Jokes that happen here in Guatemala tend to linger. There is no idea of telling a joke, having a laugh, and then being over it; no, it’s your joke for life. Today at lunch I was helping to make tortillas (which I am really not very good at yet), though I can make smaller ones that are circular, don’t have holes in the middle, and have round edges. As I was making them one of the customers, who also happens to be the host-mother of one of my group members, told me that here in our town, it is said that once a woman can make tortillas she is ready to be married. So now all the women around me are ready to marry me off! I know it’s a joke and it was really funny because I played along with it for a little for laughs, but now they bring it up every chance they get.
I also told them that avocados are my favorite food, which is quite true, and I figured if I mentioned it a few times that they would provide for me a plethora of avocados which grow here and are fairly cheap and delicious. Sometimes I get avocados. But now the joke is that I need to find a man to marry, but he has to have an avocado tree in his yard. Every chance these women get they bring it up that I’m looking for my avocado man. It’s funny. And at least they’re not joking anymore about throwing seeds at me whenever I speak poor Spanish. This too will pass I’m sure for some other odd and only slightly embarrassing joke on the gringa.
Before lunch, and on a more professional note, I met the mayor of our town, the “Alcalde”. He seems like a really intelligent man and I was quite surprised that throughout our whole one hour meeting I could actually understand most of the things he was saying, at least enough to give a little input. Basically his idea about what the town needs boils down to education. Educating the children to think for themselves and to understand why it’s important to think about the future rather than just the present. Educating the women to give them more self-esteem which will allow them to interact better with customers, as the major source of income for many women in this town is selling their hand-woven goods to tourists. Increasing self-esteem in the female population will also decrease domestic violence, increase awareness about family planning, and will basically allow them to live happier lives. The Alcalde’s ideas were that increasing education leads to increased health which leads to a better quality of life. He had a very terse and convincing way of explaining all this; he really impressed me.
In the afternoon we toured the town’s compost pit which is quite unique; only three towns in all of Guatemala separate their organic and inorganic garbage and mine is one of them. We learned about “lombricompost” in which they compost all of their organic waste using earthworms. They burn all of their inorganic waste, including plastics, and are hoping that we can help them think of a better way to get rid of it to better the air quality in the area. All we could really think of on the spot is what we do in the US: landfill. But landfills here are just trash thrown into a natural valley and eventually covered over with dirt. That doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. So now, in addition to our project with the Artisan women, we will be working on some trash management plans as well as educating the local schools about this and other environmental education topics in general.
It’s shaping up to be a busy following nine weeks, especially seeing how the past two just flew by. But I’m really glad that this training project is going to include something that I’m actually interested in rather than just learning about business and marketing.
6 years ago