Last night Cathaleen and I attended the Miss Salubrista pageant. This is an annual beauty pageant where one woman from each municipality in our region competes to be crowned Ms. Salubrista and then later goes on to compete for the department/state title. There are 4 municipalities in our region. This year the pageant was help in San Miguel Acatan. We crammed all the health post staff into two microbuses and we bumped along a rough dirt road for about an hour to get to the town. We really had no idea what would happen during the night but we were along for the ride. We arrived in the town and went to watch some soccer games. Then my health center women tell me they need more players for the women’s game and of course I can’t say no to a little futbol! I played in my tight jeans and nice shirt and looked ridiculous BUT I scored two goals and we won 5-1!!!! There were a bunch of people from other health centers and a LOT of men so I had to show that the gringa can play soccer too. I had a blast!
After the soccer games we ate dinner at a little family-run place. We all crammed into a small comedor and it was clearly going to take a while to prepare the food. The doctor from our health post, aka the head honcho, went into the kitchen and started helping the women cook. This was crazy for me to believe because most men here do not cook and would never do so willingly. That is a woman’s job. Not this doctor! He spent most of his time helping prepare the food. It was great to see a Guatemalan man that breaks the usual and unfortunate stereotypes. He then proceeded to pay for my and Cathaleen’s meal to say thank you for being in Santa Eulalia and volunteering. I was very appreciative and realized this is a great guy and I am glad to not have a machisto asshole of a doctor and this forward thinking man instead.
It was fun for all the health post staff to join together and cheer for our competitor, Nancy. First the 4 women came out in “traje tipico” or traditional Mayan dress. Then there were a few dances by different groups of kids, some mildly disturbing for the booty dropping in this conservative culture. Next the contestants were escorted out in the evening gown. Each had to answer the question “What does Miss Salubrista mean to you?” They contestants had to answer in Spanish and the native Kanjobal. Then came one of MY highlights for the night. My counterpart, Aurelio, apparently is an amazing singer. He went up in front of the huge crowd and busted out a great rendition of some love song. He was just loving the spotlight so he sang two more! I was highly impressed and it was fun to see a different side to him. Finally the moment everyone had been waiting for…the crowning. It was actually very confusing and no one really knew who won for a few minutes, typical Guatemala, but finally a woman from another town won Maybe next year. It was great to see the Santa Eulalia health staff cheer on Nancy and pop balloons and throw confetti and cheer LOUD!
After the pageant came the dance. Now I must also say that we were originally told the whole night would end by 11pm which is already 2 hours past my bedtime but I sucked it up and went anyway. We later find out we are not leaving until 1am! O man! The dance barely started by 11pm. I am not a huge fan of dancing but I figured I would watch and enjoy the music and the company. Boy was I wrong. The two gringas in the room were the sought after prize. I had so many men ask me to dance. Some were nice and not too creepy but others were just…ugh. I went out there with one guy and he proceeded to spaz out on the dance floor. I felt like it was a joke and I was on a hidden camera show. This 5 foot tall man looked insane with his arms flailing and his body shaking. I did not know what to do other than to pray it was going to be a short song (and go figure it wasn’t)! I probably danced with 10 men and for those of you wondering, no there was no potential in any! I just went out there and moved my feet and shook my hips and looked like a rhythm-less American. O well. We finally made it home by 2am and crashed and went to sleep.
The judges for this year...the contestants from last year.
Dancing with the contestants in their Traje Tipico.
Our judge from Santa Eulalia
Middle School students dancing
Disturbing dance with crossed dressing and too much booty-shaking and shimmying for most Guatemalans
Our contestant, Nancy, on the right
My counterpart, Aurelio, belting out the tunes
Santa Eulalia health staff cheering on Nancy
Today we luckily did not have to get up early for Kanjobal class. I got to sleep in a bit after my long evening. This afternoon I went to Temux to help Cathaleen with an HIV/AIDS workshop with middle school students. Becca also came to help since the whole thing is about 3 hours long and takes a lot of work. Everything went well overall but we finally understood the true lack of health and sex education in this country. These students asked what the words breasts, penis, testicles and sexual relations meant. We were shocked to realize no one had ever talked about these body parts and they literally had no idea how they work or where they are. We were there to talk about HIV/AIDS but that is next to impossible without understand the body parts. The students were very interesting in all the information but it was just too much for them to grasp. They asked us intense questions like, What is a homosexual? When can you have sex? What is a condom? Where are your breasts, penis and testicles? What is an okay age to have sex? Some of the question we stumbled through the answer because we have to give the correct information while still being very sensitive to the religious, conservative, closed culture. We decided this group of students needs a puberty and sexuality talk. I think we are going to try and set something like that up in the future. It was an eye-opening afternoon to say the least. The days like this make me realize what I am doing here. I realize I am helping the people and if we are not here to educate about these sensitive subject, who will?
Cathaleen with HIV/AIDS vocab words
The skit about how HIV works
Me trying my best to give a breif overview of the anatomy of a man and a woman
What is HIV?
I truly hope these students took something away from today. They were very intelligent and eager to learn.