28 August, 2008

Spring is in the Air

As most of you back in the United States are enjoying the last dog days of summer and preparing to welcome the changes that come with autumn, here in Guatemala the air has more of a feeling of spring. School here runs (theoretically) from January to October, so going into September means that it feels like May back home. The “winter” here is ending (although it really is technically summer as we are still in the Northern Hemisphere), school vacation and an end to the rains and occasional hurricanes are in sight, and people are beginning to make plans for the good weather months.

School is all a buzz right now with preparations for Independence Day celebrations, which for Guatemala is the 15th of September. I’m told there will be parades, performances, and all sorts of other festive activities, so that should be a fun blog post next month. However, with the preparation for these activities there really isn’t much time for me to be in the classroom giving lessons, especially because end of the year exams are the first week of October. So right now I am contenting myself with helping where I can when I’m at school, and just trying to get kids to pick up after themselves during recess.

Work around town is starting to ramp up as well, as on the other side of the village they are getting ready to put in sewers and a paved street where right now there is just a dirt road. They do have sewers currently, but apparently they are old and have been breaking down and backing up recently, so this project (which was slated to begin in June) will be a welcome relief to many people.

The rains this year have been particularly destructive to our streets around town, most of which are dirt or crude cobblestone, so our village council is scrambling to try and figure out which areas need the most attention with the most urgency. The town is basically perched on a cliff above a pretty large river, and many of the poorer families live very close to the edge. There are also several streets and paths that pass very close to the cliff, and there is a major problem with erosion going on at several key locations around town. I’m not really sure what they’re going to be able to accomplish though; they have already received notice that there are no funds for street projects left this year because they all went to the sewer/street project. The council has asked my help in scouting out possible organizations that could fund small infrastructure projects, but I’m starting from scratch as the Peace Corps hasn’t traditionally been involved in road building here in Guatemala.

I’m looking forward to the end of school because it means that I will have more time to focus on the volcano. In addition to trying to get started on some new data collection, I also have been asked to help with some field work being carried out by the national office, which should be very interesting. In addition, better weather will bring with it more visits from other scientists, which means more field time and a steeper learning curve for me.

I think that’s it for this round, Peace.


Sarah Daehler Iliff said...

YEAH!!! Field work! I miss you!

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