I forgot my mom's birthday for the first time in my life. I'm not sure that you care, but I thought that maybe telling you this would make you forgive my lack of blog posting in the last few months.
But really I did, and to tell you the truth, it's been a little tough for me to remember what month I'm in, let alone the days, so I guess that's my excuse for being a total incomunicada jerk.
Sorry mum! Sorry reader! And now that I think about it, I even forgot to call the pops for father's day. Damn it. Sorry dad! Happy Father's day!
Now where to start, where to begin with the jumble of words that are supposed to make you understand my life....
I guess I'll start with what I am doing at this exact moment. Right now, I am enjoying a glass of orange juice, at a cozy wi-fi cafe in the comforts of Antigua, watching the Ghana vs. Australia game. World Cup fever has not escaped me, and I find myself trying to catch glimpses of games, in and out of errands and work. I guess not so much has changed in my life in that aspect. I don't think that the Guatemalan team has ever made it to the world cup, but still the fever is boiling here too, with most guatemalans cheering for brazil, honduras and mexico. I guess they must still be pissed at the US for the Arizona fiasco. Can't blame them. Anyway that's what I am watching right now, sipping my OJ, and of course writing to you.
I've been around Antigua, aka touristy Gringo haven, for about a week now. It's not my favorite spot in the world, but most of our training towns are located around here, and I've been busy lately working with the new trainees that have just arrived from my program. It seems incredible to me that I've now become a mentor; it seems that just yesterday I was at home watching yet another soccer game in a local NY Irish pub. And now over a year later, I'm comfortably home giving advice about how to do my job. It's a weird feeling and a reminder that two years of your life is nothing at all. I find myself jealous of this new training group... Of the bond they have, and the whole two years they have ahead of themselves. In sum, I feel like I am already running out of time, and getting antsy trying to figure out my life once again as I have a year left to make my decisions. Many of my close PCV friends are also leaving here next month, and I am feeling very sad and weird about it. But I guess that's life, nothing great can last forever right? It must always end; if not it, could never have been great at all.
This past week, a few of us were helping each training group set up their own HIV workshop in their own towns, and I was very happy about the outcome. In the end, they ended up giving the workshop to a total of 450 youths and service providers! woohooooooo
I was also lucky enough to spend this week with my host family from training and it was really great to bond with them again and have some culturally awkward moments I remember so well from training. One particular moment was when I was trying to explain the plot of the movie "Lars and the Real Girl"... Here was my try, which of course was all lost in translation: -"It's a movie about a guy who falls in love with a doll... It's really funny actually... No really... He has mental problems... And he thinks that this doll is his girlfriend... Really it's sooooo funny..." And as I am laughing, I just look at my host family who are just just looking at me with blank stares in utter discomfort... I guess I should have thought better, that's not the typical movie you talk about in conservative Guatemala.
The week before, trainees also came to my town to learn about the health care system and to practice giving their charlas. Although I was a bit stressed about it, the week went extremely well and I was very proud of them. It was great to see the change in them and how they become more confident about their service by the end of the week.
It's been a little difficult to get a lot of work done at my site because I have been so busy with this training group, and I am looking forward to returning home and getting my ass in gear! What does my agenda look like these days? Well, I am finishing up my first round of house visits for the improved stove project we will be doing in one of my aldeas. The project will be done with 60 families, although the number will probably go down. These families will also receive two months of health charlas in order to improve their health and hygiene conditions in their homes. Many families cook under open fires with smoke that fill up their small homes and lungs. What's the result? Child mortality. Many children have chronic malnutrition, and when you combine this with unhygenic living conditions you end with Acute Respiratory Infections. Pneumonia is the number one cause of death in Guatemala, followed by diarrhea in small children. These are all preventable. To sum it up, that's what this stove project is about, picking the neediest, poorest families, giving them an improved stove but also educating them in the process as well in disease prevention. Want to know more? Don't worry, you will be getting a letter begging for money from me, explaining this in more detail.
I am also in the process of doing a recycled bottle project in another aldea. Garbage and contamination is a huge problem there, and this project aims to educate concientizate (is that a word??) the community about the problem. Each plastic bottle is stuffed with inorganic, plastic trash, which are then used to build different infrastructure. Come to think about it, I think I already wrote about this in another entry! In my aldea we will be building 10 benches and the walls for two letrines. We hope to get about 3,000 bottles with the participation of students and youths! The aldea right now does not have any letrines in its outdoor community "center", and as a result many of the athletes, market vendors, et al, go do their business in the super contaminated river behing the health post, where many women wash and bathe themselves... Since this aldea does not have any running water, many women have no other option but to wash and bathe there...
Ok this entry is running long, sorry. As far as other things, I am still working alot with midwives and my health promoters groups. OH and I completely forgot to mention that I will be getting a volunteer from my program in one of my aldeas in JUly! I am very excited to get an extra person here to collaborate with me, to take some load off my shoulders, and to give special, and full attention to this village since I haven't been able to do that.
I suppose I should explain real quick how my municipality works. I live in the urban center of my municipality, however I also work in five other rural mountain villages that are part of my munipality. As you can imagine, it's been tough to spreadd myself so thin, and I amm excited that at least one of these villages will now have a volunteer living and working there full time!
In other news, some of you may have heard that Guatemala was recently hit with a bad hurricane at the end of May. Don't worry I am fine, one of my villages was hit pretty bad, but fortunatelyy no casualties. The rest of Guatemala was not so lucky, as many communities were flooded for days, and mudslides blocked many highways. Many people unfortunately lost their lives. So please I ask you not to worry about me, but worry about them. I recently did a food and clothes drive for the victims affected in that village with my local middle school, and I was happy to see so many people contributing... Although I am happy that the country has come together in this time of need, it seems sad to me that it always takes a catastrope to remind people about humanity.
Ok, you've probably stopped reading by now, so I will leave you with some photos>
This is an example of the recycled bottle project construction in a nearby community. The volunteer there is currently building a classroom
An example of an open cooking fire...
One of the mudslide in one of the hiking trails up to one of villages caused by Hurricane Agatha...
Sleepy milpa during a 530AM walk with the pup... My favorite time of the day...