Friday, April 29, 2011

The Key


Leslie: You can't get the key?

Annalisa: Here it is.

Annalisa: You guys go on in, go on in*. I'll find you on the other side.

The rest is more or less in English.

*cultural note: "Pasen adelante" (literally translates to pass ahead) is a common phrase in Guatemala. A proper exchange when one enters a home unfolds like this.

Visitor seeking entry, before crossing the threshold, will ask, "Con permiso?" (With permission?)

The proprietor of the house will then respond, "Pase Adelante." (Come on in.)

I apologize for the annoying sing-song manner in which I state the phrase- it's a habit i've picked up from Seño Maritza.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Leslie + Benicio Become Tour Guides

While back in the States I received a few requests for a tour of my house. I've enlisted the help of my friendly neighbors, Leslie and Benicio, to help guide you through my casita. Since my internet is sluggish, I'll be uploading clips in a 12 part series. Here is your introduction:


Annalisa: Good Morning!

Kids: Good Morning!

Annalisa: What are we going to do? We are going to give a tour.

Leslie: A tour.

Annalisa: A tour of my house.

Leslie: of my house.

Annalisa: of MY house.

Leslie: of Annalisa's house.

Annalisa: Yes, let's go.

Benicio: Here.

Annalisa. Here. OK, I need to find the key.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Long time no write

Saturday I returned to Casas Viejas from my vacation in The States. Aside from the sweltering heat, it felt good to be back. I got settled and cleaned the dust from my house with the help of my neighbor, Flor, who appeared, unsolicited, at my doorstep with broom and mop in hand seconds after I unlocked my front door. I assume she had been watching the dirt pile up from her side of the fence for the past three weeks. After taking care of housekeeping, I headed to the cooperative tienda to catch up with the socios. I ran into Seño Lili while walking through the center of town.

“I was wondering when you were coming back. Have you passed by the coop yet?” She asked with a hint of mischievousness.

“I got back today. No, I haven’t been to the coop, but I’m on my way now.” I replied now warily wondering why she asked about the tienda.

“We have a new employee.” She explained

Turns out Misely, “no quiso seguir.” (didn’t want to continue working). The reason most of our prior employees gave for leaving.

I guess some things never change.

When I arrived at the coop I found Diana, our new shopkeeper. She seemed oddly excited to see me even though we had never met. I introduced myself and got to chatting. Shortly thereafter, Don Adan arrived at the store. This surprised me because the new vigilance committee members had been voted in prior to my departure and he technically no longer was responsible for the management of the store. I asked him if he had been coming while I was away and he told me that he had been helping with the training of the new vigilance committee and with Diana. He said this with a sense of pride that I hadn’t expected from him.

“How have the other members taken to the training?” I asked.

“Really well, both Elias and Tila come everyday and work on the accounts. The only trouble we are having is with Elias, his handwriting looks like the letters are going to fall off the page.” He said this while impersonating a tipping letter “C.” “I keep telling him, ‘Elias, you better fix your handwriting because when Annalisa comes back she isn’t going to be able to read your drunken letters.”

I liked that he had used me as a threat.

We then started to work on the daily closing. I grabbed the inventory books to enter the purchases and losses (expired tomatoes etc.) for the day. I opened the book and found the inventory and monthly profits from sales, which is done every first of the month, completed. I was astonished. I have been working with the coop on this inventory system for the past year. Never have they done the tabulations without my help. In fact, if I have a meeting at the Peace Corps office and am not in town on the first, they have always just waited to do inventory until I get back. This month, they did it all on their own.

I guess some things do change.

p.s. Jenny gave birth to a baby boy today! Nicolas. He’s reportedly healthy, 8 lbs and VERY white. I’ll meet him tomorrow.

p.s.s. I’d like to share with you a little joke that Adan told me about a recent U-20 World Cup qualifier soccer match between Guatemala and the United States. Guatemala, to most Guatemalan’s surprise, beat the U.S. 2-1. Adan had this to say about the match:

“Both sides cried at the end of the game. The U.S. because they lost and Guatemala because the won. I still can’t believe we won, the U.S. had a GOOOOOD team. I think of it this way, The U.S. doesn’t permit Guatemalans to enter their country, so Guatemala doesn’t permit the U.S. to enter the World Cup.”