Posted by: janetwright2guatemala | 08/26/2010

2wks in Guatemala!

Celebrating two weeks in Guatemala!!…I still have the fresh eyes of a newcomer but already the signs of adaptation are there. It does feel like a month since my arrival. Several of us have admitted to forgetting some English words… hmm.

Antigua- beauty & history

Already I expect tortillas at every meal. Breakfast might vary from chicken tamales to Corn Flakes with warm milk to frijoles negros (black beans) and scrambled eggs. The seasons are inverted here, so I look forward to the harvest time of Dec-Feb for aguacates (avocados), mangos, and more. Plenty of bananas and pineapple now. The mercado in Antigua even has apples from Washington State…but I’ll await those back at home. So far so good re digestive matters…want to keep it that way. We are being warned very strongly to stay away from street food to avoid health problems. I did splurge for some deep fat fried platano chips at a fiesta…salty and tasty, much like potato chips. Funny stories include the Peace Corps medical staff trying to make tough topics fun and entertaining…did you know there’s a diarrhea song? Now you do, but I’ll spare you the lyrics.  Our current medical expertise ranges from food prep to remedies for dehydration and more. 

Highlights of these past 2 weeks? I felt my first mild earthquake last week, and a few days ago Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) nearby had a mild eruption. Yesterday I took this photo of steam arising from it. Reminders that we are in a seismically active place. Sometime we hope to hike up Volcan de Agua (Volcano of Water) which is inactive. Not to worry, there are emergency plans in case of natural disasters or other situations…we feel quite prepared after our 14 days here. Personal safety is a major focus during our training.

Volcan de Fuego exhaling

The camionetas (chicken buses) offer many diversions…just yesterday I had a significant upper body workout by the time I arrived to Cuerpo de Paz (Peace Corps) for our full day training. The bus driver was taking the turns like the Indy 500, so I hung on tightly. It’s always a challenge to be the 3rd person on a bus seat meant for children’s butts. Sometimes you are lucky and just brace against the 3rd person across from you, creating a continuous row of people…however, then the ayudante (ticket collector) wants to squeeze past us to collect money. The human body can sometimes resemble a tube of toothpaste in these situations!

Although the temperature is mild…daytime in the 60sF, hitting low 70s briefly when the sun comes out, there are reminders of this tropical environment. I’ve seen “air plants” growing on electrical wires strung across streets. The garden in my home has orange, fig, and banana trees.  The skies can dump substantial rainfall, turning the streets into small rios (rivers). My room has a corregated metal roof, so the patter of rain can soothe me to sleep.

My town in Guatemala- with Volcan de Agua

Tomorrow we have an all day field trip to visit a volunteer at her site. Questions will bubble forth as we seek her wisdom after one year in country…si, we are the newbies absorbing it all.

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