Pauza Magazine Winter 2008 - Page 6

Snail Harvesting in Chaska by Dan Kearney Certainly one of the most unforgettable parts of Pre-Service Training (PST) has been my host family’s snail farm. Amidst the rather large gathering of more pedestrian crops (apples, cabbage, pears, carrots, etc…) lie two long rows fenced in by waist-high netting. Inside are the snails, numbering well into the thousands. On sunny days, they hide in the shade awaiting their late-afternoon feeding. But when it rains, watch out—it’s a veritable snail, er, jailbreak. By the droves, the snails climb over the top of the walls of their pen and head off in whatever direction their itsy-bitsy hearts desire (assuming they have some semblance of a circulatory system). This means that on a regular basis, my host family—and this fall, my wife and I, too—was regularly out there, picking up fugitive snails and putting them back in the pen. You’d be surprised how far a snail can get over the course of a rainy night. Snails were often discovered out in the road, having escaped the pen and scaled yet another wall. Then came the harvest, but hardly the type you’d see on MTB’s ??????. For two backbreaking days, the family was in the pens, picking out every snail one-by-one. This year’s catch: 55 three-kilogram bags ready for the wholesaler. My back just got over that effort a few days ago. And the snails? Well, they’re no doubt sitting on plates in France as you read this. Bon appetite! Working Out Cultural Quirks in Macedonia by Aryn Bloodworth Over the past year, I have been perusing gyms in Macedonia. Maybe a bit strange, but it’s something I did in America, too. Not committed enough to actually join a gym, but continuously toying with the idea, tagging along with friends whenever it’s visitors day or when their regular gym partner takes the day off. And in Macedonia, though most facilities have been nice, modern, and busy, one in particular stands out as something… well, something to tell a story about. First, to set the scene, the gym has a room for men and a room for women. Second, unlike many other fitness centers with programs catering specifically to women, I am the only woman there. I will admit that I am a bit excited to have everything to myself—until I realize that none of the equipment works (which could explain the lack of women). The treadmill doesn’t turn on or move when I walk on it, the exercise bike has no seat, there is nowhere to do sit-ups, and the climbing rungs are about 7 feet tall—not much of a climb. So I decide to use the elliptical. Lo and behold, there are no stirrups for feet, only flat, narrow strips where th e footholds should have been. So I steady myself on the metal sections and begin my work out—i.e., trying not to fall off. A few minutes into my adventure, a couple employees pass through on their way to the break room (which is attached to the women’s part of the gym by a half wall) to smoke their break cigarettes. I’m balancing on the elliptical, trying to do cardio, and I’m inhaling their smoke. I decide to head to the other side of the gym to workout my abs. Only this specific gym seems lacking the equipment for that. There is some kind of leg lift machine that looks like it might hold my feet with enough weight, so I start piling every weight in the entire room on it (which isn’t enough to hold  - pauza down my super strong gams) and the female employee leaves the break room to try to help me. I can’t explain what I’m trying to do in Macedonian or with body language and I probably look crazy, but I really just want to play with the dilapidated equipment in peace, so I hope she’ll write me off and go smoke another cigarette... Instead, the male employee emerges and they consult about what to do with me. This conversation is in Albanian (which I speak slightly better), so I explain that I want to exercise my stomach. The woman is excited about my semi-coherent language skills and shows me how to use an arm machine, demonstrating that if I let it pull me up and down, it will work my abs. Not exactly true, but I humor her and begin the new process of pull down and release. However, the guy is so intrigued by the fact that I speak Albanian that we begin the standard interrogation. Where am I from? Why am I here? How do I know Albanian? As it turns out, he went to the school that I teach at and needs to know which teachers I know. When I explain that I don’t know many names but I think I’ve met all the teachers, he persists, “Vjollce?” Po. “Sveta?” Ndoshta. “She’s a maths teacher.” Still not sure, sorry. At this point, my friend (who works out at this gym) pokes his head in to see if I am done. And we leave. For $1.25, I got about 10 minutes in on the treadmill. I guess I got about 10 minutes of round-trip walking in, too. As I walked home, I felt a bit unsettled about the whole experience, though not for the reasons I would have expected: after all the Macedonian hospitality I received from the gym employees, I realized that I was disappointed about not being invited to stay for a coffee.