category: Emilys Guatemala

I started writing this prior to the 4th of July excursion. It will all make sense by the end of post, I hope.

Construction is finished, entirely absolutely 100% finished. You could say I’ve got a lot of sueño. Sueño means tired, but it also means dreams, and I think I’m so tired that sometimes the reality of us leaving feels much more like a sueño. I’m so tired that my eyelids have been twitching off and on for the last few days. We kept thinking at this point or that point things would slow down, but it turns out, things haven’t slowed down at all. As the construction work dwindles, we have post-project paperwork and house visits, and people who keep inviting us over for one last visit to their homes. It’s as though the kids, on some level though I’m not sure which, also realize we’re soon to be gone. They come over and visit us constantly, and we in turn feel obligated to welcome them in and share as much time with them as we can eke out of our schedule. Every time they want to read, we read. Every time they want to play in the garden, we go play. The end is nigh and the pressure is on. But tomorrow we leave for the day long ride south, the last time we’ll be doing that ride in public transportation. Honestly we’re both looking forward to eleven hours in a chicken bus where no on surprise knocks on our door, and we don’t have to prepare for three meetings in the same day after we’ve worked at least a half day building. I’m going to read and stare out the window, and enjoy that I’m not moving, but that something else is moving me.

I still maintain that I’m incredibly proud of the community for the work they’ve done, and we’ll all be able to celebrate on July 7 in our grand project inauguration. EVERYONE is looking forward to it; all the people I visited this weekend told me so with great big smiles.

Saturday I’d planned to go walking and get a few signatures and post-project pictures, spend maybe a two or three hours of my morning away from home and then come back to enjoy the quiet house with Fletch off on his solo journey visiting Dan. Just after he took off on his trip I heard the familiar, “Choooo,” high pitched sort of fake-sneeze noise at my door–which is what they do instead of knocking. There were two young girls outside, maybe between the ages of 12 and 14. They politely informed me that their mother, Eva, had sent them over to do our laundry for us.

I was very uncomfortable with this at first, as we always manage to take care of our laundry on our own. Since there’s a lot of jealousy in the community if we pay someone for something, we just don’t pay to have our laundry done, ever. This is additionally funny to me because two Worldview issues ago (our worldwide Peace Corps magazine) there was a man, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, who wrote in commenting on an article about how a volunteer in Latin America spends her time. He was very annoyed that a volunteer would spend hours doing laundry when our time is so much more valuable than that! And I had to wonder, has he lost touch with his Peace Corps service? First of all, for the majority of our service, time was never so scarce that it was a problem. Also noted was the thing about community jealousy. Then there’s the fact that we’re supposed to be learning about their way of life, and this is something I think is important to understand, how back breaking the work is and how time-intensive it is. It’s our second least-favorite job, the most hated being burning the trash, but we still generally do it. I only cheat with the bed blankets which weigh like 70 or 80 lbs soaking went and are incredibly unwieldy. Chalio’s mom always does us the favor, and then we bake her treats. The arrangement works out well.

Anyway, I said hesitatingly, something like, “Are sure? I mean, I can do it if it’s a problem…” and they looked at me so confused. “But our mom sent us to do your laundry…” They also handed me a two pound bag of wheat flour their mom sent me because she’d noticed I liked the wheat tortillas she served at her house two days before. I think Eva must be pretty happy with her new stove, since she was showering us with gifts and help. There were some um’s and ok’s and I got the soap and tried to gather all the dirty laundry and towels from their appointed nails and chair backs and out from under bed blankets and off ceiling rafters. I guess things have gotten a little out of hand, after all… I considered, for a moment, stripping the bed of its sheets, but that made me feel too guilty (they are currently still unwashed and will likely not be changed before we move out). And I led Yesica and Dorcas (who knew anyone still uses that name?) over to the neighbors’ pila where we usually do our washing. It was a grey, grey day, though not particularly cold, but no sun means the spring water is very cold. Then, instead of heading out for the signatures and photos I’d planned to get, I had to stick around the house until they were finished and I could hang the clothes up. The two of them worked for about and hour and a half. When they finished I helped them load up the clothes and bring them over to our house for hanging. To assuage my remaining guilt for employing child labor, I cut them pretty thick slices of homemade bread slathered with some tasty local honey and made them hot chocolate to warm up their hands.

Once the laundry was hung and the girls had left, I headed out the door. It was about 11:30am. I expected I’d be out a few hours, but time has it’s way here; I returned just before 6pm. That’s how I spent my day alone while Fletch was going to visit our friend Dan, bleh. I’d told him I felt things were too hectic for us to both leave, and if I hadn’t spent six hours walking on Saturday, I don’t know when it would’ve gotten done. Maricela, one of the two girls in our translator duo for Yulais, guided me from house to house all day. We had a lot of time to talk between homes, and we discussed what happened at the meeting few days earlier. She informed me that though everyone got awfully upset at first, things had mostly calmed down. Come to find out Ximon and Juarez, who were the angriest about Diego’s floor, both showed up to help with the work to lay it. I guess they got over it? The news made me feel a little better anyway. By the end of the day my legs were like jello. I was hungry and tired and just after dark the rain started pouring down, and didn’t stop until this morning (almost four days of rain). Turns out it was a very good thing the girls came to wash our clothes, or we would’ve been buried in dirty laundry.

Today I spent the majority of the last day of construction walking the hills to take a few more photos and to get the last few required signatures for the paperwork, though Lucia Ramón, the owner of the latrine we were working on, almost didn’t let me leave the house until I promised I would return to eat the lunch she was fixing, more chicken soup! I ran around in a hurry in order to get back for lunch, but it was A LOT of walking, and one near attack by a goose on the side of the road that sent me running, thankfully in the right direction–back to Lucia Ramón’s house. Ah, the adventure of it all, but now the paperwork should be finished on time. I returned to eat my chicken soup, and oversee the end of the construction as Jaime went to town to visit the hardware store and settle what should be on our bills before the leaders go to pay it all off.

It has been one long and tiring process, and now that we’re off for the fourth of July weekend, I feel like we might even get to relax a little in Antigua. I’m particularly looking forward to the fact that no one will randomly stop by our hotel room with questions and requests or spontaneous meetings for us to jump up and attend. That should be quite nice.

We’ve been to the fourth of July party and back. The crazy pace of things hasn’t really slowed at all, and the weekend passed rather quickly and strangely. Since we’ve been working like mad, I don’t think I’d realized that almost all our friends went home on June 17. i mean, I knew they’d left, but I was prepared for the reality. They weren’t around anymore, and the fact that we’re going home so soon is unbelievable. I almost started crying at odd spots throughout the party, like at the national anthem? Not to mention just in the middle of a few conversations. The highlight of the trip was, for me, the journal making and time we spent with our friends from other training groups. Obviously for the Jaimester, the highlight was rocking out. But now we’re back to business.

I just ran out of steam before I finished this post prior to the party. I also want to include some sueño-like pictures. For example, one afternoon not too long ago I was out washing dishes when the light changed and it seemed that everything turned gold. Fletch wasn’t around, as we’ve been splitting up more and more to accomplish everything we need to get done, so I ran into the house to grab my camera and take some pictures of the sky from underneath the apple tree next to our house in case he was indoors and missing this funny trick of the light. Two days or so later, Fletch went out to run some errands and I received a phone call from him, “Look out the window in the direction of the chapel,” so I did. The light was eerie and amazing, with a crisp rainbow.

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And finally, my favorite little friend has been coming over more and more these days, requesting “liblos”. What she really wants are libros or rather, for me to read her a book. She’s come over quite a few times in the last few days and fallen asleep on my lap in the middle of the books. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s got a lot of sueño. The thought of leaving her makes me too sad to think about right now. My Peace Corps friends were joking the other night during dinner that if I ever have a daughter I’d have to name her Not-as-cute-as-delmi. I laughed quite a bit because on one hand it’s a terrible thing to say, and on the other hand, what if she’s Not-as-cute-as-delmi? But that’s something to worry about another day a long time from now.

IMG_5434.jpgWe’re all pretty tired here, and there’s a lot left to do. My other job in the last month of insanity has been to plan a post- Peace Corps vacation that involves a lot of rest and relaxation. We just have to make it that long.

Posted by: emily