Monday, April 13, 2009

An assortment of pictures:

This is the view on my new commute to's so peaceful to walk through the fields and enter the forest as the day begins.

Here we are at swear-in day (March 27).  Saying goodbye to Dona Maria and Don Enrique was not easy!
Our ceremony took place at the US ambassador's house in Guatemala City; my host parents were thrilled to not only be at his residence, but also take the following picture with him.

Here is our entire training group (16 sustainable community tourism volunteers and 16 healthy schools volunteers) along with our country director, Martha (on left).
Hanging out with Rachel in Antigua after the swear-in...unfortunately we won't be able to get together as often now that I'm moving away!
So as time flew by so fast, I didn't have time to finish my tejido myself; lucky my host mom Maria wove the birds and the patterns at the top.  It's now proudly hung on my wall!

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Address

Here´s where you can now reach me:

Corazón del Bosque
Brittany Sickler
KM 145 Aldea El Novillero
Santa Lucía Utatlán, Sololá
Guatemala, América Central

And my phone number is still 011-502-4034-5514

Settling In

So the last news I shared with you all was the basic info of my new job. The two weeks I’ve been doing the typical things: learning all I can about the organization, its expectations, my co-workers, my new host family and the community of El Novillero. It’s been a little overwhelming but exciting at the same time. If you checked out the website you’ll know that Corazón del Bosque is the main project of a community association (La Guadalupana) which has been in existence for almost 20 years. It was first formed to get back forested land that was lost during Guatemala’s civil war. To this day they are very concerned with forest conservation and reforestation. But since then they have diversified with many other environmental and tourism projects: a recycle center for the area (since there is no waste management); a tree nursery for reforestation and sale; an interpretive trail through the woods; a restaurant; cabins and dorm rooms; a meeting room for environmental education and activities; an internet café; an area for Mayan ceremonies; a Mayan sauna; and a large green area for families to come and enjoy.

What I’ve been asked to do is help the association keep these projects sustainable through increased quality control, promotion and networking so that the community can not only reap the benefits of the income generating activities, but also conserve their land and resources for future generations. I’m sure there’ll be many challenges along the way, but I am very lucky to have solid support from the staff at Peace Corps here, from my professors at SNHU, and also from my fellow volunteers (several of which are in the area).

As far as life things go, it’s also been pretty hectic. I’ve moved in to the room where the previous volunteer April lived, with a wonderful family that has 3 teenage boys. There was overlap with April which was such a help, as she was able to pass on helpful tips, strategies and lessons learned.

The strange thing about where I am, is that it doesn’t quite feel like the Peace Corps experience most people typically imagine (a mud hut in the middle of nowhere, without water and electricity). But then I have my own little adventures: I’m always washing my clothes by hand, I’ll sporadically find myself in a cold shower, I’ll pack in to an old US school bus with three times as many people as should be there, I’ll dream of something shaking and wake up to a little earthquake, and I have yet to get tired of beans and tortillas :)