Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Slapping dead chickens

You may be familiar with my dog, Tay'in, by now. What you may not be familiar with in that picture is the dead chicken hanging from her neck. Tay'in has always been trouble since I've gotten her, first, it was ruining anything plastic, then it was jumping rooftops, and lately, it's become killing chickens. I emphasize killing, NOT eating because for her, it's just that - Fun, playful, killing. Here's the problem - chickens are everywhere here, every corner, every house, every street. Here's the other problem - chickens are a means of livelihood and income here, so every time Tay'in kills a chicken, a family loses money. I decided this madness had to come to a stop when the latest casualty happened to be a whole family of baby chicken siblings. Naturally, the only sensible thing to do was to tie her latest trophy catch to her neck. By the way, this actually is not a Guatemalan tradition at all, rather one found on Google (It turns out my host family was actually quite shocked by it.) Apparently, the Guatemalan version entails making a home-made remedy made of the chicken's burning feathers and allowing the smoke to blow in the dog's face. But I chose the brutal option anyway, the dead-necked chicken, for one simple reason - there's a good chance that if she continues, someone will kill her (so don't judge me you animal rights activists.)

And so the dead chicken was tied when I was away from site, and so naturally the first thing I did when I got home was to take the dead chicken and shove it in her face, repeating, "NO! NO! NO!" "BAD GIRL TAY'IN." Just about then, I looked up and noticed a few bystanders watching me on the street and realized - Jesus, what am I doing?!?! I would have never imagined myself a few years back being able to naturally grab a half-bodied decomposing chicken with my raw hands and shove it repeatedly in my dog's face. And yes, it turns out that by the time I had gotten home, only half the chicken remained on her collar. Apparently, Tay'in insisted on following my host mom and sister to the store, the molino, all around town and in front of the entire pueblo. The whole chicken didn't quite make it along the way. Most importantly, the whole town watching this spectacle probably thought that my host mom had gone absolutely crazy.

Tay'in spent a nasty 4 days like this. Today's her first day of freedom and so far she hasn't killed any chickens. Just Yet. I have my doubts. The dog is a god dang wolf.

In less nasty news - December 1st celebrated International AIDS Day and although I didn't plan on coordinating any activities originally, a few other volunteers and myself were asked to participate in activities with the Ministry of Health in my department capital's central park (Quiche). Although I was originally not looking forward to the activities (we were given less than a week's notice to cook something up), it turned out to be a really great activity, full of games, art, music, dance, etc. It also provided a great opportunity to connect and plan future activities with the local hospital.

To be honest, moving to a new site has been very challenging this third year, especially because so much of my new work entails travelling, coordination and less "field" work, which I love. However, things are coming together slowly and by chance, myself and another volunteer have been able to work on reproductive health education with a group of local sex workers. The experience itself is completely different from that of my first two years of work - most of the women are not indigenous, they are literate, migrant, and don't really believe that they need your help. The first few sessions, I must admit, were kind of a disaster. They were sassy, suspicious and well, rude. It wasn't until the last session that they finally opened up and talked about their problems, real issues and their rights in society. Much to my surprise, all but one had great feedback on the training. Sadly, some had writtenn that they wanted to participate in order "to have a place in society." This literally broke my heart when I read it. Sex workers, especially in Guatemala, have been shunned, outcasted and made to believe that their work really isn't work at all. However, you'd be surprised to find that these women are not only incredibly smart and resourceful but are incredible business women. This is only because they are, after all, working women. Anywho, I could talk hours and hours and probably create my own blog just about this, but I'll keep it short and sweet. I've learned so much from them already and am extremely excited to see where this collaboration takes us.

And just as work is picking up... I'm leaving. Well for a month anyway... To Brazil (Peace Corps makes you take a month off if you extend a third year.) I know poor me right? I'll be leaving next week to spend a month with my family on the beach and am very excited to relax, rejuvenate, spend time with my family and start the new year fresh. Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!!!

We spent thanksgiving weekend on the beach, where we caught baby turtles taking their first swim into the ocean!!

Chalk Art at Quiche's Central Park for International AIDS Day

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