Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's raining right now and occasionally I feel drips from my open window. Rain is fickle and in some places dreary and depressing. In Cozumel it meant wading through streets flooded up to my shins and a gracious relief from the blazing sun. I went to two different pharmacies because I thought I had fungus growing on my feet from this hazardous task, but it turned out just to be itchy skin that never dried out in the humidity. Here the streets flood, too, and the water comes down like a shower, but it's cozy and cool in my apartment and the cloudy sky turns orange from the lights of the city.

Guatemala City is currently in it's rainy season, but Tuesday was the first day it had rained in a month. I was on the bus back from work when it started, and the bus monitor told us that we were being dropped off at a different stop because our street was closed. Why? This annoys me a great deal in retrospect because I asked the monitor twice and she claimed not to know, and then later I found out what actually happened. First I asked her and she looked at me - standing a foot away - then turned her back on me and began talking to a student about the altered route. I said excuse me a couple times then touched her shoulder to ask again and this time she at least paid me attention but still didn't give an answer. Is it because the streets are flooded? I imagine yes, she responded. 

I know now this wasn't true, and that in fact someone was shot a couple blocks down our street. I've heard that here in Guatemala people will not answer rather than give bad news, but don't you think that information might be relevant?

There's seems to be such a disconnect here when it comes to caring about and taking care of each other. What motivates people to lose their recognition of each other as human beings? In Mexico - not so much in Cozumel, but in general - there are dangerous areas, but there seems to be this other side of happiness in people. One of the big changes that I've noticed here is that there isn't music blaring in the streets. Mono and I never agree on volume. His music and his TV are, to me, always annoyingly loud, but it can be even louder when I go for walks. People have their doors and windows open and their music at full volume for the streets. It's as if they're playing it for the neighborhood, and really, I think that's what they're doing. There's a sense of shared experience that I don't see as much here. There are vast numbers of people living well below poverty within this city. The city dump is home to families and individual kids, who forage for what they can and try to avoid being swallowed up and buried alive by the unstable heaps. One Guatemalan said to me, "That's sad, but I'll be honest, our country has a lot of lazy and dirty people." I mean.. I don't see how a country moves forward when people who have no means are to blame, rather than the system that made it that way.

Not everyone thinks that way. Just a probably unnecessary clarification.

But while I'm on the topic of complaining, let me mention the hospitals, which have no capacity to deal with patients. People arrive with emergencies and get turned away because there are no beds for them. Last week one of my students fell on the sidewalk on the way to gym class, had a compound fracture of the two bones in his upper arm, and dislocated his elbow. He didn't get into surgery until this week. Another woman I heard about, who works at the school, had a thyroid problem and needed surgery, couldn't get treatment for a full year, and as a result it turned cancerous. (If any of this sounds ridiculous or is in fact impossible I apologize since I'm just repeating stories I've been told). 

Speaking of death, today I was looking through some of the Social Studies tests from my students. They had to answer a question about what occupation they wanted when they grew up. Otto wrote, "I want to be a soldier. I want to protect people. And also kill them.

Just, I don't know, thought I'd stick that in there.

And I got my hair dyed on Monday and it definitely turned out in the orange family on a scale from 1 to Pebbles. 

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