Me and mi amiga Kim from Chicago!
My group at work
A view of my town San Luis from a hill above. My town is past the main highway yo can see and I live further through the mountains a bit.
This is the awesome cmemetry located in Santo Domingo Xenjacol
My group and the group from Santo Domingo
The church in Santo Domingo
Inside the church in Santo Domingo
I have officially gotten “into the thick of it.” Training went from being fun and easy to OMG I have a lot of stuff to get done in the next few days. My training group is working with the Centro de Salud (Health Center) in Antigua and next Wednesday the center is hosting a Women’s Health Fair. They asked us if we wanted to help and we said yes of course. However, now we are giving two talks, one on HIV and one on Domestic Violence. Yikes! In technical training sessions we are just starting to learn how to give a health talk (called a CHARLA here). My group had to expedite the process since we will be presenting to about 50 women on Wednesday. I am working with Cathleen and we are going to do the Domestic Violence talk. As of now I have no idea what we are actually going to do but I know it will come together somehow. I guess one way to learn how to give a health talk in Guatemala is to just throw it out there and see how it goes.
On Thursday we went to meet the mayor of Pastores, the larger municipalidad that San Luis belongs to. He was very helpful to talk to and knew all about the population, taxes, public services and groups that the municipalidad works with. He was also very supportive of the Peace Corps and its goals and I think by the end of the meeting he wanted to get a volunteer placed in Pastores! He also invited us all to the “Aguas Calientes” (Hot Springs) with him one day. Hang out with the mayor…why YES!
In addition to the mountain of technical training/health talks we are doing and meeting the mayor we have been trucking along with Spanish class. We had a feedback session with our teacher this week and all went well with that. On Friday we watched a movie called “El Norte” about the 30 year Civil War in Guatemala (that ended only recently in 1996) and how the war affected immigration to the US. It was interesting to see through a movie how another country views America…the Land of Milk and Honey. However it also showed the reality of living as an illegal immigrant in the US and how it is not so easy to have the “American Dream.” It was a good movie but a little on the depressing side (but I guess that’s real life, eh). Friday was also the last day with our Spanish teacher, Chepe. They switch teachers during training so we will have Oscar from now on. I think my whole group is really sad because Chepe was The Man! We got to do fun stuff (like go out to breakfast in Antigua) instead of regular class. Hopefully Oscar will be the same.
Today we had a “Community Exchange” with another training group that lives in Santo Domingo Xenjacol. They came here to San Luis first and we showed them around and did a mini-scavenger hunt. We had them hike up a big hill to get a better view of San Luis. Unfortunately San Luis has one road in town and not too much going on- no internet, no ice cream, and no basketball courts- so it was hard to come up with stuff to show them but we played a trivia game and I think they enjoyed it. Then we went to visit their town and it was amazing! It’s about 20 minutes from us by car and it’s nestled in a bunch of green mountains. They city is also much bigger and they have their own mercado, puesto de salud, and 5 escuelas. Not to mention the best Guatemalan ice cream shop, Sarita! I must say I have a little town envy. Poor San Luis is just so small comparatively.
Other than a lot of work I have been hanging out with my host family a lot. Friday night we went out to a mall to eat and had a sandwich at a little coffee shop. They are really great people and I love watching them with their new baby. It was kind of funny today because they asked me how I feel in their home and I said “bien.” Ingrid wasn’t so sure and had to double check and I had to reassure her I am very happy and they are very kind and wonderful to me. I really am having a great time so far. The amount of work is overwhelming at the moment but I know it will all go alright. And even if I make a fool of myself with these health talks they will just assume it’s because I’m a Gringa so I’ll just go with that.