Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Summer has started here, which means it will be brutally hot for the next 2 months or so. My boss from Peace Corps made a visit here the other day to check up on us and see how work is progressing. He came up in his nice jeep with one of those fancy digital thermometers inside and air conditioning. I couldn’t believe it when I switched the thermometer reading to the US system and realized 40 degrees Celsius means 103 Fahrenheit. We took some guys that I have been working with along for the ride, and they laughed in amazement when the vents started spewing out cold air. We took my boss to see the compost-making latrine and signs we made to prepare us for Guatemala’s biggest week of tourism, Semana Santa. It’s the whole week leading up to Easter. It was during that week that after a year of planning, teaching locals, waiting for some money, building some basic infrastructure, and promoting that Salinas Nueve Cerros had its first paying customer. It still has a long way to go to become the successful community-run ecotourism destination that I know it can develop into, but we are all pumped and proud of the work we have done to get this thing rollin’.
In other news, one of my long-time best buds Seiya made the trek down here to see what life is like in the jungle. Luckily, his trip down here coincided with some trips I needed to make to the City for work. That cut down on taking more 10-hour trips to Guatemala City. I had to give some warning before he got here because I wasn’t sure how everyone would react to seeing a longhaired Japanese dude with a couple tattoos. Turns out mostly everyone just looked at him nervously, but approved of his presence. The few that were courageous enough to talk with him of course loved him. They were amazed by his abilities to write in Japanese and play music, and were dumbfounded by the gadgets he had i.e. video camera and iphone. Here are some memorable quotes by my fellow villagers during Seiya’s visit:
· “B’ex, what is she doing here.”
· (with a very confused look) “So he’s Japanese, but he lives in the US?”
· “He’s studying music in college? That’s beautiful!”
· “How well does he speak Q’eqchi?”
Needless to say, it was great having him here. Due to his long hair, scruffy face, and funky hat, he even got to leave with his very own nickname in Spanish. Its too bad El Chino Che Guevara could only stay a couple days.
Take care, I’ll update this again some time.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
So I have gotten pretty bad at this whole posting on my blog thing. Not to make an excuse or anything, but I think it’s because things here seem so normal to me. When I sit back and analyze a little though, I realize that some pretty incredible stuff is still happening to me. Like this soccer tournament I am playing in with my village’s team for example. Just to get to the field, we first have to ride our bikes for an hour and half to a jungle-soaked community right next to the mighty Chixoy River. From there, we pay a guy (something like 50 cents each) to watch our bikes while we try to convince somebody from the village to take us across the river in one of the broken down wooden rafts that has a motor attached to it. Once the price is haggled to a point where both parties agree, we get motored to the other side where the soccer field, a couple hundred spectators, and teams from 8 different communities will spend their Sundays for the next couple months. I’ve never had to work so hard to get to a soccer game. It’s a guaranteed adventure every week and I love it.
Other than that, I’m just doing what I can to help and I’m basically half way through with this whole Peace Corps thing. A year has flown by.
I recently had the chance to go to Tikal, the most popular national park and home to tons of Mayan ruins in the middle of the rainforest, with Andy and his mom. I have heard so much about it, and it still exceeded my expectations. Amazing. Here are some photos of that trip.
Monday, December 29, 2008
First, we went to Antigua and did Antigua stuff like eat, sleep, and take pictures with Santa.
From there, we headed up to Cobán for a night to break up the drive a bit. We went out to dinner there and the fam got to meet some friends of mine from here. More eating and sleeping. The next morning, we made it into my site just in time for...
The final of the soccer tournament we have been playing in since late September. We won 4-0. Santa also made an appearance at the game. I don´t really realize how big of a freak I am here until I see pictures like this one. It helps me understand why I still make some little kids cry why I come near.
After the soccer game, we spent Christmas eve eating and singing in various households of my hometown of Santa Lucía. We spent the next 3 days checking out the tourist areas in the region. One day at Laguna Lachuá (1st pic, with my buds and fellow volunteers Andy Patari and Chris Barry), a day on the jungle cruise of Roqha Pomtila (2nd pic) and a day hiking around Salinas Nueve Cerros (3rd pic).
As the pictures might suggest, it was great wholesome-family-jungle fun. I´m really glad they got to experience this stuff. Ok, that´s all for now. I miss y´all and love you. Happy new year.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Person from Santa Lucía: “In your country you guys drink water, right?”
Me: “Uh, ya, but not like you do here.”
Person from Santa Lucía, with a look of slight confusion and worry: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Well, we don’t drink water every day, let alone with every meal. It might be a part of a meal maybe once a week.”
Person from Santa Lucía, laughs in amazement, then: “But here you got used to drinking lots of water, right?”
Me: “Ya, I like drinking water now, but it´s not something I need to survive.”
Long pause, then Person from Santa Lucía: “Huh, well, let´s go _________________” (fill in the blank).
Me: Ya man, let´s go do that.
Here are some other fun tortilla facts:
o Wa (pronounced kwah) is the q´eqchi´ word for tortilla. It also means food. One time, I went to a friend’s house asking to buy some tortillas and was given an entire meal.
o Xorok (pronounced show-roke) means “to make a tortilla” and “to applaud”. If you’ve ever seen a lady clapping one out, you know why.
o The first time I accidentally grabbed two tortillas instead of the customary one at a time, I was worried I had committed a horrible cultural mistake. When my dining partner asked me with a serious face if I knew what the q´eqchi´ people have to say about that, I replied with a nervous “no”.
“Well,” he said with a sudden smile on his face, “it’s just like having two women at the same time!”
Ah man, the people here are great. I’m still having a good time and looking forward to seeing my dad and sister next month. I can’t believe it has been close to a year since I have seen anyone from home. Hope all is well with you. Let me know.
Friday, October 24, 2008
On the happy side of the coin, the rains didn’t stop my soccer league this past weekend. I am now one of those freak celebrities that I talked about in an earlier post, but in many other towns. Before the games, people shout my name and when I smile and wave, most just stare at me and laugh nervously. Little by little they are learning that I’m a nice guy and nothing to be afraid of. During the games, I get an earful from the other team’s fans. Afterwards, it all depends on how my team did. Santa Lucía is currently in 3rd place. Tomorrow, we play the 4th place team, so it should be a good one.
Baseball is still played by many of the kids here, only it has changed a bit. As you may remember, everyone calls me B´ex (pronounced Besh). So, because I taught them the great American pastime, and because of my name´s striking similarity to said game, Baseball is now called B´exball. Ha, I love it.
I´ll leave you with a photo of another one of my favorite pastimes that I taught to the kids here.
Yes, the 5 year old in the background is playing air guitar with my sharpened machete. Don´t worry, he already has much more experience with those than I do.
I´ll update again soon. Hope all is well with you.
Friday, September 19, 2008
On a different note, September 15th was independance day here. So fun! The night before we celebrated the way they do every year by running home-made torches from a far away town to ours. From there, all of Santa Lucía showed up to watch 5 local girls compete in what we know as a beauty pageant. The girl I picked to win got 2nd place. The next day, we competed in a soccer tournament in the next town over and got third place. The festivities culminated that night with a dance. People were stoked to see me there and got even more jazzed when I started to dance. At one point, there were several guys crowded around the girl I was currently dancing with and myself making high-pitched sweaks to the beat of the music. Hilarious.
Work is also going well and little by little Salinas is becoming a tourist destination. I hope all is well with you. Special shout out to those of you who have mailed me stuff. It has all been great and I really enjoy hearing from you.