Back in site. I’ve been welcomed back by ongoing feria festivities. I had thought I’d miss the whole thing since I was gone for over a week, but today is the 8th official day of feria (probably the 20th unofficial day) and there’s no sign of the end. Today there was a “marathon”, a competition on horseback, a clown and a very loud band in the park. It was so loud it was shaking the windows of the office. So I came home… and can still hear it. I’m playing the new Justin Bieber album to counter the plonk, plonk, plonk of the marimba but now it just kind of sounds like some kind of Guatemala/Biebs mashup.
Regardless, I am glad to be back. Being out of site is exhausting, particularly when part of the reason you are gone is to help execute a conference and large party. There’s no need to recount a play by play, but I will say that both were a success.
Don’t be alarmed, this is simply the VAC (Volunteer Advisory Council aka Party Planners Extraordinaire) striking our best chapin pose.
After the conference and party I joined a rather large group of people headed to the beach to continue the 4th of July festivities. Basically, I ate a lot of fish and am still finding sand in interesting places.
Photo Credit to Kim!
I suppose I should also mention how the beach seemed to bring things full circle. The last time I was in Monterico was for our Welcome Party in January 2011. I was with my Oriente crew and was overwhelmed by how many months in Guatemala were staring me in the face. Now I’m weeks away from finishing, clearly one of the most veteran volunteers of the group, and not one of the people from the first trip were present this time around (they have almost all since ET’d or COS’d).
Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the title of the post. I’m getting to that.
Not that you don’t already know this, but it doesn’t take much for me to start to feel like everyone is just trying to find a way to take advantage of me or that all efforts (not just mine, but everyone’s) towards making the world a better place are a waste of time. I’m a cynic. I feel like I regularly lose my faith in humanity. It’s a problem.
But then events occur and all of sudden it seems like the universe is tired of my bad attitude and wants to blow. my. mind.
In the conference and party planning process, VAC realized that it was going to be really scraping the bottom of the barrel in financing all of the activities. So we sent out a desperate plea for donations. Responses trickled in and we were happy to hear that we’d be receiving a couple of things here and there. Though, in true Guatemalan fashion, details were scant. We were cautiously optimistic that at least some of the donations would come through and would vaguely resemble the things we had requested.
You guys, receiving the donations was like christmas morning over and over again. We asked for a salad. We got trays of salad, trays of rice and a huge tray of cookies. We asked for pizza for 100. We got enough pizza to feed at least 200 very hungry individuals (at the end we were giving away whole pizzas to volunteers and staff). Cheese, beer, ice, gift certificates… And, the best one: We asked for ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise for a BBQ for roughly 150 people from a condiment manufacturer in the capital. We drove away with all this:
That’s a lot of mayonnaise…
We were overwhelmed at the way these businesses came through for us. How they wanted to help us and how their donations, in a way, recognized the efforts of the volunteers here. Who knew some boxes of jam could mean so much?
And then, if that weren’t enough, we went to the beach and a nice man there bought us countless margaritas, shrugged off our thank yous and simply told us, “You are the best that America has to offer.” I don’t know if I would necessarily go that far, but it was nice to hear. And the margaritas were delicious.