I passed a few landmarks here in country this past month:
Among them are my first birthday away from home, first school gardens, first HIV/AIDS trainings, and first town feria…
What is feria?
Feria is endless fireworks & costumed marching jaguars and deer and tigers passing me in the streets & chickens painted like quetzales & turn a corner but no exit here & trucks full of churros and elote & a Ferris Wheel that every now and then will outrun its generator and strand screaming indigenous women at the top. It is a week without school, Quetzalteca in paper bags, and mariachi bands on stilts. They say it is quite alegre.
For a job-related update: I was delighted this month to receive my first grant approval though Feed the Future in order to fund my municipal level health skit fair. This grant will be used to both lessen the financial burden of participating students’ families and to kick off a recycling program within the schools. So, aside from all of the dicking around and hobby time I have gained, I will have a real life skill to take home (that, and being able to cook a billion different things with a rice cooker, to sew holes in my pants after I fall down on a lot of sharp rocks as a I do at least once a week, to balance water jugs on my head, and to sit through lengthy prayer without shooting lasers out of my eyes). Five schools will showcase health skits in the urban center and drink less soda this day.
Another recent development has been a collaborative effort to promote recycling and reuse in our district. My neighbors fill the finite amount of space that we have around us with their old tires and Gatorade bottles and bags of used diapers. I feel like I am full of thorns when I see people hurl heavy loads of trash into the river that runs through the town center, which further down becomes a site for clothes washing and even drinking for the terminally thirsty. I have been visiting schools with Ministry of Education representatives to talk about trash classification and compost, and this coming year, we will start collecting metals and plastics on site in order to sell and raise money for paint for the schools. Sometimes, collaboration can be difficult in itself, however. It does usually lessen the workload and create cool new ways of learning, and I am a big fan of working in groups because I tend to be a big thinker and idealist and require the complementary organizational skills and focus. But then some days you will invite a local health worker to co-facilitate a session, you know, in hopes of making it sustainable. But then it fails. Maybe this person does not show up on time or at all. Or maybe, it is one of the truly auspicious events when this grade A co-facilitator is stationed there with the materials at the scheduled time. You get your hopes up, grinning absentmindedly during the presentation. Until you catch them, despite being backed by a bachelor’s degree from the top university in Guatemala, emphasizing use of Coca Cola in order to run faster, or that paper from books never decomposes, or that homosexuality can be treated, or that diabetes is caused by not wearing enough layers in cold weather. And in the case of one male health professional, emphasizing that the cure to diabetes is having daily sex. I have learned by now through health talks that most of the Guatemalans I work with do not know what or where a clitoris is, so the idea that it would cure diabetes, let alone be fun for a sick person, is dubious. Nice try.
I now rise with the sun and fall with the moon. It just feels right. I do sometimes wonder why daylight savings time is not international, though. The first time I have slept past 8 AM here in this country was this past weekend after a night on a yoga mat surrounded by my cool and smelly friends in Uspantan after exactly two beers and a waterfall hike. Northern Quiche is home to the volunteers who live furthest from me, and so a 7-hour bus ride via Santa Cruz later, I found myself in an area that is not entirely unlike Momostenango in appearance or climate. But, the bugs are bigger and you can’t just jet off to the nearby Walmart when you run out of contact solution. But it is beautiful, just as Momostenango is beautiful.
Also, big shout out to my mom Tanya for sending a cool package full of dried figs, almonds, and dark chocolate. In fact, I will probably eat only this for the next two days. This is a special shoutout because this is the first box she has ever mailed me that doesn’t include a turtleneck sweater.
*side note-when will Frank Ocean come out with a follow up album?
Swim Good, forever.