Friday, March 27, 2009

Radio Show...Gross...Presentation Time

March 14: Radio Show
The radio show has been the one constant something in this work of so many half-things and quasi-successes. Every week, Brennan comes in one the 2:30 van from Villarrica. One of us prepares the music, with info on the band, the other prepares the educational topic for the week. Kanye West and dental health, things like that.

A 15-year-old named Carlito runs the equipment, mixing music with his headphones on while we play our songs, switching off the music and on our microphones when we signal him.
Lately we’ve been doing better with the witty banter.

Sometimes I wonder if we’ve made any help at all. Did that dental show save but one tooth? But you just have to keep marching on like a drum major, without knowing if even one person is following behind you.

Last week he showed up while I was t-raying in my hammock with Oscar. We sat for a bit, then Oscar kept telling me it was time for me to go, with his eyes on my hammock. So during the show I sent saludos to the neighbor in my hammock.

After the show, which was about diabetes and health and hip hop, Brennan and I walked back and passed Oscar on his bike. I wondered where his moto was.

I talked to him later, after he’d gotten back from the gym (I don’t remember him ever mentioning going to the gym before.)

He told me that he was lying in my hammock, listening with the radio on the stool next to him. He died laughing at my saludo, he said, and I laughed that they use that phrase too: morir de reirse.

Then, as we were talking about health, he said he looked at himself in the hammock and thought “¿Que es mi vida?” (What is my life?) And he got up, and he got on his bike, and he went and exercised.

Bam! Changing lives, people. Changing lives. Next week: Nutrition and Sublime.

March 16: Where There Is No Doctor (Today’s post is: gross)
Looking for information on this last show about diabetes prevention, I went to the book Where There Is No Doctor. This book is given to all volunteers. It’s literally a guidebook for everyone in the world, translated to everything from Quechua to Tswana to Thai with do-it-yourself healthcare. It has graphic drawings and I try not to look at it right before going to bed.

There’s page 5. WITCHCRAFT--BLACK MAGIC--AND THE EVIL EYE. “Do not waste your money at ‘magic centers’ that claim to cure witchcraft. And do not seek revenge against a witch, because it will not solve anything.

It talks about home remedies, and how some might not work. Take these examples from Mexico for how to cure goiter.

No. 2 is just really disgusting and inappropriate, even compared to No. 4. My mother will call and tisk at me if I put it up and say, “Paulette, dis-gust-ing!” So I will spare you all.

On page 127 I found info on diabetes: “In order to find out whether a person has diabetes, test her urine to see if there is sugar in it. One way to test the urine is to taste it. If it tastes sweet to you, have 2 other persons taste it. Have them also taste the urine of 3 other people. If everyone agrees that the same person’s urine is sweeter, she is probably diabetic.”

Let’s hope this patient has good friends.

The book tries to speak in the most common language, for example, when talking on age 131 (see illustration to right) about prevention of sickness and sanitation:

“Germs and worms (or their eggs) are passed by the thousands in the stools or feces (shit) of infected persons. .... For example: A child who has worms and who forgot to wash his hands after his last bowel movement, offers his friend a cracker. His fingers, still dirty with his own stool, are covered with hundreds of tiny worm eggs (so small they can not be seen). Some of these worm eggs stick to the cracker. When his friend eats the cracker, he swallows the worm eggs, too. Soon the friend will also have worms. His mother may say this is because he ate sweets. But no, it is because he ate shit!”

The book is hilarious, but also scary. There are illustrated instruction on inserting your own catheter. It’s a reminder of all those places out there where there really is no doctor. For bringing medical knowledge to the world I truly respect its author. But also, you’ve just got to laugh at the Butt-cracker.

March 25th: Marshmallow cookout
Oscar has been bugging me to get him whatever it is those people in the movies are holding over the campfire. That white thing.

The bag arrived this morning in a box of miscellaneous goods from my mother. He smelled it. I smelled it.

Later that day I found out we might have to postpone our planned marshmallow eating due to a schedule conflict. But Oscar said, “No! Ever since I was a little boy I’ve been waiting to eat those things that I saw in the movies.”

That night in the dark we went to my side of the yard, next to the latrine my host mom sometimes still uses, though they have a modern bathroom. That’s where we burn the trash, and where the kindling twigs are stacked. Vanessa held my headlamp and Oscar had his cell phone flashlight. They asked me for a description of the kind of stick they should find. Short? Long? Thick? Are we going to wash them? asked Oscar. How closed should we hold them to the fire? Like this? they asked, as we held them over the charcoal fire.

Then they put them in their mouths and I loved their faces, and those Paraguayan sounds. Ay! as in, “Ay! Que rico!” Vanessa says like a 50’s girl swooning. Even I had forgotten how delicious a fire-melted marshmallow was. Oscar got a huge smile on his face, as if it were everything he dreamed it would be.

Hanging out and toads
We cooked meat, which was put on the table in chunks and just kind of hacked away at and eaten. I brought out my ipod speaker dock and we sat in a chair circle. Eventually most of the family had gone to bed, but we stayed out with some friends, just drinking beer and talking and laughing. It felt just like home.

We told romance horror stories. Turns out heartbreak’s the same here too.

I ran to my house for something and saw a huge toad right next to my door, as I do some nights. I decided (it was about 1 a.m. now) that it would be funny to pick it up and place it on Oscar’s lap, which I politely did after walking to the circle from behind him, one hand behind my back.

You know when you say something or do something and you immediately have this feeling you’ve crossed the line? That’s exactly how I felt when I saw his face. He pulled his whole upper body as far away from the toad as he could. He man-screamed. Words were coming out of his mouth, the same words over and over, which I guessed was something like “Get it off me! Get it off me!” Everyone was staring and kind of shocked, I felt hot in the face. I reached back to get it and put it on the ground.

There was this pause where everyone just breathed, like the seconds right after a car accident or something. I laughed an embarrassed laugh.

It took some weird conversation, but eventually I realized they were telling me that they think toads are like the biggest, grossest thing out there. And if they pee in your eye, you go blind. Se dice, no más (Which translates to: That’s what they say, anyway).

I tried to understand by imagining someone putting a cockroach on me. Which is, consequently, exactly how Oscar is planning to exact his revenge.

March 26: Look out, she’s got a laptop!
Though it was against every fiber of my being and it pained me greatly, I scheduled a presentation on the same day I was going to go to Villa Florida for the infamous Semana Santa party.

I’ve been wanting to do this presentation, we call them charlas, on how we can better the Ao Poi shop. I took some photos and sent them with a request for advice to my friend Erica who works at Saks and my sister-in-law Stephanie, who works at Nordstrom’s.

They both replied with lots of great advice, and I couldn’t wait to share it with the ladies. But then the trouble: how do you get people who work at a place 7 days a week to stay two hours late one day. Maybe even Saturday or Sunday. Goo.

They wanted to spruce up the shop for the holiday week, when we have more customers, and they couldn’t wait until after I was to come back. So I did the adult thing, my every fiber screaming.

My first big-girl charla. Where all my friends and co-workers will humor me and attend, or no one will attend at all. Where this foreigner will stand in front of them and say in crappy Spanish: “Hey, you guys should do this extra work!”

I was wondering if I should do a PowerPoint on my shiny Mac or use the old “charla paper” method, where we make our point with markers and the huge paper elementary teachers write cursive on. I decided to go for the Mac, though we’ll all kind of have to gather around it. And I’m going to wow those people. Because if this charla doesn’t suck so bad, maybe they’ll attend more.


rbardin said...

Those images are incredible. I would like to see them as graffiti somewhere.

Also enjoyed the polka. The rooster sound effect was such an authentic touch...

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

These were great posts. I also enjoyed reading Where There Is No Doctor, but you left out my favorite photo of the child with diarrhea. Gotta love that one!