Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fwd: birthday, chickens, motorcycle

Hi Everybody,

My birthday was Monday, and I celebrated by having one incredibly
unproductive interview (with someone who isn't too crazy about me, maybe I'm threatening to his turf?) and by having one very cheerful dinner with some friends. I'm
twenty nine! And for real, not because I don't want everybody to know
that I'm thirty-something! My first prime number age since 23!

This last weekend I spent two nights in the campo, in the house of an
official of the coop. He took me on a short tour of his farm, and among other things told
me all about the approximately million varieties of bananas and
plantains he grows. I also got to have some really great conversations about the local circumstances, the history of the area, etc.

I think the thing that makes it most obvious that I'm not from around
here... besides the fact that I'm tall (no, I'm not kidding) and blond
and have a funny accent... is that I'm just hypnotized by the
chickens. In the campo, and also sometimes in the city, but not so
much, chickens wander in and around the people with a wonderful
freedom. Floors are dirt, and so when it's time to feed the chickens,
for example, people just throw a handful of corn down on the floor.
The chickens rush in and gobble it up. And most of the time they just
wander around and underfoot, unregarded. Chickens are silly! I like
the baby ones best... they run around in groups so they look like a
fast-moving liquid. Awkward adolescent chickens, especially the ones
with the bald, featherless necks, are maybe the funniest. They squawk
the loudest and jump the fastest when someone shoos them away. And
the handsomest ones are the roosters, with big red combs, striding
around calmly. Other animals hang around with the same freedom:
dogs, pigs, sometimes cats. And at a meeting I went to last week, two
children drove large calves through the meeting room as it was
breaking up. The horses and adult cows don't hang out in the house,
thank goodness.

I slept on a cot in the front room of the house. I really like
staying with these people, they're really nice and great to talk to,
but I have a tiny problem with flea bites. I think I must be
allergic, or especially attractive to fleas or something. And I don't
like to bring it up, because I'm VERY reluctant to complain about
conditions, and don't want to do anything stigmatizing. I've heard
that Deet insect repellant can help--we'll see, I'm staying there
again on Friday night. Wish me luck.

And finally... I got my motorcycle! It's going to take some getting
used to--I've scheduled a lot of time in the next week for practice in
controlled conditions before I head out onto the open roads. I also
need to get a mechanic to lower the suspension for me, since it's a
little too high. But it's red! I'm going to try to post a picture of
me on the moto, we'll see if that works.

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