Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Green Little Sprouts



So time is already flying as we newbies, rookies, green little sprouts make our way through the winding training road that prepares us to become legit: true “Peace Corps Volunteers”. In the past week, we've seen so much more of the country that we will be calling home and I can honestly say, this place is worlds away from the one I left twenty days ago. As I was riding the camioneta (bus) back into the valley that is my home for these eleven weeks, grinding shoulder to shoulder with a small woman on my right and my head bouncing against the stomach of the young man standing in the crowded aisle to my right, I peered through the mass of bodies to see out the window where Guatemala was whizzing by, trees with epiphytes, tin-roofed shacks, rotulas (signs) proclaiming their “fe in dios”, women walking with baskets filled with corn atop their heads..Sheesh! A mere twenty days and I'm already enormously attached to this place, these people, this world. But, despite all I've seen, I really don't even know a fraction of it yet. Only this weekend did I get my first taste of a feria, one of the many annual fairs. I think that every day of the year, in one city or another in this great country a fair is happening, I have no doubt. I stood among the crowd and watched the parade of huge decorated floats bearing beautiful winged child-angels, a jesus standing atop a globe (which, if it weren't for the men walking below him, lifting the telephone wires with ultra long sticks, he'd surely have been electrocuted..); children dressed as farmers, huipile-wearing mayan women, businessmen, even a drunk; young people danced in the streets masked as old men and ladies and random cartoon characters, music blasted from a truck out of the huge speakers that produced such a din my pants vibrated, fireworks in constant procession, day and night; men rode atop horses with capes flashing as they galloped up and down the cobblestone streets narrowly avoiding the crowds three persons deep on either side; the dancing lasted late into the night, cartoon characters and, amusingly enough, men unabashedly dressed in wigs and scantily clad women's clothing. Food vendors displayed their fried goods and hunks of hanging, chewed-up looking meat that was sawed off into writhing piles (that we saw still hanging the next day, wrapped in a woven cloth, awaiting a second..third..? night of vending..). Street food is a swear word in the ears of our lovely PC health officers. It was an experience indeed.

In other news, I've been fortunate enough to be in a group of PC trainees that love sports as much as I do. We have a great cancha (field) up the hill that we've played many a basketball game with any of the local kids willing to join us. We played once a game of soccer with some kids half our age and saw just how bad we non-futbol playing gringos really were. I didn't care, I love the running and the challenge of attempting to even get close to tease the ball away from those quick-flying feet that move with deft skill. Perhaps by the end of my time here I'll have learned a thing or two in the world of futbol.

Today we had a tour of Guate (which is how they call Guatemala City) and got to experience calling and taking taxi cabs within the city since PC forbids us to take inter-city buses because basically, as a gringo, you're just begging to be robbed if you do. We saw the American Embassy and the hospital and spent way too much time in the two malls which are about a stone's toss away from each other. That's two malls too many for me. I've been dying to get back into the forest which I got a small taste of, what a week ago? We hiked up into the hills the other weekend with Eduardo (our maestro) and Abner (my co-trainee's host brother)..the forests here aren't quite rainforests and I don't remember the classification (sub-tropical? It's definitely not wet enough here during the dry season to support a true rainforest) but I didn't care..I was finally under some trees again! I had my binox and bird book but didn't get much real birding in since the hike mission was to reach an overlook out across the valley and it was midday when the birds aren't wildly active. I was overjoyed nonetheless with what I did have a chance to drink in, two wintering warblers: a black throated green and wilson's warbler (both of which I saw this past summer on their breeding grounds back up in the states!); also saw a blue-headed vireo and some Guate hummers (“picaflores”)-Rufous and Lucifer. Now if only I could go back up there, it's really not far, and spend a whole morning with book and binox. I need to find a companion! Being small, female and gringa, I'm sticking to not wandering off alone the way I might back in more familiar territory. Plus the dogs up in the higher farmlands are pretty protective in a kind of scary way. My hope, of all hopes is that I'm placed in a sight where I have a forest reserve at my fingertips. They're teasing us with signs in the training center claiming that we could replace end-of-service volunteers that are leaving various national parks that I'm literally drooling over. Patience, girl. Seriously, though, I'm living in the now, sucking it all in, trying to step back at least once every day to appreciate that I'm here right now. Wherever you are, there you are and here I am. I have a post-it note on my desktop that says this “Love where you are. keep your eyes wide and your mind open. you've got everyone rooting for you. Love, you.” Cheesy, I know. But it's sweet to see on the rare day I turn this bugger on to write a thing or two. So yes. My eyes are wide, taking it all in, so thankful that I'm on this adventure, growing every day. My mind is expanding by the hour. This feels right, being here. Yes, yes, still the honeymoon period, still loving every second and having trouble imagining that the statistical highs really are followed by statistical lows. Blogs to come, I know, but for now I'm reveling in it. Better while I can, right? And when those lows come along, I'll have my friends and family rooting for me from afar and I have myself to rely upon. Sink or swim. I'm going to do my best to keep this nose of mine above water.

Hasta luego, mis amigos.


  1. Seriously, you should write a book. I love you and miss you. Saving a spot for me ??? xoxoxoxo megan

  2. hahahaha...i loved the vibrating pants, too! wonderful blog entry once again my sweet, and your photograph of the parade was awesome...thanks so much for letting us share in your new life...wish i could go birding with you! miss you and love you huge, yr mom

  3. hermoso, amiguita! Loved reading this, if only the books for my online class were this entertaining...

    Queremos ver mas fotos--but alas, we must be patient for you are a busy busy guate hummingbird.

    Un abrazo,

  4. A book should be in the works indeed! You are a fabulous writer. We feel everything you say as though we were with you. And we are in spirit. Know that! Keep it up. Love and many hugs, Debi and Mike

  5. Love your posts! Can't wait to go birding with you. I'm drooling over the hummingbirds. Big hugs! Pam


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