Pobre Guatemala was hit with another tropical storm this weekend. Tropical Storm Matthew rolled through the country and hit the eastern coast pretty hard. My site in northern Huehuetenango also received a LOT of rain. The storm started on Friday night and all PCVs got put on STANDFAST (no travel, stay in site for safety) again. Side note: I was told by another PCV that most volunteers will only go on STANDFAST once, maybe twice in their whole service…this was my third! The rain lasted all through Saturday and finally stopped sometime Saturday night. The creek that is about 10 feet from my house was overflowing and I almost left to go stay somewhere else but once the rain stopped it went back down a little. However, with the constant downpour and soggy ground I literally did not leave my house for 2 days. I must be getting accustomed to being bored and alone because this weekend really didn’t seem that bad to me. I am learning to pass my time doing completely useless tasks…and I can always sweep the floor!
Other than the ridiculous rainy season that will not cease I am preparing for International Child’s Day which falls this Friday. I met with the COCODE (town council) this afternoon to discuss some ideas. They had previously asked me to think of “something dynamic” to do with the kids. I took that as the kids will be playing some games and having fun. Wrong. I presented my ideas of games- potato sack races, wheelbarrow races, tug of war, musical chairs- to the group. Another side note: 99% of these meetings are spoken in Q’anjob’al; they only speak Spanish when speaking to me which means I never have any clue what is going on. I am constantly interrupting and asking for a translation. So I present my ideas and I think they understand in general but then go off speaking in dialect for another 20 minutes. I finally find out that the COCODE members are going to do a lip-sync (which is SO popular here) and they are going to play the games in front of the students. The lip-sync, not a bad idea. Having the kids sit and watch other people, other adults, play the games they want to play…bad idea. I finally agreed to run a potato sack race and musical chairs with 10-20 student volunteers in front of the rest of the school. This is just another example of how there is no concept of participation here. Guatemalans are just so used to sitting and watching things without ever getting involved. It was very important to me to get at least a few kids involved. For me, these kids should just have fun and be kids. Guatemalan children have an incredible amount of responsibility, probably more responsibility than I will ever have in my life. Most wake up early and help with chores and animals, then head to school, then return home for more chores and often to care for a younger sibling. I just want these kids to be kids for a day! I am hoping the day is a success. If nothing else, the town leaders recognize that International Child’s Day is an important day so that at least makes me smile.
In a follow-up to my last post, I had a completely full day today which makes me appreciate all my down time. I finished my home visits (yeah!), went to the town with my community leaders to ask for a nurse and then had the almost 3 hour long COCODE meeting. I am thankful I do not have days like this every day. It is very draining to be present physically but unable to understand the majority of the conversation. I am going to start using more of my down time to really study my Q’anjob’al!
Finally, I will leave you with a pic of little Lubu, who is getting bigger by the day! She is patiently waiting for any invader. In the spirit of Merle’s Door (great book for any dog lover), I have been letting Lubu run wild with the other street dogs. She always comes back and I think she is happier, but a little more aggressive. It is a fine balance to raise a dog in Guatemala.