Posted by: janetwright2guatemala | 06/05/2013

It’s Humor Time!!…What Peace Corps Has Taught Me (or my Incredulous Qualifications as a Future Life Partner)

4 junio 2013 martes

Going native!

Going native!

A few weeks ago I watched the DVD “Because I Said So” with Diane Keaton about a “helicopter” mom interfering in her adult daughter’s life to the extent of placing an ad and interviewing potential mates for her daughter. Not a noteworthy movie, but it gave me a few laughs and some thoughts…

June is a month that brims with romance and weddings, so it set me to I wondering…After 2 ½ years of living in rural Guatemala as a Peace Corps Volunteer WHAT  personal qualities could I now promote in seeking a future life partner?  What follows is my tongue in cheek but very real answer to that question.

1. Might as well get the physical aspect out of the way…I am blessed and cursed with sweet blood. Thus, I am powder-fresh on my upper half, and please accept that it’s a natural flea repellent sprayed on my clothing and lower half to keep those pesky buggers in check.

2. I have very flexible lung power; I am able to summit huge volcanoes (inactive) in a single bound, well, more like in a few hours AND I am able to compress my lungs into a miniscule space in my body when squeezed from all sides by a multitude of bus-riding Guatemalans.

Perfecting my tortillar ability

Perfecting my tortillar ability

3. I have unrivaled squatting ability and I can hold this ungainly position for considerable time, whether to help a Guatemalan child plant seeds in a garden or to make tortillas on an open fire or most importantly, to avoid contact with less than desired latrines.

  1.  4. I follow the Girl Scout Motto “Be Prepared” and I carry a supply of stolen T.P. (plucked from those rare bathrooms that actually HAVE it), tiny spoons for yoghurt, Band-Aids, and plastic baggies for food waste or flea-ridden socks, whichever comes first.

5. I have adequate but not obsessive hygiene in the kitchen; my belief is that water can be reused for many tasks. Fetching water from my outside pila (sink) has helped with that thriftiness, but I WILL change the water when flies are found swimming belly up.

6. I creatively employ duct tape for a multitude of needs, including weather-stripping and repair of books, umbrellas and shoes. I do admit to a MILD addiction to that marvelous silver tape but it is under control…I’ve got it down to one roll/month to be happy.

7. I am always inventing, whether it is food tents from wire and sheer curtains to avoid food contamination from flies, shelf supports from Coke cans, or filling plastic water bottles with trash as a building material for a garden wall for a school. So DO NOT throw anything out without first consulting me; it may be reincarnated for a 2nd or even 3rd use.

Guatemala captures my heart!

Guatemala captures my heart!

8. I have gone native and the beauty of Guatemalan culture has touched my heart.  I wear Mayan traje (outfit) with huipil (blouse), corte (skirt) and faja (woven belt) on special occasions…this is a surefire means to solicit compliments if I am in need…I welcome ¡Qué guapa! Balancing a full basket on my head is a yet untested skill.

9. I can decline smuggling requests with compassion…everyone here longs to visit the USA where many have relatives. Obtaining a visa is very costly and difficult…so we joke about how they might accompany me to the USA each time I announce an upcoming trip… hiding in my suitcase or blouse. Drum roll…The creativity award goes to the women who suggested that they shrink themselves small enough to attach to my hair like piojos or head lice. Thanks but really, no thanks.

Up for some blackberry pie?

Up for some blackberry pie?

10. I am master chef of carrot cake and more… winning the hearts and stomachs of Guatemalans and fellow volunteers with treats creatively baked in a pot on stovetop when there is no oven to be had.  I am a complete bakery shop, carrying the ingredients for baking and cake pans to sell to the newly converted in our far-flung villages. A true peddler of sweets as I bump along dirt roads in the back of a pickup with my supplies!

11. I am very precise in surgically removing fuzzy, furry, black or green spots to salvage the remainder of the patient (any edible item) with absolutely no lasting health effects to the consumer, guaranteed! Food is precious in Guatemala…too yucky goes to the pigs!!

12. I swear by the efficacy of fingers in ears to drown out the sound of camionetas (chicken buses) blaring their horns at my doorstep, crowing roosters and late-night Evangelical services. I am even able to return to sleep quickly after early dawn firecrackers.

..and a partner appeared!

..and a partner appeared!

13. I have learned to keep my modesty in check after years of enjoying San Bartolo hot springs (the community bath); I am able to scrub my private parts under my clothes while astutely avoiding eye contact with a male seated within inches of me doing the same.

14. I have excellent tact in graciously declining multiple marriage proposals from married men even within the same evening, and I also refuse offers of husbands from disgruntled wives.

15. I throw my own party for entertainment, blaring romantic dance music from my Q70 radio while twirling about my room; partner desired but optional if there is a shortage.

It's a crazy but fun life...join me someday?

It’s a crazy but fun life…join me someday?

So that sums it up…some personal qualities that I have learned or improved upon during my 2 ½ years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala (this is the short list!)….the mystery is where this will all lead me in my next ventures of seeking a life partner….as Guatemalans love to say: “Saber” (“Who knows?”)


  1. Dale got a call from Peace Corps today. They want him to do a CLEP test for Spanish… we are excited….! Still a long way from getting a nom though….

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Enjoyed it, Teri! With those qualifications, no problemo!

  3. Teri,
    That is the short list of newly obtained skills you obtained during the past 2.5 years. Here’s just one of many more…..

    A Master of organization: Able to orchestrate multiple communities of women in a single bound to learn skills to better fend for themselves, amidst the clatter of children running all about, chickens underfoot, at the far end of the earth, or road, which you trekked 5 dusty miles, fending off vicious dogs to get to. A place where there is no electricity, running water, or pavement with their demanding husbands asking for food to be on the table, laundry complete, and their dirt floored home be clean. All while maintaining your cool and composure, even on the hottest of nonair-conditioned days when bullets of sweat stream down your face.

    Hey, you can post this qualification list on match, and I bet you’ll be buried in applicants of all types, sizes and shapes for you to dream what they really might be like.

    Or better yet, we your friends can use your list of newly acquired skills to match you with that perfect guy. That could prove interesting. Then again you don’t have to fret, for “perfect” guys don’t exist, just like “perfect” gals.

    Or best yet, you’ll meet this mysterious guy, while living the life that you love, where your skills, be them new or old, get to shine. Of which, you have plenty. Its those same skills that will get you a fabulous job, right here as soon as your return. Really…..

  4. Love to see your smiling face Teri. You have proved Carrot Cake conquers the world!

  5. Loved this story. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your beautiful life with us. Cheers.


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