Posted by: janetwright2guatemala | 05/27/2011

Re-entry with gusto!!

26 mayo 2011 – jueves

Moan… “will I ever get back to Guatemala?” as the delays added up on my flight out of Dallas, but finally I was settled in that metal transport tube with a lively 76 yr old Guatemalan señora as my seatmate. A few hours of lively conversation was just the confidence-booster I needed after 11 days away. So sweet …she thanked me multiple times for service to her country, reassuring me that God would keep me safe after I shared a recent security incident in Guatemala that had me a bit rattled. I envied her faith, and decided to bask in it.

Francisco imparting wisdom on vegetable gardens

Stepping out of my adopted home helped put some perspective on what I have done so far, and the many ambitions I still hold for my Peace Corps service. Since my return I have definitely been more proactive…meetings and office time were getting too stifling!

The last two days I spent in the town of Tzarjon and its village, Chuiaj…both an hour+ away by bus. Only 4 community members showed up on Tuesday, but I managed to tease out of them some more diverse project ideas than the usual request for road improvements… their needs include approximately 100 latrines (families are just using their fields right now!) and cultivation of fruit trees and family gardens to diversify crops. Yes, now we’re getting somewhere!!

Yesterday I assisted my friend, Francisco, an agricultural facilitator, with teaching

Nutritious food from the earth!

elementary schoolchildren in Chuiaj how to make a vegetable garden (huerto escolar). Their brown eyes followed his actions with interest, and at last their turn came to plant carrots, spinach, radishes, beets. His budget is too limited to hand out planting instructions, so hopefully they will remember the 8cm apart of seeds and 15cm between rows for their take-home seed assortment. I loved the suggestion of using a 2-liter soda pop bottle for vertical farming when space is limited…I plan on trying that for my carrots!

Family garden demonstration

Señor Leandro Herrera Tayun, president of the community development group (COCODE), joked that maybe I would just stay the night with them after spending 2 days in Tzarjon… a sweet moment of trust and friendship. Sometimes I wonder if anyone really notices my presence or absence here, so I rejoiced in the “bienvenido” (welcome back home) comments that sailed my way once back in town. People were genuinely interested in hearing about my visit, and given their family-oriented culture, they could understand my pleasure of reuniting with family.

A poignant conversation with my friend, Francisco, as we bathed in the warm mineral water of the hot springs…before this gets misconstrued, he is 22 yrs old, the same age as my son! Our baños termales are indeed our social setting, so it was nice to relax there after our workday. The topics ranged from the registration requirements for voters in Guatemala with the deadline of June 11th quickly upon us. I gave a brief summary of the U.S. political system and sadly divulged that many Americans don’t bother to vote due to disinterest or apathy. Somehow we switched to economics, and he asked how the U.S. had come to be a developed country…wanting the same for Guatemala. “Es una pregunta complicada,” I responded…how to explain the pros and cons of the Industrial Revolution in America that has resulted in a higher standard of living but at the high cost of negatively impacting climate, flora and fauna, and people of other lands. No easy answer. I acknowledged that much of America’s success had come from the work of its many immigrants…wanting to give due credit to the generations of Guatemalans and others who have labored for our current blessings….I better understand both sides of the story as I live in Guatemala, with its hope for a brighter future.

Women observing gardening demonstration

Snapshots of this past week …sitting on my covered patio in the waning sunlight and teaching Bryon, my 11yr old neighbor, how to play the “UNO” card game, a gift for his taking care of my kitten, Blackie (Negrita)… and his delight in catching onto the rules and beating me! Hopping aboard a bus and watching a woman cross herself in prayer before we rumbled towards our destination…I, too, prayed for a safe trip. Sitting cramped in the micro (minivan) at the hotsprings for the return ride to town…and wracking my brain to remember the name of a friendly woman, both of us with hair wrapped in towells, altering our usual appearance. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are now daily as we enter the rains of invierno (winter)…impressive amounts of water cascading down and bright flashes of lightning. Hmm…I wondered the wisdom of sitting in the warmth of the hotsprings during a storm….well, I’m still here. Baking brownies from scratch last night in between the brief electric outages from the storm, and generously sharing them with office mates and city council members today. Trying to tune out very loud music on behalf of a political rally one night, only to plug my ears another night as the devout Evangelicals blasted sermon and song until midnight…quiet eludes me! So yes, I am definitely back…to this brightly colored, loud and friendly land of many languages.

It is now 12:30am and I just hopped up to dance to a Bachata song crooning from the radio… Tomorrow is coming quickly and I need to have energy for interviewing elementary schoolchildren on their snack habits; this population is high risk for malnutrition. I’m sending up prayers for sleeping (and not barking) dogs, roosters that will actually await dawn (or later) and religious folks asleep in bed! Buenas noches!

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