Monday, February 7, 2011

Springtime and Parasites

Sunshine and spring is in the air. It's 55F/13C degrees out right now, which feels even warmer when I assume my cat-like behavior and follow the patch of sunlight as it crosses the floor of my bedroom throughout the day.

It's all coming at an excellent time because last week was freezing and my school's heating system leaves much to be desired. In most of my classes I had to teach with my sleeping-bag-like winter coat on to keep warm, and did my best to avoid drinking liquids that might warrant a visit to the unheated bathrooms with its unheated water. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that there is a serious cultural difference when it comes to the Spanish approach to washing hands. I hesitated to mention this when I first saw it back in September, assuming I must just be seeing an abnormally unhygienic, non-representative sample, but after weekly seeing coworkers come out of the stall and exit with nary a drop of soap dripped onto their tainted hands, I'm chalking it up to a real and widespread phenomenon.

They might be on to something though because despite my hand-washing diligence I ended up missing half my classes last week when I lost my voice, while they remained healthy and audible. I listened to a story on This American Life a while ago that said that people are actually in better health if they are exposed to germs and shit, and going along with this theory a man from the U.K. traveled to Africa and spent several weeks going to various rural tribes, asking where they do their bathroom business, and then taking a barefoot wander around the designated area. He contracted a parasite and his allergies miraculously went away, and now yours can too if you buy the parasites he. . harvests. . and sells online for what I'm sure is a very reasonable price.

Anyway, weekend was good although not entirely productive. When Juliet and Carissa came over to commence with online job-hunting on Friday we ended several hours later having submitted zero applications but with nearly three empty bottles of wine. On Saturday Jessica and I went and engaged in cultural interaction by learning Spanish drinking games from our Spanish hosts. It made me realize, ironically, how much I miss speaking Spanish. Way too many of the people that I spend time with speak English, and of course in classes that's how I communicate. When I came here one of my biggest reasons for doing so was to keep working on the language but while the hour-long Metro commute to grad classes has meant an enormous improvement in my reading ability, speaking hasn't been so much. It seems especially absurd to me considering how much effort I put into improving other's language skills, but maybe next year I won't have so many yanqui friendships? A whole 'nother sad cup of tea but a hazard of a life ruled by antsiness.

Also: the photo shows the horrifying image of pig leg I found in the kitchen cupboard when I opened it the other day. Yes of course I took a picture.

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