7 noviembre 2010- domingo
As for settling in, that’s what Halloween was for me, unpacking suitcases and trying to remember where I had put everything…it wasn’t until my daughter called later in the day to say Happy Halloween that I even gave it some thought. The following day was more important here: All Saints Day, although only to the Catholic population. I live with a Evangelical family so they don’t really celebrate that day, however, the 87 y.o. grandma does, so I accompanied her to mass in the morning. She is now bent over with age, but I swear she can’t be more than 4ft tall, so at 5’5″ I felt like a giant next to her. Apparently the priest is American and has lived here for 36yrs…already appears more like an old grizzled Guatemalan, so someday I’ll have to make time to talk with him…he was too busy on the holiday.
As a contribution to the family feast on the holiday, I made 3 carrot cakes. It was a big hit! Only 4 pieces remained the following day…and I made sure to instruct others in how to make the cake, even translated the recipe into Spanish. Brought some pieces into my office too…figured it’s a good way to make friends! My last host dad teased me that I will have to open up a pastry shop ‘Los pasteles de Doña Teresa’…Ms Theresa’s pastries. We’ll see…not such a bad idea if I continue to get a following.
Later in the day I headed to the cemetery where families spend the day with their deceased loved ones. Some women were doing a more traditional Mayan ceremony at the gravesites. There was marimba music throughout the night…I was able to go to sleep at 11pm, but my host dad complained that the music kept him up and didn’t stop until 4am. I felt only a little sorry for him because the Evangelical churches here blast out their music until late in the evening, so it felt like fair compensation that one day/yr the Catholics have their turn!
It has been cold here in the highlands, probably in the 50sF during the day, but no one has heat in their homes or offices, so once the cold sets into my bones, it’s hard to warm up. At 7,00ft up, this is definitely mountain weather with cool mornings and nights. To be friendly to the public, our DMP/OMM (Planning and Women’s office) door stays open…brr! I’m ready to track down a space heater. Yesterday I went shopping for more sweaters in Quetzaltenango, the 2nd largest city in Guatemala. The used clothes from the U.S. ends up here…I bought a lot of sweaters and even 2 thermal tops, so now I’ll be warm! Good prices. I paid about $1.20 per sweater, but the large jar of peanut butter was $8! Have to choose my vices…the peanut butter came home with me, too.
It’s been an interesting week digging through computer files, observing requests (solicitudes) from various people and groups, and giving moral support to our new OMM coordinator. I’ve got her pretty excited about doing some activities for Nov. 25th- International Day of Prevention of Violence Against Women (do you think they could have made that title any longer?) Then of course I told her that it is Thanksgiving so I won’t be around to help…so only with the planning activities, however, we are also thinking up some ideas for Dec. 1st for Worlds Aids Day.
On Friday, I got up at 5:40am to catch a bus to a meeting at 8:30am. Very interesting to witness the beginning stirrings of democracy here; the meeting was to elect 2 women to represent women’s interests at the state (department) level, so I got to hear the political speeches of the six candidates. Fortunately I’m understanding Spanish fairly well, but when the women spoke in the Mayan language of K’iche’, that left me in the dark. Within the next few months I will be trying to learn some phrases at least…hmm, working on a 4th language. We’ll see how my brain likes that!