"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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mail, Round II

Now that I again have a home, I will again be receiving mail! Back to my first mailing address, so please send anything and everything from here on out to my P.O. Box in Coban:

Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 66

Coban, Alta Verapaz 16001

Guatemala, Centro America

*Helpful tips:
-Only send packages/letters through USPS. FedEx, DHL, UPS, and other private companies will tax me heavily upon receiving such mail.
-Write the above address in full, in RED marker. It looks more official and is more likely to get to me quickly.

And while any and all mail will surely make my day (letters and postcards, please!), here's my updated wish-list for care-packages, as requested:

1. Almond butter and/or raw almonds
2. Quinoa
3. Dark chocolate peanut M&M's
4. Your thoughts, ideas, recipes, new music discoveries...surprise me!
5. Seeds for a garden project (vegetables and/or herbs: in particular I'm not sure I can find seeds for Okra, Kale, or Zucchini here but feel free to surprise me!)
6. Children's/Young Adult books/magazines in Spanish (used or new) for the Campur library project! (some in English would be okay, too!)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Home at last

I'm home I'm home I'm home!!

I arrived in Campur a short while ago after an exhausting day of travel. But I'm here at last. It looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same as I remember. My house is moldy and covered in cobwebs and dead cockroaches, but nothing a good cleaning won't take care of. It's just so amazing to be back here after two months of thinking I'd never live here again...so here it begins: Peace Corps Guatemala, Part II. There's no stopping me now.

Dear Jessica and Emily

Dear Jessica and Gouldy,

Happy happy birthday to the both of you!! It seems that it was just yesterday that we were celebrating your joint birthday in our Tompkins apartment. I miss you both, and wish you the best of days! This will surely be a good year!

Love you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear readers

Dear Cartas de Lejos readers,

More so than I had ever imagined, Cartas de Lejos has become such an important part of my PC experience. It's given me a way to record my thoughts, my experiences, and perhaps most importantly, to communicate with those of you back home and beyond. I owe you all--friends and family alike--a big thanks for the support and encouragement you've given me over the past two months (and the eight months before that!). My readership during the siege was at an all-time high, and I know that it was due to your added attentiveness during this time of doubt and insecurity. I thank you all for your continued support during my PC adventure...it would be a whole lot harder to get through my struggles without it!

I love you all!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Final Say Day: I'm going home!!

Just got the call from my APCD. I'm going back to Campur. Part of me still doesn't want to believe it. But it's happening. This Friday I'll be back in my site. I left on Deciember 21st to go home for Christmas. And 2 months 1 week later, I'm returning.

Sabiha and I spent the last few nights back at Monterrico (we figured we may as well spend the last part of this limbo living it up at the beach), and our last day there, walking along the beach, we both had the same thought: our lives are so crazy. This whole experience has been one of the least stable periods of my life; nothing was certain, and everything was apt to change in an instant. But now, coming out the other end of this mess, it's become clear to me that some good has come out of it all. By choice or not, I've spent the last two months traveling around this country, seeing things I never would have seen, meeting people I never would have met, and learning things I never would have learned. I've gone two months without privacy, without a home base, and without a plan. I've gone two months with two pairs of pants. This time has without a doubt been a true test of my patience, my stamina, and my ability to "go with it." But if nothing else, I'm coming out the other end much stronger. I've gained so much perspective about what I'm really here doing. And I've fallen in love with this country. I'm going back to my site excited as hell, and no challenges that await me there will dampen that.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Just got back from the long-awaited update session at Peace Corps. Drumroll please....it looks like I'm going back to site. I'm not allowing myself to get excited yet; everything still depends on the official assessment that PC Safety will carry out this weekend in Alta. But the Guatemalan government announced earlier today that at midnight tonight the state of siege will officially be lifted. And my project specialist seems quite optimistic that my site, since it isn't in a "hot-zone" will indeed be re-opened, allowing my (and my site-mate's) return.

I'm hesitant to start making plans as of yet...the PC staff will be contacting each one of us on Tuesday to notify us if we will be permitted to return to site. So again I wait. But things look promising, and I can't help but start to make plans and lists in my head about what to do when I get back to site. It will be 2 months and 1 week since I left, and I will have a lot of challenges to face. But if I got through integration, I know that I can get myself through re-integration. That's at least the hope.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Sometimes when I'm having a down day, I turn to my Daily Om's, daily yogic emails which I save in my gmail archive if I like them. Today, I turned to an old Daily Om entitled "Fog," that ended up really hitting the nail on the head for what I've been going through during this evacuation limbo.

"When we feel muddled and unfocused, unsure of which way to turn, we say we are in a fog. Similar to when we are in a fog in nature, we may feel like we can’t see where we’re going or where we’ve come from, and we’re afraid if we move too quickly we might run into something hidden in the mists that seem to surround us. Being in a fog necessarily slows us down by limiting our visibility...By and large, most of us prefer to be able to see where we are going and move steadfastly in that direction, but there are gifts that come from being in a fog...Then again, the fog may simply be teaching us important lessons about how to continue moving forward with extreme caution, harnessing our attention, watching closely for new information, and being ready to stop on a dime."

Off to the beach tomorrow.
One day at a time.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Back in Antigua after my week in the West. After recovering from the weekend, it was nice to have a few days to spend hanging around Xela. It was only my second time in Quetzaltenango, so it was all still pretty new to me. I spent most of my time with my new traveler friends, who are loving their time in Guatemala. It's been refreshing seeing this country through their eyes...everything is so novel and exciting, every experience a cultural one.

After Xela I spent a night with Lizzy and Kyle in their site, Chivarreto. Their site is really beautiful...the mountain views from their rooftop are awesome. Chivarreto is even equipped with it's own Hollywood-style "Chivarreto" sign built into the mountainside overlooking the town. We went to a vigilia (Evangelical vigil to give thanks to God) dinner at their neighbor's house where I was introduced to most of their town. Afterward Lizzy baked me birthday scones (which were delicious!) and we played cards. The next day I was off again, back to Zaragoza to see Melissa and Gatita, where we made and demolished the best potato nachos ever.

One more week until our "update" meeting on the 18th. I'm getting nervous. I have been constantly weighing my options and trying to prepare myself for what will come out of this. At the same time, I'm going to enjoy this last week as best I can, and just take it day by day.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And I'm 24

Happy Birthday to me! Thanks to all for your concerns and lovely birthday wishes! I can't believe my 23rd year has come and gone. It's hard to believe that I've spent most of that year here in Guatemala living la vida chapina.

Arrived in Xela on Sunday and decided to forgo the hospital (I really, really hate hospitals). I had made it through 3 bus rides without throwing up, so the PC nurse and I decided I could stay put and see if I improved by the next day. Sure enough, my stomach issues were gone as quickly as they came, and I am feeling fine. I'm taking it easy today, hanging out in Xela, enjoying the city and the sunshine. Plans for later include Indian food and celebrating with some American travelers I've met along the way. I'm just glad I'm not going to spend today hugging a toilet.

Today also marks 7 weeks since I was evacuated from my site. It's funny that these 7 weeks have felt like a lifetime, and my last year of life flew by in a flash. I've already begun to prepare myself for the changes that the next few months will surely bring. But for now, I'm going to continue rolling with the punches and making the best of it. Because if I've learned anything, it's that tomorrow will surely bring a whole new bundle of surprises.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear Dad

Feliz cumpleaƱos, Dad!

Hope you enjoy your 59th...you're getting up there!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bad karma?

And yet again I am challenged to stay positive in this mess of a situation. Yesterday was volcano hike day, but alas I woke up quite ill and had to stay behind. This is day 3 of some really horrible stomach issues, so today I'm heading into Xela (the nearest city) to the hospital where at least I won't be alone and I can have my own bed. I also won't have to worry about putting other volunteers out, which has become a theme these days.

So plans have unraveled, and it looks like I'll be spending Superbowl Sunday in a hospital bed. Awesome. I'm hoping I'll recover enough by Tuesday to go somewhere nice and relaxing (I'm thinking back to the beach). At least I'll look super good in my bikini.

Once again, I'll just have to trust that something good will come out of this. Because right now, this sucks.