category: Emilys Guatemala, Jims Guatemala

luggageSM.jpgWe have successfully returned to American soil, a two full days ago. Look at all that luggage! Sorry it took me so long to let you know, but as luck would have it, I’ve been really sick and only just now feel up to opening the laptop. We had a really nice dinner with Nick and Katal the night before we left (they were in Antigua on unrelated business, just by luck), and I can’t think of two people with which I’d have rather spent my final hours in Guatemala. Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty ill by the end of the evening, so I wasn’t much fun by the time I got back to the hotel. This got worse during the plane flights the next day, and if you zoom in on my face in the picture, I am looking pretty unwell. Anyways, I just got back from the doctor and they have no idea what is wrong with me, but much of the tests aren’t back from the lab– except for the one that says my white blood cell count is low. Now my dad tells me I must have leukemia or AIDS or some congenital bonemarrow disorder. He’s such a drama queen sometimes.

So, anyways, we’re back home after our 27 months of Peace Corps service.

I guess this is it.


But I have a few things that I want to say before I go. First, the administrative stuff: as I have promised, this blog is now done. I used to think that blogging was a vain and self-important activity, the domain of angst-ridden emo teenagers and obsessive new parents. I have since discovered (largely due to you, the reader) that it can be a powerful tool for disseminating knowledge, opening discourse, and making a difference in the world. Our blog was a fortunate confluence of the right place, the right time, and the right subject matter. Now that our Peace Corps service is over, I will be returning to a more private life– a life that would be both vain to write about, and boring to read about.

Having said that, though, I realize the how important this blog was to not only Emily and me, but also to our villagers and our regular readers, both of whom I will miss very much. It is my plan to lock the comments and user registration functions after a few weeks, then leave the blog online permanently as a resource for anyone who wants to learn about the Peace Corps and Mayan culture.

And us? We have a life to get back to. After spending a few weeks traveling around the country in our pickup, visiting friends and family, we’re going to take a long-overdue trip to the UK to pay visits to several friends. Emily showed me where she studied in Spain, so I have to return the favor and take her to where I studied in Scotland. In the fall, once we’ve reacquainted ourselves with our long-lost loved ones, we are moving to Oregon, where we are going to start a small-scale agribusiness. To keep ourselves afloat while that ramps up, Emily is going to start grad school and I will start looking for freelance architecture jobs again. Oh, and I’m going to start constructing an airplane in the evenings. Living in the mountains for two years builds up a lot of unrealized energy, so I guess we’ve got to release it somehow.

We’ve received a lot of encouragement to write a book when we return to the US, and I think that we are interested in doing that. It will be more than just proofreading and reformatting the blog then sending it to the printer: Emily has several journals filled with notes and commentary that she wants to pull from, and we have many posts that never “went live” because we couldn’t publish them. Discussions of politically-charged themes, specific locations of volunteer sites and activities, or accounts of things that happened to us that would unnecessarily worry our family members can now be included, allowing us to tell our story more completely. I want to do some more illustrations, including some maps of the places we visited. I imagine it will take a year or so for us to come to terms with our Peace Corps service, organize our thoughts, and do all the work necessary to get the book to print. If you’d like to be on the mailing list to receive notification when we finish, please send me an email and I will add you. And don’t worry, I won’t send your email address to anyone else. If you don’t know my email but want to be on the list, post a comment at the bottom of this page, saying something like “add me” and I will copy whatever (hidden) email address you typed in when you entered the comment.

Now, to the final and very important task of thanks. My mom always used to tell me to be careful about listing specific people in a Thank You section, because you are going to offend anyone that you forgot, and in a large and complicated endeavor, it’s guaranteed you’re going to forget someone. If I forgot you, please forgive me. It’s been a long two years. If you feel REALLY sad or offended, please email me and I will add you… that’s the miracle of the blog! Revisionist history at the click of a mouse.

I wish to thank:

Ruby, for being a good wife and my best friend, for making me have adventures and always being there. We survived this, and have many more adventures yet to live.

Mike and Millie RIchardson, who worked tirelessly for two years as our stateside coordinators for project aid. Our boss called Mike “the best Peace Corps volunteer than never was.”

Dick and Ann Fanjoy, who sent insane amounts of care packages bringing us regular joy in down times. They also made sizeable financial contributions to our projects at the end of our service.

The Online Gaming Crew: Hammer, Yath, and Zanek. A slice of home, once a week.

Jerry Hoffman, for project assistance, technical advice, and being a good friend.

The Schneiders, for encouragement as well as financial support that was WAY beyond the call of duty.

The Youngs, for more of the same. Man, I have the coolest friends.

The Fahss (Fahses?), for sponsoring our chickens and lots of emotional support as well.

Mark at guateliving dot com, for starting this ball rolling. Four thousand hits in one month! Four thousand!

Robin Ragan & Tony Prado, for giving me two years of free college spanish classes, so I could go with Emily to Guatemala in the first place.

Everyone in Training Group 120. You are a compassionate bunch of footsoldiers, and can hug me with your crab hand any day.

And last, but not least: all of our readers. This blog would have been so much less without you.

Yujwal dyos, hemasanil. Gracias a ustedes.

Update: The blog is now closed to comments and new registrations, to reduce hacking and spamming opportunities as well as the amount of fluff email I receive in my inbox. If you only just now got to this page and still want access to the book, you can email me directly to be added to the list, or if it’s sometime in late 2011 of after, you can try searching for “Fanjoy” on

Posted by: jfanjoy