"If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together" -Lilla Watson, Aboriginal Activist

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I'm home at last, staying with mom and dad. It's really strange to be back here...in many ways it feels like no time has passed at all, in other ways it feels like I've been gone forever. One thing's for sure; when you visit home after being in the Peace Corps, your parents and friends will spoil you like crazy (this has been confirmed by other volunteers).

Back in Guatemala I didn't really believe the other volunteers who told me how hard it is to come back after going home to the States. I do now. It's going to be hard. Something about being back here, seeing my friends and family, just makes me realize what I'm missing when I'm out in my site, washing clothes in my pila or reading books in my hammock. I think in-country I'm forced to convince myself that I'm not missing anything. But being back here everything I miss most is right there in front of me, and I find it's harder to enjoy it knowing that I'll be leaving again so soon. The things I miss most that I don't/can't have in Guatemala:

1. My social life. Having friends, people to hang out with, shoot the shit...that's something I don't expect I'll ever have with Guatemalans. There's just too much in the way.

2. My family.

3. Live music shows and hot yoga classes.

4. Living in Chicago, despite the despicable cold.

The other stuff I really can do without...and that's a good thing to know about myself. Eating pizza, taking hot showers and wearing nice clothes is great, I'll admit it, but nothing I can't live without. And what's with all the iPhones, hm? I got off the plane in Houston and all I saw were iPhones. And Starbucks cups.

But it's the holidays, so I'm going to aprovechar of the little time I do have to soak up as much of these four things as I can. Because like it or not it's gonna have to tide me over for another 19 months.

On a side note, it's been surprisingly hard to readjust to the habit of flushing the toilet paper. I keep looking for the toilet paper basket to throw it in, and then I realize where I am. Habits die hard, I guess.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home for the Holidays

December has flown by. It's gotten surprisingly chilly here in Alta Verapaz, but only because there's 1) no indoor heating and 2) no way to close my windows. After the sun goes down, the cold air chills my house to a brisk 50 or 60 degrees. So here I sit, at 8pm, in bed, wool sweater, wool socks, wool blanket, and a hot water bottle (i.e. a canning jar filled with boiling water) under my legs. It's cozy, until I have to get up.

In two days I'll be back in the States, after 8 whole months of being here in Guatemala. It's amazing to think that all that time's passed since I left to come here. People in Campur are very excited about my trip, too. Many of them still can't comprehend how I could spend all of this time living so far away from my family. So they're very excited for me to be spending the holidays at home. So am I...my bags are packed, fridge is empty...I'm ready.

In other news, the Guatemalan military has just declared a State of Seige in Alta Verapaz for the next 30 days in order to combat Mexican drug operations. There's a curfew in place, and I've been advised to carry identification on me at all times. I haven't been out of site since the siege was put into place (my aldea remains unaffected), so I'm anxious to see what it's like when I head to the airport tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beach beach beach

I don't know why I love the beach so much. I grew up in Chicago, for God's sake. But there's something about lying in hot sand with the suns cancer-rays beating down on my skin that just does it for me. So for Thanksgiving weekend I spend 13 hours on a bus (one way, mind you) to do just that--bake in the sun on a beach. My guidebooks tell me that Monterrico is Guatemala's best beach, located way down on the south coast, on the Pacific. There's still not a whole lot to the town of Monterrico, just a few tourist hostels, some bars, and of course miles of black sand beaches. There's also a sea turtle hatchery where sea-turtles (now very much endangered due to egg poaching, net fishing, and pollution) are bred and released into the sea. Other than that, it's just like any other little Guatemalan town. And that was fine with me. I spent my weekend on the beach, lying in a hammock with a book, and enjoying ice-cold fruit licuados. It was delightful. And that I'm definitely thankful for.