My posts in January didn’t reveal much about what I’ve been up to lately. So, in case you were curious, I’m going to update you in convenient bullet form.
- Meetings: The Women’s Office hired on a Técnica del Campo in January. I can’t figure out if this was something they were already planning to do, or if they just wanted to have someone who would always be able to go out and meet with women’s groups with me. Either way, I’m glad she’s around. Her name is Doña Aura Marina and she seems to have a lot of experience working with women’s cooperatives and human rights. So, about two or three times a week I can be found with a women’s group (of which we currently have eight). It looks kind of like this:
- Youth Groups: I know, I know, I hate kids. But I have managed to put aside this aversion for the betterment of the Guatemalan youth. It’s all in the name of the 2nd Goal! Really, it started during my first weeks in site when my counterpart was MIA and then once she got back and I was still struggling to find my place in site. I was desperate for work, any work. It became clear that what most excited the women in my municipality were free english classes for their kids. This did not exactly thrill me. But I struck a deal: If they sit through lessons on culture, geography and citizenship, I will also teach english. So here I am, five groups later (El Campito, Agua Blanca, La Asuncion, El Teocinte, El Naranjo) and have actually had to stop offering because if I let it go on, I would be spending every waking hour traveling to remote aldeas, talking about the seven wonders of the world and repeating the numbers in english. The classes take place in homes, schools and even one community salon. The meetings look more or less like this:
- Traveling: As previously mentioned, I rang in the new year at the picturesque Lago Atitlán (though Lake Tahoe remains the most beautiful lake I have ever seen) with most of the volunteers from my training class. And then there was that one night in Antigua on the Peace Corps dime. And then I spent a weekend at the beach for the Oriente Welcome Party. My friend Blake finally called me out via facebook:While I will say that facebook doesn’t really present a balanced account of my life here (for example, no one is around taking pictures of all the hours I spend in my office), I have been enjoying some time out of site. It does very little for integration and probably isn’t helping my spanish, but it is quite enjoyable and, I think, contributes to my overall mental health.
- Moving: The end of January marked the end of the stipulated 3 months in site with a host family. I wasn’t sure I would be able to find a place within the town center that was within my budget, but I lucked out and was able to find an apartment. Momma Doris (as all of us Munis like to call our Assistant APCD, or whatever her title is) came and approved it mid January and I moved in this week. I’m planning on writing a post all about it later, so I won’t go into too much detail. But I will say that so far, so good!
- Circus: I also went to a circus with my host brother and his friend (not Kite Man). It reminded me of the traveling family circuses of old that I had only read about in books and seen in movies. The dad was the announcer and “I swing around on my head” artist. The uncle was the clown and later lip syncer. The daughters were dancers, hula hoopers, trapeze artists, actresses and then sold chocobananas and fries in between their performances. The mom sold tickets and then managed the food sales. I’m not sure how I feel about the kids having to live such a nomadic and tireless lifestyle (I was particularly alarmed by the trapeze daughter who looked no more than 9 years old), but I still had a nice time and think it was totally worth the 10Q.
All in all, I think things are going well. I’m about a week from the six months in country mark and things just seem to get continually better.