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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Q'anjob'al, Men and Site Pics!

This week I started classes to learn Q’anjob’al, the native Mayan dialect they speak in my region. Becca, Cathaleen and I have four hours of class every morning in the main city of Santa Eulalia. We are working with a man, Pedro, who was recommended by the former volunteers. We started with the basics of the language- pronunciation and the alphabet. The language has lots of sounds that are made in the throat and almost sound exactly the same to the untrained ear but I am slowly picking up the differences. Also the grammar structure is completely different from Spanish and English. I am really trying just to get a basic understanding of how the language is set up and also the basic phrases. I have no intention of trying to become fluent but I just want a working knowledge since I know it will help me gain confianza with the people. Pedro says we are catching on faster than most so he thinks we will be able to progress quite rapidly.

I have been trying to get someone to talk to me about actual health work but I am struggling. The fact that my town lacks a Health Post/Center is proving to be one of my biggest struggles as far as work goes. No one really understands why I am here. I tell them my title- Preventative Health Technician- but that doesn’t mean much to them. I also keep bugging the community leaders to schedule a meeting so we can sit down and I can fill out my schedule but that also is next to impossible. One of the male town leaders was supposed to take me to meet the school director this week but then the town decided to do work on the main dirt road so all the men in town have been preoccupied with that. I guess that is Guatemala for you.

On another continued note-Guatemalan men. I am not sure how to act when men come by my house just “to chat.” I have been warned by almost every volunteer that most men have bad intentions as far as young American women go. This one younger man came by my house once when Becca was still staying with me. He said he just wanted to chat with me. I thought it was a little weird and I did not invite him in (that is a big no-no here…no men alone with you in your house). Today he was back at my house waiting for me just to chat. I do not get a bad feeling from him but my nature is to just assume he is a good person until he proves me wrong. I think I made it pretty clear this time that I was very busy and I did not want to chat with just him. Then he invited me to his family’s house in August for his mother’s birthday celebration. I am not sure what to do. I do not know him and cannot trust him but he may just be innocent and his family may just want to meet the gringa. I do not want to put myself in a bad situation but I can’t feel this one out. UGH. I have until August 12th to decide what to do! Also, Becca told me today that ANOTHER man in town has been asking about me. He told her he really likes talking to me and wants to “pasear” with me (spend time with me). NO NO NO!!! I think I need to put my ring on and start making it a point to talk about my fake boyfriend who lives in the states. I do not know how much more of this male attention I can handle.

A different view of my house. I live in the little green part.

A view of the large municipality, Santa Eulalia.

Another view of Santa Eulalia.

A view of my aldea (village),Pet, where I live.

Another view of Pet. Notice how all the houses are so spread out and surrounded by cornfields. There is no real "town center" except the school which is the large-ish building in the center in the distance.

Every afternoon the huge storms blow in. This afternoon looked so beautiful with the storm and the sun still shining.

A rainbow right outside my front door!


  1. he may just be innocent and his family may just want to meet the gringa

    ^this. i bet so. give him the benefit of the doubt. if he does/says something inappropriate, then you will have a justified reason to send him away.

    love you kel! you are doing great!

  2. Hi, I found your site through Jim and Emily's blog. I was totally addicted to their blog and so now I need my fix!

    As someone who has lived in Guatemala, I have to say that you should trust your PCV training. Someone who stops by to "chat" at your house (instead of just chatting with you when he runs into you on the street) definitely has ulterior motives.

    I am like you; my nature is to just assume people are good until they prove me wrong. Unfortunately, you can't do that in Guate. Going to his house will send all sorts of bad signals to him, his family, and your host family, too. Plus, it will just be awkward.

    I would ask a woman in your host family or maybe the enfermera Candelaria about how you should respond to these type of advances.

    Also, one more thing: try to avoid making eye contact with guys you don't know. American gals are used to looking everyone in the eye, and that is a really strong come on in rural Guatemala.