17 febrero 2011- jueves
My training group reunited this week at the Peace Corps office…it was an opportunity to share ups and downs during the past 3 months as we have lived in sites scattered throughout Guatemala. Life varies considerably across this small country…some volunteers need to communicate primarily in indigenous languages, others suffer the cold (in the occidente) while those in the oriente (east) are roasting, with nighttime temperaturas of 85F! All of us continue to be fascinated by this beautiful but challenged country.
Last Saturday I arrived in Antigua by 10:30am, and if I had brought my hiking boots I would have joined my fellow volunteers for the climb up Volcan Pacaya (8373 ft) just outside of the capital city…oh well, my conquest of Pacaya will have to await another day. The highlights of their hike included a pretty sunset and roasting marshmellows over hot rocks. I did join in the “ugly Paca contest” where we dressed up in our craziest finds from the local thrift shops (Paca stores)…Paca shopping is an art form here, and the smart way to increase one’s wardrobe. Just remember my friends, what you discard todayin the U.S. might be worn by tomorrow by a Peace Corps volunteer somewhere in the world! My outfit was fitting for my love of baking.
The highlight of our two days back together was our Q & A session with the U.S. Ambassador… such a warm and intelligent man. Eyebrows raised a bit when he shared that he reads our blogs, (so hello Mr. Ambassador if you are reading this)! The conversation covered topics that ranged from how to empower women in this country to the role and goals of the U.S. respective to Guatemala to this election year and worrisome security incidents and corruption. He pointed out that we volunteers are the face of America here, carrying out valuable work as individual ambassadors…on duty 24/7. There was brief comment that he was saddened by the cancellation of the municipal development and agriculture marketing programs, but he is not in a position to affect Peace Corps decisions…oh well, it was nice to have an sympathetic response. We would be wise to head his words of advice as we initiate and dive into projects for our communities, “Never want it more than they do”…in other words, those living here must take ownership of the solutions for a successful outcome…our session ended with a celebratory egg toss with confetti-filled eggs with the ambassador gamely taking a hit head-on!
Yesterday I rode buses and a minivan to return to my site…only 4 nights away and I feel like I’ve been gone a long time, missing a few crucial meetings. After nearly 4months here, it does feel like my home and I miss it when I am
away. The dusty ride into town on the camioneta (bus) prompted a visit to the baños (hot springs) to relax and refresh….always a welcome end to the day. Tomorrow a group of Healthy Schools trainees arrive in town and over a delicious lunch cooked by my friend Doña Fina, I will share my tasks as a muni volunteer. In just one month these trainees will be volunteers navigating life in their own sites…so I will give a brief training guide how to work with their respective municipal governments…Perhaps we will head to the baños after lunch. TGIF!