Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time for vacation!

Wow, I really don’t know where March went, but I’m so glad it’s over!  I can honestly say that it was my busiest month since arriving in Guatemala (aka EXHAUSTING).  Too few nights were spent in my own bed and yet here I am running around again, quĂ© locura!

Let’s see, the craziness began with a last-minute-planned celebration for International Women’s Day on March 8th in Cunen.  I didn’t actually think it would happen, but the municipal women’s office got their act together, soliciting some money from the muni and inviting about 40 women from Cunen and the surrounding villages.  The day was an overall success, though completely behind schedule.  Let’s just say that splitting into 4 groups and having them rotate to different activities (basic nutrition talk, healthy cooking demonstration, microfinance talk, artisan candle demonstration) is not a Guatemalan concept!  But everyone walked away happy and hopefully I’ll be able to coordinate more activities with them when I get back from vacation at the end of April.  And then immediately following the event was a surprise despedida (good-bye party) for my sitemates!  They had no idea about it and were completely surprised when I led them into the fancy restaurant in town…where 3 people were waiting for us lol.  I totally should’ve realized that all the guests would show up at the hora chapina (Guatemalan time, typically 1 hour late).  The good thing was that I didn’t tell them who was coming, so they continued to be surprised as each person wandered in :) 

the Women's Day event participants, minus those that left early
at the surprise despedida
The next day I woke up early for the Vagina Monologues weekend in Antigua.  First up was a “premature evacuation” party on Friday night for all my friends COSing early.  Allie and I were running around picking up and soliciting wine for the Monologues first and somehow managed to consume at least 5 free glasses each and a bunch of appetizers.  So the party, which would have been fun anyway, was a total blast :)  Saturday was spent in rehearsal…and Sunday was the production of the Vagina Monologues!  It was honestly a really awesome experience.  Although I’d seen the show before, this was my first time participating, and it being a multilingual performance (Spanish, English, and some Mayan languages) made it particularly special.  I’d never before even heard Guatemalan women talk about their vaginas or anything sexual, and here were indigenous women, generally known to be more shy, up on stage shouting about it!  Very cool.  Plus we raised about Q4,600 (like $560) for the NGO we worked with and the V-Day organization.  Also, a friend recorded my monologue and posted it here on YouTube!  Help me reach more than 10 views!

(The video starts a few lines in, btw.  The monologue begins with: 
Down there?  I haven’t been down there since 1953.  No, it had nothing to do with Eisenhower.  No, no, it’s a cellar down there.  It’s very damp, clammy.  You don’t want to go down there.  Trust me.  You’d get sick.  Suffocating.  Very nauseating.  The smell of the clamminess and the mildew and everything.  Whew!  Smells unbearable.  Gets in your clothes.)

the premature evacuation party in Antigua with some awesome people
the cast of the VMons
After that came 2 weeks of constant work with the school kids and my normal groups (also some play with a St. Patrick’s Day party in Uspantan, no worries).  I even arranged a meeting with the Trigales association and an employee of Mercy Corps, which could potentially result in a contract with Wal-Mart!  I hope it works out, especially since they’re the group I’ve worked with the longest.  Then came the weekend I had to say good-bye to all my PC friends leaving…I was glad I got to spend some more time with a bunch of them in Antigua.  I knew it was coming, but it’s still a weird feeling.  Finally, in an end to the crazy busyness, I spent a few days translating for a Canadian NGO that builds stoves in Uspantan (where I managed to lose my wallet fml) and then on to Nebaj for a presentation promoting the Save the Children artisan groups.  Some people from USAID showed up and I enjoyed talking to them about their work, my work, and where I’ll go from here.  A third year in Guatemala perhaps??  (I’ve been offered the chance to stay on for a third year as a volunteer leader in gender.  I have until the first week of May to decide…man, I hate making decisions!)

And now it’s time for vacation!  Well, almost.  I had 2 wisdom teeth removed in Guate yesterday, so I’m hanging out in the Peace Corps office recovering.  I think I’ll make my way to Antigua tomorrow, though, because I’m getting pretty bored here.  With Semana Santa (Holy Week) under way, there should be plenty of excitement – Antigua’s known for having one of the world’s largest celebrations, with multiple processions daily from the many churches, walking over the beautifully detailed alfombras (carpets made of dyed sawdust, and fresh flowers, fruits, and vegetables) laid out in the streets by the church patrons.  Of course, this also means that a majority of the streets are closed to cars and buses, so I’ll be going to the airport on Friday to pick up Darren so he doesn't get lost!