Two weeks ago I was wrapping up my site visit. I’d met my new host family (who is also my “counterpart” which is my official connection to my host agency in the community) and worked out living arrangements for the immediate future. I’d managed to scrape up a shin on rebar while falling in love with the view from the family’s roof. I was feeling nearly equal parts overwhelmed and hopeful. I was determined to find a teacher for the local language, K’iche’ ASAP. I also realized just how comfortable I’d become with my previous host family… it was time to mentally prepare for a new adjustment period.
One week and a day ago I went to the U.S. Ambassador’s home in Guatemala City, raised my hand, and took the oath that transformed me from Peace Corps Trainee into Peace Corps Volunteer. We scarfed down refreshments, hitched a ride to Antigua, and settled into the Hostel as home base for a day/evening of celebrations… several birthdays, the fact that we’re volunteers, and a bon voyage as we headed to our many new homes. Unfortunately, I came down with some food poisoning midafternoon and got to know the bathroom of my Hostel much better than any restaurants or bars around town that evening. So I spent Saturday in Sumpango to recover and then headed to my site early Sunday morning.
Today I am wrapping up my first “work week” in site. I arrived over the Day of the Dead celebrations, so the start to meeting the community has been slow since everyone was focused on their personal family traditions. I did manage to buy a bed off the back of a pickup truck for less than half the asking price in local stores (hopefully it wasn’t a lemon purchase). I’ve spent many hours sweeping mouse poop and spiders out of the place where I’m hoping to move later this month (I’m safely in a room of the family’s house in the meantime).
We held our first meeting with the women’s group “as a whole” this morning, set to begin at 8:00. The first woman arrived at 8:25 and additional women were arriving until after 9:00. Of the 72 women listed as part of the group, perhaps 25 arrived, and Ela was pleased with the turnout. I have to say, it was a windy morning in the high 40s, so I don’t blame some women for wanting to stay home. I did my best to introduce myself and seem eager to work while managing expectations for just what projects we’ll get going on and when. I was striving for eloquence in Spanish (with middling results) and who knows how I sounded once Ela translated me to Ki’che’ for the women. Regardless, it’s a start!