This blog reflects my opinions and does not reflect the opinions of the US Government or the Peace Corps

Friday, April 30, 2010

Alive in Guate

Hi all! I arrived safely in Guatemala on Tuesday. We woke up around 3:30 am and left the hotel at 4:30am and then our plane left Atlanta around 10. The flight went well and we arrived safely. After taking a camioneta or ¨chicken bus¨to the Peace Corps Office I was promptly pulled out to have my Spanish level tested. I thought I did terrible considering the complete lack of sleep but I tested into the advanced group! The last few days has been full of meeting going over official policy and tips for safety. And yes it is true, it is very common to carry a machete here in Guate.

Aside from all the meetings I have met some really great people here. I am currently rooming with Audra from Indiana and we are living with Doña Julia and her 6 daughters. She said though for these days we are there she has 8 daughters. Everyone in Guatemala is so welcoming and says hello passing on the street. Last night Audra and I walked around town with three of the girls. I have also met many awesome other Peace Corps Trainees (PCT). It is the first time I do not have to justify why I joined the peace corps to anyone becasue they all get it!

Tomorrow I will move to my next host family in the small town of San Luis Las Carretas. I will live with Don Cruz and Doña Ingrid. They are 25 and 26 and have a one month old baby. I will be living by myself with the family which makes me a little nervous becasue I wish my speaking skills were better but I guess practice makes perfect! We are assigned groups of 5 people that will also live in the same community and we will have class together every day all day. We will practice our spanish as well as some technical skills. Our teacher lives in the town as well and his name is Chepe and he has been working with Peace Corps for 27 years so I know we are all in good hands.

Finally, I want to note how green and beautiful Guate is! I have seen a few volcanos already! AWESOME! This is everything I wanted and nothing I expected. I am actually on my way to becomming a Peace Corps Volunteer and I couldn´t be happier. I know I will face some tough days but I also know I will make it through. Thanks to all for your support and I´d love to hear from you. This is my mailing address for the next 3 months:
Kelly Knapp, PCT
Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 66
Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, 03001
Guatemla, Centro América

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Staging is the name Peace Corps gives to the day long orientation all volunteers go through the day prior to departure for the country of service. We discussed the challenges I will face as far as spiders, crime, sickness, mental health and culture integration. We did lots of group projects to discuss these challenges and how to overcome them. We also did skits to show our understanding of the Peace Corps Core Expectations. It was a lot of information but it was all helpful and I don't feel too overwhelmed. The only issue we did not ever figure out is, "Can we wear hiking boots on the plane?" The only answer is that "It depends." We have all come to find out "it depends" is actually the answer to most specific questions so really I am still clueless about a lot of stuff. However I am setting all my expectations very very low so no matter what happens it will be better than what I thought. For example, I am planning on sleeping in a dirt field with bugs and snakes tomorrow so if I have a bed and a roof then I am happy!

After the 7 hour orientation it was time for dinner. A group of us went out to a restaurant and most got a nice juicy American burger. It was a nice chance to get to know a few more people who I did not really talk to in Staging earlier. We took the complimentary stretch limo back to the hotel and I re-packed my bag. I think I am actually set to go! I will not have too much internet time the next week so don't expect any posts for a little while. Thank you all for your support and I am officially a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT)!!!

One More Day in the US

I have officially left Boise, ID for at least 27 months. I had a great last weekend seeing all of my friends, having a BBQ and drinking some delicious beer...all things I will miss very much. I also had the most intense cake ever with the Guatemalan flag and a giant bird perched on the cake. Loved it! I have had many tearful good-byes but I really cannot be too sad right now because I am excited to be starting this great adventure and I know I will be doing a little part to make our world better.

I woke up very early yesterday and caught my flight from Boise to Denver to Atlanta. I only packed my big backpack which weighed in at 45 pounds and then my little backpack which is about 20 pounds so I was well under the weight limit. However, carrying all that and walking around is a little difficult. After arriving in Atlanta I met up with 3 other girls and we made our way to the train into town. We looked ridiculous with all our stuff and we heard a few chuckles from others. After checking in we met up with other people as they arrived, went to dinner and hung out. Of course I could not sleep last night because I am too excited about everything! I'll hopefully update this one more time before leaving the states. In the meantime here is my mailing address until July:

Kelly Knapp, PCT
Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 66
Santa Lucía Milpas Altas, Sacatepéquez
Guatemala, Centro América

Monday, April 5, 2010

Last Weeks in America

I have officially finished work in the US for at least the next 2 years! Last week I took Spring Break with my friend Samantha and we visited the San Juan Islands with her family. It was absolutely beautiful and was also a great time to relax and hang out with one of my best friends that I'll be very sad to leave.

Now I am spending my time cleaning, packing, visiting with friends and then cleaning some more. Maybe I should not have acquired soooooo many things the last 23 years!

3 weeks from today I will be flying to Atlanta, GA for Staging (aka a really long/intense orientation) and then on April 28th I will fly to Guatemala! I'm just trying to relax and not worry or stress too much in the next few weeks. I have been practicing my Spanish a little but hopefully it will all come back to me when I'm there. I am not too concerned with the Spanish part but rather with the technical work aspect of my assignment. I have NO CLUE how to go about building stoves/latrines/cement floors/etc. but hopefully I'll be a fast learner.

I'm also figuring out what exactly to pack so if anyone has any ideas or suggestions please let me know!