Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Training to foster


I’ve receive a few emails and a few questions on message boards about fostering tips in Guatemala. I do my best to pass on the tips others gave me – good shoes, a good baby carrier, etc. But what I wish I had before I came was some advice on preparing to foster not just packing. So here is my list – feel free to add your own items in the comments.

1. Walking. You will be walking A LOT. If you aren’t accustomed to walking, work yourself up to a couple of miles. Then add 16 lbs strapped to your chest. Then add 8 lbs of groceries and water in each hand. Then add different sized large rocks and small boulders to your path to simulate the cobblestones.

2. Coat yourself in sweet smelling oils and perfumes. Then shut yourself in a chamber containing 1374 mosquitoes. This will get you used to living with no screens in your windows. The little suckers don’t just attack at night.

3. Find a road construction crew – preferrably one with a jack hammer. Record them and play it back at night while you try to sleep. This will help prepare you for sleeping through loud trucks, chickenbusses, and fireworks (why? because it is Tuesday).

4. If you don’t speak much Spanish, take a mime class. Mime is of great help when trying to obtain things you need in stores where no one speaks English and they don’t understand your awful Spanish.

5. Prepare your dinner. Hold a cat in your lap and have someone spray it in the face with water every 90 seconds. Make sure you don’t drop the cat. Try to eat your dinner while holding onto the cat. This will help you to prepare for eating with a squirming baby on your lap.

6. If you plan to take a stroller to Antigua, there is a learning curve to driving one of the jogging strollers. You can’t really steer it like a normal stroller.  Try to find a narrow sidewalk that is just wide enough for the stroller then add a constant stream of people to dodge and curbs that vary from 1 to 9 inches.

7. Begin licking random public surfaces to help your body become immune to new bacteria you may encounter in Antigua.

8. Practice walking in your flip flops without making a sound. Your baby might sleep through the firecrackers outside of your window but noisy shoes will wake her instantly.

9. Find a truck stop where they keep the big rigs running all night. Cozy up to an exhaust pipe and breath deeply. You will spend the first 2 weeks blowing diesel fuel out of your nose constantly. Then you will become concerned when you don’t notice it anymore.

10. Wipe all conversational topics from your repetoire except those pertaining to: PGN, Pink, your agency, poop, and naps.

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One Comment to

“Training to foster”

  1. On June 17th, 2009 at 11:17 pm Pamela Says:

    Reading all of it was enough experience for me… ha ha

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