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!