“I already arrived!” A favorite saying of Guatemalans when you have just returned from, well really, anything. “¡Ya llegó!” Or, interchangeably in the tú form “¡Ya llegaste!” They don’t really have anything better to say to me than “you have arrived”? Well, I have arrived at my home for the next two years.
Population: 1,050 people.
Churches: 4 Evangelical and 5 Catholic.
Population of cows: probably more than people.
Population of chickens: definitely more than people…and tastier than people, too.
Yes, I know that was cheesy metaphorizing my incredibly beautiful site (if metaphorizing is even a word, because Microsoft doesn’t seem to think so but I disagree) to a discover card commercial, or whatever credit card does that, but really, being able to see what I’ve seen today makes the lack of water for 17 hours of the day worth it. From my room I can see more shades of green than Crayola can think of silly names for. And besides the brilliantly blinding neon shades people here insist on painting their houses, greens and browns are just about all I can see. It’s exactly what I asked for.
I was actually supposed to arrive at site on Sunday, however at around 2:30am Sunday morning I found myself throwing my guts up in the pila (you should all take not that it’s much easier to hurl into a pila than into a toilet bowl). That didn’t stop until 10am, however I had no way of knowing when it was going to stop and had no intention of even chancing throwing up on the camioneta, our public transportation system here, so I laid in bed the entire day. I think between 9pm Saturday night and 6am Morning I was only awake for about 4-6 hours, and nearly all of that time was spent either throwing up or waiting to fall back asleep. I’m just glad this was a 24 hour bug and not anything worse. Today I woke up well rested and without any sort of stomachache, headache, or bathroom problems so I made the 7 hour journey to my site in El Quiché.
Anybody that knows me pretty well knows how much I hate driving. I hate being in the driver’s seat, I hate being in the passenger’s seat, I just don’t like traveling. This is different somehow. Sitting down with my huge backpack pressed to my torso, at the same time being squished between two or three other people on a bench that was really made for two, breathing in the humid regurgitated air of humans who probably haven’t showered in three or four days…oh, I guess that’s me too. But somehow that didn’t seem to bug me. I just had a great time looking out the window the entire time, listening to my podcasts, and thinking about what I was going to do with myself for the subsequent two years.
That worry is starting to become more concrete day by day now. What am I going to do with myself for the next two years? I’d be nothing but content just to go for walks and hang out with townspeople and learn, but what I’ve heard of so far about my work just doesn’t seem like enough. Perhaps that’s where my desire to learn how to be a self-starter will come in handy. I should be glad for this opportunity to be able to do basically whatever I see fit, whatever I observe as a need in the community and can help with: that’s exactly my job. I can do whatever I want! I do flip-flop back and forth a lot, meaning hundreds of times per day, with excitement to worry and happiness to confusion and 360o worth of emotions in between and all around.
The swearing-in ceremony didn’t help much with this distress, either. Thursday we were all “sworn-in” as official Peace Corps volunteers where we recited the very same oath as Vice President Joe Biden took, as many other officials have taken in the past, and then spent all of Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday hanging out together in Antigua having fun. It was a lot of fun. I got to spend a lot of time with the closer friends I’ve made these past three months and I also got to spend time with some I haven’t really had the chance to get to know that well which I really enjoyed. It’s not even that saying goodbye was hard; because it wasn’t (sorry to any of you PC amigos who happen to be reading this), it’s just that goodbye’s have never really hit me at the moment of departure, they hit me when I have a story to tell, or a joke to tell, or I see a picture or read a phrase that reminds me of a certain person and they’re not there to share the moment. The difficulty in saying goodbye isn’t in actually saying goodbye, it’s in not knowing how to tell others how much their friendship actually means and how much they’ve helped me through the past months even though most probably don’t even know it. Even people who I’ve had only a few conversations with; lengthy ones, superficial ones, philosophical ones, comical ones, have helped me understand how true of a statement it is that we’re all in this together, and there’s nobody better prepared or better able to be a good friend during these next couple years than the friends we’ve just made during training.
I probably sound more pessimistic at this moment than I actually am. I’m not, actually I had a great rainy day today, am sitting in my new house in my very uncomfortable bed (bringing the thermarest was definitely better than bringing a sleeping bag), my stomach is full and I was even brave enough to touch a spider today! Yes, it was huge and gruesome and wanted to fight me to the death but I just picked it up with my bare hand, you better believe it, and shooed it across the floor. Okay, so it was just the size of the head of a small screw, but for me, baby steps. It’s probably growing to gigantic proportions somewhere hidden in my room and going to come out and eat me alive one night. If you ever don’t hear from me for over a week, you could just assume that’s what happened.
Back to the point, I’m not being pessimistic, just rambling a little. I want to get back into the habit of writing at least every other day and this brain-dump is me making up for the past week or so. I am feeling overwhelmed about having responsibilities and having to take care of myself in a completely foreign place, but at the same time those are the exact reasons I joined the Peace Corps. I wanted to be put into an difficult situation. I wanted to be challenged, doubted, I wanted to be uncomfortable and because of all these challenges I want to discover things about other people, myself, the way the world works, and just stuff in general. I wish I could think of a better word than “stuff”, but that’s all I’ve got. I want to learn stuff. Actually, that makes some sense to me. I don’t really care what I learn as long as I learn something real. I’ve done so much learning already with my hand being held I can’t even imagine how much I’ll be able to learn out here on my own. On that optimistic note, I’m going to write goodbye, feliz noches, and to any of my friends in California or the US or in Guatemala, if you ever see a photo, phrase, hear a joke, or just have a moment that makes you think of me, you’ve got to know how happy I’ll be to hear it.
6 years ago