23 noviembre 2010-martes !
The emotional clouds lifted this week…thanks to all for your words of support. Yesterday my two coordinators came into town to visit….so I showed them my 2 housing options. The Goldilocks house met most of their approval except for the lack of homes across from it (there is a open field). However, I pointed out that I had already befriended a woman on that street. So I was advised to keep looking for more options, meanwhile negotiate the price down just in case. The other house we just breezed through…too large for one person I told the caretaker today.
Regarding my host family, I hope to have bought (literally) some peace regarding their concerns about rent, electric and gas bills….in December I will be paying nearly double the rent + utilities that I paid this month. Low by American standards, but a considerable amount here. At least my coordinators signaled that I might be able to move into my own place in early January. I’ll try to model how to be friendly and maybe they will respond. Meanwhile I will deepen my new friendship with Doña Fina, my soon-to-be surrogate host mom. Last Sunday I baked banana squares at her home, leaving some for her family…apparently this treat with chocolate chips was quite popular. Tomorrow she is kindly allowing me to bake my Thanksgiving contribution (carrot cake) at her home. Although she said she doesn’t like recipes with vegetable oil… I advised her to reconsider…that she will like this cake! The hardiness of carrot cake will be tested during the journey of 4 bus rides to my destination.
Energy costs are high for families here, and consequently, people fan out into the forests and cut firewood for cooking…so deforestation is a big problem. Many years ago I belonged to a wonderful organization called Solar Cookers. After making my first cardboard solar cooker back then, it was more of a novelty to cook some rice occasionally…I have now resurrected this idea as something possibly much more useful here in Guatemala. More likely to be an additional cooking source, either to purify water or cook part of a meal. So I purchased the necessary materials a few weeks ago and created my first cooker (the how-to directions are online). The sun made a decent appearance yesterday, so I began my trial run…I was impressed that within 50 minutes the temperature inside the solar cooker rose from 50F to 200F!
I threw some rice and water into a pot, with the pleasant outcome of cooked rice a few hours later when I returned from work. So I will be testing out the various possibilities before I take my show on the road. Wish me luck!
Regarding my work at the municipal (muni) office, I decided to take the initiative last Friday…and began graphing the census data from the various towns (aldeas y parajes) within this municipality (municipio). All of that useful data was just sitting in a cardboard box. It was especially rewarding to gain the admiration of my counterpart, Roberto, who is very sparing with feedback.
So yesterday I presented my initial graphing efforts to 6-7 community leaders from two towns. I instructed them on how to interpret the data..for instance, both towns have 50-55% of their population ages 0-17yrs, which signals the need for schools and other services for children. Can you even imagine Seattle having this demographic?
Later in the morning when I was chatting briefly with the mayor, Roberto joined us and mentioned my useful graphing work…it was very nice to be complimented in front of the mayor…so Monday was a great day!