14 January, 2008

San Miguel de Milpas Altas

¡Hola Todos!
Well, I’ve been an official Peace Corps trainee for a whole week now, and it feels like it has been a month. PC Guatemala changed last year to site based training, so instead of everyone living in one community and going to a training center every day, we are all spread out in different host communities within an hour bus ride/walk/both of the training center where we meet once a week for general sessions. The majority of our training however (i.e. technical – where I learn my job, and language – where I learn to mejorar mi Español) is done in a group of four at our host community. The three other people in my training group are Jessie from Tech, Joey from TX, and Briana from MN. We’re all going to be mejoraring our Espanish together as well as learning the ins and outs of Environmental Education Peace Corps style in the beautiful (if isolated) community of San Miguel de Milpas Altas.

Today is actually our first group training day where we have had to travel back to the training center in Santa Lucia de Milpas Altas. Actually everything around here is named “de Milpas Altas” because all their Milpas are very high up in the mountains. My GPS tells me that we are at an elevation of 6,505 ft above sea level, and 1,898 miles from my parent’s house in IL – and I believe every bit of it.

My room is great, I have my own little building right inside the family compound, and directly across from the kitchen. I live here with my host mother and father, who are both in their late fifties or early sixties, their second son and his family which consists of his wife and two little girls (who I have spent the last two nights playing with, meaning I lift them up into the air until I get tired and then they play with my camera), and their daughter who is fourth oldest in the family out of five, four dogs, one pig that lives next to the toilet, a goose who lives behind me, four birds which are just here to be pretty, a goat which I have not yet seen, and a bull who watches me when I sit on the toilet. We have electricity almost all the time and running water once every five days, and a freaking gorgeous view of the valley below us, so it is pretty much a paradise. I took my first bucket bath this morning, and it was warm and refreshing, and I only used about 2 gallons of water. My host mom, Doña Lidia, sells fruit and vegetables that she buys in Antigua up here as well as some delicious tamales (which are slightly different from Mexican tamales in that they have a much more mushy inside that does not hold its form when you unwrap the banana leaves, think cream of wheat, but instead of wheat use corn or potatoes) so the food is great. I’ll post some pics later.

So I got up this morning at 6, got clean, ate my breakfast (tamale again, mmmm tasty), and met Briana to walk down the hill to get the guys at 7:15. Usually our day will start earlier, because if the training session starts at 8, and we have a half hour walk to get to the place where we ride the bus for half an hour, we need to be leaving earlier, but our language professora Mirsa came to get us today. It is a big day, because along with the Presidential Inauguration, the director of the Peace Corps is here. We got to meet him at staging, and he is here visiting us as well. Apparently this is a pretty big deal, and he doesn’t usually do this (I guess he heard that I was coming). The rest of the week we will be meeting in our village church or right outside my bedroom for our language lessons, or meeting with the rest of the Environmental Education trainees at one of the three schools we will be working at throughout training.

All in all I think that this Site-Based Training is trying to be a miniature version of real PC service. The main differences being that we each have four site mates instead of eventually one or none, and we go around to our schools in groups instead of alone. They say it gets us much more prepared to do the real thing because we have a trial everything, including community integration. So far, so good. More to come later. In the meantime, que les vayan bien. Peace.


Kiley Rae said...

Sounds like you are having a great time KBrill :) Keep us updated!

Elise said...

Oh my gosh, Kyle! This sounds so exciting!! Has it been an easy adjustment so far (living with the goose and bull)? I can't wait to see some pics of the food you talked about. Oh, and it's negative degrees here. You're missing out. ;)

Anonymous said...

Kyle, you rock! It sounds like you are enjoying yourself and that is awesome. I'm glad that things seem to be moving along just fine. Continue to dominate life. ;)

In da UP it is currently 9 degrees and fricken snowy. Dizzle truck has a broken wheel bearing cuz its a Chevy. My sister is running for Winter Carnival Queen. Ming and Benjamin are heading up here for WC. My buddy Matt Monroe is in Africa for 3 weeks getting AIDs and lion bites. Schwartzy is working waaay too hard at grad school. And I have a really slack semester. :)

That's all I got, take care buddy. ;)

kara w. said...

Hi Kyle! I miss you, but it's good to hear that you're actually so close. You sound super busy, but don't forget to find time to send me a postcard (i've decided anytime you go anywhere for the rest of your life, you have to send me a postcard, note, sweet present, puppy, etc). On the home front, I'm getting rocked by the neuroanatomy class, i'm just trying to make it in spanish so that i can be done with my minor, and physics is really helping me improve my crossword skills. We have rush this weekend, so i'm super excited to that. That's about it. Hope to hear from you soon!