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.