Thursday, April 27, 2006

house, rapport, motorcycles

Hi Everyone,


Well, I’m moved into my new house, more or less, and am really happy with it.  It’s got a patio with a tree, where I’ll be hanging a hammock very soon.  It’s certainly far bigger than anywhere I’ve ever lived in New York, but doesn’t feel ridiculous for just one person—bedroom, living/dining room, kitchen, and the patio.  There’s a place, in a hall, where there’s no roof—the very clear line between indoors and outdoors, which I’ve taken for granted, is a little blurry.  It makes the place nice and airy, and it will be a novelty for it to be raining “indoors”, when the rains start next month. 


I’ve also started work with the new cooperative, CECOSEMAC.  One of the first things I’ve been doing this week is facilitating contacts between them and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Vermont).  GMCR buys both fair trade and non-fair trade coffee, which is good for ‘SEMAC, because they haven’t got their certification yet, but expect it soon.  My contact at GMCR seemed enthusiastic when I gave him some of the quality scores received by the coop’s coffee.  I really hope something comes of it—beyond altruism, and hoping the coop succeeds, I think it might help with the process of “building rapport”.  (This is in quotes because it’s such a cliché among anthropological fieldworkers, although a completely necessary process.) 


One classic way of “building rapport”, and also a cliché, is getting “informants” to laugh themselves silly at your mistakes and bizarre activities.  I’ve gotten a good start on that, too.  Before getting here, I took a motorcycle riding course and got my motorcycle license.  I found when I was here in October doing preliminary work that bus routes are really ridiculously infrequent and trucks are unpleasant and in many cases even impractical (yes, the roads are THAT bad sometimes.)  All of the cooperative workers use motorcycles.  So I decided I’d get one, too, hence getting my license.  But I’m having a little trouble getting people to take my plans seriously, here.  One very supportive man said, “oh, don’t worry.  I once knew a girl who rode a motorcycle.”  And when I told two of the cooperative officials, two middle-aged men who are normally the least emotive people I’ve ever met, I was startled when they both gave me huge grins!  I’m enlisting the help of a man to help me buy the motorcycle—we’re going to go on Monday.  I’m planning on giving myself a couple of days to practice and get comfortable with my new machine before actually setting off on any real trips.  And for anyone who’s worried about this idea, the roads are SO bad that it’s impossible to get up any speed even if I were so inclined, which I’m not—I don’t expect to ever be going any faster than, say, 25 miles an hour.  And I have a huge helmet which makes me look like a stylish astronaut.  Or a bobble-head doll.


I’ve been in good spirits—I realized the other day that this is because the worst has already happened!  For literally years I’ve been dreading leaving home and the familiar, leaving Tom, and setting up on my own.  But now I’ve done it, and the only things I have to look forward to are happy:  immersing myself in the ethnography, Tom’s visits, visits from others, and going home.  I don’t expect this whole time to be idyllic, but at least the bad things coming up are unforseen!  And for me, anticipation is always the worst part.



P.S. It was drawn to my attention that in the “About Me” section of my website, I seem to be describing Tom as a grumpy old cat.  I want everyone to know that if anyone in our relationship should be described as a grumpy old cat, it would be me.  Tom, if a Cat, would be more like Mungo Jerry (or Rumple Teaser), the mischievous duo with a genius for wreaking playful havoc.  And there’s nothing at all to be done about that!  ;-)

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