Friday, May 29, 2009

Fatima Favorites

I’ve been in my training town for about half a week now. There is way too much to describe, so I think maybe it’s best to just share a top ten list (in no particular order) of the things I love right now.

Bucket Showers

My host family’s shower is an outdoor enclosure with an open roof. It has a spigot and supposedly there is running water, but I haven’t seen it work yet. But I don’t care, because I love bucket showers. To take one, I fill up a 5-gallon bucket from one of the barrels of water around the house. Then I soap myself up and sluice water from the bucket to rinse. It’s cold and refreshing, and I feel so clean afterwards. Unfortunately, I am not really allowed, or at least strongly discouraged from bathing after about 3 pm. People here believe that showers late in the day cause coughing and sore throats. Since I already have a cough, they really don’t want me to shower at night.

My Mosquito Net

I love my mosquito net. This is a standard issue Peace Corps item that everyone gets, and it is just fantastic. I have it strung up so it makes a big space for me to sleep in, like a canopy bed. I am so comfortable at night under that thing, and I don’t think any zancudos (the campesino word for mosquitoes) have gotten me in my sleep yet.

No Car Culture

Fatima is not a car town. Almost no one has a car. Everyone bikes or walks to get everywhere. Which is not to say that people here are particularly fit. In fact, most people seem to have an aversion to walking, either because of the heat or the dust or for some other reason. There are a lot of guys who make a living driving these big tricycles with seats in the front, sort of like a bicycle rickshaw. People will take one of those things just to get a few meters down the road. But really everything is within walking distance. Even the bigger town nearby. Most people take a bus to get to it (and by bus, I mean one of the minivans that pass by every so often), but it would really be a short walk. Friends and family are all within such easy walking distance that people constantly just drop by to have a fresco (fruit juice) and chat for a while.

Fruit Everywhere

It is mango season right now, and there are mangoes everywhere. It seems like every family has a mango tree by their house, and a lot of families also manage farm plots that have a lot of trees. It is also avocado season. Oranges are coming next, since it’s about to be winter. It is incredible how much natural abundance this town has.

Shade Trees

It is really hot here during the day, but there is always somewhere to find shade. Every house is covered by shade trees, and there are tons of places to sit and just enjoy a fresco or an helado (ice cream) under a shade tree. Yesterday I sat out in front of my house for several hours just watching the street. People passes by on bicycles and tricycles, on foot, and on horseback. A lot of people are curious about the gringos in town, so it was fun to wave and say hello. Much better than television. I only went in because the sun went down.

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