Monday, June 04, 2012

Por El Otro Lado

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid.

Several moments of interest from today.

First, we had class in the jungle. There are some nice painted steps out in the jungle behind campus where we could all sit and have a little class this morning while the bugs scurried around us. There isn't really anything unusual about the place except that it's the jungle and no one holds class in the jungle. The juxtaposition was enough to startle their attention for the 1.5 hours that it was needed: "We thought we were just going for a hike!" "Yes. Yes, you did."

Second, I had my first two run-ins with drunk do-badders. They may be a thin group, but their gringo divining rods are refined, and with them they assail any and all fairer-skinned in their stumbling vicinity:

(1) This afternoon, three girls trailing the group were being hounded by a mostly gentle drunk who wanted to take our picture for us. This was clear because he kept sticking one arm up in the air for the flash while he ducked behind an invisible (except to him) cape to peer through the viewfinder."¡Púm! Yo les saco la foto. ¡Púm!" Written phonetically, it was a bit more like "¡Púm! Yer leh sagah leh fuhduh. ¡Púm!" The students went into the store behind us leaving me to dispense with the annoyance. Usually, my dealings with these people end quickly with a few Gracias, pero no. No queremos foto. Ya tenemos foto, señor. Vaya con Dios. Mucha suerte, señor. Que le vaya bien. Hasta luego. Et cetera. It tends to work quite well. You say goodbye as if you've been talking for hours, and they seem to think that's the case and leave politely. This caballero was much more persistent. My plan two is to start making them talk. Sometimes they forget what's even going on and just leave of their own accord. ¿Cómo se llama Ud.? ¿En dónde vive? ¿Ud. trae cámara? ¿Es fotógrafo Ud.? ¿Le gusta San Ramón? For the persistent, this apparently means a chance to have me share in the smell of his breath and hold his ID for proof of a name I never cared to know.  The employees of the store started to notice and were making passive-aggressive attempts at removing him from their door (like, slapping the cement wall right next to his head). After a couple whiffs of his breath and no progress from the workers, I had to change strategies again. So I told him to have a nice day and walked around the block. By the time I returned he must have been taken with clamoring after another pair of pinkish legs.

(2) The second happened immediately after leaving that store. Two men standing in the doorway of the bar ogled a couple of the girls with us, so I slid back through our group to make sure nothing was going to happen. One of them gave thumbs up, which is... unnerving but not exactly foul. The second stepped out and kind of bumped one of them, or at least made her step around him to keep walking. I would normally suggest ignoring his type, but I felt like this public rudeness needed calling out. I don't remember exactly what I said (something like, "this is not something men do to women, sir.") except that it was quite damning. After two or three shaming phrases, he appeared to lurch toward me. Figuring he was drunk enough to fight someone who pointed out his lowness, I caught up to the group.

Third, the kids in the barrio were out again, this time with a couple other friends I remembered well. Justin and I learned a street game called "Stop", pronounced "Eh-stope", in which you call out a name as you toss a ball in the air, and that person must catch the ball. If s/he drops the ball, s/he must collect it while all the other participants run and hide. Once s/he has it, s/he yells "STOP" and the rest of the players must freeze. Then, s/he gets three giant steps before s/he must try to hit another player with the ball. If s/he misses, s/he is out. If s/he hits someone, that person is out. We played for a half hour. We made plans to play Cops and Robbers next week in the barrio with as many of us as can come. Fútbol in the field down the hill is also in the works.

Fourth, laughter peeled the walls around the house today as I presented Yolanda (mom) with my gift from the USA, a Tingler Scalp Massager. There were escalofríos as giggles came unrestrained from the three sisters + mom as they each took their turn "melting". "The best gift we've ever gotten. Bring us a box of these and we will make you so much money," they said.

Maybe I've found my calling. Aaron Chambers (1982-20**): he tingled the Tico spine.

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