category: Emilys Guatemala, Jims Guatemala

Dear All,

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back in the US for a month now; in a lot of ways, it still feels to me like we just got here. We’ve been enjoying copious amounts of time with our friends and families and taking advantage of wonderful inventions like hot showers, flush toilets, and freezers that turn Michigan blueberries into sweet little icy treats for us to devour. I’m a little surprised we haven’t turned blue.

We returned to the states with a number of ambitious plans that began to fall apart before we even landed. Fletch had a fever starting the night before we boarded the plane, and it didn’t go away for five days. We spent those days just laying around his parents house waiting for him to recuperate, and in that time we realized how unbelievably tired we were. We’d planned so many things–family and friend visits, a two and a half week road trip to the west coast and back, a trip to Europe and then the move to Oregon scheduled for October. Forced relaxation felt good on one hand, but made me so anxious about the time I was wasting not visiting people. I would sit and try to plan the road trip only to feel irritated and upset. The truth was we weren’t ready to go anywhere. We decided to cancel the road trip, and then we canceled our attendance at a friends wedding in Utah over Labor Day weekend, and once we started canceling things, it felt so good that we completely canceled this year’s trip to Europe.
It’s funny to realize how all these plans were so instrumental in helping us get through our last few crazy months as Peace Corps volunteers. They gave us something to look forward to at the time, but once we arrived home we realized we didn’t need an escape anymore. Every day we spend with our parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and close friends is full of a million enjoyable things we spent two years living without. We don’t need to escape anywhere. It’s been good staying right here close to home.
I think the most difficult part of being back is reconciling this life with our lives in Guatemala. I haven’t really been able to do that; they’re like living on two different planets. I feel more comfortable not thinking too much about Guatemala, or it makes my heart and my head hurt. We’ve talked to our host family in Temux a few times, but the phone is such an awkward, inadequate thing between us while navigating the multiple languages and space and time. It was always so easy just to pop over and say good morning or good afternoon. For the time being, looking forward feels like the right thing to do.
Instead of running around on multiple vacations living a life in flux we’re working on ways to start a more permanent life. In the last month we did make a short trip to Oregon to set up our residency there, to visit dear friends, and to follow up on some leads of people who might be able to help us with our ultimate goal of starting a farm. The trip was more than we’d hoped for on all fronts. Time with friends was great, and the connections we’ve made with organizations working on food security in the area are very promising. With the arrival of September, though I would say we aren’t fully adjusted to being in the states yet, we’re trying to focus more on making our farm dream a reality. Job searches are underway. Piles of books are being mulled through for information and advice. We feel fortunate, hopeful, and very happy to be right where we are.
Those feelings were part of what led me to do Peace Corps in the first place, to give back in this life that has given me so much. Literally two days after I arrived home my sister said, “Emily, I’ve signed up as team captain for Pedal for Peace to raise money for girls’ education in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You’re either bicycling with me or donating money!” We are a bossy bunch. It’s so comforting to know there are quite a few things that didn’t change in our absence. 🙂
Fletch and I thought our blog readers might be interested in an update on our lives, and because you’re all a very global thinking bunch, we wanted to make you aware of this little opportunity to donate to yet another good cause. All the money raised in the Pedal for Peace bike-athon will be donated to the Central Asia Institute, founded by Greg Mortenson. For more information on the Mortenson click on his name, or for more in-depth information read the New York Time’s best-seller Three Cups of Tea.

(We’re accepting donations via PayPal just like when we were in Guatemala, as well as cash/check for any of you who live in Indiana or like to use the US Postal system. We also are going to try a little PayPal donate button, for those of you who want things to be “easy” like the Office Depot commercials. You can use it, but it takes 30 cents out of the donation to give to PayPal. If you think “easy” is worth 30 cents, feel free to give it a try.  -Jaime)

Guatemala made me understand how instrumental girls education is in building productive communities throughout the world. Your donations would be greatly appreciated, not just by me, but by the girls and young women who are the beneficiaries of the project. As little as $5 goes a long way. All donations must be collected by September 25, the bike-athon will take place October 2 at the velodrome in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ll be there racing alongside my brothers and sisters. It’s so good to be home!

Thanks for your time. We hope you’re all doing well!
Emily and Jaime/Jim/Fletch Fanjoy

Posted by: emily