Wry Exchange


Blink
11-30-07, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Depression, Home | Tags: , , , , , , ,

 I grew up watching ´Bewitched’ and ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’  The superpower I most wanted from them was the ability to go anywhere in just a blink of an eye.  If I had the magic power, I’d blink myself home now.  I miss Husband, my rotten dogs (who peed on my pillow, grrr.), and home.  I’ve been gone 17 days, and DO NOT WANT any goddamn lectures about ‘It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different.’  I rationally know it.  Emotionally, pfff.  I’m still sick, and had to buy more Kleenex today.  Lemon-scented ones. Cool, huh?   I still have a fever, goosebumps, sweating like mad, stuffy nose, and diarrhea.  I’m trying to stay hydrated.  It’s tough in the heat and humidity.  It feels like New Orleans in August here in Santa Cruz. 

I never heard of identity theft on Facebook.  Someone made a page with one of Sparky’s brother´s name, photo, school info, birthdate, etc.  The person then set up a group trashing their school and friends.  Once someone does it, you can be sure others will soon follow.  It’s caused a few problems with people thinking this nice boy is writing mean gossip.

Sparky and Jon’s graduation ceremony is tonight.  They have the traditional cap and gown, but each class can choose the color and a motto.  They are wearing green, and the motto is in white on a sash that goes over their shoulders.   The boys are out buying dress shoes, and their mom is getting her hair done.  I’m just hanging out.  I was going to the salon, but she’s getting her hair dyed, and that takes a while.  I wasn’t sure what to have done to my hair so I backed out.  The best haircut I ever had was in Chile.  The woman didn’t speak any English, she was deaf, and cut my hair with a straight razor for $3.00.

Husband will go to outbound student interviews on Sunday to talk to the potential students about going to South America.  Since the person who handles Brasil and I are out of the country, Husband is the only one knowledgeable about South America.  We’re afraid if he didn´t go, the kids would end up being funnelled to Europe and Asia.  Good friends of ours will be interviewers, and they will be able to speak to the potential students about South America as well.  Many times on Interview Day, the students tell us they want to go to ‘France, Italy, Spain, or Germany, because I’ve heard of those countries.’  Or they’ll say it because their language teacher recommended those countries.  People have to be able to talk to them about other options that may be better for the students.

I made my ´Mexican Stuff’ recipe today for lunch. (the recipe is  posted on the blog.) I actually started it yesterday, and finished today.  It was a funny disaster.  The rice was buggy.  A lot of bugs, not just a few.   I wasn’t going to cook it, but Sparky skimmed the rest of the bugs off, and was cooking it for the dog.  I put my stuff away, and went to my room.  He thought I was still watching the pot, and I thought he was cooking it.  When I finally smelled something burning, the entire bottom was black, and so was the bottom inch or more of the sides.  I scrubbed the sides clean and most of the bottom.  When my arms were too tired to do any more scrubbing, I asked Sparky to take over.  He scrubbed for about 30 seconds, rinsed it off, and said it was good enough.  ok.  Today, we made fresh rice, but the pan was too big for the stove.  Jon and I slopped half of it into another container and shoved it in the oven.  Jon loved it, but I didn’t even try it.  I’m too hot and sick to eat.  Sparky didn’t say anything, so I don’t know what he thought.  We seem to be speaking on an as needed basis.



Yep, I am crazy
11-29-07, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Culture, Depression, Home, hosting, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , , , , ,

Nothing much about Bolivia in the news today.  It’s quiet here, everything seems normal to me.  I walked around downtown Santa Cruz today.  Husband says people are asking him if I’m crazy being here.  Me being crazy has nothing to do with me in Bolivia.  They are two entirely different issues.  I am diligently taking my happy pills, it’s the least I can do to be a good houseguest.

Sparky has passed all of his classes, and can graduate tomorrow.  His last two tests were today; he completed a lot of work since he returned in July to be able to graduate with his class.  I am proud of him.  (Except when I want to kill him.  That’s about once every 2 days or so.)

Little nothings:  Nylon bath scrubbies feel heavenly on mosquito bites.  I have the cleanest ankles in Bolivia.  Sparky’s family doesn’t use laundry baskets; the clothes are simply carried.  The water faucets don’t have hot and cold controls, just on and off.  My fingernails are dull, but are growing quicker than usual.  I’ve had a fever the last 2 days from a cold, and sometimes had a fever and goosebumps simultaneously.  That’s just weird.  We went to the grocery store, and filled up a cart, and it was only $45.oo.   Bolivia makes wine.  We opened my state’s wine today to toast Sparky at lunch.  ‘Swill’ is the only word that comes to mind.  I don’t like wine, but even I could tell it sucked.  Abercrombie & Fitch clothing is incredibly popular here.  My watch battery died, and I’m obsessive about checking the time. I’m ok with my cell phone clock, but am going to go nuts on the flight home.

One of my students wanted to return home today.  I didn’t really try to talk her out of it, because it doesn’t work.  The decision to stay or go has to be the student’s.  I asked her several questions, and she called back later to say she’s going to stay and try.  She needs a different host family, but she doesn’t want to hurt mean hostmom’s feelings.  FES stays home too much because hostmom wants her to be a companion.  I want to see her happy, and believe she should stay and complete the year.



Pissy, Pissy Man
11-28-07, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , , ,

  From the Washington Times- SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — The government of President Evo Morales has declared war on U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, with Bolivia’s government accusing the American Embassy of financing opposition parties and threatening to expel the U.S. envoy.
“Enough with the conspiracy headed by the ambassador of the United States in Bolivia,” said Mr. Morales, who has threatened to declare Mr. Goldberg persona non grata.
Speaking at an Ibero-American summit this month in Chile, Mr. Morales accused Mr. Goldberg of leading an “international right-wing network.”
“If the U.S. Embassy wants to leave and take away its aid, the doors are open,” he said.
Mr. Morales also blamed Mr. Goldberg for recent bombings aimed at Venezuelan and Cuban targets in Bolivia.
“It’s clear that Morales wants the U.S. Embassy to go,” said Hugo Acha, a lawyer in Santa Cruz who has been a State Department consultant. “It’s interfering with his plans, and the ambassador could become a reference point for the opposition as the government radicalizes.”
For us, it was a quiet, family day.  Sparky and I both have colds, and Jon didn’t feel well this morning.  I slept a lot.  The strike was over at 6:00pm.  Sparky has his final math tutoring tonight, and his mom is going to a philosophy group meeting.  I am staying home. 
Husband has been busy while I am away. He bought his Christmas gift.  A new tv over the weekend, and he’s been telling me about all the fancy new options.  He told me it was idiot-proof, so I should be able to use it.



On Strike
11-28-07, 12:57 am
Filed under: Home, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , , , ,

 It’s midnight in Bolivia, and we’re on strike.  I’m including myself because when there is a strike, everyone stays home.  You don’t go in the car anywhere, but you can walk.  For me, a strike is strictly labor related.  A business or union strikes, and workers and supporters either strike or cross the picket line.  It’s different in Bolivia.    The strike started at midnight, and is for 24 hours.  No one works.  There is no school, no flights, no mail, no banking, nothing.  No buses or taxis.  I guess there will be roadblocks if people try to drive.   It’s safe here, it’s just everyone will stay at home for a day.   It’s not like home, where people would drive each other crazy stuck at home together, like a snow day.  Families here enjoy each other’s company, and the siblings are close.  If I see my brother once a year, it’s too often for me.

The strike is in 6 of Bolivia’s 9 provinces.  These provinces control about 80% of the country’s national income.   I’m glad that I’m here, so I can tell my program that the kids are safe and well taken care of if they ask questions.



My Ugly Gringa Moment
11-27-07, 11:03 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: , , , ,

From Reuters:  In the opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz, the country’s economic powerhouse in the east, residents rallied in the main square on Monday and voted in a public forum to authorize a civic committee to declare autonomy.
Flanked by the Santa Cruz mayor and the regional governor, Branco Marinkovic, a leader of the Santa Cruz secessionist movement, said the afternoon rally gave him “a mandate” to begin the autonomy process.

There will be a strike Wednesday in Santa Cruz, no one is supposed to go to school or work.   I worry for Sparky, his family, Jon, Jen, and the other Cruceños I’ve met.  The Cruceños and Morales are headed for a showdown, and it seems to be coming soon.  Neither side will ever back down.

This is for Husband and my friends:  I was rude last night.  Shocking, right?  We were idly talking about mosquitoes, and Sparky asked me I wanted him to get rid of them.  I teased ‘how’, and he went and got insecticide.  Do you remember that old insecticide that came in the hand pumped, aluminum sprayers?  The smelly stuff that little old men would spray while wearing masks and gloves outside?  It now comes in a yellow plastic hand pump, and SPARKY SPRAYED IT IN THE HOUSE.  LOTS OF IT, IN ALMOST EVERY ROOM BUT MINE.   I couldn’t hide my reaction.  My throat was swollen and sore, and I had an immediate headache.  The diarrhea came later.  The irony is I went to sit outside to breathe while the fumes dissipated, and got tons of new mosquito bites.  I can still smell the bug spray now.   Sparky nonchalantly told me ‘Everyone uses it.’



Cokes are Served at Protests
11-26-07, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , ,

 Sparky, his mom, a friend, and I went to a protest in the central plaza this afternoon.  The rally was in support of the city of Sucre.  The rally began as a march, but we just went to the sqare.  People were selling cups of coke with straws from round trays.  It was a very polite, well-run protest.

From Yahoo news-A semblance of order returned to Sucre Monday after four people died in a weekend of violent protests over the constitutional reforms sought by leftist President Evo Morales.Residents removed barricades erected during the weekend clashes that sent the regional governor and the police force fleeing the colonial city of 350,000.   In the absence of a police presence, citizens groups patroled the streets of Sucre, while in New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm.
The Chuquisaca department governor is “recovering from shock,” his spokesman said on Monday. A member of the governing Movement Toward Socialism, Sanchez has come under sharp criticism for staying away from the city during the unrest.
One protester died early Monday after being injured in clashes with police, local officials said. The protests took a violent turn late Saturday when a 29-year-old protester died of a gunshot wound. Another demonstrator and a police officer also were killed in the violence.
In New York, the UN chief urged all sides to refrain from violence.
“In order to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights in Bolivia, the secretary general urges all political and social actors to remain calm, to abstain from using violence and to seek a consensus on the pressing issues affecting the Bolivian people,” his press office said in a statement.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US government deplored the violence and urged the Morales administration and the opposition “to show restraint and tolerance during this critical period.</em
“An environment that encourages inclusion and open debate is vital to the success of any democratic reform process,” the spokesman said.
The protests came as some 150 pro-government delegates to a Constituent Assembly on Saturday approved the outlines of a new draft constitution the opposition rejects.
Opposition lawmakers have boycotted the assembly, accusing Morales of trying to grab more power.
Former Bolivian president Jorge Quiroga, a key opposition figure, claimed the proposed constitution was “drafted in a barracks, written with rifles and bayonets, and stained with the blood of the people of Sucre.”
The protesters also want the legislative and executive branches to be moved from La Paz to Sucre.
Sucre was the symbolic center for the independence movement against Spain in 1809 and lost its central role as the sole capital in the 19th century to La Paz after a civil war.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, claims the protests were orchestrated by wealthy capitalists.
Like the constitutional changes sought by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — often seen as Morales’s mentor — the reforms would allow the president to seek reelection as often as he wishes.
Morales has said he would put the draft constitution to a referendum, but did not set a date for the vote.
 From Reuters Bolivian President Evo Morales lashed out at his rightist opponents on Monday after violent protests against his constitutional reform plans killed three people in one of the worst crises to hit his government.
Violence exploded on the streets of the southern city of Sucre over the weekend after Morales’ leftist allies pushed through a draft of a new constitution under military guard.
Morales has made rewriting the constitution a pillar of his reform agenda, but the issue has deepened Bolivia’s ethnic and regional divisions. </em
More protests were planned for Monday in opposition strongholds such as the economic powerhouse of Santa Cruz, where anti-Morales protesters have occupied state buildings and called for mass civil disobedience.
“Occupying state offices isn’t democracy, civil disobedience isn’t democracy, and we hope the Bolivian people … identify these traitors, the people who are against the nation and want to damage this process of change,” Morales said as he led a march of union leaders and pensioners pressing the opposition-controlled Senate to pass a state pension bill. </em
Three people were killed in the weekend’s unrest in Sucre, in which demonstrators torched police stations and stormed a jail, freeing 100 inmates. One of the dead was a policeman lynched by mobs of protesters. The other victims were civilians and were apparently shot dead.
Morales, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, took office as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in January 2006, vowing to increase state control over the economy and empower the poor, Indian majority.
POLARIZED COUNTRY
One of the former coca farmer’s first measures was to nationalize the natural gas industry, and the draft constitution seeks to give more autonomy to indigenous groups.
Morales’ leftist agenda has angered opponents and protests have raged for days against the assembly.
No fresh violence was reported on Monday in Sucre, and officials were studying an emergency plan to restore order to the city, which lies 435 miles (700 km) south of La Paz.
Rightist opposition leader Jorge Quiroga called on foreign governments to send monitors to Bolivia and warned Morales not to follow “the bad example of Chavez”.
“If the international community is concerned about democracy and the rule of law, it should have observation missions to pacify and evaluate what’s happening,” state news agency ABI quoted Quiroga as saying.
Morales is an Aymara Indian who hails from the poorer Andean west, while his conservative rivals are concentrated in the richer east and especially in the city of Santa Cruz.
His opponents say he is only governing for his Aymara and Quechua power base and many want more autonomy for the regions they govern. They also want to move the seat of government and Congress to Sucre from highland La Paz, a bastion of Morales support.
The draft constitution, which keeps the seat of government in La Paz, was approved mainly with votes from Morales’ party as most opposition representatives boycotted the debates to protest moving the assembly to an army compound. The draft must still go to a referendum before it can take effect.
Bolivia is South America’s top natural gas exporter but it is also one of the region’s most unstable countries and violent uprisings toppled governments in 2003 and 2005.



Grandma Died Yesterday, She´s Better Today
11-26-07, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , , , ,

I was so pissed off yesterday that I wanted to come home.  I didn´t want to hurt Sparky’s family’s feelings, so Grandma was going to die.  She’s better today, but still a little ill.  I talked to Husband about coming home.  He said I could change families, change countries, or come home.  Husband gave me the standard FES speech last night, and Sparky repeated it today.  ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ came to mind, as did hypocrite. 

We seem to have worked things out.   I wanted to choke the little bastard last night.  I told Sparky today that I have a much better time when he´s not around.  It was mean, but true.  I can’t understand Bolivian Spanish hardly at all, but I have no problems in Chile.  I know Chilean Spanish is slurred and choppy, but I’m used to it.  Sparky’s family all speak English, and Jon is living here, too.  Everyone includes me in the conversations, and translates for me as needed.  When Sparky is around, that doesn´t happen.  Yesterday, he spoke solely in Spanish.  I was excluded from the dinner conversation, choice of activity, choice of movie, etc.   What really pushed me over the edge was when Jon said something in English, and Sparky told him to speak Spanish.  I leaned over and growled ‘Maybe he’s speaking English so I can understand the conversation.’   Prior to that, Jon said in the car ‘Wry, don’t you wish we spoke a different language so we could have a conversation they don’t understand?’  Grrrr.

I NEEDED time alone so I could pull myself together.  I asked if I could stay in a plaza and people watch while the rest of them watched Beowolf. (puke)  Sparky’s mom didn´t want to leave me alone, but she did.  I shopped and walked around a bit.  I bought a journal, and wrote 14 pages of ‘journalling.’  My therapist told me to journal my feelings and thoughts, so it’s a verb.   One Boliviano is fifteen cents, and my journal was 1.20B.  I think that’s a whopping 18 cents.   It kept me busy, and I felt better when I finished.

Sparky wanted to talk last night, and I didn’t.  He made the mistake of saying ‘Sometimes you have to do what you don´t want.’  Wanna bet?  I left the room, and went into the bedroom, and just stayed there the rest of the night playing solitaire.  We talked this morning as we walked to a store, and I told him Grandma died.  That’s when I got the FES speech about trying, and it’s only for a short time, and we won’t see each other for years, etc.  I walked away, and started crying.  I found a bench and just sat and thought.   I love Sparky, but I didn’t like him at all yesterday or this morning.  We talked, and I told him how I felt.  He asked for one chance to change, and to try.  (This was after he fucking ASKED me why was I angry.)  He said he didn’t realize I felt excluded. coughbullshitcough.  I just better double up on the happy pills.