Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FBT and the Beach

¡Bueños dias!
I´m a little behind on my blog, so I apologize that this is being published a little late. I have been meaning to tell you about this all week but in Santa Lucia I ran out of time because I was invited to a Salsa Dancing class in Antigua (If you are awaiting the debut of my dance career you´re probably out of luck, but ti was fun) and I just now had a chance to get to the internet cafe.
Last week we traveled to Huehuetango and Quetzaltango (Xela) to visit some volunteers and see how their lives are. They also happened to be sites that I might be sent to where volunteers are on their way out so it was fun to see the possibilities. I took this picture of my family before I left:
We started out in Huehuetango city as our base and traveled out to various sites from there. We got to stay in a hotel/hostel which was pretty fun because we all got tol live together for the first time since Washington D.C. Poor David (showing off in this picture) had to spend the week with all of the girls but the good news is that he got his own room. Also in the picture (left to right) are the other Andrea, Melanie (lives with me in Alotenango) and Christina who went to Gonzaga in Spokane (the closest thing to a Washingtonian I have here).
One of the schools we went to in our first days was a school that was certified by another volunteer 2 years ago. The prepared a presentation for us where they had speeches and all the students sang the national anthem (impressive because there are lots more verses than we use in ours). Also, they presented us with huge bags of lemons and oranges that the parents had brought to give to us. It was SO generous of them and we felt really honored. The Guatemalan people here are SO welcoming and generous! The problem was that we had to cross the department border on our was back to the city and you aren´t supposed to bring fruit across. However, we didn´t want to part with the gift from the school so we all stuffed our backpacks and purses full of oranges and smiled our biggest smiles at the checkpoint. Luckily, they let us go through, but it was pretty exciting and funny---I don´t think I am cut out for a career as a smuggler. We got elected to guard the oranges overnight so our room smelled really sweet all week. Here is Mel and I with some of the booty!
Every school we went to welcomed us really warmly and always had something for us to eat. On normal days this consists of atol (a drink made from rice kind of like oatmeal) but since we were special guests we got an actual snack. Once we got tostadas but mor often than not we received either tamales or panches. They are both the same sort of texture of corn, rice, or potatoes cooked in some form of leaf. They are generally delicious but we had so many of them that I think I might be happy not to have them again for a very long time. Another thing we got was bags of chocolate milk the schools are given for a school feeding program they have here. Warm chocolate milk from a bag is something I might not be looking forward to in the future. I was really impressed by the generosity of everyone welcoming a group of conspicuous strangers into their schools. It was really great.
On Valentine´s Day (Dia de Cariño here) we were in Xela and we had a chance to go out and hang out a bit which was really nice. On the way home, we visited some volunteers that were just going in to their second year and they had really good advice. I got to meet Nikki, who lived with my host family last year and it was fun to chat about the family.
In total, the trip was really long and I was glad to be home in Alotenango. It made me really look forward to knowing where my site is going to be and what my life is going to be like in the future. I think I am really going to love this job. I am anxious to get the training part over with and find out what the future holds for me. On March 3rd we find out our sites. All I know is that it will be in the department of Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Chimaltenango, or Alta Vera Paz.

I have also included some pictures of my family at the beach. The day after we got back we all rented a bus and headed for a place called Las Lisas on the coast in Esquintla. It was really fun and nice to relax with my family. The ocean was warm but it felt a lot like home because there is a riptide so you can´t really swim. The kids were really fun though as you can see from the pictures.
We had to take a boat through a canal to get there---pretty exciting!

Even my granparents came! I can´t understand them very well but they are really nice and they enjoyed the trip!
Andreita LOVED playing in the sand. I was reminded of a certain little brother of mine that used to eat sand at the beach in Seaside...

Christian was scared of the ocean so they filled up a tub for him to play in. Later we coaxed him in a little ands he enjoyed it. For lunch I ate Caldo de Mariscos (Caldo with seafood) which is against the advice of the Peace Corps (sometimes seafood is a little dangerous here) but it was really good. One problem was that all my sea animals were cooked whole so I had a crab, a fish, and 4-5 shrimp staring up at me. I don´t think I´ve ever had a meal with that many eyes! It was worth the risk and the work because it was delicious and I didn´t get sick so life is good.

This week we taught a practice lesson in the school. It was my first of hundreds of lessons I will teach here and it went really well. I taught hand washing to the first grade and it was really fun. That class is my favorite because they are really enthusiastic and they love to do things like sing. Now we have set to work preparing a workshop for the teachers who will be a tougher crowd. I also got reviewed and I doing well (not going to be sent home after training) I am doing well in my technical activities and have a Spanish level of Advanced-Basic although some days it doesn´t feel like it. Yeah!
This week I am going to Alta Vera Paz to visit a volunteer named Jill and see how her life is. It will be fun to see that part of the country. I will have a 5 hour bus ride to enjoy the view! I hear that part of the country is really beautiful!
Thanks again for all your support. My parents keep telling me about people that I know and some that I don´t who are reading this and I really appreciate your interest! The adventure is just beginning here. I can´t believe I still have more than 2 years to enjoy this beautiful country!

1 comment:

Kerianne said...

oh andrea! It is so goo dto read your blog and hear everything that is going on in your most wonderful life! Life is good here! just missing you, I just got your phone number so i am going to try and call you tomorrow! lots and lots of love, Kerianne