Friday, May 30, 2008

To the internet via Texas

This is Jennifer posting for Janette. Enjoy! She is eagerly awaiting more sweet comments...

I am writing this from work and outsourcing the posting to mi hermana Jennifer since I am currently not really in contact with the Internet, other than my email account at work. Good news though, although my work keyboard has random buttons associated with various punctuation signs, I think I have finally mastered it and I have full punctuation range again! Woohoo!
Monday Monday morning I packed up all my belongings at the Hilton in preparation for moving to the new casa. Although I was excited to see the apartment because I had full faith they would take care of me, I was still a bit anxious.
Monday morning I visited the poultry processing plant here. A girl named Flor gave me the tour, and although she is still learning English she did a great job of explaining everything. Occasionally I had a hard time understanding her because of her accent but she would write down the word and I would recognize it immediately. It makes me understand when a Spanish speaker has a hard time understanding me sometimes…
The plant was neat, especially since I have never been up close and personal with the poultry industry. We started from the point the birds have just been defeathered (a real technical term right there!) and followed them through the processing plant as various parts were cut off or cut up. Every bit of the bird is used and sold here, including the feet and the head….ew! It was amazing that although there was quite a bit of mechanization, there was a LOT of manual labor going on. For example, there was a lady cutting chicken nuggets….that is her job, because ALL chicken nuggets are cut by hand. Flor said that it is still economic to have so much manual labor because labor is relatively cheap here as opposed to investing in machines and also because the yield is higher when people are cutting each bird and there is less waste.
The second part of the tour was where the birds are killed. Now I would like to think that I am a pretty tough girl and that I have a reasonably strong stomach….however, there are limits to everything. The first step is that the birds are hanged/hung (I went to school in Cochise…forgive me for my grammar!) by their feet and sent on the conveyor line. We had to walk under the live bok-boking birds. Then the birds are stunned by a machine and a man with a knife slits the throats. At this point the birds are shaking their last shakes out and bleeding out also. We had to walk under the bleeding birds also. Then the birds are plunged into scalding water which takes off all the feathers….as immature as it sounds, I just couldn’t help but giggle at how naked the birds looked! It makes me giggle just thinking about itJ Anyway, then we saw the rendering plant where the waste and feathers are formed into a meal that is fed to the live birds.
Flor and I went to lunch in the cafeteria here and I had so much fun talking to her! I think we might hang out with her this weekend when Neenie is here. Flor is from Honduras, and we also ate lunch with someone named Elena who is actually from Russia! Elena met a man from Nicaragua when she was in college and followed him here…without knowing a word of Spanish! She was very encouraging that in two months you can learn an awful lot of a new language.
Monday afternoon I received my first “real” assignment from Javier to organize some data into tables, then charts, and then analyze them. I handled it pretty well and was navigating Excel decently, but Veronica sits right behind me and I really capitalized on her knowledge of Excel a few times. Now, Veronica and I are under strict orders from Javier that I am to “learn by making mistakes because that is the best way to learn”….oh my.
Fransisco and I left work and headed for the new crib….it is a great area, but it is especially nice as it is one of 4 or 5 houses in a gated area with a security guard that is around 24/7! I honestly feel super safe there, which most of you know is a big deal considering I am staying by myself. Yep, I am 22 years old and totally okay with my fear of the dark. That is why God made husbands right? Anyway, there are 2 bedrooms in the house, and a tv with all kinds of English channels….I even watched One Tree Hill the other night. Honestly, the English tv with Spanish subtitles is really, really helpful for me as I learn the language. I did end up using a few of my alarms though, and had quite a time with the window in my room as the surface is uneven and did not allow the two pieces to stick right. I went ahead and forced them, and then laid down in my bed to chill and read. About 15 minutes later, my body turned inside out when the one of the pieces fell off of the window and was going absolutely berserk! I jumped across the bed to the window faster than I’ve ever moved in my life and just prayed that the security guard wouldn’t here it and come running….it was about 10 minutes before my fingers stopped shaking so I could even turn the page in my book…oy ve! (Actually I don’t even know what that means, but I hear it a lot…maybe that isn’t a good strategy for building my Spanish vocabulary…)
Tuesday Tuesday I kept working on the project and the info for Javier. At lunch I went with him and Veronica to a place called Mi Viejo Rancherito which is literally a cool little hut, but so cute. I had something called quesillo there which is basically just a tortilla with TONS of JUICY cheese on it, that has been rolled up and stuffed in a plastic bag. Javier ordered for me and said that the locals eat it with their hands….Veronica ordered hers on a plate though, but Javier said I’m not no foreigner I am a local so that is how I had to eat it. I gave it my best shot but in the end, I think the quesillo won the battle!
Also at lunch, Javier was talking about driving up a volcano and the shifting in the car, etc…..he looked at me and said, “you have driven a stick shift before, right?” Believe me, I tried to get out of answering that one but as I realized my desparate situation, I admitted that I had not…but was going to learn this weekend. Javier and Veronica got quite a kick out of this and Javier assured me they would get me an automatic car, he said he didn’t want me proving his theory of learning by mistakes true with the car!
Then I asked them whether or not Janeen should take a taxi from the airport, and they both started laughing again! When I asked them why they were laughing, they informed me that she would have absolutely no way of telling the driver where to go….there are NO street signs here. None. Not one. I understand that not everyone wants to be as Americanized as the US, but lets just be frank here---street signs are an ingenius idea! Anyway, here all addresses are just directions basically. There is some famous tree in the middle of the street here in Managua and apparently a LOT of addresses are based from there. Veronica is from a small town and she said that in her town an address might be “2 blocks down from so and sos house”, but that so and so has to be a well known established family that has been there for many years….and they call us small towners rednecks???? Lol, I love it thoughJ
Although I will be getting an automatic car, Javier asked Fransisco to take me in the evening and teach me to drive. So Fransisco, who only speaks about 3 words of English, and Janette, who only speaks about 4 words of Spanish, set out to learn to drive a stick shift. We went to a big, flat, open, gravelly place where I learned to drive a stick shift car…in Spanish…in the rain….and sort of in the dark. An experience not soon to be forgotten! It wasn’t so bad, except that the car seemed to die…a lot. Fransisco, thankfully, is incredibly patient and I was able to recognize when he said “clooch” and “aceleradora” and mas despacio or rapido (slow or fast). Don’t tell me no stinking language barrier can get in the way!
After our drive, I went to a supermarket for the first time. It is a big chain, and was very similar to ours, only it was laid out different…and everything was in Spanish. However, there were a lot of familiar brands. The only problem I had was buying milk. I drink skim milk, and have no idea how to say skim in Spanish…there was a bottle that said “Eskimo” and I took a gamble hoping that meant skim…but it turns out it was only a brand. Oh well!
Wednesday Today I toured the distribution center…cold, lots of meat. That’s about it. Then this afternoon I looked at our products just so I will be familiar with them. By the way, I finally had embutidos translated and it just means cold cuts.
This morning as I ate my Raisin Bran and watched Good Morning America in my really safe house, I felt very much at homeJ Each day I feel more comfortable here and make a few more friends, however I am sooo excited to see my Neenie this weekend!
The memory verse is Galations 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.


Jennifer said...

Nette!!!!! If you get this send me your Cargill email to my lilly- so we can email!!!!! Love you girl and you sound like you are having an amazing, amazing time! I have to tell you that I so wish I could have been a fly on the inside window of that car!!!!

Love you!!! -Jenn (Himburg)

un platano said...

Jana! I love reading about your adventures. You just called me and I'm so sorry I missed your call a 2nd time. I miss you and am working on my passport and we shall chat about this possible adventure to Guatemala!! Love you!
BTW this is anna:)