03 September, 2009

Of Mice and Men, Pt. 1

My mother has always said that she can tell how busy I am by how messy my living space is. When I have nothing going on, my room/apartment/house is usually kept clean and well organized. The busier life has gotten the messier I have gotten. If I maintain a good level of activity, my living space can stay messy and disgusting for months at a time. Oddly enough, it usually isn’t the level of mess that has gotten me to finally clean house, rather getting so busy and weighed down by work that I freak out and use cleaning as an excuse to avoid the more important chores that I have awaiting me in the outside world.

Peace Corps has not been able to rid me of this habit. My first three months in site, my house was as clean as any alma de la casa’s in my aldea. However, thankfully, things have started picking up for me at site. I have finally “hit my stride” as a volunteer, which has inevitably meant a down turn in my housekeeping attentiveness, and has at times unfortunately sunk as low as my neighbor asking me if it was against my culture to use a broom or mop during certain times of the month. If it were not for those occasional times where I feel overwhelmed by work, I’d be living under tons of bean cans, unburned newspapers, and hiding from record breaking sized dust bunnies.

I’ve gotten this far in life using this system, but here in Guatemala, slovenliness has much more severe (or at least more immediate) consequences. I have paid dearly for my bouts of dirty living. At first I was only invaded by lesser vermin: annoying animalitos such as ants and cockroaches. Evil though these insects may be, they are easily dealt with despite constant onslaughts using such techniques as boiled water and the occasional veneno. The spiders move in if I forget to sweep the ceilings and corners for more than a week at a time, but I actually keep a few spiders in webs placed strategically around my house in higher spaces and use them to control the mosquito population.

About two months ago however, I started a SPA project that has been taking up a lot of my time and energy. Enter my new worthy adversary: Comondante Mousellio del Ratón. Our first exchange began with me groggily walking into my kitchen at 4:30 in the morning to grab my breakfast Tupperware that I take with me to work, and screaming like a girl as I startled the comondante as he was helping himself to the remains of a stir-fry dish I had prepared the night before and stupidly left on my stove. After we each regained our composure, I proceeded to chase him out of my kitchen, into my bedroom, through a pile of dirty clothes, and finally out my front door, all the while yelling and hitting almost everything I own with my frying pan in a futile attempt to kill the rascal.

Our subsequent skirmishes have mostly taken place during these wee hours of the morning, with memorable events belonging mostly to the opposition, including a narrow escape in which he scaled the back of my refrigerator, tightrope walked across the dangling electrical wire that feeds it and jumped through the hole between the block and the lamina, and a miraculous matrix-style jump where he dodged my flying rock hammer (which left quite a dent in my wall and included a slight puff of concrete dust as it hit). I have left poison and some self made traps, and have not had any exchanges in the last week, but I fear he has simply retreated to the countryside to recruit troops. In leaving my post for the All Volunteer Conference and 4th of July Festivities, I fear I am opening a very wide window for the evil forces of the FIR (Frente Invasionista de Ratones) to establish a foothold. More to come in the next issue...

1 comment:

JAHerrick said...

Hey Kyle,
In my two years en el campo, I haven't had any problems with mice. But I'm lucky, I don't have a concrete house or fridge for them to investigate. :p
Saludos amigo y hasta pronto.