. I skipped work on Monday because I was still feeling a bit bad in my stomach region when I woke up. I didn’t want to push it and get to work and feel worse. So I decided to skip and go shopping with Isolina for some fiber rich foods.
Holy crap. I’ve been to the “mercado” before, but I was completely unaware of this entire HUGE area that has all the food in it! I had only seen a small portion where they were vending clothes and movies and street food. This was like farmer’s market to the max. I’m going to try to go back on Saturday with Isolina again to take pictures. There is fresh food EVERYWHERE. And all kinds of it. All the vegetables and fruits I could think of (and more I’ve never seen before) were there. There were places to buy fresh grain and flour and…. gross… even meat! And when I mean fresh meat, I mean unrefrigerated not packaged nasty stuff hanging from the ceiling and displayed on tables. I watched the butcher cut our steak off a slab for dinner. I’m pretty sure I don’t remember any gloves and I’m pretty sure I don’t remember any washing of hands before handling the money. Officially grossed out, but thank goodness meat has to be cooked! Still, it is a definitely a site to see. I’ve posted a picture of a butchers shop on my “Gallery” page, which now has all of my pictures from Atitlán and Pacaya uploaded if you want to go look. But, picture that butchers shop times about 100 and add some other types of meat and that’s the market! There’s endless vegetables too. I don’t know how Isolina decides which one to go to. I will always be going with her if I go because they try to charge the “gringos” almost double the price from what I hear. But with Isolina, I got 6 apples for less than a $1.25! And Isolina bought a bag of green beans and it cost roughly 25 cents!
Ironically, after returning from the market to buy all my fibrous foods, I had diarrhea again. At least it emptied me from the pains of constipation! Sorry if that’s TMI for you readers, but I DID say I would be extremely open on this blog and talk about ALL my experiences so those that haven’t done this before can really get a feel for everything and see if they want to try it out or not. I guess a lot of my experience so far may make you not want to travel, but despite my two weeks of exhaustion, diarrhea to constipation back to diarrhea, with a slight fever thrown in there, I still highly highly recommend travel to anyone who can. Look how many experiences I’ve had so far despite my poor health!
In spite of the diarrhea however, I felt like I had enough energy to walk around and go seek out a massage. My bed here is really hard and I’ve been stiff along with all my exhaustion. I thought a massage could help. And hey, you can’t beat an hour long full body massage from a licensed US professional for $30. Yeah. I said it.
I was in heaven! The massage was fantastic and I think that really helped me out a lot. After the massage, my energy levels on Monday spiked and I finally felt like I was flipping back into my bubblier side. Tuesday, they didn’t go away and I noticed a spike in appetite despite some remaining stomach cramps. Now I still have energy and don’t need to sleep for 5 hours after work anymore and I’m sin cramps and sin diarrhea. I think that was the end of it, knock on wood! (They DID warn the first 2 weeks are always the hardest. I would say that’s true!)
Tuesday, I got to ride my favorite bus in the morning. There are buses going every 5-10 minutes so depending on when I leave the house, I don’t always get the same people. I’m trying to time it better now so I do because it’d be fun to be able to talk to the bus drivers and have them recognize you at some point. This is my favorite bus because the helpers (the guys that jump on and off to yell “GUATE GUATE GUATE” and herd people onto the bus) on this one are sweeties. They always lend a hand in helping me climb off the bus. Maybe they just want to touch me because they think I’m a hottie, but I like to think that they’re gentlemen. They are also some of the most enthusiastic helpers that I’ve encountered. I don’t know why I get such a kick out of their yelling, but it puts a smile on my face every day at 7:35 in the morning!
At my job, Richard(?) has gotten to liking me quite a bit. Richard is one of 2 boys at Rosa’s. One boy is Rosa’s son and Richard is the son of one of the girls (got pregnant when she was 13 I think.) I think he said he was 2, but he speaks rather well for a 2 year old. He’s obsessed with the “gallinas” (chickens) they have in the back of the complex. He takes my pinky every day after devotion and says “Vamos a las gallinas.” (Let’s go to the chickens). I’m rather sick of looking at chickens after 3 days in a row, so today I asked “¿Porque gallinas? Gallinas, gallinas. ¡Todos los dias! ¿Porque?” (Why chickens? Chicken chickens. Every day! Why?) and he answered “Porque las gallinas no tienen amigos.” (Because the chickens don’t have any friends). Melt. He’s too precious. But I hate those damn chickens. They were hilarious the first day, but now NO MÁS POR FAVOR.
Yesterday’s chicken bus ride was quite interesting. I wish I wasn’t so afraid to take out my nice phone in public because that was a good time to take a picture of how crowded it was. It was packed out the door. And when I mean out the door, I mean… well.. 3 people across in every seat and people standing in the isles all the way to the door. And they leave the door open while they drive.
And I was the last person in. Guess where I rode?
Haha, I only rode in the door for a bit, but it was rather fun, despite the danger of standing in the door of a bus going around windy roads. But it’s actually rather easy to hold on standing up vs. sitting in a seat and sliding around! More leverage.
Yesterday was also salsa night. My favorite! I think I improved since last week too. When I have more time, I hope to sign up for some somewhere else to get more practice in. Or just meet a hot salsa dancing guy who wants to teach me and take me dancing every night. 😉 That works too. We need more guys at the class Máximo provides. Not many guys show up and the ones that do, aside from maybe 1 or 2 depending on the night, are SO terrible. I know we’re all learning and they’re learning too, but it’s really important for the guy to lead and none of these guys have the confidence to lead, which makes it harder to learn my part because the guy is not doing his properly. They are doing their steps right (sometimes), but they are not putting any pressure on us at all and they are supposed to push the girl around essentially. Eventually maybe hopefully?
Afterwards, we were invited by one of the guys to partake in a delicious watermelon at his hostel. Madison and I and another girl we met at salsa and him and 2 of his girl friends shared in eating that beauty because he said he couldn’t have eaten it all himself. After that, we all met up with Marnie and headed to Rainbow Cafe again for open mic night again. This time, Madison sung! She has a beautiful voice. The guitarist didn’t know the song though so she had to brave it acapella. Not something I could do! She did great and the guy loved her voice so much that he wants to practice with her for next week. Lucky girl. She gets all the cute guys here. I think it’s because she has light hair and light eyes. (Well, aside from the fact that she’s sweet and pretty much drop dead gorgeous too!) Marnie is a little jealous because she’s pretty much in love with this guy. I preferred the cafe barista myself (Madison won his heart too haha), but I found out he’s only 18 so Madison can most definitely have him. LOL!
Anyways, open mic night was fabulous as usual and to prove my appetite and normal energy levels are returning- I ate 3 pieces of watermelon, followed by a 3 layer BLT and tiny salad, followed by a big brownie with 2 scoops of ice cream. (Oh, I’m sorry, did I mention that that only cost me like $8 including tip?) Example B is we didn’t return until midnight last night and I still got up and went to my job today and won’t be taking a nap before my class at 4! I also had 3 pancakes and a bowl of watermelon for breakfast.
Most I’ve eaten in a row on this trip! Least amount of sleep I’ve gotten too! Yay health. I also went to the Bodegona (the supermarket here) today to get more snacks because I’ve eaten all of mine up! Note to self: start carrying toilet paper. I had to pee there because I went straight from work and poor Rosa’s had run out of paper. Well, apparently the Bodegona doesn’t provide paper for the baño (nor do they have toilet seats!) so yeah. Drip dry for me! Gross! At least I got my snacks.
I haven’t been remembering to take pictures of my food; I’m sorry. But, Isolina definitely means it when she says she wants to fix what we like. Tuesday we had fried chicken for lunch with pasta and some kind of really amazing potato salad (and I don’t even like potato salad). For breakfast yesterday, we had fruit loops and a bowl of papaya. We had pancakes for breakfast today, as I mentioned, and for lunch we had SPAGHETTI AND GARLIC BREAD. She listens. I love it. She’s so cute. Or maybe I’m looking at all the good food she’s fixing instead of all the stuff I don’t like now since it’s easier to be positive when I’m not ill!
Working towards optimism is a difficult task, especially when you were surrounded by realists your whole life. Sorry mom & dad. Love youuuuuuuu. 😀 But poco a poco, it get’s easier.. And with that, I will end with a quote that I found in my travel journal today:
In the long run, the pessimist may be proved to be right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip. -Daniel L. Reardon.