Thursday, May 28, 2009

Holy Crap! There¨s a rat on her head!!!!!

As I was dreaming about charlas (for those I haven´t spoken to, these are informal methods of teachings that we will apply in our communities), pizzas, gringos and tourist buses, I was woken up by a mysterious pound on my door; being the supersitious gal that I was I thought it was immediately la llorona or the local ghost out to get me... a few seconds later, I realized that my bed too was shaking... No llorona here folks just a litte old trembor, actually a 7.1 exactly off the coast of Honduras... There´s been a few earthquakes while I´ve been here and it just seems a deeprooted part of the country, kind of like what tortilla is to a meal here.... It´s not so bad really and besides the rocking is sort of soothing for sleeping...

If you´re wondering what I´m up to these days, well it´s split between spanish classes, groups activities (I´m even learning how to play ultimate frisbee with some other volunteers every tuesday), and working at the health center. Kati and I officially started working with our health promoters this week, and it seems that we have hit it off really well.... If you were to ask me a month ago whether I though I could train a group in health education, I would have said hummmmm NOOOO I´m still having problems showering regularly man! But I´ve learned that much of this ¨training¨ has to do with motivational speaking emphasizing ideas that are already engrained in these individuals and just teaching them how to apply them.... Our group of promotores are entirely women, ranging from a midwife to women who simply could not get through nursing school but have always been interested in health.... Out of about eight some have a good education, ie, finished high school, while others cannot write; as you can imagine it means that alot of the activities that we do rely on interaction, participation, drawing (yeaaaa college doodling skills), and a whole shit load of creativity..... One of the women even brings her cute two year old daughter to the sessions right along with her, who at the end of the session yesterday waltzed in the room with her older brother with none other than a huge pet rat on top of her head... The women were a little frenzied either screeching or joking around that the rat was gonna get us..... In sum, things are really looking up and our health puesto technico is even asking us to accompany her to do charlas (mostly now about the influenza) at schools on a weekly basis... YOu can imagine that the kids get a kick out of two overtop gringas acting out role plays....

And for self reflection, well you can say that I´m learning to live with a mirror hanging in front of my head at all times... I´m realizing that I need to slow down my role and that my whole life I´ve been so used to excelling and being competitive, which are both completely useless here... Who am I competing with? my own charlas??? So that´s what I´m struggling with: how to not be bossy, relax, take my time and how to just take it.... poco a poco.... and just enjoy the ride man... It´s nice to know that there is someone behind that shell of humor, languages, random knowledge and stubborness.... There´s ME!

Side note of Daily habits: run every morning (I´m shooting for a 20K run in July), eat tortillas, read spanish, secretly listen to gringo music, buenos dias my entire pueblo, eat an ice cream or a chocolate raton, chatting about town rumors with my host mom, spanish class, health puesto, lesson plans for charla....

The good news is that it´s almost friday and I must conclude that yes, weekends are just as good in Guatemala as they are in the States.... I´m even still suffering from major sunburn from beach bumming last weekend!

Oh and send me stuff because I am getting oober jealous of all the other volunteers that are getting awesome supplies!!!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

OH and pics!!

Here´s the facebook link:

Enjoy it, it takes alot of goddamn work with this internet de mierda!

Enamorada de Jesus

Yes, that´s right there is alot of Jesus in my life (that one goes out to little Anna); my host family isnt´t even mildy religious, but they are in the .001% minority. People love their Jesus here, and I like theirs too. Their Jesus makes them ring the church bells at pretty much any appropriate or inappropriate time of the day, including at 5AM in the morning. On Sunday mornings the bells are accompanied by singing, not live, but on CD that conveniently skips over and over and over again... The Jesus party doesn´t stop there though folks, it goes on with fireworks every hummm 10 mns.... so why do I like Jesus so much then?? I guess its sort of a comic relief and starts my day off with a bang, literally... We also had a Jesus block party in the main square which resulted in some really exciting peopl watching action

In unrelated news, I started off ¨work¨ at my health puesto on Friday and it was quite the two and a half hours, much of it was spent talking to posters.... We haven´t met the head nurse yet and it seems as if the technician and the nurse aid don´t really get what we´re doing there (for those of you still confused it´s health education and workign with health promoter folks)... my theory was proven when the aide asked us (myself and my partner in crime Katy) if we had ever taken out stitches before, which I responded to NO! Thankfully we were not put to work, but we did have to sit in on the removal of stitches from some sort of displaced hernia... Pretty awkward moment.... The health puesto itself isn´t too busy because many of the folks here prefer to go to the big centro in neighboring Antigua instead... In sum, first impression, the workers are not enthused by us and we have alot of ¨confianza¨trust building to go... we are supposed to meet with our promoters on wednesday although I´m not sure that they do exist in our pueblo.... Well, as I stated to others, so my puesto kinda sucks but at least guatemala isn´t getting ravaged by human hungry zombies right?? gotta look for the optimism here folks...

We also got to visit other volunteers in pueblos by Chimaltenango in the highlands.... the site that I visited was absolutely breathtaking, perched among mountainous peaks.... Unfortunately, this is the population that is the poorest in guatemala and the conditions are pretty bad.... the volunteer there is at the end of her service and we got to see some of the projects she was doing in a nearby community that consisted of fundraising and installing cement floors in households... sounds meek right? No really, Respiratory disease is the number one cause of death in Guatemala, because of the sanitary conditions of many rural households... many do not have improved stoves, which causes households with dirt floors to become inundated with smoke, tar and infectious living conditions.... The trip really put me in a downward mood seing those conditions and feeling overwhelmed thinking that I could never do all these amazing things that this volunteer has done.... But that´s what everyone has thought before and if there is one really great thing about peace corps, it is that there is a really great support network... shit we´re all uncomfortably trying to live with our new selves!

I´m also reading Guatemala: Never again; a book published in the 1990s documenting the psychological impact and details of the civil war and atrocities, massacres committed by both sides, but especially by the military at the time... The history of Guatemala never ceases to amaze me and its people who in such short amount of time have alsmost unfazingly learned to live and coexist with one another... For instance, one section of the book detailed the massacre of 12 companeros in a nearby school of a pueblo, and as I read further, I realized that the place was actually the same pueblo and maybe even the same school that I had been in just the day before while visiting the volunteer by Chimaltenango.... It left me stupified.

Well that´s all for now kids, my computer neighbors next door are playing really weird Irish Guatemalan music over and over again.... Guatemalan'IrishNerds perhaps? apparently they do exist.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mutts, Chicken Buses and Fleas... Oh My!

Where to begin... Well a week has felt like a lifetime and it seems that I just can´t really grasp the concept of my being here.... It´s a whirlwind that seems to never quite end.... Turns out that Peace Corps training is just like school, but they sort of give you the title before graduating. For instance, our group was told yesterday that we would soon be introduced to our pueblo´s health centers as ¨health experts¨ in hum.... two weeks??? Yea, we´re still working on the diarrhea talk here folks. I may be an expert at diarrhea but that sure doesn´t account for health as a whole.... Talking of diarrhea, I haven´t been cursed yet like some of my noble comrades, but I have had the privilege of welcoming a swarm of fleas on selected body parts.... Turns out we get vitamins though that make our blood taste kind of like spinach to pulgas. Life en mi pueblo is pretty good, I settled in a valley town surrounded by mountains and volcanoes (I was even covered in ashes after a morning run) and that is infested with really funny mutt dogs (thus the fleas). Mi familia is absolutely sweet and amazing and possibly even more obnoxious than I am. I really lucked out and am not quite sure what I will do in three months when I am dropped off in a middle of nowhere pueblo and told to work on health initiatives..... My Program, Rural Home Preventive Health, is new itself and we are only the second group of volunteers that will be sent off to the highlands (one of the most indigenous impoverished areas in Guatemala,largely affected by the Civil War that ended in 1996) This means that this is still a trial process, but we will have alot of creativity to work with; the program itself is about 70% health education and 30% construction (latrines, sinks, et al...) Since the program is new, we will all be going to sites where they have never had a volunteer...... Long story short, all of the volunteers are on major FREAK OUT mode.....But back to my town for the next three months, it is a crazy 20 mn. chicken bus ride away from Antigua.... Talking of Chicken buses.... no blogstalking or extended travels could have prepared me for these camienotas.... Exhibit A: After a day long session of training at the Peace Corps Center yesterday, Little Esther and her comrades are awaiting under the withering rain for el chicken bus; the bus of course is packed full of people, limbs hanging out the middle alley and windows style, and unfortunately the soaked gringos have to manage to fit in. Unfortunately, for me, I made an unwise purchase of formal like jelly shoes (adios flipflops) that were soaking in all the dirt and water on the road..... the result being that one of them happened to fall off my foot as I was rushed onto the bus by the fellow gringos and natives, to which I panicked of course... I proceeded to hop uncontrollably and bend trying to get my shoe, while waiving my umbrella dangerously close to fellow riders´ heads and soaking the 70 somewhat year old sitting in the front seat of the bus, who proceeded to give all of us dirty looks for the rest of the ride....good news though: i got my jelly back. Moral of the story here kids: I suppose it was on that bus ride, when I was sticking to the three persons seat, jamming out to the reggaton, smelling the major bo odors, having body parts (groins, butts, tails you name it) rubbed in my face that I dug into the two dirt beaches that were my jelly feet, looked out the window and realized... holy f&/("· I am in Guatemala.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Accidental Bucket Bath Baptism

Excuse my delay in correspondence, but the first three days of my life as a Guatemalteca have been a bit hectic! I've spent days between long training, medical, safety orientation at the Center and conversations, lunches, dinners with my host family here in a village located nearby Gringo hotspot Antigua... Although I haven't had much time to explore, life in this village is quite simple, nice and well, slow... The people are very religious and oober conservative, which really doesn't seem to bother me despite my obvious liberal undertones (ie/ flipflops are prohibited and looked down upon!!) my host family here is very nice, and it seems as if the Dona is the ring leader of the local church community, as both my roomate, Andrea, and I got to experience a procession of Santa Lucia right in the living room... pretty intense might I say... I don't have much time to write much else, I have 6 mns. left, but I am moving out to another village today where I will be staying with a permanent family within the next three months... Played alot of soccer last night, and took a very cold bucket bath on my very first day here, although it turns out that the shower actually works and that I just didn't know how to use it (thus the title of this entry).... Life is good, stoked for the future.