Before you depart for your country as a Peace Corps Trainee, you spend one day in a U.S. city (often Washington D.C., Philadelphia or Miami) filling out paperwork, meeting your future best friends and starting dialogues regarding things like adjustment and culture.
This is called Staging and during ours back in August we had a great conversation (complete with pictures we drew on posters) about things we were afraid of in Guatemala. Clearly, at this point in time, we knew very little about Guatemala – basically whatever we had managed to read or view via Google Image Search. So, no surprise, our posters pretty much all included:
1. Giant Bugs and Spiders
3. Us Not Understanding Spanish
4. Erupting Volcanoes
I’d say we’ve pretty much become accustomed to 1 and 3 by now and, thankfully, I haven’t seen evidence of any new sinkholes. But I still wonder about those volcanoes. Particularly since training when Volcan Fuego, just outside of Antigua, would often rumble and emit large clouds of smoke.
So, I thought it was a fitting sign of how far we’ve come since Staging that during Reconnect we climbed a volcano (my mom is currently having a heart attack reading this).
We headed out in the afternoon and made our way towards the top of Volcan Pacaya, about an hour outside of Antigua. There we roasted marshmallows over some sort of vent in the rock and took a ridiculous number of photos. And after all the excitement, we made our way back down with the lights of Guatemala City twinkling in the distance. It was lots of laughs and utterly beautiful.
And makes you wonder what else we’ll face and achieve in the remaining 21 months.