I really don’t know how to start this entry. It has been awhile since my last update, so I feel like I have to write something, but honestly life has been pretty routine over the past two weeks. I get up around 5 AM every day, and depending on the day have one of two standard schedules. Three days a week I climb into the back of a small semi trailer to ride with the workers through the coffee and macadamia nut fincas, stop by the finca office for a cup of coffee and head up to the volcano observatory to spend the morning collecting data, talking with the observers, and basically getting to know Santiaguito. The other two mornings, I go for a run while the temperature is still cool enough to permit it, and then head to school which starts at 7:30. I use my afternoons to do planning work, go shopping, and generally prepare for the next day, and I usually run up to Xela or down to Retauhueleu to buy harder to find items like cheese and peanut butter on Saturday or Sunday.
My house has become the coolest place in town to hang out for anyone under the age of 12 who isn’t out playing marbles. I am usually surrounded by anywhere from 6 to 15 kids just hanging out on my porch, playing with the giant floor puzzles that Adam left for me or climbing my trees to get a fruit called a cushin (it has a green husk that holds a lot of big seeds inside, and you eat the tissue that surrounds the seeds, and it is kind of shaped like a giant bean pod). My best friend in site therefore is currently an 8 year old boy named Oliver.
Work is going well, and I feel that I am setting up some decent projects for myself. The trash management project with the municipality has taken a back seat as of right now, for two reasons. First, I am being kept very busy with my primary responsibilities at the school and the observatory, and second because the municipal offices have been pretty busy with another project that I have nothing to do with. I plan on meeting with the mayor at the end of this month when my boss from Peace Corps comes out to visit me to try and figure out some kind of time frame for this project, because I do think the people of my village are very interested in finding a solution to this issue.
My first big holiday in site happened last Friday, when the school had its Mother’s Day celebration. Mother’s Day here is always celebrated on the 10th of May regardless of what day of the week it falls on. It is a very big day in the schools and classes were basically canceled in order to have the celebration. Students got together and performed dances, sang songs, and read poems to the assembled group of mothers, and the teachers prepared games for the moms to play. My game ended up being a watermelon eating contest, which ended up being a big hit. I had 15 mothers get up in front of everyone and inhale melon. It was very fun to watch, and I would put the woman who won up against anyone from back home, she was a champ.
The celebration also culminated with a mother beauty pageant, which was very interesting. The teachers called for volunteers on the spot to participate in the activity, and they had to come up in front of the group and perform a talent. The more conservative contestants spoke about what a wonderful privilege and great responsibility motherhood is, and this got a lot of the other mother’s crying. A few of the mom’s didn’t have anything, so after some hooting and hollering from the crowd, they ended up saying they would dance if they had a partner. Obviously the funniest person to dance with would be the giant gringo standing in the back taking pictures, so I suddenly became part of two contestant’s talents. The winner of the pageant was a mother who got up and sang a song about losing her mother, which made almost everyone cry. Apparently tugging on people’s heartstrings was a more effective technique than making them laugh, but maybe I shouldn’t take it so personally.
I hope everyone had a great Mother’s day back home. I got to call my mom and grandma, so it was almost like being home… okay, not really, but it was good to talk to them anyway. Peace.
I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. I served in Guatemala under the Environmental Conservation and Income Generation Program and a Master's International Student in the Mitigation of Natural Geologic Hazards Program at Michigan Technological University.
This blog chronicled parts of my experience in Guatemala. I'd be happy to talk to anyone in person about any questions they have regarding Guatemala or the Peace Corps in general, so please contact me if you'd like to know more.
The contents of this blog were mine personally and did not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps. I was also not responsible for any comments posted, but I reserved the right to remove anything I (or anything the Peace Corps might have) deemed inappropriate.