Thought for the day: "Maybe understanding is possible only after." Thank you, John Steinbeck, for your delightful morsels of humorous insight. As an attempt to maintain alertness in all the classes I do not understand, which include all classes but math, I have been reading J. Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. For the third time. I don't know that the quote really applies to anything specific this week, but it just struck close to home. I am learning so much at this point in my life, but I don't believe I will fully realize or appreciate certain things until I return to the states. This is the same with my reading habits. I have certain books that I love, and I have read most of them 2 or 3 times at the very least. Each time, the book gets better. I take away something new each time, because I have lived different experiences since the last time. Maybe, understanding really is possible ONLY after. We have to go through all the bullshit in life to really learn. There are no shortcuts. Beth Wulf, my College English teacher, passionately fought to convince my class of the wonders of reading. She won me over. Beth believed that reading is a way to gain insight and understanding of people whom we would normally reject. I never used to read for such understanding. I read. I forget about the moral. I live life. I learn. I re-read the book one year later. My eyes pop open in realization. Holy shit, how did I miss that the first time around?! This has been my situation with Travels With Charley. From now on, Beth, I promise to take my time reading. I won't whip through a book just to stake my unimportant claim on being a fast reader. This is officially the shittiest paragraph I have ever written in my life, but "quite frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"
H1N1. After much internal debate between my social self and my honest-no-bullshit-self, I have decided to post about the H1N1 situation. I struggle with this, because I can think of two people that will probably pull a superfreak and fly down here to rush me to a vaccination clinic. Yes, Mom and Papa, I am referring to you both. I shrugged it off when my family told me about Argentina's H1N1 problems. Whoopie-doodle! Well, not so much. Sucre seems to be taking this flu very seriously. Massive informational signs sit in the entries of every business. The cashiers at the supermarket all wear masks. The school requires all the students to douse their hands with sanitizer before every class. The school was even closed this last Monday for "sterilization." Some students wear masks at school. I won't worry until everyone else starts worrying, but the matter is definitely a subject of discussion here. At least, if I become ill with H1N1 and walk away to tell the tale, it will make for interesting discussion.
Awkward moments. I already stick out like a sore thumb, and I certainly do not need a contribution from my own personal storehouse of klutziness. Every little stupid thing I do is emphasized with an extra dash of awkwardness. Dropping my pencil sharpener on the classroom's wood floors and spilling shavings everywhere. Walking in late to sit at the front of the movie theatre and spilling my friend's popcorn everywhere as I fall on my ass. Relaxing at the Recoleta as two disgusting stray dogs hop up next to me, thus causing me to misjudge the jumping distance to my escape off the ledge. Attempting to have a conversation with friends before classes and blowing snot on my scarf as I chuckle at something I finally understand...ya, that really puts a halt to the rare triumph of understanding something. We all know I am pretty okay with looking like a dumbass, but it is much different here. My dumbassishness is multiplied by ten billion gazillion trillion...and then some. It is the most awkward form of 'dumbassishness.' You know that sophomore kid that never really grew out of his freshmen shoes? I am him. I am the kid with nasty braces and no social skills. I am the kid that rides the front of the school bus with the lunch that his mom packed for him. Every little thing about my already awkward moments is enhanced with the awkwardness of being a loner in a new place; however, it is kind of fun. I still have the right to look like a freak.
Salsa. 'Ya bitch!' Reluctantly, I accepted a friend's invitation to check out a dance class for one evening. After I finally said yes, I dwelled on the knowledge that I would only be observing and perhaps I could learn a thing or two. We met up outside a hotel at 8:00 last night to walk to the class, and it was then that I learned Laura(the other foreign exchange student, from Oregon, bright red hair, lol) and Sergio would be attending as well. I was thrilled to know I would not be the only person with two left feet! Well, we made it to the class and I was in complete heaven. Hell if I was going to be observing, because the first thing I did was pay 60 bolivianos for a month's worth of lessons! The dancing started on this great little patio only open to the pitch black sky, and I was really doing well. I have hips, and my feet are adjusted properly. I left at 9:30 positively beaming, I woke up this morning wanting to dance, and right now I am beaming again. Damn, it just feels great to move like that. To hell with grinding at high school dances. Someday, I will require a man with dancing capabilities. And nice hair. Any takers? I would be a horrible person if I failed to mention the name of my invitee. Oriana/Ori. She is amazing, and boy can she dance. She knows how to have a good time, and she loves rhythm! She seems like me. Passionate about life. Willing to go to great lengths to make the new girl feel at home. She wrote me this incredibly nice letter after dance last night, which I read ecstatically this morning. Ori is an amazing chiquita, and I believe we have hit it off quite well. She is always making funny expressions and doing goofy things, which means that I fit right in. lol. What a great gal.
I apologize. This blog includes some of the shittiest writing I have ever done. This is simply because I am elated and overwhelmed with happiness. Organization of my thoughts is the last thing on my mind.
Go dance, biotches! I am going to go jean shopping with Vivi.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Thought for the day: Schools in the United States are spoiled rotten. I am reaching the end of my second week of school here and have managed to settle in quite nicely, more or less. Early this week, a realization seeped in to my rapidly-growing noggin as I cluelessly watched my physics lab partners. After the professor anounced something I failed to understand, I couldn´t figure out why everyone in the class scrambled to his bags and started whipping out their cellphones. I caught on fast once the ball-bearings started falling and everyone announced their times to the recorder. Cell phones for timers. Hmm. I thought to myself, 'Gee, I used to bitch so much about my extensively prepared physics labs during senior year. I suck.' Now, I realize I should have been thrilled and immensely appreciative of all the technology and money cluttered in my old physics room. Thing is, we really have it easy in the United States. We are spoiled, and the majority of us are too self-absorbed and occupied with unimportant bullshit to realize it. Que lástima...what a shame.
I will now answer the constantly repeated question, "What´s school like, Hayley?!"
Here is the technical version: Within each grade level exists four further-divided groups which study different areas. Though I am unable to remember exactly, I believe those four areas are math, science, social sciences, and something else. Here, I am enrolled in math. With the exception of music, art, physical education, and physics or chemistry labs, all the math students stick together in one classroom. Morning classes start at 8:00, with one twenty-minute break for snacks and gabbing. At 12:20, all the students leave to go to their homes for lunch and a nap. Some days, there are a couple afternoon classes, and other days there are none. Classes recommence at 2:30 in the afternoon and last until 4:30. Classes end in November for summer break, so I will be attending the university in Sucre alongside my classmates and friends in order to maintain ties. This will also be an opportunity for me to work with the public and create some opportunities for the future.
Here is the Hayley Version: Well, the only thing I have yet to really figure out is why in hell there is no toilet paper or paper towels in the bathrooms. For once, I was happy to be sick sick with a cold when I first used the school's toilets...Thank you, Kleenex! Generally, the teachers don't seem to care how I do in class. On top of not having homework, I never have to take quizzes or tests. And when I sit during note-taking with nothing but a blank stare on my face, they do nothing. We have no textbooks to tow to school everyday, so note-taking consists of copying what the teacher says, of which I obviously am incapable. Were it not for my abundance of journals and the never-ending stream of thoughts and to-do lists passing through my head, I would most certainly fall asleep in class. Oh wait, I already did fall alseep in physics. Oops. Basically, school is social hour for me. The only class I look forward to every day is Calculus. I breeze through every problem, which is a miracle considering how I struggled in Calculus last year. Thank you, Mr. Ratliff. So, school definitely isn't the highlight of my days, but it is the best way to make friends. I kind of hated high school in the states, and the same applies for my education in Sucre. Crammed in a desk all day with pencil lead all over my hands is not my idea of fun. I will be happy when November ends--I will understand the language, and I will never have to look back on high school again!
Mood swings. Wow! I can't even begin to express the extent of all my emotions--and that's in ENGLISH! Imagine having to express yourself in a language you don't understand. I sit bored in all my classes, with only the company of my own thoughts. Because of this, I often forget there are others in the room--who are most likely staring at me already. As my classmates whip out their notebooks, I start thinking of how I miss quirky things about home. The look on my face is one of longing, with my eyebrows squinched together ever-so-lightly. The next moment, I think of how excited I am to go run around with friends in the afternoon or play wallyball with Jorge and his friends. Now, I bolt upright in my seat and am grinning. After that, I jump to thinking about old bullshit from home that pisses me off or frustrates me. At that point, I shake my head and roll my eyes with my teeth smashed together. Then, I start thinking about class back home. Titty-twisters. Cory screaming. Summer and Carl laughing. Klaver becoming increasingly aggravated--along with the rest of the band. It is now when I remember I am seated amongst people. In class. In a foreign class. In a foreign class with people staring at my distorted face. I realize I probably seem like the introvert all the kids point and laugh at, talking to himself as he paces down the city street. I duck quickly in my seat, blushing now, and hoping this will eventually end with my understanding of the language in a few more months. Believe it or not, I don't particularly enjoy being a freak. I know, you all thought that freakiness was my area of expertise.
Either way, I am having an absolute blast. I am very positive here, remembering that it is fun to be the new kid. I am enjoying making a fool of myself. And, for once, I get to fail high school...and enjoy doing so! Sorry, Dad. :-) We all know you were far from an angel in high school anyway. Like father, like daughter!
I'm out! Shalom.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Thought for the day: Now that I am somewhat accustomed to life in Sucre, I have come to realize something. Everything is exactly the same as in the states, but in a different language. Life is universal. Truly. Especially in school. All good students cram to the front of class. All good students are in favor with their teachers. All senior guys all are obnoxious jokers. Here, the guys make this loud, guttural moo which I find priceless. All students, good and bad, work together to take advantage of their teachers. All students cheat on physics tests. All students try and get away with things when the teacher isn´t looking. So, though I might not understand everything by mouth, I can still laugh and get the gist of what is going on around me.
My first few days here have been interesting. To say the least. Thanks to the altitude, I have been very sick. Waking up in the middle of the night to puke alone in a foreign home isn´t exactly my idea of fun, but I guess it´s what I signed up for. Mom isn´t there anymore to hold my hair, bring me blankets, and stay awake with me, but it´s a good thing. I have come to love tea, otherwise known as maté, because it is great for my upset stomach. Also, staying up until 3:30 A.M. to go to parties on my FIRST night probably didn't help my health[insert sarcasm here], but I could be wrong. Either way, I am feeling much better now.
Family: I learned quickly that my family's name is of high standing in Sucre. My father, Jorge Rodriguez, shares the ownership of their ancient, family mansion with the rest of his siblings...and golly-gee-willicker are there MANY siblings. This home is located in the center of the city, and contains many ancient relics and family heirlooms. Furthermore, the sister of Jorge's great-grandfather was La Princesa of the Castle of the Glorieta, another famous location in Sucre. Their bloodlines go back to Bolivia's birth. Family is incredibly important here. We dine with all the family every Sunday for lunch. I am still trying to remember the names of all my aunts and uncles, but it is getting easier. They treat me incredibly well. In our home, we have a maid that does laundry and cooks breakfast and everything. I much prefer to clean my OWN underwear, personally; and I am sure the maid feels the same way. I guess I can't complain.
Blond hair: I can't walk anywhere alone in the city's center. I might as well just paint a bullseye on my face, advertise my presence, and tell people to stare at me. It would have the exact same effect as my blonde hair. This morning: Peaceful and alone, I scope out the best park bench. Part in the sun, part in the shade. At the plaza's center, shrouded by trees. A gentle, brisque breeze plucking ripe leaves to float and dance to the ground. Adjacent to a happy little fountain. Alone in peace to read as the fat, bilious pigeons prance around my feet. BAM!!!! All within fifteen minutes, I swear at least 5 young boys had begged to shine my shoes. Everywhere, people sit amongst the dog-piss-stained streets begging for money. What am I to do? I offer a few coins every day, but I can't have my shoes shined 5 times! These children are young, desperate, and relentless. It makes for a very difficult situation when they plop down beside me and want to have a discussion, but only so I will warm up to them and hand out my wallet. When in Rome, do as the Romans do...I watch my family closely. Sometimes Jorge offers coins, and sometimes he just acts completely oblivious. He isn't mean, that is just how it works here. I will give it a whirl next time I am approached. How sad.
1) Majo and Jorgito, my siblings. We are in our school uniforms. I kind of like the uniforms, but we have to wear really hideous skirts every Monday. Ick. I will blog about school in the near future.
2) Jorgito and Abu(short for 'grandma' in spanish). Abu is an absolute angel, and she reminds me of my Nana far too much. She spoils me and Jorgito terribly. Jorgito is absolutely adorable. "We all need somebody to love." How true. My love for this new younger brother is a completely different love than I have for Spencer. I always watch out for him. Jorgito and I have bonded magnificently. I adore him in the strangest way. It feels good to care for someone.
3) My first 'futbol' game! Sucre is red....we sucked. Jorge is a civil engineer. He built the stadium, along with various other important structures in Sucre. I love kickin' it with the boys. Every monday, we go to play walleyball with another family. The mothers remain at home. I am kind of a tomboy here.
Ciao!(Shani, Shani, Shani);-)
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Cheerio good neighbors! I thought it would be wise to get my blog started before I leave. Actually, Brad Bonner thought so, but whatever. ;-) Here goes:
I ship out on Friday the 7th at 6:00 AM. My family and I will head to Omaha on Thursday afternoon to dine and enjoy our last American evening together...but I think the true reason for this is so they don't have to wake at the buttcrack of dawn to drive to Omaha. I do much prefer the sugar-coated version. From Omaha, I will go to Houston. And from Houston to Miami. It is in Miami that I switch airlines and head to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. My 10:30 PM arrival in Santa Cruz is all hunky-dorey and such, but I will have a 12-hour overnight layover. This, I am sure, will be my first "learning experience." Though Brad Lee Bonner tells me I will be fine in my Rotary blazer, I like the idea of a giant hoodie covering my blond hair and pale skin much better. Also, my amazing Nana and Papa(Diane and Bill) have purchased a 'net' of some type for my carry-on. I put my bag in it and padlock it to my body so no one can slash into it or run away with it. A bit extreme, but they are the most worrisome grandparents in the world. It is greatly appreciated. Either way, it will be an experience, and I am always game for growing up. I leave Santa Cruz at 10:30 AM and arrive in Sucre one half hour later. Yay!
For at least the past 4 months, I have had visions of me meeting my host family in the airport and other things of the same sort. It is exactly like in the movies, when the guy keeps imagining how the date is going to go, but then it is always wrong. seriously. I will think about discussions in my head, and then try to imagine the same discussion in Spanish. It's ridiculous. I am prepared for everything to NOT go as planned though.
My first host family includes Viviana and Jorge Rodriguez, and their son Jorgito(8). Yes, it is okay to laugh at the names "Jorge and Jorgito." I almost always say it with a stereotypical accent and chuckle. I have been emailing Viviana quite often. Viviana is an attorney, and Jorge is a civil engineer. They are an incredibly affectionate family, and I am sure they will treat me well. They also have a daughter my age that will be on an exchange to Luverne, Minnesota, while I am in Bolivia. Her name is Maria Jose, and she will be in Sucre for the first four days or so of my exchange.
As for Sucre, I could not have chosen a better place to spend for a year. I will be leaving the toasty, humid states for a perfectly moderate climate....which is maintained year-round. Yay! Adios, Iowa humidity and blizzards. Sucre(pop. 300,000) is nestled in an Andes valley at an altitude of 9,000 ft. I am going to have the sexiest, healthiest heart when I return home. Another yay!
I think that pretty much covers the typical questions. I am getting really good at answering the same questions over, and over, and over, and over, and so on. Public speaking will be cake after this year....thank goodness! I suppose this will be all until my arrival in Bolivia. Ciao!
P.S. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, Rotary and BBonner! Simply put, Rotary is amazing.