Teaching English.  Practicing sentences with “instead of”  — thought about all the “instead ofs” since I arrived here

  • Instead of using lotion I use bug spray.
  • Instead of the standard four food groups we have the Peruvian 4: rice, potatoes, corn, platanos.  – You can have anything you want to eat for dinner provided it contains these items.
  • Instead of drinking lots of water before I go to bed, I drink almost none, because I can’t be bothered (read: am scared) to climb down the rickety ass ladder of my bunk in the middle of the night.
  • Instead of loving to do things on my own, I go nowhere without a buddy.


Teaching a Spanish literacy class to a group of women who never learned to read or write.  It’s ridiculously rewarding to see how excited they are when they read a sentence aloud and realize they can do it!  They’re reading!


Violeta is our nosy next door neighbor.  She’s a little intense but you have to be nice to her because she could make things rough for us. When you walk by her place you can see her eyes peaking out through her curtains, following you like the creepy eyes in a portrait in cartoons. I walk by and wave to the eyes.  She comes out of her house and calls me over for a conversation.

– Hello, I’m Violeta and you are new.

– Yes, hello.  I’m Abby.

– I know.

– Are you Catholic?

– I’m sorry?

– Catholic.  Are you Catholic?

– Um. No.

– Are you something else? Jewish maybe.  One of the girls in the house is a Jew, you know.

– Um. No. Not Jewish.  Not anything.

– You believe in God though don’t you?  Because otherwise you will go to hell.

– I must not be understanding you.  My Spanish is not great.

– You understand.  You understand.

I back slowly away apologizing for my language failures….this place is actually a lot like my experience in Georgia…..


Teaching a computer course.  Helping a very creepy man learn Excel while he leers at me and generally acts like a creepster.  He keeps typing things into the cells while I show him what to do: “You smell beautiful.” Etc.  I yell at him and tell him not to come back to the next class.  We’re learning here, we’re not a frickin matchmaking service.  I don’t know the word for matchmaking.  It probably doesn’t come across as forceful as I’d like it to sound.


The pre-teens in my biblioteca have requested I read them Twilight, in Spanish, during story hour.  They are clearly a perceptive bunch.

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