Saturday, October 10, 2009
A Site for Sore Eyes
If you were coming to Guatemala, would you pack a coat, long-johns, wool socks, scarves, and beanies? Well, I would if I were coming to visit me! I got assigned this week! For security purposes, I am more or less prohibited from giving away my exact whereabouts on the interweb for all of the world to possibly Google, but a few minor details won’t hurt. I am going to an area of Guatemala known as Huehuetenango, (pronounced: Way-way-teh-non-go). West in the highlands, Huehue, as it is commonly referred to in the cool circles, actually borders Mexico. The population is of Mayan decent, specifically Mam (there are 22 different Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala), but where I’m going the language was unfortunately lost generations ago, which is fortunate for me because my Spanish still has a ways to go and I don’t think I could handle anymore languages at the time being. My site is around 10,500 ft in elevation, and has been described to me as a mixture between Scotland and the moon… I’m sure I’ll understand what they’re talking about when I go there for my site visit next week. They did tell me that I’ll be able to see basically all of Guatemala, a truly breathtaking view, and not because of the altitude, although I have a feeling that it may be a contributing factor. I’ll have electricity, access to a community water faucet (where I can fetch my bath water and any other water I may need (besides pure drinking water which I will buy in bulk elsewhere)), and I’ll be renting a room with a family that will share a kitchen (stove and sink), and bathroom (latrine) with me. There will be one volunteer within a thirty minute walk working on the same projects as me, and we are both replacing volunteers from the same general area, which means we will already have some sort of established groups and projects to jump into. In fact we are following up about ten years of Peace Corps service in the same area. We will be working with women’s groups, expanding compost production, introducing new vegetables and medicinal plants into family gardens, creating reforestation nurseries, and teaching health and nutrition. I’m very exciting to begin my service as a volunteer, it’s a surreal feeling all over again and it’s hard to believe that the time is already here. Training has flown by. I am going to miss my current host family, they have been absolutely wonderful, but I am ready for the next step and the challenges it will bring.