Thursday, May 26, 2005

In the Loupe, Chapter 25

This is an exciting e-mail because it's on stolen time and free internet access. I'm at the school board building, having been taken out of school for the day to do some recordings of basic English. I assume it's of the "hello, how are you?" variety and I feel it's within my capablities, but there's something wrong with the microphone and it doesn't look like it's going to go through. So I'm sitting in a meeting with all the language teacher heads in Guadeloupe, English and Spanish, and while they argue and look at various documents and charts, I'm hanging out on the internet. There are eight computers in this room! I haven't seen any computers in Guadeloupe other than at the internet cafe - who knew there were all these resources?

My dengue passed through, ending with two days of the itchiest full-body itching of my life, and left me only with tired legs if I climb too much. Which is inevitable here, but it's probably good to force some strength back into the ol' tree trunks. The heat has become oppressive, in the 35-36 range every day and they don't count humidity, so that surely contributes to any exhaustion I might feel. But my tendency to take the heat personally is out of line; everybody's grumbly and hot and cries, "Gwada, ka fait chaud!" as sweat stains spread along their clothes. I'm not the only one who's suffering - maybe if I cried out a bit more I would get the bitterness out of my system. Express, don't repress.

But with the unrelenting mosquitoes and the heat and the kids being all haywire at school and this crazy moving rash that shows up on whatever parts of my body had clothes touching them that day (especially around edges, so you can imagine how much I'm enjoying where my - ahem - underclothes run against my skin), Guadeloupe is out of my system. It's been a great year, I had lots of good experiences, the memories will be rich, thank you Guadeloupe. Now get me out of this place.

On the other hand, I am now a family. It started in sadness, as Sprocket brought her dying kitten to me the other day as I was leaving for school and I did what I could (which was very little - mostly wrapped it in a towel and tried to drip milk into its mouth) and then had to go, and when I came back at lunch it was dead. I wasn't absolutely sure and brought it up to my landlady, who said - very dispassionately -"oh yeah, that's a dead kitten" and then, seeing my tears, looked at me like I had lost my mind. They're not very emotional about animals here, what with Let's-Slit-the-Throat-of-the-Family-Pig being a festive tradition every Christmas, so she didn't get my grief. Sprocket's baby, dead, and all she says is to throw it the hell into the ravine before the flies come.

However, after disposing of the body and trying to find an appropriate gesture but coming up with nothing - I did take "a moment" but was mostly thinking of getting rid of the dead-cat towel I had in my hands; it wasn't the most beautiful of memorial services - I was able to focus on the fact that Sprocket had brought me her second kitten as well, a little grey-white fuzz ball, who is bright-eyed and curious and just a happening little cat. I named her Chisel - I think I meant "Chizzle" but quickly realized that I'm in no position to toss around such a blatant hip-hop reference - and am spending all my time pulling her out from under the couch/sink/bed/dresser and putting her back outside because she is afraid of nothing (least of all me) and keeps charging into the house.

Sprocket made a little home for them behind the couch, as I knew would happen, so I'm worried about fur getting into the furniture and my resulting allergies. I made a cozy box for them to encourage living outside, even giving a speech about how I wished I could live in such a nice box, and Sprocket was nodding her head along with me and really seemed to internalize what I was saying. But it's too hot to leave the doors closed at night and they're inevitably behind the couch in the morning, my Life in a Box dream all but forgotten; it's going to be a slow learning curve. Which means that now I have to find a home for the lovely and bossy Sprocket, as well as for wee little Chisel, soft and pouncy and the cutest thing ever. I'm spreading the word among my students and we'll see if anything comes back.

As I write this, the teachers in the meeting are discussing the pros and cons of having assistants in the classroom, and they're mostly complaining about the bad ones and naming names. Isn't that wild? It's already inappopriate among themselves, but I'm here! I'm an assistant, I CAN HEAR YOU, stop being so unprofessional! Crazy. The things I'm hearing are pretty nutty, though, as almost all the assistants have missed class because they did a long week-end somewhere or because a friend was visiting or because they didn't feel like leaving the beach, and they never call or announce their absence or anything. They just don't show up! And they all do it! So I've been running around getting doctor's notes for dengue or dragging my flu-ridden self into class to be a responsible employee... I've been had! I could have stayed at the beach this whole time, rather than going to class to see my attitude girls suck their teeth at each other. Looks like I'm the sucker here.

The only other thing to tell is a non-thing: they're filming the sequels to "Pirates of the Caribbean" on Dominika, a neighbouring island that is 45 minutes and 70 euros away, and it's killing me! I can see the island from Franck's house - if I had binoculars I'd probably see Johnny Depp - what do I do? How can I go about my day as if everything's in order while ol' J.D. is just a stone's throw away? It's eating away at me! And I know lots of Dominikans here who keep jaunting over to vote or to see family or buy material for their crafty work and they come back saying oh sure, they're filming over by such-and-such area, there are film crews everywhere, my cousin's working for the catering company, I saw Keira Knightley... it's killing me. This is my Johnny chance and all I can do is sit on it. Please send ideas. I want to hang out with Johnny Depp. That is all I want. I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to ask.

Fancy computers or not, there's no air-conditioning in this building and we're on the fifth floor with the heat rising accordingly - Gwada, ka fait chaud! I'm dying here! My fingers are so swollen it's hard to type, and that is just going TOO far, Guadeloupe. If that's even your real name. Seriously. I'm not going to make it to July.


No comments:

Post a Comment