Sunday, August 15, 2010

Finally Here!!

Hello all! Wow...all I can say about the past few days is puchica! Thats Guatemalan Spanish for ¨wow!¨ This has seriously been a roller coaster of emotions, activities, experiences and more.
I first want to say thank you to my amazingly wonderful family and friends. Over the past few weeks, you have come up around me, given me the love, strength, laughs, good times and courage to take on this new phase in my life. You know who you are, I love you. Thank you, you make me whole.
This first post is for Mom...I know she wants the blow by blow, so here it goes! Training was in Arlington, VA for about a day and a half of intense introduction, ice breakers and get to know you games with the other 31 vollunteers. We have a great group of people, and even though we´ve only known each other for a week, I already feel close to many of them, and can tell we´´ll be great friends.
We left for Guatemala City at 330 am on Wednesday, and finally made it to the Peace Corps Office in the late afternoon. We briefly met the country director, Martha and our techincal coordinators and language instructors. The Peace Corps compound is pretty heavily guarded, fenced and has 24-7 surveillance going on. Its nice to be American sometimes...
Anyway, another PCV, Kristin and I were put together with our host family for the first 3 nights. DoÑa Irma and Don Mauro were our host parents. They were incredibly hopsitable and amazing people.
So, the first 3 days were overviews of medical and safety training, Spanish interview, introductory language classes and some other odds and ends. The Peace Corps compound is in a city called Santa Lucia Milpas Altas, meaning Saint Lucia Tall Corn. Ahh...que mas...the noise! Holy cow, the noise. Chickens, roosters, fire crackers, radios, cars, whatever...at all times during the day and night. I think I already find it endearing...its like theres always someone or something awake. I like it. On Friday, a couple PCTs and I took a quick hike up one of the hills. We were actually in the clouds, which was beautiful.
On Saturday, we were taken out to communities with our language group, and situated with our host families. Each of us has our own familiy, but there are 5 PCTs in my community, within about a half mile of each other, which is really nice. We see each other every day for language classes, and on Tuesdays when we go into the Peace Corps office for basic training.
So, on a more personal note, this week has been intense! From feeling lonely, isolated, and asking myself, ¨why the heck am I doing this,¨to feeling empowered, in love with the sounds, smells and people here, to feeling the vague presence of the Peace Corps staff to feeling incredibly supported by them...so much more, this has been a roller coaster. More than anything, I feel alive. I am acomplishing a dream by learning Spanish, and exploring another corner of the world. But even more, I am here to serve, and be human. In the first page of our training manuals, there is a quote that says, ïf you are here because you want to help me, I do not need your help. If you are here because your humanity is wrapped up in mine, then welcome.¨I think this quote will unfold like an onion for me...making a certian amount of sense now, but will mean so much more as my service continues. Right now, I am just trying to immerse myself in the language, my host family, and not be too afraid to dive into speaking!
Ok, as an ending to this post, I want to give you a viseral image for things I love here so far...the ¨pat pat pat¨of women making tortillas on the street, the smell of street food is like rich meat and corn smells, but the Peace Corps says we cant have any...my host sister, MiMi, when she yells ¨quiero jugar!!!¨as her mom pulls her away from me to go to sleep, walking holding hands or crossing arms with my host Mom, Victoria, when going down the street, taking time to say hello to EVERYONE walking down the street, because thats what Guatemalans do...and, I think thats it for now. Oh, and laughing with my host brother and sister...theyre a married couple living with us, who are incredibly funny, especially my host brother. He´s always teaching me gestures, both offensive and helpful haha. Oh! And they´re great about telling me who to talk to and who not to...aparently there is a guy in my pueblo or town who they call Brad Pitt, because he always trys to date Americanas when the Peace Corps places volunteers here...still havent met him, I¨ll let you know when I do. OK! Gotta run, probably time for dinner...love you and miss you all! I´ll put pictures when I figure out how to do that...

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