Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yet another year older

I write to you no longer as an irresponsible youngin’, but as a mature woman of 24.  Yeah, right.  Either way, with the passing of another June 7th in Guatemala, I have only spent one birthday in my 20s in the States.  Next year I’m planning on a quinceƱera + 10 in New York :)

Luckily the international celebrations have been far from slacking.  I spent a week in Xela for Spanish classes and a GAD meeting (my first as Coordinator – success!).  The crazy new group kept me up until 3am when I had to wake up at 6:00 to get over to Antigua…to pick up Sam at the airport!  We had a great week together until June 3rd: eating in Antigua, visiting schools in Cunen (I forget that traveling to the middle of nowhere through winding mountain roads is not for everyone…sorry again!), shopping in Chichicastenango, and chilling out at Lake Atitlan :)  During that time I also received an awesome birthday package from Whitney with various favorite snacks and Guatemala-survival tools (like straws and rubber bands and Purell that only kills most germs!).

hiking Volcan San Pedro on Lake Atitlan
The week of my birthday was fairly slow and disappointing (some “why am I here?” despair moments, followed by further despair at the fact that I’m still experiencing such moments), so the best present I could’ve asked for was a wonderfully productive birthday day.  In the morning I met with my ag leaders in Cunen to start planning a mushroom-growing project, which has a lot of potential.  Then a lovely lunch with my neighbor ladies – the grandmother felt so bad that she forgot to wake me up at 5am with firecrackers outside my window in accordance with Guatemalan tradition – but I was like, THANK YOU!!!  It is a terrifying experience and I was glad to escape it once again :)  Finally, in the afternoon I met with the Trigales group to plan a project using USAID funds to build a warehouse for their onions.  Because of the timing of my upcoming vacation, we have to get the proposal together in 1 week (rather than the 1-2 months it usually takes volunteers), but it looks like we’re going to do it!  I’m also still trying to get Walmart to buy their product.  If both succeed, I’ll feel very satisfied that I’ve had a successful service, so here’s to hoping!

In continuation, I had a fun little party at my house on Friday with some Peace Corps friends (with lots of wine and a 3-tiered cake that I spent all day baking in my toaster oven!) and then this afternoon I cooked lunch for my host family.  I may have discovered a new favorite recipe: carrot croquettes!  Sounds weird and I never particularly liked ham croquettes, but my modification was delicious, just saying.  The celebrations will finally conclude with a trip to Costa Rica with my parents (and a night with Anais) starting on Saturday.  Let’s just say my mom picks far nicer accommodations than I am used to and it will be amazing :)

And despite the last few days of beautiful summer weather (for my birthday, obviously), we are undoubtedly in rainy season right now.  Things I hate about rainy season:

1. the various animals (i.e. frogs) and insects (i.e. gargantuan beetles) that seek refuge in my house
2. carrying around a cumbersome rain jacket and/or umbrella for days in beautiful weather and getting caught in a downpour the day I’ve decided to leave my rain gear at home
3. the moldy smell and damp feeling that penetrates everything
4. the streets that turn into rushing rivers in antiquated cities like Antigua (hence the name) and Xela
5. the streets that turn into mud in Cunen

What I like about rainy season:

1. the disgusting humid heat that blankets Cunen until the rain starts in the afternoon reminds me of summer in NYC? 

There’s some comfort in that although this is my third rainy season in Guatemala, it is my last.  Maybe.