Ode to My Water Heater and Tigo Modem

It’s no secret that Peace Corps Guatemala is kind of a Posh Corps country. Most of us have regular electricity, water and even internet (I have even heard stories of volunteers with Netflix…). Yes, there are a few people who deal with less than luxurious living situations (I remember being horrified by the thought of using Libby’s latrine after dark), but, all in all, I’ve been pretty spoiled. Case in point: I am updating this blog right now.

So, when people start talking about how impressed they are by my sacrifice or how they can’t imagine doing Peace Corps because it’d be too hard, I start to feel awkward. I look at the diet coke I’m sipping on (the one I just took out of my little refrigerator) and think about all the hot showers I’ve taken and the fact that I get to gchat with my sister almost every day and it feels kind of like I cheated. Yeah, it was hard, but not because I had to walk a mile to a well or anything.

Like most volunteers I envisioned being in some lonely hut with a dirt floor (you know in Peace Corps Guatemala you aren’t even allowed to live in a house with a dirt floor?) writing letters home by candlelight. It’s the classic visual. And I didn’t live it. I’m convinced the RPCVs from rural Africa would scoff at me in my cement block house and my many trips to touristy Antigua. Will they (along with past volunteers who served before the advent of internet modem sticks) think my RPCV title is a lie?

So, yeah, I feel weird about the whole thing because even though it felt like cheating, I wasn’t about to give up my water heater or tigo stick. I loved being able to watch Pat get married via livestream last year and I was stoked to be able to watch a recording of the Olympic Opening Ceremony the other night. And every drop of warm water was like a little present. Technology can be a wonderful thing.

And maybe someday soon my experience will be considered the norm as far as Peace Corps lifestyles go. But, until then, I’ll readily admit that there are way more hardcore volunteers out there (who won’t ever read this because they don’t have internet) and acknowledge the fact that all the little luxuries made my two years much easier to survive.

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2 Responses to Ode to My Water Heater and Tigo Modem

  1. Pat says:

    you are no less of a pcv with hot running water carmen!! i say whatever comforts you are fortunate to have can only make you a more content and happy volunteer. miss you. can’t wait to see you back in seattle!!

  2. Agreed that the “comforts” don’t make anyone more or less of a PCV! Although I had a latrine, no running water…and dirt floors LOL. But I DID have electricity. Sometimes. ;) I have truly enjoyed hearing about your experiences and it was so wonderful that you were willing to share with my students! Safe travels!!

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