There is a joke here that if someone is half an hour late they're on time. Apparently I have adopted this ideology where my blog is concerned. I realized this morning that I haven't really shared anything that has happened since late January when we had the tremor! I will try to highlight all of the wonderful things that have happened since then without turning this into a novel!

JANUARY 31: In the morning we had a community interchange with one of the Health Schools groups. We made a little treasure hunt for facts around our Municipality. I have to say it was much more interesting for me to see the other town than it was for me to lead people around ours, partially due to the fact that the town that we went to was Pastores. Pastores is on the other side of Antigua and it is known for boots. There are stores upon stores lining the streets where you can see people cutting and dying leather to make any kind of boot you could possibly imagine, although the majority are cowboy boots. They aren't terribly expensive either. Certainly something to keep in mind if you are planning to head down for a visit. In the afternoon Kelly and I went to a festival in San Luis with her host mom. I am still a little confused about the occasion, but we ended up leaving 15 minutes or so after we got there. I guess I was expecting lots of people milling about, things to do, and neat things to see. It ended up being a pickup with large speakers on the back followed my a crowd of dancing men in drag. I wish I could answer your questions, but I am really baffled on this one.

FEBRUARY 1: Today Kelly and I were invited to my "uncle's" birthday party. It was fairly small, but lots of fun. Everyone ate like crazy and, of course, there was cake. As horribly as we eat in the states, there is a chunk of sugar and salt in everything here. This evening there was another birthday at home so we were graced with even more wonderful food... and cake. When it rains it pours, huh?

FEBRUARY 5: This afternoon each of the four people in our group gave charlas at the park at which we are working. This has been a stress factor for all of us for several weeks, and I think that we are all quite glad to be done with it. While our Spanish is getting good enough to communicate our thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, giving a semi-formal half-hour presentation to nine park guides and several managers from the muni is another animal all together. My charla was on how to write an effective mission statement. We started with a puzzle that I made from a piece of construction paper (that was darn difficult, if I may say so). I handed out a piece to each person and then asked if they could put it together alone or in small groups. "Of course not, we wouldn't have all the pieces." Then I asked them to work together to try and put it together. They got pretty far, but couldn't quite get it all to fit. Then I gave them another piece of construction paper with the solved puzzle outlined on it (representing a mission statement) and asked them to try again. Pan comida (piece of cake). We talked for a while about the similarities between a company and the puzzle, and then we looked at the mission statement for Polaroid (which is something along the lines of helping people capture their memories), and how it really gets to the heart of what the company is doing and allows them to evolve with technology. No, I didn't use that phrasing. I used pictures that I cut out of the newspaper. Also, no one needs to tell these guys that Polaroid isn't doing so hot, it was the thought that counted.

FEBRUARY 7: Today was one of the most exciting days for me since we have been here. All 32 of us were picked up in our communities this morning and we drove out to a Mayan site to be a part of a Mayan ceremony. It was a private house where they had unearthed an old Mayan altar. Originally the owner of the property had built his house over the altar, but upon moving in he suddenly began drinking heavily. He tried unsuccessfully to quit several times, and the problem got so bad that they called a Mayan priest to the house. The priest explained that the reason he was having issues was because of where he had built his house. The house was moved and the site excavated, and according to the owner of the house, he hasn't had the urge to drink since. The ceremony itself was very intense, even though we didn't use the altar. The fire was made in the common area outside the owners house. We were all allowed to participate by placing candles in the fire at several times during the ceremony. I ended up very sunburned but it was vale la pena (worth the price). 

FEBRUARY 8: Kelly and I had a sleepover at her house last night. She and her host mom were at a baptism yesterday afternoon, and they came and got me after dinner. We went back to the baptism (which was more like a wedding reception and kept going long after we left at 8), and I had my first dance in Guatemala. Before any eyebrows go up I would like to explain that my dance partner was a short, stout, and fierce Guatemalan woman who rocked from side to side so vigorously that I thought she was going to tip me over.

FEBRUARY 13: Today we (Anthony and I) went into Antigua with the Marketing Director of Senderos De Alux. I had been under the impression we were going to shadow him while he presented the park to various Spanish Schools in the city. However, when we got there we were each handed a stack of pamphlets, assigned several blocks, and told to meet back at the car in two hours. Not only was it hotter than sin, but there weren't enough Spanish schools to occupy two hours, and the car disappeared until it was time to meet up again. I still love my job, but I didn't think that "Tourism Evangelist" was on the description. Still, it gives us lots of good suggestions that we can include in our POA (Annual Operating Plan) for the park. I do have to say it was a good thing that I was able to find a good cup of coffee today, because I was up half the night last night making 70 valentines for my training group and some of the staff at the Peace Corps office. However, the lack of sleep has been well worth seeing the smiles on peoples' faces (even if I have had to explain the occasion to some of the staff here).

Well, that about sums it up for now. I am going to be at Field-Based Training for the next week, which means that I will be out in the boondocks. If I don't get back to you, know that I am still alive, I'm just spending all my time in classes and zip-lining down mountains. You can bet that I will have lots of pictures and plenty to write about when I get back!

Vaya bien,

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