Well, my Spanish no es perfecto quite yet, spelling correction- I am a planificadora. As such, I was discussing the ideas of low impact development with my Spanish teacher…haven´t yet figured out the best translation for that. After our morning language session, the narrow streets were rivers from the cloudburst. Eduardo says that he has noticed greater intensity in the rain in the last 10yrs and attributes it to climate change. So this country is ripe for adopting some measures to handle increased rainwater runoff…hmm, some ideas to spread.
A window into my life here…yesterday I got a knock at my door at 6:45am, ¨Yanet, ¿esta despierta?¨asked my host dad (are you awake?) I swing my feet out of bed onto the concrete floor, and head to the bathroom. It´s an American Standard toilet that flushes, but toilet paper goes into the wastebasket…the system only handles human waste. I close the corrugated metal door and step around the corner to the pila (sink) in the outdoor hallway. I scoop up a plastic bowl of water from the middle section of the pila and use this to wash my hands and face. There are 3 sections of the pila, left for laundry, washing hair and face, toothbrushing (all done publically in the hallway), the middle to contain the water from the spigot, and the right for washing dishes. After dressing, I head to breakfast in the small kitchen/dining room…the commom room. “Buenos dias, ¿como amanecio?”-my host dad inquires about how my night went. For breakfast, I munch down small flour tortillas with refried beans and boiled platanos, accompanied by tea. My host dad, Francisco, laughs at me…”Ah, Yanet” when he sees how fast I eat. I told him that my sleep is precioso (precious) so I sleep until the last minute…definitely not following the native culture. After eating we say “buen provecho” to each other…a Guatemalan version of bon appetit but said afterwards.
Before heading out, I fill my metal water bottle from the plastic container that holds about a gallon of water that has been boiled. Tap water is not considered safe for drinking…so families either purchase bottled water or boil it in the case of my family. Due to the humidity here, the Peace Corps
nurse wants us to drink 3-4 liters of water daily… a challenge. Goodbyes are said, with the news that I´ll return for lunch.
Then begins my favorite part of the morning…walking along the narrow streets made of pavers. Everyone greets each other, very rude or considered angry if you don´t. “Buenos dias” rings out, sometimes “que le vaya bien”- hope all goes well. Always pleased when called senorita. Yes, I do stand out as different, so it´s nice to see looks of apprehension change into smiles as I greet everyone. Kids in their school uniforms walk hand in hand. Women in Mayan dress with babies in slings, and packages on their heads walk along. No one really hurrying, just strolling to their destinations. A few motor scooters race by me, and I step to the side when the bus to Antigua races along…I love the colorful souped-up look given to our former schoolbuses.
It takes me about 5 minutes to walk the 6 blocks to the home of Carolina, another volunteer. All of the entrances at the street are very modest, and then I walk into the courtyard of her family´s home. Laundry is strung on many lines to dry, a challenge during this rainy season. We four volunteers sit at a small table in the outside patio, awaiting the arrival of Eduardo, our maestro. Sharing news of our evening in family…what we each ate and did. Most of us now remember our dreams from the side effect of the anti-malarial pills. Some of us heard fireworks at dawn, a Guatemalan custom to celebrate someone´s birthday…they love fireworks here! Eduardo finally arrives and we begin our lesson. Yesterday we learned about the different Mayan weavings and clothing that are unique to each town. Today we interviewed women at the Artesania store about their weavings…a very important industry here. After our lesson, it´s time for almuerzo…lunchtime at home.