Saturday, June 5, 2010

The fecal-oral contamination cycle. My artistic skills are coming out!

Traditional traje that is worn in my town. I couldn't breathe! The belt is called a faja and it is wrapped around very tight (think corset style).

Monday, May 31, 2010

Volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, and NO pan dulce; oh my!

I have since learned, all the rain was hurricane Agatha making her way to Guatemala. I have been watching the news with my host family. It was really sad to see all the destroyed houses and streets. Looks like Guatemala will be spending a lot of time cleaning up. I was fortunate enough to only have to put up with heavy rain and power outage in my town. There is a lot of mud in the streets, though still. I can only imagine (and have been able to see some) how bad it is where the storm really hit. Losing power on Saturday night interfered with all the pan dulce baking, so we had none at all yesterday. But Doña Marina made arroz con leche for dinner last night, so that helped. It's delicious (one of my new favorite foods)!! And she puts lots of cinnamon in hers. Waiting for some roads to get cleaned up, so we can get back to our busy training schedule.


Did I mention I feel tall here??

When the power went out, my headlamp came in handy

May 29, 2010

Wow, how time flies! It’s been 4 weeks now that I have been with my host family. And 4 weeks to let the rainy season really begin. We have been asked to STANDFAST this weekend (which means no leaving our towns) due to the rain and volcanic eruptions. Guess Guatemala has been making international news for it’s natural disasters this week. The skies have really opened up in the last 24 hours and is supposed to continue for another day or two. Heaviest rains I’ve ever experienced; so loud you can’t even have a conversation across the kitchen table. I don’t mind sticking close to home right now. I don’t know anyone who would want to be out in this weather! We were supposed to go to a Mayan ceremony today, but it was cancelled; hoping it gets rescheduled.
Since my last blog update, I have visited a volunteer in her site, given a group CHARLA (presentation in Spanish), experienced my first bus breakdown, traveled to Guatemala City and Antigua, and have had a tremendous amount of language, technical, medical & safety, and general Peace Corps training. It has been a very busy 4 weeks of training. And it’s only going to get busier. I will be giving my first individual CHARLA next wednesday to middle school students. Preparing for it is actually taking up my weekend, so I’m almost thankful for the weather.
Have FBT (Field Based Training) next Sunday in San Cristóbal, Totonicapán. I am in a group of 7 people that will be going and visiting a volunteer for a week to see and learn how she works with her community in the Healthy Homes project. I’m really looking forward to see what it’s actually like in-site. We will be staying at a hotel in San Francisco el Alto, where I am also looking forward to possibly getting my first hot shower. I will be meeting with my group on Monday so we can begin to prepare and organize the multiple CHARLAS (I think there’s 6 or 7) we will be giving during FBT. FBT will also be marking my halfway point through training. Like I said, time is flying down here. Shortly after returning from FBT, I will be giving a group AIDS workshop, followed by a full calendar until swearing-in July 16.
Doña Marina has been giving me some cooking lessons. I’m not very good at making tortillas, but am getting better each time we make them. Learned how to make a couple different kinds of atól (corazón de trigo, a porridge-like cream of wheat and incaparina), salsa de tomate, and ejote and pacaya con juevo. Also started learning the different names of pan dulce (there are hundreds!). Some of my favorite foods: dobladas con papas (mashed potatoes folded into a tortilla and fried, served with a delicious tomato sauce on top), plátanos fritos (simple: fried plantains, eaten typically with liquified black beans and their version of sour cream. Nothing like the states’ version of sour cream so don’t compare), ejote con juevo (string beans dipped in merengue and fried), and of course, pan dulce. As is obvious, lots of fried foods and carbs.
One thing very popular here is the use of firecrackers. These are not the kind you can play with in the states; these are the kind you light and RUN for your life! I probably hear them 3 or 4 times a day, usually at 6:00 in the morning. 3 times have been at my own house (Mary’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and Otto’s birthday). They’re really loud. Another thing they like to do is set bombs off during religious celebrations. Apparently, the whole month of May has been a big Catholic celebration, with a constant stream of bombs throughout certain days. They usually start around 5:30 in the morning, and literally scare me awake. I am glad May is over next week, so I’m not practically falling out of bed so early in the morning a couple times a week.
I am still really enjoying my time here and feel so thankful that I have been put with such a great host family. I’m looking forward to everything that is coming up during training. Sitting at just one day under 7 weeks until I swear-in!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Santa Catarina Barahona

May 8, 2010

First official week of training and living with my host family. I am living in Santa Catarina Barahona, a small town about 20 minutes outside of Antigua. This is where I will be living for the next 10 weeks. I am really enjoying it here. Guatemala is a very beautiful country. I can see three different volcanoes from where I live and the landscape is breathtaking. My host family is wonderful! Extremely nice and very concerned about my well being. I actually got sick my first night with them. Don’t recall ever being so sick in the past, but it was over and done with in about 24 hours.
The Peace Corps keeps us really busy during our training. Not a lot of downtime, but they do make sure we get to spend enough time with our host families for meals and Spanish conversation. I really like the way our Spanish lessons are structured. It’s all community based learning, where the teachers come to us (5 per group) and we have classes at each other’s homes. I think it’s the fastest and easiest way to grasp the language; interactive and fun also.
A little bit about the food of Guatemala... I love it!! Homemade tortillas with every meal, very common to see black beans at every meal also. Yes, I have had a day or two where I saw black beans and tortillas 3 times during that day. I have fallen in love with, and already crave each day, pan dulce and choco bananos. Pan dulce is a sweet bread typically dipped in coffee or atól de mush (they’re version of oatmeal, and quite delicious); lots of different types. Choco banano is a frozen banana dipped in chocolate; common also with peanuts. I have also tried atól de plátano: basically, plantain juice served warm. Their tamales are very good as well; very different from typical tamales eaten in the states, but same concept. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and homemade fruit juice.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It's official. I am now a Peace Corps Trainee and no longer an Invitee. All done with orientation in Atlanta and off to Guatemala first thing tomorrow morning. Very excited!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting Ready

Well, I am off in a few short days, April 26, 2010 to be exact for an amazing adventure. An adventure with the Peace Corps to Guatemala. I will be flying to Atlanta for a quick 2 day orientation and introduction to the Peace Corps and the opportunity to meet other volunteers I will be serving with. Then it will be off to Guatemala early morning April 28 to begin my 3 month training in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas (located between Guatemala City and Antigua). As a Peace Corps trainee, I will be living with a host family and learning about local culture, health and safety, language and the specifics of the job I will be doing for the next two years of my life. Up to now, I know that I will be working with rural families to teach them how to use daily health and hygiene practices. I am getting very excited and looking forward to this opportunity over the next few years. I'm hoping to keep this blog up-to-date, so stay tuned...