Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FBT: Jalapa

Last week I went east to the department of Jalapa for Field Based Training with the other seven Food Security PCTs.  We used Mataquesquintla (a town nicknamed Coliz, oddly enough) as home base and headed out to a variety of surrounding aldeas (villages) during the days to get a taste of what some real current FS PCV sites look like.  Highlights follow.

Sunday:  We took a half day road trip starring a food court in Guatemala City that included standards from home like Subway and Burger King.  This started the week long trend of being bottomless pits meant to absorb any food in sight.

Monday:  Chicken vaccinations in San Antonio Las Flores by morning, touring a Coffee Co-op in Los Magueyes for the afternoon.  It turns out injections with a syringe are much less emotionally scarring than stabbing a chicken in the wing with a lancet.  The Coffee folks had a truly impressive worm compost system, but I was less enamored of the actual coffee (not that I know coffee quality anyway).

Tuesday:  I came down with a fever on Monday night that plagued me all day Tuesday, leaving me less than peppy.  We observed a cheese making process at the lecheria (diary) in Soledad Grande, had a devastatingly good lunch at the local PCV’s host family’s house, and toured some family gardens she has helped start.  Even though I was under the weather, this site appealed to me way more than Monday’s did.  Something about being high in the mountains just always makes me happy.

Wednesday:  We spent the morning in Pino Dulce making lunch with a women’s group who works with our PCV guide.  Since my portion of the meal needed to boil awhile, I also got to bond with the kids of the household, playing some a nameless game similar to Duck Duck Goose.  The afternoon was a quick stop by a school garden for another example of current projects, and then we returned to the hotel to prep our charlas for Tuesday (chats or workshops).

Thursday:  Charla day.  All eight of us had 30 minute presentations to give, which made for a long day.  The morning group was a cluster of women in San Supo who were eager to participate and pretty savvy to the topics.  For the afternoon we went to Pino Dulce’s ecological park where I gave my charla on soil conservation to a very shy group of young men that are employees at the park.  They enjoyed my “Lluvias de cambio” / “Rains of change” game (that’s Winds of Change to you, FLBC-ers), but were stone cold when I asked for questions or comments.  Ah well, the people evaluating me seemed to think it went okay.  We spent the evening around a campfire playing a marathon series of Mafia games (cards) and slept in a cabin perched on the edge of a steep mountainside.

Friday:  After breakfast we had a class on soil conservation methods that was both theoretical and practical, which actually reinforced my own talk from the previous day pretty well.  We hiked down a steep valley and constructed some A-frame levels, drainage ditches, and discussed terracing.  After a humbling (gasping and wheezing at 8,000 feet) climb back up to the park entrance, we had a delicious lunch and jumped into the vans for Sacatepequez (our department during training). 

We returned a day early due to Tropical Storm Matthew heading our way, but I was tired enough to get over my disappointment at missing out on zip lining fairly quickly.  Plus, we got to stop at Wendy’s and buy a Frosty on the way home.  It’s funny how I love American fast food here, but never ate it while I was home.  Go figure. 

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