Monday, January 28, 2008


Hey friends!

Just a quick hello to say I made it through another week here. We are 3 weeks in and I am feeling a bit homesick (send me stuff!) but I will make it through. I am used to having so much supportive family and friends around me that being here away from you is a but of an adjustment. My family is really great though and I have lots of support from Peace Corps staff. We also visited the school we are working in during training and the kids were really sweet, I think it will be good.

The other good news is that I haven't gotten sick yet. Well, thats not exactly true but everyone gets a little bit sick from changes in eating habits and everything. I haven't eaten anything I don't like yet. We get lots of beans and tortillas with every meal. For breakfast I usually get cornflakes which is nice. They make lots of great soups and stews here (called a "caldo"is I remember right) and have lots of new fruits and vegetables. GIANT papayas, its almost mango season and those are huge too, HUGE avacados, Yuca, Quisquil (kind of potatoe-ey), and other things that are harder to describe.

On Saturday I got to go to a "boda"- wedding (not as fun as it sounds). It was Catholic and pretty serious but an interesting change from the norm in the US. On Sunday we went to the birthday party of one of Jaime's sisters and that was interesting too. It is awkward party x 1000 because not only do I not know anyone...but I also only understand about half the people that even try to talk to me and also I am automatically strange looking because I look different than just about everyone here. It was fun though and his family was really nice...the food was good too, it was beef and chicken in some kind of tomato sauce called "estofada." Jaime also said that he will take me to the volcano soon and if I get it approved I get to go to the beach next month with the fam!

Another funny story (and then I should quit being selfish and let someone else get on here)...On Sunday morning I was sitting at home and I heard a knock on the door. Normally I avoid answering but nobody else was around so I answered it and there was a man outside in a suit. It turns out he was a Jehovah's Witness missionary from San Francisco. Imagine his surprise when a blonde girl answered the door in Alotenango! He said he didn't know there were white people that spoke English there. I talked to him for a moment, but he tried to make it sound like we were on the same team (I happen to be of the opinion that door-to-door evangelism is a little different than working in school health programs) and I told him my family wasn't home and I would let them know he stopped by. It was a little awkward, I don't think I'll answer the door again=).

I also got a new address. The office is moving. Mail will still get to me at the old address for awhile but this one is for the futurë:

Andrea Stanaway
a/c Cuerpo de Paz Guatemala (Peace Corps)
Apartada Postal 66
Antigua, Sacatepequez
Guatemala, America Central

I miss you...write to can get my number from the folks!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Third Week!

Hello everyone! I just wanted to send a quick note to say that I am doing great! Not a whole lot of internet time, but I'll deal.

I had a great weekend. There was a fiesta in Alotenango and there was a huge parade (turns out I have a slight fear of costumed people...) with lots of people dressed up like looney tunes and old people and dancing in the streets. There were also "banditos" running around "holding up"the crowd until a chosen person gave them a donation. Turns out I got chosen by every bandito because I stick out of the crowd, haha. It was a lot of fun to hang out with my family.

On Sunday, the volunteers met in Antigua at the Mono Loco. The restaurant is conveniently highlighted in the guidebook nicole gave me but contrary to the rough guide, the food is NOT mediocre and it was FANTASTIC. Almost everyone showed up (which is a lot because there are 36 of us!) We got to hang out and watch the Patriots/Chargers game. Despite the lame outcome it was really nice to relax and bond together, we had a lot of fun.

When we got home, my family was all in the kitchen making tortillas and we all got to cook together. Jaime was home for the evening (kind of rare because he works so much) and so he was helping out too and it was really really great.

I am feeling really good today. I am excited to start working, I love the country, I love my home and my family here. I cannot wait to share all of this with you guys when you come to visit. The postal system is a little slow, but I hope I get your letters soon. Thanks for all the encouragement! Lots of love! (I get to go get Rabies shot #2!)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Photos de mi Vida!

Hey All! Here are some pictures of my beautiful home in Alotenango! Enjoy! This one is the view of the Volcan de Agua from my rooftop!

Here is a picture of the Volcan de Fuego (the active one)'s the view from the other side of my rooftop!
Christian in front of Fuego (Agua is his favorite though!)
Here is my room! There is lots of space and a TINY little skylight in the ceiling! I love it, lots of privacy and right next too the bathroom, shower, and the pila! Also sharing a wall with a VERY loud evangelical keeps me up at night, I guess it could be worse!

Here is Christian riding his moticicleta in the main hallway/courtyard of the house! If you look closely you can see Aura and Andreita in the background!

This is the Spanish class in front of the Volcano. This was taken on top of Melanie's house on the other side of town. We have been having Spanish classes there this week! That is all for now, I have to take the camionets right back to town from Santa Lucia. Love you guys! Write to me pleeeease! You can also call me, let me know if you want my phone number and I can e-mail it to you!



Monday, January 14, 2008

Place of Volcanoes...

Hello all!

I only have a few minutes here at the training center. It turns out that my town doesn't have an internet cafe so I will have to travel to Antigua or wait until mondays when we return to Santa Lucia for training classes. I feel bad robbing the other volunteers of internet time so this one will have to be quick.

Now I am living (for 3 months!) in a town called Alotenango. It is just south of Antigua at the bases of the volcanoes Agua and Fuego. Don't worry thoug, Agua is dormant. Fuego, on the other hand, causes small tremors and sometimes has lava flows but I am asssured that it is very safe! It makes for some beautiful scenery though, I can't wait to send pictures! I am there with 3 other volunteers and we will have language and technical classes there in town most of the time. My family is really nice although a little quiet so far. It will be a lot better once my Spanish is better because we can have more conversations. They are pretty young. Don Jaime and Don Aura are both around 31 or 32. They have two kids, Christian who is 4 (starting Kinder today!) and a 6 month old little girl called Andrea (there are always 2 Andreas in my life...). Also there lives Aura's mother and father, and her sister. Her Aunt and Grandmother live next door so there is always lots of family around.

It was a little hard to leave the safety net of the other volunteers in Santa Lucia, especially Jan who has been my companion through everything so far. The night before we left the power went out and Don Estuardo pushed his motorcycle up to the door and we had dinner by motorcycle headlight. It was great fun!

When I got to Alotenango there was a bit of confusion because a sticker from Mark's luggage got stuck to mine so they thought I would be a little different. Dona Aura said she had flowers in the room but she took them out because she thought I would be Mark.

I am adjusting well and I know it will get a lot easier from here. Well, I need to go get my rabies vaccine! I miss you all, keep writing. e-mails too (that means you Kerianne!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bienvenidos a Guatemala!

This is the first of what I hope will be many entries about my adventure in Guatemala. Thank you for all your support and interest in what is going on here with me! I (obviously) arrived safely in Guatemala after two days of orientation in Washington D.C. Orientation (also called staging) was great and I have met a lot of really wonderful people so far. One of the guys here used to live in D.C. so he took us sightseeing and my roommate, Jan, is really cool. She is in her 50s and really adventurous and down to earth. I am glad we got paired together, she was a great encouragement to me.

It has also been a rough week saying goodbye to everyone. I am a little bit homesick and I am missing all of my friends and family a lot. I made some phone calls during our layover in Miami yesterday and it was really tough. I know it will get better over time though.

So here I am at the Peace Corps training center in Santa Lucia de Milpas Altas. We got here yesterday afternoon and have had several training sessions and spent time getting to know each other a little better. I also had my Spanish interview today (I was muy nerviosa!) and it went alright. They will be grouping us in training communities according to job and Spanish level for the remaining 3 months of training. This means we will have on-site small group sessions and lots of hands on experience which I am looking forward to. I also found out that the Peace Corps office is moving from Guatemala City to here so my address will be changing already (sorry!) but not worries, they are keeping the other address open for awhile so don't quit writing me letters! I need them!

My host family during these 3 days at the training center is at a lady's house who is called Dona Marleny. She has two beautiful children named Maria Jose (7) and Carlos Manuel (2). They are really cute and very smart. Jan and I are staying there together and she has been really welcoming. My Spanish allows me to communicate fairly clearing but I am still pretty shy. Dona Marleny says it is good but she may just be being polite. Last night she made us spaghetti and pancakes this morning which were delicious (althought not so traditional) but it smells like they are cooking something really great here at the training center for lunch.

The scenery is beautiful. The montains are all around us (it is 7000 feet here) and all of the hills are really green. We can also see three volcanoes from here and the rumor is that you can sometimes see lava there! Also, they have been having some small earthquakes this week which I hear is pretty normal for this region.

Other than that, there is not much happening yet. On Saturday we will be sent to our training communities and I will have an idea of what life will be like for the next 11 weeks. I am a little anxious about it but everyone here is kind of in the same boat so it helps a lot and there is a lot of support. All the staff are really open to us and ready to help wherever needed. They want us to succeed and they don't want anyone going home so it helps.

Well, lunch is being served outside and I think I am due for some vaccinations (fun!) so I have to sign off. Write to me, I miss you!

Muchos gracias y te amo!