Monday, June 30, 2008

san fransisco la union Quetzaltenango!

Hello everyone! I am sitting on my bed. Its Saturday and I have a free day!!! YAY- Right now I have some company. Galia is sitting on my bed with me and we both just ate saltines and nutella that I have hidden in my top dresser drawer…Thank you Kelly and Lisa. Galia loved it! Haha We had to scrape all the crumps off the bed though before don beto saw it..hehe
Anyway!!! I Know where I will be living for the next two years. Its interesting here. I feel like choosing to come to the peace corps I gave someone the ability to decide what the rest of my life is going to be like. On wedneday, the day we found out, I couldn’t help but think “the next three words that come out of this mans mouth are going to change my life forever.” And surely it will. I am going to San Fransisco la Union in the department of Quetzaltenango. I am very very excited. Quetzaltenango is definitely not one of the poorest departments in Guatemala but it does need help and I guess that’s why Im going. I am going to be working in a centro de salud with a doctor who knows Spanish, K’iche, Japanese and English! Ahhh My counterpart, the person I will be working with for the next two years is a woman and shes a tecnica in salud prventiva. I am not really sure what that means though because that’s technically what I am too. Well, that’s what I am supposed to tell them I am when they ask me! HAHA
For the last week I have had classes de K’iche in the mornings and classes for Spanish in the afternoon. The people in my site speak Spanish as a second language! Just like me! Haha And it is mostly the men who know a lot of Spanish. The women get less schooling and therefore primarily speak in K’iche. I will need to know some catch phrases to be able to build the confianza….trust. I know how to say good morning, xsaqarik. Good afternoon, xs’eq’ri and good night but I forgot how to spell it. Also thank you is matiox. I really like it so far!!! Im nervous and have a lot more to learn!
Some details, I will be living only 40 minutes away from the second biggest city in Guatemala….movie theaters, restaurants etc…Im assuming. And I am 30 minutes away from another volunteer named Ashley who I love! So that will be super fun. Emily is about 4 hours away from me though. She is living in Huehuetenango, One of the poorest departments. I will have electricity!!!!! I will have water but only during certain hours. I will also be living near a post office! But I have no clue if there’s an internet cafĂ© around?? I hope so! This community has ever had a health volunteer. They had an agriculture volunteer 10 years ago. The major problems that face this community are malnutrition, gastrinol disease, ad respitory problems…This kind of scares me because I know nothing about the last two things!!! HAHA…I hope there’s some pregnant women around too…
On Tuesday I will be going to my site for a week and Im going to stay in the doctors house! He is supposed to help me find a house to rent with a family. And I am supposed to introduce myself to the mayor, firefighters, postman, and all the people in the municipality. There are no police in this community- we’ll see how that goes. Wish me luck! I have gotten so comfortable in my house with my family and it will be weird to leave my comfort zone again. Who knows what the bed is like, the shower, the bathroom, the food. The people!! Ahhhh!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This is me an our chonpipe.......Before we killed it. Little does he know in minutes his life will be taken...But we were super nice and we made it drink a whole cup of rum before we killed it. For 2 reasons....1) It would hurt him less when don beto chopped off his head and 2) It would make his meat taste better!! haha He was a delicious turkey. It was a weird day and I tried to be open minded about killing an aminal. It didnt bother me as much as i thought and I think its because of the respect they had for the turkey and It was their pet. They were very excited to teach me how to kill it to and they insist that when I go to my site and have my own chonpipes I am going to want to eat them....even though I swear I wont want to eat my pets! haha Anyway, so don beto chopped off its head, then we hung it upside down to drain...then we put it into a huge pot and poured boiling water on it and me and dona rosa plucked off its feathers...then we singed off the rest of its hairs over a fire and then we went to mass......I got sick from the smell....and then when we came home we opened it up and began to de gut it!! I got sick again from the smell and I told dona rosa it was the smell bothering me and she picked up the guts and smelled them and then said ¨they have no smell¨haha...Anyway Theres a littl epack in the turkeys belly that holds all its food before its digested and it was filled with full pieces of corn! really weird. Then the next morning we cooke dpepian with the turkey! It was amazing. I have the recipe and Im going to give it to you all and see who can make it! I have a picture of me smashing up some seeds on a rock in the kitchen...I love you all....I miss you all! I HELD A TURKEY! HEHEHEHEH (and in this picture behind me is our outdoor bathroom and shower)

Friday, June 13, 2008

my frist HIV-AIDS charla....VIH SIDA

Wow- sometimes life hits you right in the face….and this seems to happen much more often when you’re in the Peace Corps.

You really begin to know your limits and by that I mean you begin to realize you have no limits and it’s an amazing and terrifying experience.

No matter what country I’m living in I always roll out bed…I shower… I eat…I do what I’m supposed to do that day. No matter the circumstances sometimes just getting out of bed and having breakfast no matter what time it is, no matter what food you eat, no matter how freezing cold the shower is I am still doing the things I did everyday in the states. …..Its weird how far away from everything normal you are but you still have a routine.

Well today I had a moment where it was like someone pressed mute on the video of my life and I was able to simply observe. I was giving a charla in Spanish about HIV AIDS (VIH/SIDA) and I was being understood in this other language and I knew what I was saying! I had no idea this is what Id be doing in the peace corps. I really didn’t know what I was signing up for and now I’m standing in another country…striving and growing~ Its amazing.

There were about 70 kids, their teachers, and about 7 health promoters. We went to their school in a town close to ours and we gave them a charla about HIV AIDS. We had the gender and development group from peace corps (which I am going to join) train us how to give this charla….they showed us games to do etc….and then I found myself doing these games with the little kids! It was sooooo scary!!!! And sooo much fun! I had them get in a half circle and then I had 8 volunteers. One was a kid who signified a healthy human body and then three kids held hands around him and they wore signs that said globules blancos (white blood cells) and then we had three kids wearing signs that said “diarrhea” “parasito” y “gripe (common cold)” try to enter the body but the globules blancos fought them off….The kids acted this all out and had a ton of fun! But then this guy decided to have unprotected sex with a woman who had HIV…..then all the diseases were able to enter and the white blood cells died and then the kid wearing the human body sign had to wear a sign that said SIDA….It doesn’t sound that good written out but it was super fun and it’s an easy interactive way to really show what happens…We had a lot of other activities as well and the whole thing lasted a little longer than 2 hours! But all 4 of us shared the charla so it was less stressful.

Then we talked about blood to blood, mother to child, and unprotected sex and everything you could think of! We even talked about sex that includes, anal, oral and vaginal. These kids were about 13-16 and Believe me I never got the education they all got today in the states! We even demonstrated how to put a condom on a broom stick! Haha

And then it was time from question and answer…..and man did they have questions!!! Very very intelligent questions too. For a very conservative culture they really are un-conservative if that makes sense. To put it better, They are a very realistic culture. Anyway this one kid asked where they can buy safe condoms that wont break etc…and then a health promoter (older woman) got up and said they don’t need to be having sex….they shouldn’t be asking questions like that etc….and as we were all looking at one another to decide what we should say to her….another Guatemalan boy raised his hand and was like we are good kids and we simply want to be safe and have answers….It was amazing~ AMAZING….

Also, the best part was the one little girl who was wearing indigenous clothing (the others wore school uniforms.,.) she asked us what medicine is in birth control and we kind of half assed the answer because none of us are doctors….and I felt bad and like maybe she was scared to use birth control because she had heard bad things about it or something…so after the charla I walked up to her and her friends and I said “I want to clarify that birth control is not bad for you and It has chemicals that are already in your body they are simply in strong doses…” and then the girl and her 2 little friends leaned into me and said “Once a woman loses her virginity will everyone be able to tell?” I had them repeat the questions about three times to make sure I was hearing right before I said no very strongly….haha…I was like “no no no….no one will know unless you tell them.”
It broke my heart seriously to know that these girls were getting this information from their mothers in order to scare them into not having sex…..and then when they do decide to have sex they wont have any clue what a condom is or how to wear one etc….Its a very odd world here.

My friend Emily also talked to the three little girls later and they asked her the same question…They also asked is there’s a test to tell if someone is a virgin…and if a woman bleeds a lot. Young people are very smart and they are getting messages about sex from many different angles and Im glad we could clear up a few things for them because if a young girl began asking those questions to someone else she would be told it was inappropriate and she would never get the right answer and then she would go out and have sex anyways!

It was simply an amazing experience and I felt like maybe today I actually made a difference.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The top one is don beto, dona rosa and the cute neighboir boy giving vaccine eye drops to our turkeys and chickens!! It was soo hilarious! The next is me next to Anne Jr. A pine tree I planted at a little tiny rural school in quiche..where we had our field based training. There are more pictures of this on the way. The last picture is my house!!!! and its gorgeous! I love you all

This is Galia, 5 and her little brother Allen who is 1 year and 2 motnths!!! They are sooo cute and fun! They live attached to us. Don beto and Dona rosa are their grandparents. Aren´t they sooo cute! They are playing on my floor.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Field based Training

Hello everyone!!! Right now i have a huge wad of money in my bra and its poking out! haha I juyst used the atm and got out a shit ton of money for my host family. Here in guatemala you can hardly ever use a check because they check the signautres sooo closely and if they dont match your family will have to pay 70 Quetzalez...thats a lot!!! Anyway while I was using the atm my friend matt walked up and then some other guatemalan guy walked up-...I tried to hide my pin number and I fgot my money.. then matt used the atm and the guy was totally trying to see his pin ever though he truned his shoulder to hide it. I am sooo scared my money will all be taken out. the guy was totally sketchy too' I hope everything is ok. Anyway.......We just got back from a whole week in Bueatiful Quiche. It was field based training week. We spent the whole week builing everything and anything!! My job for the first year is going to be to give lectures to people and educate them...then for the next year part of my job will be to help them build the things i taught them about. so this week was hands on training. We built a rain water catchment system that went into this huge cement tank for storage and then attached it to a pipe that connected to a pila (a hand washing station) for the little kids to wash their hands. we also built a ramp for them to walk on. We planted 8 pine trees.....and also gavce charlas (lectures) to the little kids everyday about the importance of washing your hands. We also built a cement floor for the bathroom and a seperate rain water run off system so they can use the water to cook with. We ALSO built 2 stoves. we were only able to complete one stove in time but another volunteer will finish the other one. It was sooo exciting though because we worked with 3 current volunteers and they were all very nice. The stoves were built in the kitchens of two local houses. One of them was down this crazy forrest trail and it was absolutely gorgeous. Everything was so peaceful and quiet and then had a tiny little house with dirt water supply....a ton of chickens and a little farm. It was so amazing to be able to work with them. And they hardly spoke spanish. The language spoken was quiche and I couldnt understand any of it....although now I know the words for pig- HAGK and Water- HAK. haha Anyway they were very nice and tried to communicate with us as much as possible. the little kids all had these wart things growing all over their arms and hands though. Im not sure what they were but it was sad and weird.We stayed in this hotel in the capital of quiche. sometimes we had water sometimes we didnt and it was always freezing. And if we were lucky there were 2 toilets working! haha for 16 of us! We had eggs and beans every morning for breakfast and beans and rice every night for dinner. We had to go shopping for our own lunch everyday and bring it with us. so everyday we ate peanut butter, honey and banana snadwiches...hahaAlso we were supposed to pack super light for this trip.. so I brought my little backpack. and then dona rosa asked me if i would like to bring some snacks...of course I said yes and she shows up in my doorway with 2 mangos, 2 pears, 4 bananas, a cantelope, and a papaya for me to take!! haha It was hilarious and super nice. We all shared the fruit during lunch time. During this week we also had our interviews with our head honcho guy named basilio. He pulled us aside one by one and asked us questions about what we would want for our future sites. I did my whole interview in spanish and he had already heard me give a charla once....but I think it went really really well. He asked me where I learned spanish.....told me I spoke really well.....and then when he asked me if I wanted to learn a mayan language ( which essentially means live in a community where spanish is a second language) I said I wanted to be fluent in spanish before I leave here buit I would like to learn the basics of a mayan language so I can say goodmorning and build trust with the people....To this he replied.....well....youre pretty much fluent!!!! ahhhh. I was very happy. to hear this from the boss!!!!!! But now Im terrified im going to be in some rural rural place where spanish doesnt exist....ugh but life is an adventure and I'll live either way. I also told him I wasnt sure if I wanted another site mate and that I didnt care if I was close to a city of not. He asked me how important electricity and water were and I told him the only thing I need is a cement floor! haha Now Im freaking out with excitement and Im scared but I made all these decisions before I got scared so I knew I was saying the right things. I will know by the end of the month where my site is going to be! I love you all. Ill post pictures soon.I found out about Hillary losing while I was in Quiche also and It was horrible. I started crying in front of my roomates. I just felt so disconnected from the world I once knew. I also semi feel like me and Hillary are walking the same paths and to see this happen to her made me very scared. Im also scared for the future of our country and it all hit me too fast. But even though Im thousands of miles away I am also working for the future of our country and everything will be fine. Love you