Coyote and I are in town today. We saw Benito off. What´s today, Thursday? Everything has been going well. I got to see a Peace Corps camp, got to do a lot of catch up with Coyote and fill their heads with talk of Antarctica. Both Coyote and Benito want to go to Antarctica.
I won´t go into a lot about the Peace Corps because I still don´t understand it. Basically, each person is assigned a sight, they are usually alone. They are given a stipend to find a place to live and to buy furnishings for it, then they spend about a year getting to know their community and becoming fluent in Spanish, year two they try to make a differance. Coyote is trying to turn Jima into a tourist spot.
She came to Jima, scoped out a house to rent at $40 a month, painted the inside, bought the furnishings from another volunteer that was leaving, got a dog, got a machete and now she is set. There is no hot running water, just for the shower but the switch for that is like the electric chair switch. It´s not the sort of thing I feel like playing with when I am standing in a bath tub of water and it really will shock you if you touch the wrong spot. Peace Corps seems to have some of that mothering mentality that Raytheon has. They let you do your own thing but have a bunch of safety regulations that have to be followed. Like the hot shower, for sanitary purposes and the bars on the windows and doors. Recquired for a safe envioronment.
The toilet and bathroom are actually separate from the house. I really like that, except when we are telling ghost stories in the wee hours. They are attached by a roof but you take a step outside. Her house itself is two rooms, a bedroom and kitchen and sparsley furnished. It´s small but a nice size for one person. There´s about 3 locks to lock the door including a barred jail cell sort of door when she is gone for a long while. The Peace Corps has all sorts of training about safety. All water is boiled on the stove, the stove is a regular propane, there´s no fridge. A faucet outside in what looks like a square well is where she washes clothes. My clothes are drying as I speak (finally washed them). Coyote´s stipend is $230 a month and as it´s the end of the month and she did some mountain climbing, things are a little tight. It´s strange to be around someone who is hanging on to money the way I usually do. My Antarctica wages are burning a hole in my pocket. It´s so near the end of traveling, I really am not worried about it.
We saw the town and did a hike just about every day. Yesterday we climbed over 1000 ft. Let me tell you, I was not in condition for that. As I got farther and farther behind with every gasp I thought of the good ol´days on the Trail. I wondered how strong Skittles must feel. It was good to be out, though. I think I got sunburned again. The mountain has a tunnel that goes through it. It´s for the water but it´s tall enough for a person. Benito interupted my images of giant leeches attaching to my toes as we made our way through by describing all the eyeballs he was stepping on. There´s nothing like being totally creeped out and barefoot amongst pokey stones in black water. Ick, ick, ick.
Jima is a quiet little country town where burping is the rudest gesture, everyone must be greeted in the streets, and Coyote is always concerned about making a public scene, even though she can proudly demonstrate belching and spitting to put most men to shame. It´s totally understandable too, single white women are weird. Another Peace Corps volanteer I met put it well when with her impression on what the Ecuadorians are thinking,”That´s not how they are on Married With Children. “
The women wear pollera skirts, and Panama hats. That´s those men dress hats and those very full knee length skirts. Horses seem to be more common than cars, a meal is $1.50 and Ishmael, a little 8 yr old is fascinated by documentaries and owns March of the Penguins (in Spanish). I´ve brought a stuffed penguin for him and his sister.
I´ve already collected a few useful handycrafts, there´s a bag that fits my scrapbook absolutely perfectly and a traditional shirt with pretty embroidery. Right now we are waiting once again for someone to discuss custom made boots with. It sounds like I might not pay more than $50 for them. I sure hope so. What a day it has been running around in circles. Everyone we have needed to talk to will “be right there,” 45 min. after we finally get to talk to them it turns out they can´t help us and they send us to someone else who has “just stepped out” . I had ice cream though. YUM! It´s so good, I want to get some more.
You know what I am most excited about, though? Coyote taught me how to whistle. You know, the two fingered whistle! We were on top of Amazhara overlooking the valley that Jima sits in, the weather was windy but bright and we ( Benito and I, the handicapped whistlers) huffed and puffed until it suddenly clicked and a shrill whistle came out of my lips. I whooped and hollered, it was so awesome! Do you have any idea how long I´ve wanted to be able to do that? I just can´t get over it. I need to keep practicing. I can´t just do it at will, it takes a little fiddling.
Did I tell you that Coyote is already talking about PCT May 2008? So there is that. Her and Benito have really hit it off and they pretty much have their time figured out till the trail start. Hey Dad, I told them about your sailboat and they are very excited about wanting to go, especially Benito and he knows how to sail. We all plan to keep in touch.
On Tuesday the American Counsulate stopped by. They wanted an out of town Peace Corps experiance. We hiked again and showed them around. It was strange to be around such formal business suits.
Well, I have been trying to post pictures but I have nothing nice to say about that. I don´t know what to blame, this site or this computer but I am rarely allowed to put pictures up. I might try again later but for now I think I will sit and think about ice cream and the boots I want and what I will be doing when I get home. It seems that the closer I get to being home the less sure of what I want to do with my time. There´s so much to do but it seems to contradict. I layed it out, how many months I would have before Coyote hoped to hike the PCT. It´s not a whole lot of time but it is a while and it doesn´t neccesarily mean that I´ll be going but for now I don´t want to work, I don´t want to sit around. I´m not sure how to work that out.
Hey, brainstorm time, if you have an idea send me an e-mail.