Tuesday, November 8, 2011

E12, HallowEEn, and Elections, oh my

Dear faithful readers,

I’m not sure why you find my life worthwhile to follow, but while I have deserted you for the last month, I at least have some new adventures to report :)         

October started as a fairly shitty month with the onset of Tropical Storm E12…a proper name would’ve been preferable so as to better aim curses at.  It started, as luck would have it, the day of my last activity with the schoolkids.  I should preface this by saying that it almost NEVER rains here in the morning; rainy season in Cunen is characterized by super hot mornings followed by torrential rain breaking the heat in the afternoon.  However, on this particular morning, the rain started as I was dragging my sitemates with me to Trigales for a treasure-hunt-type game that would test what/if the kids had learned from me.  Although I’d planned to have them running all over the school campus and had to instead make drastic changes to keep them from getting soaked and covered in mud, a fun time was had by all and it seemed like the kids did indeed pick up some stuff from my time with them!  As the school year here runs from mid-January to mid-October, I’ll start back up with them next year.

But back to the storm: the rain was bad enough that Peace Corps placed us under “Standfast” (no traveling) and I deftly avoided getting stuck in Uspantan (they had mudslides and no electricity…no thank you!).  My sitemates and I appropriated the situation and renamed it StandFEAST and I must’ve gained 10 pounds…it’s not like I ever need an excuse to eat large amounts of food, but not being able to leave Cunen was as good as any!  Anyway, the rain was practically nonstop and freezing for a week, so everyone was ecstatic when the sun finally came back out with a vengeance, effectively ending the rainy season.  Of course, then I forgot to water my plants for a while…

I did a whole lot of nothing after that (lovely way to celebrate my 1 YEAR IN SITE!  Just kidding, I had a fun lunch party with some friends and colleagues in town), but then miraculously my work picked up and I am BUSY!  Not only did my groups that I haven’t seen in ages apparently want me back, but I’m also helping another colleague do marketing stuff with her artisan groups, which I really enjoy.  However, four charlas in four days is quite tiring and seriously called for a four-day weekend!  Kate, Melissa, and I made our way down to Antigua on the Saturday before Halloween for, well, another eating fest lol.  I managed to blow about half of my November salary on food and drinks, but it was so worth it!  And Halloween was awesome: we brilliantly executed my idea of being…wait for it…TOURISTS!  Haha we had been covertly watching all the middle-aged tourists to best imitate their oddly safari-like look and it seriously paid off :)  The only downside was that we were like the only non-Guatemalans at the bar and it was totally lost on them – they were like, why are you crazy gringas dancing with fanny packs and headlamps??  The best part was the next day when we went to Sumpango – where I lived during training – for the kite festival and saw a tourist wearing Kate’s exact outfit from the night prior, completely legitimizing the costume!  But omg the kites were INCREDIBLE.  The biggest ones had to be 30 feet high and all are intricately detailed with pieces of tissue paper; no paint is used because it weighs them down.  Because yes, they fly, or at least the smaller ones (10ish feet) do, which was a cool part of the festivities.  This time of the year is generally kite-flying season all over the country, but they say in Sumpango that the giant kites communicate with the spirits in the cemetery on November 1st, All Saints’ Day or Day of the Dead.  Who knows if it’s true, but it’s a truly amazing tradition and I was glad to finally experience it, as I was forced to be in Cunen before the start of the holiday last year.

Oh and the Antigua trip was also a bit of a celebration: for those of you who don’t stalk me on Facebook (I don’t understand why not…), I found out about 2 weeks ago that I passed the Foreign Service Officer Test!  I seemed to have done pretty well on the multiple choice questions, though just barely passed the essay section.  Whatever, passing is passing!  I’m currently working on the second part of the process, which consists of 6 short personal narrative essays.  Luckily I’ve had enough (interesting?) life experiences, so I’ve got pretty decent stories.  Now I just need to edit them down to 1300 characters and perfection and submit them in a week!  I’m trying to be realistic because this is the most competitive part and really, my chances of moving onto the next step and being invited to the interviews are quite slim.  But as mumsy reminds me, I am fairly qualified, so we’ll see…wish me luck!

Speaking of international relations, Sunday was the second round of Guatemalan elections, this time to determine the president from the top 2 candidates.  I don’t think I mentioned this, but the candidates were far from ideal and stealing a popular phrase from Peruvian politics, the choice between the 2 was likened to choosing between HIV and cancer.  A significant amount of people I talked to decided not to vote because they were so disillusioned with the options.  But alas, por fin Otto Perez Molina of the Patriota iron fist party won.  I was pretty sure of the results when the fireworks began around 8pm…they were practically in my backyard since I live so close to the Cunen Patriota headquarters!  Today’s newspaper showed that although he carried none of the western part of the country with the exception of one department, he took Guatemala City and its surrounding department, giving him the edge necessary.  He’s for sure the less populist of the 2, but it’s anyone’s guess if he can provide the improved national security that he campaigned on.  Here’s a good article on the situation.

Ok that finally summarizes my life since my last update :)  I sadly don’t have any photos to share at the moment because my netbook is all virus’d up and won’t let me upload them, but I will be sure to get them out as soon as I can.  Now I just have to get through another busy week and then I’M HOME IN NEW YORK FOR 2 WEEKS!!!  Hit me up, amigos!