Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lost in the Jungle

A whole bunch of things happened yesterday that probably all involved witchcraft and as a result, eventually Stranger was moved to what the kids call "its own domain." So they tell me now that you can access it by just going to itjustgetsstranger.com. And also, apparently, you can keep accessing it the same way you were accessing it by going to blogspot. It's all of the devil if you ask me.

My good friend Brian put me in touch with his good friend Ben who understands the Internets and who walked me through the process to make this transition possible. Every time I got a new email from him with words in it like "Cname" and "DNS manager" I immediately screamed, pepper sprayed my computer screen, and said 60 Hail Marys.

But I'm told being on my own domain is a good thing. So after I sold my soul to the devil, I spent part of my evening clicking on things and then screaming every time a change was saved, sure that I had just deleted Stranger and started a panic on Wall Street. I'm told that I don't have that much power. But in a world where I can type something into a computer in Palau that you can immediately read in North Dakota (sorry about living in North Dakota, by the way), I will not accept that I have no power to accidentally blow up a country.

In any event, it all seemed to work out. Thanks Ben, wherever you are. You're the wind beneath my wings. As a thank you, I had Bette Midler perform this song for you in the '80s.

Last night I basically got sucked into the Twilight Zone. The men at church were responsible for going around to the other Mormons on the islands to give them an invitation to a Christmas party this weekend and see if anyone still needed help cleaning up the typhoon damage. This task would have been absolutely impossible to do individually so Daniel and I were each partnered up with local Palauns to guide us on the route.

The reason this would have been impossible for us to do alone is primarily because there are no addresses here and Daniel and I don't know where most people live. I'm really not kidding about this. I know I told you before that my apartment doesn't have an address and you guys were all like, "shut up Eli. Everything has an address. Pieces of littered Styrofoam in the middle of the desert even have addresses." You all thought that I was exaggerating or making this up. Which is so unfair because when have I ever exaggerated before!?

But you guys! I'm really NOT kidding about the address situation. There are literally NO addresses for people's houses in Palau. This would be all fine and dandy if there were like 2 perpendicular streets that everyone lived on and you could very simply describe where those houses are. But that is not at all the case. Most of the houses are buried deep in the jungle along twisty-turny roads that have no name and are even more confusing than a James Bond movie. There might be names for the neighborhoods. But if there are, those names aren't that helpful to me anyway because they're all uniformly pronounced "Ngjjjklalkdkajlkaafffrr."

So I was partnered with a super nice guy named John who is about my parents' age. I drove and he guided me into the dark dark dark jungle, up and down hills, and across large puddles. Our conversation was limited, partly because of a small language barrier, but also because I was so freaked out that I was going to drive off a cliff that I didn't have much to say.

For whatever reason I thought it best to dress like I was going for a night on the town at a ritzy club in a chilly city for this outing. Everyone else had dressed for the conditions: hot, humid, and incredibly muddy. Plus add rabid dogs with pink eye trying to spoon everything that moved for the entire night.

Guys, walking through the jungle and visiting people, I felt like the whitest human being that has ever walked the planet. And for reasons I can't explain, I swear my accent changes when I speak to any Palaun in English. I'm not from Texas. But I think that being surrounded by locals who have mastered jungle living to a degree I don't think I could ever get close to makes me feel like a huge, loud, ignorant, American and suddenly I start saying things like "HOWDY!" and "Ya'll have a nice naght now, ya-hear?!" Things I would NEVER say in a normal conversation with anyone else.

Not that there's anything wrong with Texans. Texan culture just seems about as uniquely American as possible. So put your guns away, Texans. I have no beef with you. Because you have guns.

Overall it was a really good experience in a lot of ways. It was nice to meet a bunch of people I hadn't yet met and to see where many of the church members live. It was also eye-opening and perspective-building and it reminded me again that I have a lot to be thankful for. And, as usually happens in these situations, simply feeling thankful on my way back to my cozy life felt inadequate and ignorant. Exposing ourselves to the problems of the world for the purpose of keeping an honest perspective is fine and dandy. But without actually doing something to affect those problems, that exposure sometimes just feels like exploitation. Ah well. It's another thing to work on, I suppose.

When we finished at the last house I dropped John off at home and told him "ba-bye now!!!" This was a mistake for the following reason: I had NO idea where I was or how to get back to the main road. And that's when the Twilight Zone thing happened. Because for the next 15 minutes or so, I drove the twisted, dark roads alone and somehow eventually was spit out onto the main street in a area that was a good 4 miles away from where I could have sworn I was.

I picked up Daniel who asked that we rush home as quickly as possible. He told me he had been standing in front of one house talking to the people that lived there. His right foot was in a puddle and a small child stood by, as though waiting for something. When Daniel stepped away, the kid ran over to the puddle, dropped his pants, and peed into it.

Daniel's foot has been amputated.

~It Just Gets Stranger

23 comments:

  1. "pepper sprayed my computer screen"... I'm dying!!

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  2. The last time I went to London to spend a semester abroad, there was one Texan in our group of students. She was every negative stereotype I have ever heard about Texans, and she proudly walked around Europe with her bizarre attitudes and ignorance. Of course, the rest of us were from Oregon and Washington, so we all just looked like tree-hugging hippies in comparison.

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  3. I am from Texas, born and raised, and I do not belong here. I say y'all all the time but I swear I should be somewhere else. I can't stand the attitude some of these people have here. And the "big hair" too drives me crazy. Also, Howdy is no where in my dictionary...that word makes me cringe.

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  4. Howdy! I don't ever actually say that and I'm from Texas. But I do notice whenever I get away from home, my accent picks up. It's not that I sound more twangy in comparison to other speakers, I actually *become* more twangy. I have no idea why. I change from (relatively) normal Becky to Becky Sue Jim Bob.

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    1. Yes, I can totally relate to this. I'm from the Berlin area in Germany and we do have a very recognisable accent over here. I lived in several parts in Germany now and whenever I'm NOT home, I speak the worst Berlin accent everrrrrr. And when I'm here, my German can be compared to Oxford English- plain, no accent or dialect at all. How come?

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  5. When 'The end of the World' occurs on Friday, I'll die peacefully knowing it was you, accidentally blowing up the globe.

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  6. Now, all yall best listen up ah-here!
    I from H-town, yall, and while we do have our fair share of cowboy hats and boots, we do NOT, I repeat, do NOT have big hair here! And we shore as heck don't have no accents! Ok. So we might have a little accent.
    Just for the record, I am a 3rd generation Texan, hate guns and hunting, and have flat hair and no cowboy boots. I have to admit we do HAVE a gun, but it is ONLY for wild pigs and snakes that may charge us when we head to the country. And my kids have the requisite boots and hats (for Go Texan day, of course).
    But we don't take offense easily as we are often a misunderstood people.

    I cannot believe Daniel was so gauche as to stand in someone's toilet. Really!

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  7. Hey, on the bright side, at least the kid waited until AFTER Daniel stepped out of his port-o-potty. Not surprisingly, this post improved my mood, thanks for making the world a less stabby place.

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  8. Yes, we do have guns, and thank you for noticing. I got this one last Christmas. : ) I used to live in College Station, and it's a "thing" there (crazy Aggies) to say "Howdy." I can't say that I say it much though, usually it's in an attempt to exaggerate. But I do tote a gun just about everywhere, I do say ya'll, I do hunt. I had two trucks before the SUV I have now and still miss my trucks. I wear boots sometimes but never wear a hat. (I really don't look good in hats.) And a lot of people in Texas think that it's weird. So, you know, we have all kinds here, too.
    Also, I feel very sad for anyone who lives where they don't have Blue Bell ice cream. I'm not even joking when I say it was a serious consideration in a rather un-serious decision not to move to Virginia one summer.

    Also, we put buildings around our outdoor toilets and call them outhouses so other people know not to stand there. Maybe that little boy should look into it... lol (I swear I'm not making this up: we do really have an outhouse at the ranch because the only running water there goes to the cattle troughs. My mom only goes there once a year and pretty much just holds it all day because she refuses to use the outhouse.)

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    1. Oh, yes. Bluebell. Delicious Bluebell. They have begun to export Bluebell to the middle of Mexico. Oh yeah!
      Can you BELIEVE there is a human bean who said that she didn't like Bluebell because it was, and I quote, "too creamy." I mean, say whaaa?

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  9. If you're lucky enough to live in Texas,
    you're lucky enough.

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  10. Heyyyyyyyyyyy....I'm a Texan and I say "y'all" and sometimes I say "Howdy!" and other times I say "Get the hell off my porch a'fore I introduce you to Messers Smith and Wesson.", and then I count "1....2...."

    I never get to three.

    Also, when I was young(er) I could have had big harr, but it's too windy here to keep it looking good, unless you can afford a vat of harr spray every week. Me, I can't...not since my backyard oil well went dry in the spring of '93.

    As for attitude, I've got it...and I've passed it along to my chilluns....and gran-chilluns. You can't live in Texas without that "attitude"...only we call it "pioneer spirit".

    So, Eli..keep on sayin' y'all. In fact, if you put on a cowboy hat I believe it's required.

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  11. shall I ship you a gallon of Clorox? and now you know why I have left my favorite shoes in China, over and over again.

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    1. Speaking of shipping, your package for Daniel showed up a few days ago. It's sitting under our Christmas "tree" now.

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  12. I am so happy I was upgraded.

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  13. This is one of my favorite of you Palau stories so far. And how cool that you're on your own domain now!

    Brad, stranger

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  14. I love living in Texas. No where else can it be colder than the North Pole, drier than Death Valley, hurricane winds in 100+ degree weather all in one week. ( I'm not even kidding, last year was as close to hell as I can imagine. )

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  15. What is this thing you call "domain"???

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  16. made my day when it got to the part of "pepper spraying my computer screen" hah!

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  17. I completely understand what you are talking about the whole no address thing. I am currently living in Cameroon, Africa. And there are NO addresses. So when I am telling someone how to get to my house, I pretty much am left to saying things like "You go right up! That steep, steep hill!" and "When you see that man selling those shoes in the one corner, you turn down there!" So I understand what you are saying :)

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