Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Field Based Training


We are just flying through February, aren't we? So this past week my training group and I spent a fun-filled week in “Field Based Training” where we get to get our hands dirty and see some new sights. We started out by visiting a volunteer in Chilasco, a small aldea where they grow lots and lots of broccoli and he's working with the tourism office (more aptly classified as “tourism hut”) to develop the business aspects of their tourism industry. The town butts up to the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve so they have cloud forest hikes and a great waterfall nearby called Salto de Chilasco which we got to hike to. It was gorgeous and the cloud forest was dripping lush.

The majority of the week we spent in Alta Vera Paz in a small aldea called Samac. A volunteer is finishing up his 2 years and so one of us will be replacing him. He's working on developing a cultural tour of some ruins of a German-run coffee farm. The town is Quiche Maya and we really got to know much of the community as we did a lot of activities with both the men and the women. The entire aldea is quite small and so we were the main attraction all week. When we moved into their newly constructed cabins complete with bunkbeds, composting toilets and computers, there was a crowd of men, women and children huddled at the entrance of both cabins watching our every move. They were very proud for this was the first time they ever had accommodated so many visitors, so it was a big deal indeed. The townspeople were all incredibly welcoming and kind and their community already thinks the world of Peace Corps and our Associated P.C. Director Flavio who accompanied us for a few days. He's the one who visits the sites and determines what sites need volunteers and which volunteer should be placed there. Basically all of Guatemala think him a god of sorts, or so we've noticed, since he doles out free help (us). He's got our lives in the palm of his hand so to us, so we're definitely de acuerdo with the Guatemalans. He's way pilas (a go-getter, achiever).

So some of the stuff we did throughout the week included hearing lots of charlas on things like environmental interpretation, how important it is to work with other town and form tourism alliances rather than compete, we did a day of trailwork/maintenance taught by two current volunteers, had a session on making signs using routers, made some action plans addressing various issues around the community that we split up and investigated (my “team” and I made an action plan on how the toilets need seats and instructions on how to use the composters)...all of these things we did with the community so I had lots of chances to really get to talking with them. After every interaction, I'd walk off grinning like a fool..these people are so pure and just living their lives. The town is small, doesn't have much money, there's only a tiny little store, they grow coffee and sugar cane, have probably 10 tourists pass through a year, it's clean though, and they all speak Quiche as their first language, they love their current volunteer and are so looking forward to their next one (I was constantly responding to their queries of how much I liked it here and if I'd want to stay), the women make their unique white cotton weaving called Pik'bil and they are coming up with new ways to contribute to the family income, through making jewelry with seeds and growing rabbits for food. The men aren't afraid to tell us how proud they are that their women are strong and independent. Yes, I was completely charmed by this place, these people. How could you not be when you walk by a dusty yard and six children come running out yelling “Estacey!”.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck on our way to the cloud forest.


  1. "Estacey!" ...was my mom there or something? :)

    That place sounds awesome, I hope you end up there or somewhere just like it! Thank you for posting more fotos, very beautiful place.

  2. i want to live in the cloud forest!

  3. i sit here grinning like a fool after i read your posts, estacey...i think we'd all like to come live with you in a cloud forest! love you lots and talk to you soon...

  4. Sounds like a dream place, i hope you get to stay there and then we will all come live in the cloud forest!!


I'd love to hear what you think, go on ahead and slap some words down!