Monday, December 31, 2012

The End of 2012

I know I was never the best at updating this blog during my time in Guatemala, but I did try to post pictures now and then of work, people, adventures and life.  It was my way of sharing the experience mainly with friends and family back in the States.  Now I must insert an apology for not letting you in on the last few months of my Peace Corps service and what's been going on with me since then!  I mean I finished my work in the Highlands the end of April, and since have traveled up and down, half way around the world and back :)  2012 was quite the memorable year!

So I have an idea for the New Year: to share interesting pictures, quotes and stories, here on the blogster.

It won't be anything epic...but I think it'll be fun.

Almost as much as taking a leisurely cruise down the creek.....almost :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Binik junam

Roughly translated: walk together.
Below I've posted some pictures of my walk in life (in Guatemala), together with those special to me.

My two Guatemalan families together for the first time :)
I spent a day hanging out with Doña Lucía (to my right) and her family.  To be honest I didn't know her that well beforehand, though she's been washing sheets and blankets at the park for years.  Some people just take a while to open up.  This often stoic, very formal, single mother of 3 children 9-15 years old, is one of the most interesting people I've met here.  And she's only 5 years my senior.  And do I have stories of that day....right, Molly?

One of my favorite places- Chuitzanchaj.  Try it out loud: chewy-sz-an-cha-hh :)

Ha, this picture made grandpa smile so hard I thought he'd lose another tooth!

My favorite dance partner and I (gracias Braulio!) dancing the Guatemalan Son (kind of like 'sewn') with awesome marimba music at Papa Chico's 75th birthday party. 

Prettiest birthday girl ever.

Aw, visit of an old friend.

November 2 is the day everyone goes to the cemetery to have lunch with their loved ones who have passed away...a much more exciting Memorial Day :)

My youngest brother Eddy's graduation...2nd in his class of high school pre-medicine!!  When my other brother and I got to the theater late the only seats were up top close to the ceiling, so I shamelessly used my persuasive powers (and the fact that I'm blond and was in traditional dress...) to get us front row seats supposedly reserved for the directors and school queens.  I had to get good pictures of Eddito!!

The 4 musketeers. 

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our baked turkey turned out fantastic.  Though I forgot to mention how we normally cut it up...we all ended up with huge chunks of meat and bones on our plate!  And of course I had to be Miss Traditional and make stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, and two fruit pies.

Camping at the highest point of Corazón del Bosque.

Day trip to Antigua.  Agenda: shoe shopping for the boys and watching the Clásico (Real Madrid vs. Barcelona) on the big screen.

Virgen of Guadalupe Day.  Glad I got a picture of the procession before the white stuff in the picture started on fire and gave us quite the scare!

Two of my favorite girls all dressed up for the town fair.

Another one dear to my heart.  Elena Beatriz (also called Odalis) was left to Oralia's grandparents when her young mother who came to work at their home during the secret pregnancy wanted to go back to her family.  She was born super preemie and has been behind those in her age group ever since.  

This is my dear friend Milca's daughter wearing a dress I wore when I was a baby :)

I brought pin the nose on the reindeer for Fatima's birthday party.  It was definitely a hit!

I made broken glass jello cakes for her birthday...held up the candles but didn't work out very well for smashing the face even though they tried 5 times poor thing!

This is also a long story to tell...but the gist is that I had the incredible honor to be asked to be this little boy's esposa for his first birthday.  It's kind of like being a godmother, though he already has one from his baptism.  Usually this role is fulfilled by a close family member, so for me it was extra special.  My job duties for this Mayan tradition included cutting his hair for the first time, using holy water and cutting four sections in the form of the cross.  Part of the locks were tied to firecrackers which were then lit off, and another part was given to his grandparents.  I also had to give him a brand new outfit, signifying a new stage in his life (the elders say that going through this ritual changes kids for the better, not getting as sick, not being colicky, etc.)  In return I got a cage free chicken and the joy of being his "wife" for life :)

The candle making process in these parts.  He's dipping the individually cut wicks in to melted wax.

Adobe bricks to build houses, used generally in more rural or poorer areas.

Mayan ceremony

The beautiful church of San Andrés Xecul.

I've gotten good practice at posing here :)

 Technology makes it to the most remote of places.  Here I'm in a field with the daughter of a friend listening to music on my mp3 player, standing next to some pigs and a latrine with walls which unfortunately only came up to my waist and lacked a door...

I had the pleasure of hosting the US ambassador to Guatemala, Arnold Chacon, here at the park.  He went on a short tour and we had lunch, discussing Peace Corps, community development and conservation.

Valentine's day staff celebration

Chocolate beet cake.  Yes, that's right.  This deliciousness was chock full of beets and chocolatey goodness.

Bueno, gracias por haber venido a ver mis fotos!!  Te dejo con un abrazote :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Peace Corps Conversations & Central America changes

Just saw this posted on the blog Central American Politics with a great comment "Even if Peace Corps is cutting back in Central America, that doesn't mean that it still isn't a great opportunity."

There are some big changes going on here in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras).  I'm sure most have heard the volunteers (PCVs) in Honduras were pulled out for a reevaluation of the program (they say it's currently the country with the highest homicide rate in the world...)  As for Guatemala and El Salvador the situation is not quite so drastic, however the number of volunteers is being significantly reduced (almost immediately), leaving many unlucky PCVs and communities in a lurch.  Many volunteers cannot tolerate the idea of leaving early, even jus one to four months, and will be staying on their own dime to finish up projects and say goodbye.  Others may end up leaving Peace Corps rather than face relocation to safer areas of the country.  

While this has been quite a roller coaster ride for us, with varying opinions on those specific program changes, the one thing we can all agree on is that Peace Corps takes safety and security very seriously!  I was super lucky to have been placed in such a wonderful community and have traveled all over the country with no major problems....though there was that one time my bus rolled down a ditch, throwing a   my chile relleno (breakfast) and me around a bit...what's life without a little adventure? :)