Saturday, March 29, 2008
I have to give props to my mom here for teaching me my most successful to-date English activity for low-intermediate and up students…where you show them a picture from a magazine or book and they have to come up with as many sentences as they can about the picture in the language that they are learning. I even got a request for a repeat to play the game again (by Sonia’s daughters who were playing in Spanish…who were actually very good at the game – creativity goes a long way). Thanks Mom, I’ll move on to the “color-jumping” game next since it seems like a winner as well.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Me: Hey! You were screening my call! I called you like two seconds ago!
Steph: Oh, weird…you’re coming in as a long-distance number.
Me: I AM calling from a long-distance number. Hello? It’s me!
Steph: Oh! Joy?! Oh my god, I thought you were my mom!
Me: Your mom?!
Then we went on to have the regular conversation about grapes and starfruit.
Yes, now my friends think that I am their mothers. Is my voice matronly? I have gotten the occasional “do you have kids?” here and I was asked by one woman if I had kids at UBS because I liked to bake cookies and she said that my kids must love me when I bake for them. Hmm…I’m a little behind on peoples’ expectations so if anyone knows any strapping young lads that would like to father my children I am taking applications.
Also, I would like to happily inform you that the tally of the times that I’ve been asked if the blond-haired blue-eyed Pat is my mother has increased to 2 and counting. And I can also add to my credit the question if Pat is my mother-in-law. Haha, why can’t we just be friends?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
1. Chile (Santiago / Valparaíso / Easter Island) – approximately 9 days, scheduled for later this year (August or September)
2. Patagonia in Argentina (maybe Chile but there probably isn’t time for that) – approximately 10 days, scheduled for early next year (February or March) while it’s still summer
3. Paraguay (Asunción, Ciudad del Este) / Argentina (Iguazú Falls, Buenos Aires) / Uruguay (Montevideo, Punta del Este, Punta del Diablo) – approximately 14 days, scheduled for next June or July
Now for the important part, travel partners! I have decided that I should go “si o si” (regardless of the circumstances) but I am open to the idea of having some company along for the ride. I will try to drag Pat along on my Chile trip but am thinking that there might be some interest out there for the other two and being that they aren’t happening until next year it will also be more feasible in terms of planning. With that in mind, I had some people slated for the other trips since they’ve expressed interest in a trip to somewhere other than Bolivia or Peru in South America. These people would be Steph to accompany me to Patagonia and Kelley, Caroline and Fuyu to journey to Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. Let me know if there’s anyone else that is interested and I’ll sign you up and we can start planning!
“A bun with stuffing is a bun with stuffing. A bun stuffed with bean is a bun stuffed with bean. A bun stuffed with bean is not a bun with bean stuffing. Only a bun with meat or vegetable stuffing is a bun with stuffing.”
In pingyin for those Chinese speakers: “Bāozi shì bāozi, dòu bāor shì dòu bāor. Dòu bāor bù néng jiào dòu bāozi, ròu bāozi cài bāozi cái néng jiào bāozi.” (Yes, I did go through the effort of putting in those accents so you’d better read it with proper “shēng diào”)
Now I’m still puzzled at the purpose of this lesson which was titled “I like tea” and talked about “buns stuffed with bean paste” and “buns with stuffing” for the majority of the dialogue but I think the reason why there is a line around the corner for “bāozi” in Lù Găng has become a lot more clear. People take their “bāozi” very seriously as well as the task of defining the term.
I also enjoyed Lesson 18 that has the saying “shuō nĭ pàng nĭ jiù chuănshang le” which roughly translates to “when someone calls you fat, you start panting.” At first I was confused and was wondering (as did the character, Lisa, in the dialogue) why someone was being called fat and then I realized that it was a saying…such as “give a mouse a cookie and he’ll ask for a glass of milk.” Umm…or something like that, I don’t know if that’s really a saying or just in that book. Whatever, anyways, I am going to take a shot at the meaning behind the saying based on the context that it means when someone mentions something you, you take it and exaggerate it or go on and on about it. I’ll have to try to work that into all the Chinese conversations I’m having with myself nowadays. Kind of like the “ná lĭ ná lĭ” (where? where?) reaction to compliments and the oh-so-popular “shàng tù xìa xiè” (simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea) that I picked up while in Shanghai (referring to the phrase, not some kind of gastrointestinal disease). If you didn’t know Chinese before your read this, I’m glad I have given you a few handy sayings to use in times of crisis.
P.S. I recently finished a Free Cell winning streak…13 wins in a row! Overall 55% win percentage (and yes, I’ve played a total of 370 games, not counting those furtive games on Pat’s computer). After hearing that Sarah so cleverly changed her opponents in Hearts to honor the “Full House” characters of Danny, Joey, and Jesse I decided to do a little renaming myself. I have gone to the trouble of changing the opponents from the generic computer-given names to my 3 PC buddies (Sarah, Kasia and Lindsay) and I must say, they are quite worthy opponents, either I’m getting worse at Hearts (is that possible?) or the skill level of the computer opponents increases with the number of games that are played.
I think the general consensus is also that we should start a “Heard in Bolivia” like how they have the “Heard in NYC” website where people post random nonsense of stuff they heard on the streets or in the city. I was walking back to my house today when along the way there were two little boys and one was shrieking about “día de la víbora” which means “day of the snake” and then they proceeded to whap each other with these large branches. I’m telling ya, never a dull day. (Okay, that’s a lie, I have plenty of boredom in my life but these little incidents keep me entertained)
Also, I am hoping to start a “women’s club” soon (modeled after the famous women’s club of Taiwanese women in Rochester). Well actually there’s a group of young professional ladies in Tarata that I eat lunch with and they told me today that they wanted English classes in the evenings (and they even suggested having it at different peoples’ houses each time) so we’re supposed to be starting this class next week on Wednesday and Friday evenings. My ulterior motive is that I’d like to teach English if they want it, but to have a little women’s club where we can bake cookies, cakes, pies, cobblers, tortes, brownies, pastries, and fattening things and gossip about men. After all, correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t that what Peace Corps is about…dessert and men?
Friday, March 14, 2008
In other news, Sarah informed me that today is our 200 day anniversary in PC (woohoo! definitely need to have a party with myself) and that she has 216 days until she goes back to the U.S. for her sister’s wedding and vacation. She’d better start packing, it’s casi aquí.
Pat recently told me an amusing story involving stray dogs and bread. She took her puppy Rumi (which means Rock in Quechua) to the tienda to pick up a few essentials and had her hands full on the way back to her house. She bent down to adjust the leash on Rumi and had a plastic baggie with a few rolls that she had just purchased in her hand and a street dog ran by and snatched the bread out of her hand, one of the rolls falling on the ground and the other still in the plastic bag in the stray dog’s mouth. Of course such incidents cannot happen without some witnesses (the lady in the tienda who was laughing heartily at her) and Pat had to go back to the tienda to repurchase her bread to replace that which was lost in the run by bread snatching by the stray dog. I’ve discovered such episodes tend to happen to Pat…she was also the one who was walking down the street with a bag of tostadas (big popped corn that is slightly sweetened) one day and was approached by a donkey giving her sideways glances and pulling it’s owner in her direction (aka the direction of the tostadas).
Sarah is visiting me right now and beyond creating graphs in Excel, we engaged in some wonderfully exciting activities…such as a game of cacho (Bolivian Yahtzee), watching several episodes of Sex and the City, trying yerba mate for the first time (this very natural, earthy seeming tea of herbs that volunteers in the Chaco swear by), and a rousing game of Scrabble (travel set). Sarah beat me thoroughly although I was trying to make a comeback, we both had best plays of 27 points (“twigs” for me and “etch” for Sarah, both triple word scores). She seems to be a master of the two-letter words which I will need to improve on if I intend to compete in her league.
1. Formas, the fingerprint identification gym. I have to admit I’ve been there twice in the past week when I was in Cochabamba taking care of some other errands. I huffed and puffed my way through a few miles on the treadmill each time (pathetic, I know) and then elatedly reunited with the joys of weight training. Trying to turn that flab into rock hard muscle and this is one thing I will not mind spending a little money on while I’m down here. Plus the weight room at the gym is prime zone for eye-candy. What Conti would lovingly call “man beef.” I recently also saw some interesting articles in the NYT (beyond the Spitzer scandal) about how a push-up is the sign of overall physical fitness, I should be able to do 16 (yeah freaking right, dream on) and women over 60 should be able to do 6. Another article confirmed that distance runners do not need to stretch and are probably better off if they don’t because they use energy more efficiently in their movement if they’re less flexible. Forget that yoga crap.
2. Oreos. I need to stop my pack-a-day habit. But they’re just so yummy. And sometimes they have the peanut butter cream or my favorite, the chocolate cream on chocolate cookie. Yes, they are twice the cost of cremositas, but the chocolate cookie of an Oreo is hard to beat.
3. Laverap. It’s the laundromat that all volunteers swear by. The lady that runs it is super-nice and the clothes come out super-clean and super-smelling. No stiff jeans or cotton t-shirts. I actually don’t mind doing my own laundry by hand but sometimes you just need that little bit of luxury. Or you need to wash your sheets or blankets, not an easy task to do by hand.
4. Sex and the City. Sarah recently came to visit me and so kindly let me borrow the 2nd season. Pat and I have been indulging here and there. If anyone wants to send me something that I will forever be indebted to them for…Sex and the City! The collector’s edition of all the seasons for like $200. Thank you all my rich friends. The show is just that much more amusing nowadays when I see what they’re wearing and I crave the tantalizing food and drink that’s on the show.
5. Not showering. Yes, you knew it was about time that a comment about my personal hygiene made an appearance. I haven’t showered in 6 days and I worked out two days ago and sweated like a pig. Surprisingly, I don’t feel that gross and I am seriously considering switching from the every 5 day plan to the every 6 day plan. Sarah’s on the Sunday bathing plan (7 day plan) and has gotten comments that she smells good so I figure I have some leeway here.