On Saturday I boarded a Cuerpo de Paz van along with 3 other muni volunteers to settle into my new community which is about 20 minutes away from Antigua. We all live with Mayan families, and fortunately all of our families speak Spanish…I don’t know any Mayan yet, but am highly likely to begin it soon.
My host parents are Francisco, about 50yrs old, who sells medicine to pharmacies, Maria, his wife, who works in the capital city (Guatemala City) as a nurse for abused adolescent girls. She works shifts that last several days , so she will be gone frequently…I just met her yesterday. There are 3 chicas (girls): Jessie, age 15 goes to a boarding school during the week; Nellie, 22, teaches a Mayan language to adolescents and is studying to be a lawyer; and Jessie, age 25, is studying to be an anesthesiologist. Their home is modest because funds are going to the girls’ education. My host family believes strongly in educating their girls, and I have had some great in-depth discussions on many topics with my host father…ranging from the Arizona immigration law to Seattle’s neighborhood matching fund. I am trying to impress upon my family the diversity of the U.S…climate, culture, language, food, and more. Thankfully, my Spanish is coming back quickly/improving to allow such conversations.
Throughout the week we receive Spanish lessons through conversation with our teacher (our private teacher for the 4 of us!), and yesterday we delved into the politics of the country and learning the large industries here. This understanding will be crucial to our work in municipal development. In the next few weeks we will be meeting the mayor of San Antonio, and soon will begin small projects as a group and then individually. This is our community-based training to prepare us for our work as volunteers…first we must complete and pass our training time. Big day is Oct 29th, our day of swearing in as volunteers and that weekend we head off to our individual sites for the next 24months. …we have been told that we should travel on Oct. 30th since much of the country will be on the move the next day to reach their home communities to celebrate All Saints Day on Nov. 1st. Apparently there is some celebration of Halloween here…
Well, it’s time for my almuerzo (lunch). Today I am back at the Peace Corps compound for training day…just one day/week. I was given a sack lunch by my host mom so I need to go eat..tortillas, frijoles, bananas. Hasta pronto!