So the idea that I was going to try and get better at communicating through this blog was apparently just a bunch of steam. We’re almost through the 7th month of this year and this is only my second entry. Pathetic. Let’s see if I can at least partially redeem myself with a rundown of what has happened between the end of March and now.
I continue to be blessed with visits from people back home. In April, My Uncle Scott, Aunt Angelica, cousins Marcos and Nicky and friend of the family Penny Barr came down to spend holy week in Guatemala. Holy week is by far the most festive time down here, as every town has their own special traditions for celebrating the week before Easter. I think they had a pretty good time, and I am hoping to be able to post some of their thoughts on their time here soon.
In May, Matthew Burris and Ashley Poust, two of my very close friends swung by for a visit. We spent most of the time hanging out in my village and I think they got a pretty good idea of what my daily life is like. They showed up at the very beginning of the rainy season, so they even got one or two days taste of what happens here in town when the rain is drowning everything: a lot of sitting around in the dark.
I’d like to brag a little that I am getting very good at showing people around now, so if you are reading this and think you want to come down and see what’s going on for yourself, let me know soon. It doesn’t seem like it some days, but I really don’t have much more time that I’ll be down here. If you want to visit me, you have 8 months left…
I celebrated my 25th birthday with a trip to the water park. I convinced a group of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and a few of my local friends to accompany me to the large water park about 10 miles from my house. One of the store owners I know was able to get all of us in for free (otherwise it costs about $10). It was really great, and incredible that such a ritzy place exists so close to where I live.
4th of July
So every year the Peace Corps Volunteers of Guatemala get together for a professional conference spanning two days and then a picnic on the 4th of July to commemorate our country’s independence. This year, I was on the committee to plan the conference and the picnic. The 8 of us on the committee brought in about 20 speakers from other organizations all across Guatemala and put on a conference about how to coordinate with these organizations to get work done in communities that we as volunteers are calling home for 2 years, and then threw a picnic with sporting events for the 200+ volunteers and staff that make up Peace Corps in Guatemala. It was a lot of work, and incredibly difficult to coordinate especially with the 8 of us spread all throughout Guatemala, but we got it done and I think people learned a lot and had a great time. My crowning achievement was having the US Ambassador to Guatemala show up with his 2 sons and participate in our soccer tournament.
So over the past few months work has not slowed down at all. On top of all that fun stuff I just reported on, I’ve been busy in the school writing grant proposals with the Director to try and get money to use all of the bottles that we have collected to complete a circulating wall around the school. Last week I got notice that USAID had approved our Small Project Assistance (SPA) Fund grant, and so we will begin construction of the wall in September.
I’ve therefore been spending most of my time at school passing around to the classrooms and trying to make sure all the kids are cooperating with the teachers and bringing in their share of bottles, and plugging into various other activities including an Earth Day celebration, Mother’s Day celebration, and a lot to do with our town “feria” (the celebration of our municipality’s patron saint).
Up at the volcano observatory, we’re still trying to figure out ways to improve our capabilities, but I have been training the observers on how to use our gas monitoring equipment so that they will be able to keep up observations no matter who is working with them.
Trip to the States
I’ll be back in the US from the 3rd to the 23rd of August, but I won’t have a phone number to speak of, so try sending me an email and I’ll try to get in contact with you. I’ll be posting photos soon as well. I miss you all and hope that things are well. Peace.