There is something so incredibly grating in the way that ayudantes yell. And all they do is yell; when they are proclaiming the destination, when they are telling everyone to move back even when there is CLEARLY no more room, when they command you to get out of the way so they can squish past you with their butt in your face or panzo (big belly) rubbing all over your back…
Anyway, it was just after 7am and we were trying to board our second camioneta to get to the training site. Of course, we weren’t standing where we were supposed to be (though it was the exact same spot our teacher told us to stand in and we had caught the bus from there at least three times before – but I suppose that’s beside the point) and watched the camioneta roll past us to the next corner. We halfheartedly shuffled after the camioneta, noticing that it was already full to capacity, all hoping that it would just keep going and force us to take the next, hopefully less full, camioneta.
But the ayudante was determined to get every last Quetzal possible and wanted us on that camioneta. So he yelled at us, in that wonderful way only ayudantes can, to “VENGA! VENGA! GUATE!” (basically, “hurry up, we’re going to Guate!”), waving his arm frantically, and we begrudgingly boarded. But we didn’t make it too far into the bus. Justin made it just past the first seat and was bracing himself in the aisle, Janet was even with the first seats, juggling her backpack, lunch and bus money, I was standing next to the driver and Carolina was on the steps, basically hanging out of the bus (which is probably against some sort of Peace Corps safety and security regulation). Luckily (or unluckily) for Carolina, the overzealous ayudante with his lungs of steel managed to convince four other people to board the bus after her, so she was in little danger of falling out as they created a decent human barrier on the bottom two steps.
And then we were off. And it didn’t take me long to realize that my butt was creating a not so small obstacle in the process of shifting gears. The driver didn’t seem to mind so much (such a professional) but I couldn’t get over the fact that I was being bumped in the ass every few seconds. I wondered if I should be more bothered by this assault on my personal space. And then, more alarmingly, I wondered what would happen if I were to stumble as the bus took one its many sharp turns and fall against the shifter. So I braced myself, willing my arms to develop strength they have never had, and joked to Justin and Janet about being lucky to get so much action so early in the day. And Justin, oh so wittily, remarked “How does it feel to be driving the camioneta with your ass?” In a word: Elbowy.
My nighttime trips to the bathroom are almost always the most exciting (I say almost because once, in the morning, a chicken jumped out the kitchen window at me as I was walking to the bathroom – no, I don’t know why the chicken was in the kitchen). The parrot squawks at me, the biggest spiders come out at night, ducks threaten to enter while I’m peeing and even bats make appearances!
Though, nothing compares to what happened earlier this week. I made my way through the garden towards the bathroom when I noticed something, a little larger than a softball, sitting next to the parrot cage, about five feet from the bathroom. I couldn’t tell what it was, as I had left my glasses in my room, but I could see that it was breathing. Not a good sign. I took a small step forward and it bounded closer towards the bathroom. It stopped in a patch of moonlight and I was able to see that it was a GIANT frog. Now, I’m not exactly afraid of frogs, but they are definitely not something I am accustomed to being near and have NO interest in having touch me.
So, the frog was blocking my way to the bathroom and I didn’t want to get closer, for fear that it might be aggressive and jump at me (aren’t some frogs poisonous? All of the discovery channel I’ve ever watched did not prepare me for this encounter) but I also didn’t want it to go closer to/in the bathroom because I really had to pee. Also, I was convinced that if I took my eyes off of it for one minute to grab a broom it would hide somewhere and come back to terrorize me at some very inopportune moment. I wanted to be sure of its whereabouts.
So I stomped my feet at it, hoping it would magically realize where I wanted it to go. That course of action was about as ineffective as it sounds like it would be. So then I started jumping up and down and telling it, in Spanish, to go away. It was this point that I realized how ridiculous I looked and sounded. So I mustered all my courage and walked toward the bathroom, willing myself to be okay with the frog acting as bathroom guard. Thankfully, the frog decided he had had enough of the gringa and bounded back towards the garden, away from me and the bathroom.
I told my host mom about it the next day. Her response?
“That was a toad. We don’t have frogs here.”