Happy Birthday to me.
Normally, in Guatemala, you get woken up at the crack of dawn on your birthday by loud birthday music (the birthday song, serenades, etc.) and exploding bombas. I got to witness this at my host family’s home when my host sister turned 15. Thankfully, because I live alone, I was able to avoid this tradition and sleep in a little.
My 24th year. My last year being closer to 20 than 30 and the only full year of my life that I spend in the Peace Corps. I’m expecting more ups and downs. There will be frustration and misunderstanding but hopefully also triumph and satisfaction.
Peace Corps propaganda and lore seems to be rife with stories of people “finding themselves” through once in a lifetime experiences that shaped the rest of their lives. Not going to lie, thought the hype was grossly exaggerated. Seemed like a bunch of hippie crap.
But I guess I’m starting to understand. I still don’t think that this experience is going to revolutionize who I am, but it is helping me to better understand my abilities, my limits and my desires. My time here offers a completely new lens with which to view my life. The challenges push me and my interactions with the people here expand the boundaries of my worldview. Being here is already helping to me to define what I want to do next, what I hope to accomplish in the future, what matters.
Anyway, if you’re wondering what I am doing to celebrate, today I’m going into the nearest bigger town to treat myself to some Paca shopping and a fast food lunch. Probably try to track down some cake while I’m at it. But the good stuff starts tomorrow. I head further out east to rendezvous with some other volunteers for a trip out to Rio Dulce. And at the end of the week all the volunteers in country are getting together at the Ambassador’s house (have I mentioned how awesome the US Ambassador to Guatemala, Stephen MacFarland is?) for the Swearing In of the New Class/Close of Service of the 126th Class/50th Anniversary Celebration.
I’m definitely starting out the year in style.