August 30, 2007


On my first day in Itipini, I stepped out of the pre-school to take a quick break and heard a sound I thought was someone trying to start a cranky lawnmower. I can’t spell the sound but it was kind of like someone kept pulling the starter cord and the lawnmower kept coming close to turning over before dying.

My first thought was, “Oh, someone’s taking advantage of the nice weather to mow the lawn.” Then I thought, “Wait, Itipini is a dump. It’s all dirt and glass and garbage – not grass.” So I turned in the direction of the sound and saw about six pigs snorting and digging their way through the trash. Pigs – along with chickens, roosters, dogs, and who knows what else – wander around freely all day long, including right in the middle of the children’s playground. Indeed, they drink out of the wastewater ditch that runs through the playground.

Just one of the many ways in which I have to re-calibrate my expectations in Itipini.