Sunday, December 6, 2009

For Nanny:

This last Wednesday I was in my room getting ready for bed and Don David, the guy I’m living with, and his family had not yet gotten back from their Wednesday church service. If you read what I wrote about going to this service, then you know it wasn’t much of a surprise. Just as I was about to go to bed he called me to tell me that his niece had gotten sick and died and he and the family were staying the night at his brother-in-law’s house with the family. Until the next day when I talked to his dad, Don Juan, that was all I knew. Don Juan told me that she was only 19 years old, got sick and died Wednesday afternoon. No one I asked knew what she had, they just said she got sick. I guess they didn’t think it was that serious.

On Thursday I was invited to go to the service, which I felt a little uncomfortable about but figured if they invited me then it was OK and that I probably should go if invited. It was in the house of the family and about half the town, it seemed, packed themselves in for the approximately three hours. The casket laid in the middle of a small adobe room with the family, church leaders, neighbors, and close friends all crowded in. I was outside with Don Juan looking in and throughout the service he would lean over and ask me a question about the funeral ceremonies in the States, like if we use caskets and bury the dead as well, if there is a song that they play at every funeral, or if the family stays with the body all night between the funeral and the burial the next day, as is the custom here.

After it ended Don Juan asked me if I wanted to go into the room with him and sit there for a while. I felt even more uncomfortable about this but nonetheless obliged. The casket had a half door with glass window underneath and inside was the body covered in full length by a sheet. We sat for a while greeted some people and then left. The two of us walked home that night in the dark (which no one does here) and Don Juan started telling me about when his dad died and how he had to take care of his younger siblings and how he remembers feeling like the dad of the girl that we saw crying over the casket that night.

On Friday, Don Juan, who I work with a lot and visit the communities with most days, and I needed to go visit the women’s group that is the furthest away and the pickups only run on some days. Friday is not one of them. We woke up early and left at six for what would be a two-hour walk one way. Along the way we chatted some more about the differences between funerals in America and funerals in Guatemala and I explained to the idea of cremation to him. I think it settled better with him than it did with his son the next day who looked absolutely disgusted when I explained how some people have their dead bodies burned and then the families can either keep them in a jug in their houses (I didn’t know the word for urn in Spanish if there was one, however, just looked it up: “urna”). I also asked Don Juan along the way if he thinks I am the first white person to ever walk this trail between Xebe and Chuacorral II. He thought about it and said yes. I felt pretty good about that.

When we got there we hung out for a while and waited for the group to get there. I originally thought we were going to do something with them but it turns out all we needed was a signature from the woman in charge of the group and then we were ready to head back. Having plenty of time, we decided to take it slow on the way back. We got to a point where the road forks with the trail that we take to get back and Don Juan started telling me about how every time he gets to this spot he thinks about the day his dad died. He had briefly told me about it the night before, but he started telling me all about how he was 23 years old and working in Chuacorral II and asked permission to leave early to visit his dad on his deathbed. The whole way back all he was thinking about was his dad and how he needed to get back to see him before he died and hoping that his siblings were already there. He was so preoccupied with getting home that it didn’t register with him until later that he seen two perfectly white cows grazing at the fork in the road. It later occurred to him that he had seen them, but never had there ever been cows there before and never again after (and having been there I can say, no one has cows there, it isn’t exactly grazing terrain). He got back in time but none of his brothers or sisters made it. He sat at his dad’s side and talked to him until he passed away. He believed the cows to be some sort of image or message from God and said he truly believed that they were there. It was a very profound story that I really had no response to. He then started telling me the story of his mother’s death, which was a couple years before his father’s and then about how he too had a daughter that got sick and died when she was only five and sometimes he thinks about if she were still alive and seeing the father cry over his daughter's casket the night before was something he related to all to well. Once again, I was at a loss for words but I could tell he wasn’t expecting me to say much or anything at all. We then got to the little creek at the bottom of the valley that means we had gone all the way down and now needed to cross it and climb back up the other side. Don Juan brought a small packet of soap with him and we rested on the bank and washed our hair in the creek. We climbed back up towards Xebe in time to get to the lunch and then burial of the girl. They put the casket in the back of a pickup with the family and the rest of us crammed into one of the 10 pickups following behind and left Xebe and headed to the cemetery in Santa Maria.

Having thought enough about death in the past couple days to last me a year or two, I then talked with my parents on Saturday and they told me that Evie Masterson, better known simply as “Nanny,” had passed away on Friday. Anyone that knows me even a little knows how much 10th Avenue means to me and everyone that has been a part of it, and Nanny was a big part of that. She was the Grandma of 10th, and always will be. After personally seeing a Guatemalan funeral and burial, answering so many questions about what those ceremonies are like in America, I’ve had plenty of time to think about all of the different shapes that death takes: whether it be a 19 year old Guatemalan girl who was healthy just a couple days ago, the five year old daughter of Don Juan or his dad who almost died alone, or an 89 year-old Irish woman in Portland, Oregon. Of course, the not so profound and inevitable conclusion that I came to after my week of thinking about this stuff and that anyone who thinks about death will usually comes to, was not to think about the shapes that death takes but the shapes that life take. This is, I assume, how Don Juan could talk so openly with me about his parents and daughter, as sad and crushing as their deaths were, their lives mattered more. I know this is nothing new, but maybe sometimes it feels like it is.

Although I didn’t have a strange vision or a profound story to tell about Nanny’s passing and unfortunately will not be at her funeral, there are many things I do have. I will never forget going over to Nanny and Papa’s house and hearing the word “lad” used more times in one sentence then I ever thought was possible. I will always remember throwing back Tic-Tacs with Nanny and pretending they were prescription medicine so we could get “silly” together. Or the JFK picture that hung on her wall, or the talking pet monkeys she bought off the infomercial that secretly creeped most everyone out, or coming home from college for Christmas break and going to the Lebwhol’s finding Nanny in her chair already having a Christmas present for me. It is these things that will make her absence that much harder, but all of these things that made her presence so important. You will be missed Nanny.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Do You Say “Chuck Norris” In K´iché?

I suppose now is the time that you can just about start expecting less and less posts as the days go by. (If you haven´t already noticed). I have settled in to my home here in Xebe and I imagine now the banality of ordinary life will take over and if I force myself to write it will be stuff like: “6:45: Woke up, ate breakfast. Had tortillas and eggs. 12:45: Ate lunch. Had tortillas and rice. 6:00: Ate dinner. Had tortillas and beans.” Or gems such as “Today I learned the word in K’iché for table. I can’t pronounce it.” Speaking of the language K’iché, (1) here are some phrases I found in the back my Guatemala guidebook for anyone looking for a crash course in K’iché:

Good morning: Xsaqarik
Good afternoon: Xe’q’ij
Good evening/night: Xokaq’ab’
Where is the bathroom: Jawi’ k’o le b’anib’alchulaj?
I’m from…: Ch’qap ja’kin pewi…

My spell check just had a heart attack. As badly as I’m sure I’m butchering it, I can’t tell whether or not my pronunciation of K’iché words is more off than their pronunciation of the Englsh words I have been teaching them. The words they don’t seem to have a problem with are (I swear I’m being serious here): Chuck Norris, John Cena, and the F-word. (2) That’s about it. I’ve been asked who the president of the United States is and if there are people living on the moon (once again, not making this up), but never if Chuck Norris can kick some serious ass. (3) I also watched the first half (4) of the first “Chucky” (until the disc started skipping) in a room of people among whom about eight were indigenous women in traditional garb. They liked it most when Chucky killed people. They kept looking at me when this happened to judge my reaction; I would describe it as “baffled.” I decided to take absolutely nothing away from this experience since I was confused for about two days afterwards. Some things shouldn’t be read into I decided. (5)

When not answering questions about if John Cena is a real person or not, I actually have been doing some work. Mostly just going around to the communities and meeting people and checking out what their situations are like. I’m hoping soon we can start on some projects with the groups, but from talking to other volunteers, actually doing concrete work takes some time down here so I’m trying to be patient. So, if I stop writing for a little while, it likely means that I haven’t been doing much worth writing about or that I got sucked into watching “Chucky II.”

1. I recently was told that “Quiché” is spelled with a q when referring to the people and the region and is spelled “K’iché” when referring to the language. Pronunciation the same.
2. They mostly don’t know what it means though, the F-word that is.
3. I watched a Chuck Norris movie one of the first days I was here and they fast-forwarded all of the talking scenes and completely failed to see the same humor in the action scenes that I did. They were confused why I was laughing when Ol’ Chuck’s motorcycle shot rockets out of it to give the coup de grâce to the main bad guy. Afterwards I was asked if this was just a movie or a true story. I’ve never felt like lying more in my life. I think the saddest part of it all, however, was that I’m pretty sure I had seen this particular Chuck Norris flick before.
4. Minus the talking parts
5. Despite the undeniable fact that I have written most of what is here about watching movies, I promise these are the only two I have seen here, in Xebe that is. Actually, they are the only two operating TVs I have seen here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finding Out What "Rustico" Means

I started writing something about the visit to my new site and how it went and what everything was like and all that stuff but then I realized the vague details were incredibly boring and even my umpteenth machete joke couldn’t resurrect it. So instead I will give you a short overview (and pictures!) of everything and a long description of one thing.

Short Overview (and pictures!) of Everything:
As I said last time, my new site is in a place called Xebé (Chay-bay) and it is just outside of Santa Maria Chiquimula (Chick-e-mula). To get to Xebé I need to ride in the back of a pick-up truck with about 20 other people the about eight kilometers from Santa Maria. The truck drops me off for roughly a ¾ mile walk to my house past mud-brick houses, barking dogs, and very confused indigenous people.

The family I will be living with is the family of Don David Chacoj who works for the same organization, ADESMA, for which I will be working. He has three kids and a wife, a brother and his family living about 20 feet up the hill, his mom and dad living another 20 feet up, and sister completing the circle just off to the north, all within shouting distance. He and the whole family are really excited to have me there and watch my every moment to make sure I’m comfortable. The whole town, and pretty much the entire department, speaks Quiché, especially in their houses among family. So, for the most part they kindly spoke in Spanish when I was around as much as they could and I taught them how to say things in English and they laughed at me when I tried to say things in Quiché. It’s ok though; I’m going to have to get used it.

My work will be going around to different communities and helping them (mostly the women as the men usually go off and work in the countryside) with their family gardening projects, composting, and organic solutions to some of the problems they’re having so they don’t have to buy expensive and unhealthy chemical pesticides or fertilizers. A number of secondary project ideas came up throughout the few days I was there so I should be able to stay busy.

The area itself is a pine tree, mountainous region with houses and towns speckled all over. The people are all really kind and it seems to be a very safe place where everyone has known everyone their whole lives. Check out the pictures! for what my room and house are like. Sal, the guy in charge of the agriculture program and in charge of placing people, described my site and dwelling as “rustico.” I’ll let you label it what you want.

Long Description of One Thing:
On Wednesday Don David invited me to go to church with the family. The family and the majority of the town is Evangelical. Although I had not yet been to an Evangelical service here I have heard plenty of them walking down the streets or just hearing them going late into the night from my bedroom. The first time the church by my house had one Don Raul and Doña Olivia told me that I wasn’t going to sleep that night. They were right. One of the volunteers we visited during training said that living next to an Evangelical church has been her biggest challenge over the last two years. Basically, what I’m getting at is that they are loud, very loud.

When I showed up to the church the reaction was eerily similar to when the gang from “Animal House” showed up at the roadside bar to see Otis Day and the Nights. The moment I walked in was probably the quietest it got all night. Everyone wanted to see the white guy that was a foot taller than the next tallest person so much that kids were running from the far end of the church and standing on pews to stare at me. One little girl exactly in the dead center of the church stood up on her pew and pointed at me for a good ten seconds with her head cocked and a very confused look on her face. On the stage (it was more of a stage than an altar), was a band and on both sides were two sets of GIANT speakers blasting the music. On one side behind the speakers was a guy playing bass but I could only see the neck of his instrument and therefore he couldn’t see me either. Not to worry, as I was taking my seat another little girl ran up to him, tugged violently on his pant leg and pulled him out behind the speakers so he could see me and give me the same baffled look everyone else was giving me. The first hour or so was about like what I would imagine a Bruce Springsteen concert being like. Actually, I think the best way describe the guy leading the music would be the Guatemalan Bruce Springsteen. (That’s right, he exists.) They played a couple songs that everyone was getting into and then after one of them, everyone, without cue, left their pews to go and stand at the base of the stage/altar. Apparently we needed to get even closer to the giant blaring speakers. We went up there for a song that would have put Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gatta-Da-Vida” on repeat five times to shame. (During this marathon song I was contemplating what would inspire someone to write a song as long as this or “In-A-Gatta-Da-Vita.” I came up with only two theories: god and LSD).

As the song hit its 17th and final outro, people started moaning really loudly, some fell to their knees and held back tears and others yelled out in things Quiché (I have no idea what they were saying). Meanwhile, as chaos was breaking out all around me, I very awkwardly stood there and clapped with the beat. (The song was so long that I actually got a hand cramp from clapping the whole time. Since everyone was watching my every movement I tried not to let it show.) After the things had calmed down a little, we went back to our seats and the aforementioned bass player got up to the microphone and started speaking in Quiché. Next thing I know the entire congregation is laughing and staring at me. I still don’t know what he said about me but I hope it was that I did a great job keeping the beat for the past hour. Next, the preacher went into a sermon that was somehow, unbelievably even louder than the music. The majority was in Quiché so I couldn’t understand it but he did start it out in Spanish by personally welcoming me to the community. After that he yelled for about an hour and a half. I really needed subtitles. This was followed by another really long song where we once again gathered around the speakers, clapped and wailed and then went back to our seats. Finally, Don David got up there to give the final announcements and I was once again welcomed into the community. At least I think so, at this point I think my ears were bleeding a little and I felt like I had spent the last five hours in the front row of a Metalica concert. We got to the church around five thirty and left at eight thirty. All in a day’s work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hey, everyone. On Thursday we finally found out our sites for the next two years and then I wrote something to put up here but never did and now I don't have my thumb drive. So this will have to be short because I am about to go visit the site from today until Sunday. I will have more to say when I get back.

Anyways, my site is in the department of Totonicapan and I am outside of the town Santa Maria Chiquimula in a place called Xebe. It is an Indigenous community of the Quiche ethnicity and 75% speak the Quiche language and 25% speak Spanish. I think it is safe to assume that 0% speak English. It all sounds really good so far and yesterday two women from my counterpart agency came to Santa Lucia and I got to meet them and ask them all kinds of questions. It sounds like they are excited to have me and I'm exicted to go. In a couple hours the three of us are heading off by bus to Totonicapan. I'll fill you all in on how it goes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Photos

Hey, I scraped that last photo sharing page and started a new one. Check it out if you want.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hip Hip Parade

I write the following not to demean an aspect of Guatemalan, American or really any other culture, rather, I write this because I don’t like parades. I’ll explain. September 15th is Independence Day here in Guatemala, which I was excited to be here for. Everyday since we have been here we have been welcomed to the sound of drumming and other marching band type music, usually coming from schools, and it was explained to us that they are practicing for the 15th. Apparently they start practicing about two months ahead of time for this one day for hours on end. (1) So this morning I ventured down from my fortress on the hill and into town to watch the Independence Day parade that snaked around in a loop through San Bartolome’s approximately 12 streets. There were students from different schools in the area, some of them played music, some were in costumes, and some just walked. There were a few people on horses or in carriages, a couple of hoodlums riding bikes, and the mayor and some of her staff. It took about 45 minutes for the parade to repeat itself at which time I decided that once was plenty for me and headed to the plaza for snacks and to meet up with friends. During the time I was watching what seemed like all 7,000 occupants of San Bartolome, I began contemplating the idea of a parade. I get the idea, it’s just the execution I have a problem with. In theory, all of these kids get to walk around town and have their families wave at them as they pass and maybe give them a drink or take a picture if they have a camera. I’m sure they enjoy that. I also get the idea of civic pride, and in this case, national pride; I think such activities are a sign of a healthy culture and citizenry. Don’t get me wrong, these things are great, but I can’t help but think that we can come up with something better than the parade.

Many people may find this blasphemous seeing as I come from Portland and grew up less than a mile from the Rose Festival Parade route. But this is just something I’ve been holding inside for too long: I have never liked the Rose Festival Parade. Another girl in my group named Erin is from Beaverton and today we were talking about the Rose Festival Parade and she said that she remembers going but mostly just drawing with sidewalk chalk and buying worthless trinkets from the venders but she doesn’t really remember the parade. EXACTLY! The parade itself was the least exciting part of it all! I remember these things too. I also remember that everyone talked about it for two months ahead of time, it was always in the newspaper and on the news, the local high schools had their annual popularity contest, and, how did all of this culminate? We had to stand behind four rows of people and try to see old men wearing funny suits and wielding swords that they inexplicably never used, 30 high school bands all playing “Louie Louie,” and psychedelic, oversized cars erroneously called “floats” driving by at 2mph. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, (pun absolutely intended) but I just never got the human fascination with parades. I mean, I didn’t even like them when I was a kid when I was their target audience.

Today as I watched the same banners go around in circles I couldn’t help but think that we can come up with something better than this. I feel like parades are like health care in America, it’s clearly a broken system but we’ve been going with it for so long and it is such a staple in or society that any thought of change is met with a slew of criticism. Can we please have a healthy debate about rethinking the parade? Of course, my solution is to just avoid them, but I would love to have some form of civic pride that I was actually proud of. If instead of the Rose Festival Parade we had the Rose Festival Air Guitar Competition I would absolutely go. How about the Rose Festival Voodoo Doughnuts Eating Competition? (2) I dare you to put your hand on the Bible and say that you wouldn’t go to the Rose Festival Running of the Elk and tell me what wouldn’t work about the Rose Festival Throw Rotten Vegetables At Hipsters. These are just a few of my stellar alternative ideas, I have more but I don’t think we would be able to come up with enough parachutes or chimpanzees.

Maybe I’m alone on this one, maybe I’m completely off base here. Maybe everyone else loves parades and my suggesting otherwise is kicking out their entire livelihood from underneath them. If that is the case, then I apologize. But, if I’m not alone, if there are others out there who have heard the all brass version of “Louie Louie” a few too many times, then join me. Speak out, let the world know: we put a man on the moon, we’ve been to the bottom of the ocean and the top of Everest, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel and Bob Dylan recorded “Bringing it All Back Home,” for god’s sake we should be able come up with something better than the parade.

1. I’m sure this won’t be the last you will question the merits of the Guatemalan school system while reading this blog.
2. Might not work after the first couple people die of heart attacks, but I’m just trying to get the ball rolling here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

List #1

(NOTE: I just posted two posts at the same time so read the one below this one first. Also, I couln´t figure out how to make the footnotes work on the first one so I had to improvise. Enjoy.)

The following is a list of things I am allowed to do and/or complain about when I get back. I have feeling this is going to turn into running segment.

1. In two years when I get back no one can say anything when I spend all day Saturday and all day Sunday watching football. I’m about to miss my second consecutive football season which will be followed by the third and fourth while I’m down here. I’m just warning everyone right now, when I’m back, I’m busy on Saturdays and Sundays from September through January. No exceptions.

2. Nobody can say anything when I get back and can’t speak English. In the little time I have here to speak English with friends, I have noticed what can only be described as a late onset speech impediment from lack of English speaking. This is perfect, because now I can’t speak either language. So if I sound like Emmitt Smith when I get back, cut me a little slack.

3. Basketball. I’m going to watch a lot of basketball when I get back. NBA, NCAA, And-1 mix tapes, YouTube clips; hell, I might even dabble in a little WNBA if it still exists and I feel the overwhelming urge to watch missed layups.

4. I have promised myself that I will not come back with a beard and a pony-tail complaining about the lack of American values and culture while being on a constant soap-box about why Latin America is superior to the Western world, how capitalism is the root of all evil, how much English sucks as a language, claiming soccer is the best sport invented because it is the most “international,” while wearing woven ponchos and pants with sandals. The world has enough of that guy already. So, when I get back I’m allowed to talk about how much that guy sucks.

5. I’m allowed to not trust the police even less than I already do since yesterday the former director of the Guatemalan national police was arrested for stealing US$300 million while the rest of the country lives on a dollar a day and few people seemed to be even slightly surprised or perturbed.

6. All of my nieces and nephews need to pretend they’re two years younger than they are when I get back. At least for a couple weeks while I adjust to them speaking better English than me. One caveat, Elizabeth is allowed to not poop herself every time I hold her, I’ll still be able to get the idea.

7. I’m allowed to carry a machete with me to what would be, by American standards, “a socially unacceptable place to be carrying a machete.” My machete will also have a name and no one is allowed to call it anything but that name. (Ok, I’ll allow “Your Highness” or “El Niño.”)

Stay posted, I´ll think of more.

Hello Again

Hello from Guatemala! For all of you that have been checking this site daily for the past eight months in hopes of new updates or for those of you who have this as your homepage, your persistence has finally paid off. I’ve moved Southward one country from my last soirée in Mexico which is all part of my master plan to one day have complete and total world domination; I’m imagining it being about as fun and challenging as a game of Risk. Once I have the throngs of Latin Americans (soon to be Latin Vespuchians) chanting my name in the streets there is no telling where I could go from there.(1)

After about a week of being down here I wrote something to put up here on the blog but never did for a couple of reasons. One was that a significant portion of it had to do with the lyrics of “Ice, Ice Baby” that I’m not sure would be funny for anyone other than yours truly, and a couple mildly profane jokes about bowel movements that I eventually opted out of.(2) So, I decided to copy and paste a little and come up with something slightly different while still being too lazy to completely re-write the whole thing. I apologize for any stray Vanilla Ice reference that didn’t make it’s way to the cutting room floor.

Now, getting to the stuff you actually want to know… After a couple fun, action packed days with my Mom, my cousin Conor, and my Uncle Liam in Washington D.C., I took off for Guatemala and arrived here on Wednesday. For the first three nights I stayed with two other volunteers at a family’s house in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas. They had two boys, ages 13 and 6, and we had a great time teaching them card games, playing basketball in the park, and eating their mother’s delicious food. They were all especially kind and they invited us back to stay any time we want, which I am likely to take them up on.(3)

After that we were split up into groups of four or five depending on what projects we are working in and our Spanish level and sent off to different towns surrounding Santa Lucia. I ended up in the town of San Bartolome with three other girls also working in agriculture even though I’m pretty sure they all speak better Spanish than I do. So that’s where I am now, in the house of Don Raul and Doña Olivia on a hill above San Bartolome. They live on a plot of land with about four houses all occupied by one or another member of Doña Olivia’s family. It is a really awesome place that the pictures I took will do more justice than how I can describe it here.(4) They have all kinds of animals: chickens, roosters, pigs, bulls, rabbits, ducks; and all kinds of plants: corn, a ton of avocado trees, lime trees, roses, oregano, other spices I can’t remember, and a bunch of other stuff. It is also surrounded by mountains so the view is awesome too. The family has two daughters named Carmen and Carla, ages six and one and a half, respectively. Carla cannot yet talk but has yet to stop starring at me (5) and Carmen invited me to watch “El Libro de la Selva” with her followed by “Edad de Hielo III ” which gladly I did.(6)

One thing I immediately noticed and should mention to clear up any confusion people might have since this is the same space I used to describe my time in Mexico: Guatemala is VERY different from Mexico. It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that one of the only things they have in common is their language and the way they look at me when I try to explain something in that language. First, there is the issue of how Mexicans and Guatemalans, umm, how shall I put this… they don’t really like each other.(7) Also, and perhaps more importantly: their tortillas are different. I think this may be the source of their problems and how I plan on uniting Latin America the same way Bagheera and Baloo put aside their pervasive differences and united to lead Mowgli out of the Jungle and into civilization in “El Libro de Selva.” If they can’t agree on tortillas, what chances do they have with anything else? I know this isn’t exactly in my job description but then again, neither is world domination, so, ya know, I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and one final thing. According to page 65 of the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook: “Any website maintained by a volunteer during his or her Peace Corps service must reflect that it is neither an official publication of the Peace Corps nor of the U.S. government. The site must prominently display an appropriate disclaimer such as: ‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.’” I am not entirely sure who among my five readers would mistake inane references to “The Jungle Book” and Vanilla Ice as an official publication of the U.S. government, but you’ve been forewarned: Stephen Oliver speaks for Stephen Oliver and Stephen Oliver only.(8)

(I just re-read what I wrote above. The first draft with bowel movement jokes was much funnier. Sorry.)

1 Most likely the International Criminal Court
2 Those, however, would have been funny for about five people.
3 Did I mention the delicious food?
4 I’m working on putting up a photo sharing website,, but I haven’t had a whole lot of success yet. (You’ll see what I mean if you check it right now) Keep checking back if you’re interested.
5 Tall white men don’t come by these parts very often apparently.
6 For those non-Spanish speakers, that is “The Jungle Book” and “Ice Age III”
7 Some people like to call it “racism”
8 I also speak for America.

8a Seeing as I don’t want to get fired from volunteering, just kidding.