15 julio 2013 lunes
Whoa! My eyes popped open wide at the 183 hits that my last blog posting recently garnered in one day!! (I generally average 8-15 hits/day with a high around 40-50/day). I suspect that the search word “vacation” lent me those new readers, so I welcome all of you to my blog. Perhaps I should continue my travel log postings de vez en cuando…to prime and transform those travel urges into action. Nothing like some photos of exotic lands to loosen your grip on that VISA card and book a vacation, especially if you are tiring of staring at those gray fabric walls of your work cubicle.
Changing channels here…..In the life of every Peace Corps volunteer who has labored many long hours and months on a project while navigating a different culture there arises a deep need for celebration and closure…Friday was indeed that day for me. Yes, the fiesta was also for the library committee and community, but after more than a year of effort I wanted and needed to close that chapter. The finish line of my service is now within sight and appears as a bright ribbon stretched across the horizon embroidered with “November”. So it is high time to wrap up. The visit of my “jefe” or Peace Corps supervisor and mentor, Carlos Julajuj, made the day even more special.
I do admit to having serious doubts that the inauguration of the library project would really happen…a 2wk trip to the USA put me out of contact, then I returned for just 3 days to my town before heading to Antigua for July 4th festivities. Each time in San Bartolo I checked in with committee members, reviewing responsibilities and deadlines. Me, I concerned myself to returning the three malfunctioning computers to the friendly NGO, then fetching and re-installing them. I even had to pay bus fare for those fatty computers who sat luxuriously on the bus seat with me; I did not trust them to the shaking they would endure if placed in the luggage rack. Mil gracias to my generous donors who contributed $1000 to purchase the eight computers and more supplies for the municipal library. My committee members often refer to the benefits reaped from the generic entity of “Amigos de Guatemala” (Friends of Guatemala fund) but I smile at this because I personally know your friendly faces.
Inauguration Day: Grey clouds with a threatening countenance greeted me at 7am, reaffirming my decision to wear a warmer Mayan huipil (blouse)…Please don’t rain was my mantra through a hasty breakfast of Corn Flakes. With extra care I tied my faja (belt)around my corte (skirt) so as to avoid any embarrassing disclosures. Lista, I stepped out of my home and promptly received admiring praise from my elderly neighbor. Walking carefully on the concrete pavers with high heels, I arrived at city hall for last minute editing help from a work companion for my palabras which I would give during the ceremony.
Desfiles or parades are an essential component of any Guatemalan fiesta, just gotta have them… twenty elementary kids lined up with their banners proclaiming the benefits of reading. Middle school adolescents banged out tunes on their xylophones and instruments. At parade pace, we wound through the streets of San Bartolo waving to curious onlookers. I walked alongside the mayor, Edduar Amarildo Chun, and made small talk and inquiries about our town’s feria for next month…I shared my intention to dance a lot in celebration of my last year in San Bartolo. Well, we will be enlisting the services of lower cost bands. Apparently there is only half the funds that were spent last year available for this fiesta…just as long as I can dance I said. He smiled.
Palabras or speeches are also essential to any fiesta…greeting all those who are present, then thanking each in turn. (Oh yes, not to forget the infamous firecrackers that were set off at the beginning of the parade). Carlos, my jefe, praised the comité for their efforts and encouraged the City Council members and citizens to keep striving for more educational opportunities to benefit the population and to provide continued support to the library. My speech was brief, but I wanted to make sure to thank the essential actors. For those wanting to practice their Spanish I include this excerpt:
“Hoy es un día alegre para celebrar la finalización del proyecto de mejoramiento de la biblioteca municipal que el comité empezó hace un año con mi apoyo. Es un gran placer trabajar con este grupo tan dedicado durante este año y muchos de ellos han trabajado 11 años o más para realizar esta biblioteca. Son buenos ejemplos que la voluntad realmente existe en San Bartolo! Un aplauso para ellos. Este proyecto empezó con una visita a la biblioteca de San Carlos Sija que nos impresionó con su mobiliario y sus actividades. Regresamos de esta visita con una visión que hoy estamos celebrando…..Mil gracias al comité por trabajar día y noche para realizar este proyecto exitoso.”
Following the palabras, the participating youth filed into the library for their snack and drink, whereas the adults sat at tables awaiting a tasty lunch of Pepian de Pollo from my good friend, Doña Fina. The mayor assumed the head of the table and city councilmen flanked him at the table to enjoy the meal. Carlos and I conversed with Don German, (who wears many hats: comité member and principal of both an elementary school and middle school). San Bartolo is nearing 40 elementary schools scattered throughout the many villages, but has less than 10 middle schools with many adolescents nowhere near any of these. The failing grade truly goes to the fact that no “diversificado” or high school exists within our town, thus, forcing those who want vocational or university education to live away from home. For many parents that is not economically feasible nor do they want to cast out their adolescents to live with others far away.
So my hope is that this Library Improvement Project is a step towards more educational opportunities, not just for youth, but also adults…I will be inviting some of my señoras to actually USE these computers. Stay tuned for my adventures as computer instructor; it could make for some humorous reading!
Muchas gracias otra vez to those of my blog readers who donated funds for my library project…your economic and emotional support means a lot to me!!