Penne : An Anecdote
I was at the grocery store last night – the Maxi Dispensa (rumoured to be owned by Wal-Mart bOO Hisss). Anyway, I had an idea in my head for dinner, and as always chuckled as I walked past the “Arma tu Vajilla” sign. I foraged through the store for the necessary items to make a delicious home made pasta. I came to the pasta aisle, and had an echo in my head of my roommate saying “spaghetti noodles just don’t pick up the sauce that well”. Very true – well for the meal I had in mind. I searched up and down the shelves with a security man standing completely in my way and after a few moments of avoiding his eyes he asked me what I was looking to purchase. “Quiero comprar el Penne (I want to buy some Penne)”. The man instantly burst out into hysterical laughter. “mierde” I said. And though I couldn’t see myself I’m sure I was beet red. Oh yea, Penne – happens to sound exactly like the Spanish word for penis. Fancy that. “I want to buy some penis”. I picked up a pack of cannelloni and said “No Penne is like this but smaller” (in Spanish – so this probably didn’t help). He then proceeded to ask me if I spoke English and if I could teach him sometime. “You’ll have to wait in line” and I darted away with my bowtie pasta shells.
Lupe at the Mouth of Laguna Cacao
I told that story to a few folks today and man it went over well. Today was a day to work in the community of Cacao. Part of my week I work with an Organization called FUPNAND (which stands for fundaccion something parque nombre de dios) and my coworker Danny and I drive about 45 minutes out of the city to this beautiful little community where we are doing a mangrove restoration project among other things. There’s electricity, water, a 3 room school house, a clinic run by Canadian Doctors (REPRESENT!), and many other wonderful amenities. There is also a beautiful lagoon at the end of town where many locals fish or can get access to the ocean to do so. This lagoon is where I saw my first howler monkey and is also where one of many Italian survivors was held. There are remnants of the set all around, and it really makes me wonder about the validity of the show – with a community 5 minutes away...
I had to pee really bad upon arrival today and as I was walking off into the bushes, Danny suggested it might be better if I used someone’s house. Having already had my share of odd bathroom experiences, I was up for anything. I have grown fond of this lady (well she’s my age) Merzi (there she is on the left), and since she lives super close, she was quick to invite me in to use her bathroom. It was in the back yard, with a sheet to cover the open wall, and the little toilet bowl was about as big as one of my butt cheeks and as high off the ground as my shin. This was okay though, because the whole bathroom stall was barely big enough for me to fit inside of anyway. It had a roof that was about as high as my chest. It was very clean though! Relieving myself was no relief, for I feared at any moment I could easily fall through the thin sheet hiding me and my vulnerability and be exposed very awkwardly to Merzi and her children who were just finishing breakfast. Thankfully all went well.
Today we hacked away at sod and carried wheelbarrows of it back and forth to the new compost pile. (The photo below is from last week, today we were up to about the middle pair of windows of the school there). We are helping a group of 10 women build parcelas (big plots of garden) in a field behind the school which will feed their families, essentially forever. The plans are in the works but we have a whole entire list of what they’d like to have from chilis to citrus trees. I am quite excited, for I love to garden, and a project at this scale is a whole new experience for me. The women are wonderful to work with too – they love to tease and laugh and they take care of each others kids, and man they can work hard! Among this group of ladies is a man named Guadalupe (or Lupe for short) who kind of got this whole thing started. He is hilarious as well, and today with his giant machete he was making poles for shovels and spades as fast as I could bring a load of sod to the compost. It was hot and a few of the ladies disappeared and came back with a big pail of Toronja (grapefruit) juice. Mmmm…
Over the next few months, I will be working with these ladies as well as doing work in the lagoon – water sampling, developing some mangrove restoration sites and potentially working with the FUPNAND biologist doing some ecological monitoring. I never thought my language or community skills would hold up to a project like this - but little by little it's something I really have been enjoying. It's great to have a balance of independant biology work and communal relationship building work. Also, a group of women like this is such a huge asset to have in a community- they are such a positive influence. They also are helping with our mangrove restoration nursery and always seem to be hard at work when we arrive. They given fair wages for their work from the organization and they are able to bring their little ones with them (even breast feed them – I saw more boobs today than I have in years). I always feel fulfilled when I leave Cacao – and I hope these projects are successful – if anything they'll be a great learning experience for everyone involved.
Next Episode - Jungle Adventre (Can I really hike 5 hours?)
Tomorrow, (I was informed of this only yesterday) I will be trekking into the mountainous jungle with several “expert biologists” from the capital city of Honduras. What we are doing exactly? – who knows. I do know that I need a tent, which I somehow managed to acquire this evening, and the first thing on the agenda is a 5 hour trek to camp. Lupe told me to watch out for Jaguars. I think I may be entering into my ‘time of the month’ too – I wonder if that attracts Jungle Cats? I asked him to borrow his machete, but he thought I was joking. My little knife will have to do. Until next time.
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