Heavy Metal
category: Jims Guatemala

big_hairSM.jpgThis weekend was the annual all-volunteer conference and fourth of July party. In many regards, it was much like last year, except that we knew only a handful of people this time. The majority of our group left country a few weeks early, getting ready to start grad school and other things like that. Where were Matt and Sarah? Zach? Jane? Joe and Katy? These people have been fixtures at every gathering since the beginning, and they are now gone, no matter how many times I thought I saw Zach in the crowd. To make things even more lopsided, Peace Corps Guatemala has greatly increased the numbers of volunteers in each training cycle, putting us old-timers even further in the minority. Next week, they are graduating nearly 60 new volunteers. It was eerie; a harbinger of our coming departure… almost like the Peace Corps has already moved on, and we have been made redundant.  

dansBandSM.jpgThis did not keep Dan and me from rocking the house, however. As promised, his band showed up and we made a scene. I wasn’t really sure how people would take it- heavy metal doesn’t fit everyone’s taste. But as we stepped on stage and people started screaming, I knew everything was going to be all right. The crowd was ready, and they were in the mood to be rocked- Search and Destroy style. It was time to cut loose, and no music cuts loose like Metallica. Luckily (?) , Emily was able to catch some of the concert on video, which can be enjoyed here. I edited out the parts where lightning bolts flew out of my guitar and struck several bystanders dead in their shoes. But metal is like that, and some acceptable losses must be expected.

But it was not all heavy metal mayhem. Several months ago while we were hiking El Mirador, Sara and Charlotte were looking at the journal I made and asked me if I’d teach a bookbinding class. I love teaching anything, so we agreed to do it if we could scrape up the materials. Sara is very resourceful and found us all some leather and paper, so I made a few awls from nails and chunks of wood, and we finally held our class. Everyone was pleased with the end results, and we got to spend some relaxing time with a few of our remaining friends that haven’t yet left the country.

bookbinding2SM.jpg bookbinding1SM.jpg

This weekend was also useful in that we met the new volunteer that is coming to our village. Her name is Cathleen, and she’s very enthusiastic. In the hour or two we spent together, we talked nonstop- so many questions! So much to say! I can remember how anxious I was two years ago: desperate to know what the village was like, if the people were nice, what the housing situation was, how to get there… a thousand questions. I’d also forgotten how little you actually KNOW about Guatemala at that point in your service, basic things like how to use the bus system. She has a big adventure ahead of her, that’s for sure. But I’m really glad she’s coming. Sure, she’s well qualified and has a lot of experience in development work (more than we had when we arrived), but more than anything, she’s ENTHUSIASTIC. She is fresh and ready to go. In comparison, we sometimes feel tired, impatient, and burnt out. Passing the torch will be good for us, good for her, and most importantly, good for the community. We’ve built a lot of opportunities for her in the last two years, and she has the fresh legs to take them and really make them work.

Cathleen, as well as two other new volunteers that will be working in our municipality, are arriving tomorrow to visit their new home before they move here permanently at the end of the month. I have to get some sleep; we have a big week planned for them.

Posted by: jfanjoy