Saturday, January 3, 2009


As I stepped onto the bus at 6:30am with my sock covered feet shoved into my tight chacos I plopped my bags next to me and took a breath. I watched the frozen air leave my lungs and cloud up the window. I was going on my Christmas vacation adventure to the beach with my volunteer friends. I had gotten a call from Chavela at 6am, to make sure I was awake, and I was meeting Ashley in the Xela terminal at 7am and then we were off with our snacks of junior mints and PB & J’s to Antigua.
People were getting on and off the bus and the sun was just rising and my little town tucked away in the mountains of Quetzaltenango looked so inviting, normal and cozy. I was going on vacation. I was alone. I was in Guatemala. I was living the life that I wanted. I thought back to the U.S. and how so many people always say “Oh I would love to do this….or I would love to do that…” and then it’s always followed by “but…” I am so glad I never let a “but” hold me down. I realized that these are the days of my life. I think I can say that I am successfully integrating when I get a wake up call at 6am from a Guatemalan friend. I am completely free and independent and I was going on a vacation to the beach in Guatemala! Its easy to get wrapped up in time and schedules and forget that life is absolutely amazing.
After a sleepless night in our Q15 hotel with visible ticks on the bed we boarded a microbus and were off to Montericco! I slept the whole way until we realized we were utterly lost and we pulled out the map the land lord had given us and realized the house was not on the map. But thankfully we were in Guatemala and everyone knows everyone. We found the house and froze in excitement. This was not Guatemala anymore this house looked like a doctor’s getaway retreat on the beach or a senators summer home…needless to say it was amazing. Complete with a pool, hammocks, kitchen, showers, mosquito nets…and thatched roofs.
There were also scorpions, bats, beetles, and giant toads. I tucked my mosquito net under my mattress and used 2 for extra protection; I also probably still stink like deet. And on Christmas day I was describing the beautiful backyard to my parents and Ria and told them I had just seen 2 chicken of the trees, which are like iguanas, and then there was a bright yellow bird in the tree in front of me…and then I looked down and there was a caiman, a little crocodile, hanging out in the swamp in our neighbors yard only 2 feet away from my naked foot!
We watched as baby sea turtles scrambled to the ocean and once they reached it they would be thrown back on shore by the waves. Only 8 % survive…and they released 30, so that’s less than 3 little guys that will make it. I also was told by the man who worked at the tortuguario that if I wanted to volunteer with them we could do anything we wanted together. Mind you he was about 40 years old and had just finished telling me about the female, German, 20 year old volunteer who had just left who liked personal massages all over her body….
While we were watching the sun set and playing in the rays of pink water a sting ray would jump out and dive in, jump out and dive in. Drinking margaritas, watermelon daiquiris and treating myself to fish and chips with a wonderful view. We also made pancakes every morning and hung out in the hammocks and swimming pool until going to the beach, reading trashy magazines and sleeping under the sun.
The beach was so strong I only went to the waves once and I did three summersaults in the water before finding air again. We all got sand in awkward places and some of the girls looked liked they were hiding a little something in between their legs.
We went on a 5:30 am mangrove tour and saw a fish with 4 eyes…supposedly he uses two to see above the water and two to see below. We also saw the sun rise over the misty trees with their roots so firmly planted in the water. We had a great view of 3 volcanoes in the distance and up close there were birds sitting on floating lily pads.
Christmas morning I woke up early, wrote in my journal and opened my gifts from my family. I love them and appreciate them so much. Then I went outside and cleaned the kitchen and the outdoor sitting area, then napped in the hammock until Dan and Ashley woke up and we made pancakes and hot chocolate for the 10 of us. On Christmas night we had a great American fish out! We bought 10 local red fish, already gutted, and smeared garlic, butter and lemon inside…and grilled them over 4 bags of charcoal that we lit by a little free bottle of hair gel….well that’s what I think it was. The man in the store took a liking to Ashley and I and gave it to us for free after putting his face so close to us he could have puckered his lips and kissed us. We also had 2 pounds of shrimp that were cooked stove top with butter, garlic and lemon....Garlic mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and brown rice. We were in Guatemalan heaven. I also had my drink of red wine mixed with 7up. We have named it a wine spritzer and it’s delicious. After dinner we did a white elephant gift exchange and I got to steal a wonderful traditional apron! And we passed around a box of mixed chocolates from sees candies and candy cane Oreos from trader Joes.
This year Christmas was different. But with the humidity and friends and excitement of vacation I don’t think anyone got too home sick. I made the decision to leave my comfort zone in Arizona, to live in another country, and to aprovechar of all the opportunities there are in the world. So this Christmas was bound to be different and its one ill remember my whole life.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Sometimes I am so used to being here I forget that other people don’t really know what its like or what it looks like and I’m so used to it I forget to describe it. So I’m going to describe a little bit. We eat beans all the time but they are only ever black beans. Plantains are also very popular and tacos are hard to come by. I am very happy to say though that I do have a taco stand in my town. My town also doesn’t eat tortillas (sad). We only eat tomalitos. This is corn meal that’s wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. They eat about 5 and every sitting and it also serves as their silver ware. You just kind of scoop the food you want onto the top of the tomalito. I feel like I don’t know anyone my age and I realized its because when they are my age they are married with kids, a job and life. The wrinkles have started to form. Women all carry their babies on their backs in a thing called a paraje. It’s basically the shape of a scarf but a lot larger and the baby lays on their back while the put the paraje over its back, tuck it under the butt and then tie a knot in front like an over the shoulder backpack. They are very colorful and sometimes have little dangles on the ends. (I want one). They also serve to cover the women’s heads while they are in church. And the women carry everything on their heads. They wrap a little towel into a circle and put it on their head to help with the balance and then put whatever they are carrying on top. Such as tables, stools, chickens, wood etc…They also all carry wood or heavy objects by putting on a head band type thing so that their forehead carries all the weight of what’s on their back and they lean forward and jog with the load. A lot of the women are often shuffling instead of walking and it’s because their skirts don’t have slits in the side and they are wrapped so tight. Children are basically given coffee at birth. In baby formula mixes and children’s cereal a normal 4 spoonfuls of sugar is added. Baby formula…..yikes. No one drinks water here. They usually only drink coffee, soda, and atoll. Atoll is an amazing hot thick drink that comes in many flavors. You have to cook it with boiling water but when I made a glass for myself using the health center microwave it was seriously a big deal and everyone made a glass. Haha

I’m listening to “Its Christmas time” By the Eagles right now. I just made a delicious dinner of rice, refried black beans and a mouth watering vegetable stir fry. Above my head is my new fly trap that caught 15 flies within the first 3 hours. Once they get stuck they buzz around for a while (this is the part I try to ignore because it actually makes me sad) and then they seem to die. I don’t know why? Do they just give up or is there a chemical that makes them die?

Anyways this weekend was Guatemalan Independence Day!!! I stayed in the city with Ashley and Casey and we had a blast. We bought Guatemala head bands and went to the fair. They rode a ridiculously dangerous Ferris wheel (they couldn’t have paid me to go on it). I indulged in some amazing corn on the cob and we watched a marching band parade/competition in the street. The baton twirlers don’t throw the batons up and some wear the skimpiest clothes and they are like 12!!! And it was pouring rain so many of the outfits were see through. There were a few all girl bands!! Awesome~ Me and Ashley danced to all the bands and were labeled the crazy gringas…the guy standing across the street from us had either a clove of garlic hanging over his balls or a wad of socks…we couldn’t tell but the garlic would be more interesting. We stayed in this amazing hostel and enjoyed a free breakfast of BLT bagel sandwiches! Ugh. Yum. We also met some students who are studying Spanish in the city and they showed us my new favorite place that sells chai tea!!!

We also went to our first Guatemalan soccer game! Whoohoo…super fun. Our team lost horribly but the hotdogs, pizza and caramelized peanuts made up for it. (I know, It doesn’t even sound like peace corps huh?) It was a much needed break.

So about my site and my work: I’m doing most of my work in the schools right now. Which I think is a great way to get to know the community because all the little kids come running up to me and tug on my purse until I kneel down and receive their cheek kisses. This month I am giving a mixture of charlas (classes). Some on drug and alcohol abuse…(MUCH NEEDED), some on the risks of early pregnancy, how to take care of water etc… I also still have my teen group on wed morning and the kids group in the afternoon. Wednesdays I feel like I don’t even get the chance to breathe but they are always so fun! I teach 30 minutes of preventative health and then 30 minutes of English. We play a lot of games and everyone seems to enjoy themselves. (they must because, they keep coming back!) This week we are talking about trash and why you shouldn’t litter and how to burn your trash or burry it. At some point I would like to make a community compost pile and start some tire garden projects.

There is so much work that needs to be done here and I want to take on every project! Before I leave I want every school to have a rain water run off system. We get water once a month and the director of one school told me it would be pointless for me to talk about good hygiene with the kids when they really don’t have the water to shower every day or brush their teeth etc…I’m going to need to write a grant for that project and it’s a bit overwhelming but IM DOIN IT! Also we don’t have an ambulance here and before I leave I would like to have one. We are going to start raffles in the health center to raise money to buy it. I am starting this project in October when the schools have a 3 month break…But I am going to try to get people to donate things that we can raffle off. I would like to see things that could later benefit the family. Like raffling off pigs, goats etc… If you have any ideas let me know. A lot of people I’ve talked to have said “why don’t we just ask the united states to give us an ambulance?” My response is “because we can do it ourselves. Imagine the pride the community would have if they did it themselves. And then imagine the possibilities of all the other things they could do once they knew they could!” Sometimes I feel like they just feel helpless and like they don’t know how to help themselves, but I know they can and I’m going to help.

I would also love to start an exercise class for the “older” women in the community. I’m going to start looking for donations of a TV and DVD player so we can learn yoga, kickboxing, tae beau etc….We can also make jump ropes and go speed walking. Haha I’m excited. I have also been thinking about doing a love your body campaign with the women. Guatemala style. The reasons they love their bodies would be so incredibly different then ours and I would like to display the art work in the states. I just need a bit more time with the confianza building (trust). But I think it would be great for them and I think it could potentially help a lot of problems facing the community, especially alcoholism and violence against women. I think the lack of self esteem, as individuals and as a community, is the cause of many problems.

My mind is exploding with ideas and things I would like to accomplish. I just hope I get a few things done and make a tiny difference. In the mean time I learned how to crochet granny squares! I was sooo excited! I’m going to make an awesome scarf. They say that if you bring a hobbie you’ll be amazing at it by the end of your two years. Well I can already tell that my direction reading abilities are getting better because I have nothing else to do but keep re-reading them, trying to figure it out. I am also becoming quite the reader (weird, I know). I am reading mountains beyond mountains and I recommend it to anyone reading this! I also love reading letters! Hehe so send them this way! I miss you all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hello Everyone!!! so I noticed no one was home and I snuck my camera outside to take a picture of my bathroom. hehe and the three pigs that live near it..they start making snorting noises everytime you go near, I think they think they are going to get fed. Anyway, The thing with the blue tarp is my bathroom..cozy..

This next picture is of 3 year old Kaley on the left and her 7 year old sister betsy on the right. these are the amazing little girls I was living with before I had to move to the other house. I still see them from time to time and I need to go visit more often. But life here is generally absolutely breath taking and I find myself stopping sometimes and staring at the scenery and thinking....oh my god, Im actually here and Im doing it!

Friday, August 15, 2008


This is a group picture of everyone on swearing in day. My three bosses and all the volunteers. Im al smiles because I had just pinched Janes Butt..hehe And then the next picture is of Emily, Zach, me and Dan. We were at our training center for the swear in and its prety gorgeous there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


So Ive been in site for almost 4 weeks now and im totally slacking on the blog...sorry. So Ill just fill you in...a little bit...

Its green rolling hills....sheep, cows, goats and pigs everywhere!! and dont forget about the roosters... so its gorgeous and freezing and lots of rain.

I am working in the health center and me and my counterpart have given a few charlas on HIV AIDS and STIs and how to use a condom....I am now starting to give puberty charlas all this month...Im excited. I am also starting a group of kids who want to be health promoters...

I also swore in with my right hand in front of the mayor as a representative to my community and to the health center. I am a member of an organization that speaks for the community completely and utterly random that day was....i think you can guess how out of place i felt...haha

There are drunk men and women everywhere at all times of the day...

the people here are sooo nice to me its weird. It makes me remember how un nice people are in big cities in the U.S. Here you dont walk by someone without greeting them and they all seem to know my name. it takes me a while to remember theres.

Im doing great and Ill put another update soon!!!!! love you all

Rilo Kiley puts peace corps into words...

Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move
Awake but cannot open my eyes
And the weight is crashing down on my lungs I know I cant breathe
And hope someone will save me this time

But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in its absence
But youll fight and you’ll make it through
Youll fake it if you have to
And youll show up for work with a smile

You’ll be better
And you’ll be smarter
More grown up and a better daughter or son and a real good friend
You’ll be awake
You’ll be alert
You’ll be positive though it hurts
And you’ll laugh and embrace all your friends
You’ll be a real good listener
You’ll be honest you’ll be brave
You’ll be handsome and you’ll be beautiful
You’ll be happy

Shit may be comin in
You’re weak but not givin in
And you’ll fight it
You’ll go out fighting all of them

of course this is how peace corps feels like only every once and a while...not every day. ...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

more pictures!!!

So on the left is Joe from cali here with his wife Katie....Then me...Then Emily from Georgia, then Jaime from all over also here with his wife....We all live in the same community...Then The next picture I am dancing with Hugo...the son to my host parents...haha This is at a baptism where there was a bottle of rum on each table and I was strictly told I was not to have any....