I’m staring at my blog for the first time in ages and trying to compose a narrative of all that has happened in the past few months. There’s so much to tell, I’m not sure where to begin so I think I’ll come back to those happenings in subsequent posts.
The rain is pouring outside and some old Isaac Hayes album is playing on my iTunes. It’s odd mixture, his smooth voice against the beating rain. The current downpour signals the start of the rainy season. Great. I arrived in August last year (that’s 8 months in country!) and caught the last third of the rainy season which runs from April/May – October. Last year Guatemala was deluged by the most rain in its recorded history. This leaves a lot to be expected for the upcoming wet months. Travel will be difficult on these muddy, landslide-prone roads. I was returning from the Lake at the beginning of December and got stuck behind a landslide that had just occurred along the road descending into Nebaj. What was unnerving about the whole thing was that it hadn’t rained in several weeks. I’m guessing the soil was so saturated from all the rain of the previous months that eventually hillside crumbled. It will be interesting to see what goes down this rainy season and also how the constant rain will affect my work as I’ve noticed that Guatemalans aren’t exactly excited about doing work when there’s even a light drizzle.
Last week was Semana Santa (Holy Week) which is the country’s largest holiday outside of Christmas. The schools that weren’t already closed because of the lengthy teacher strike, shut down for the week (as did most businesses) and it was nice to see the streets filled with people. It was a festive time and Nebaj was filled with carnival booths, street vendors, a couple of rickety ferris wheels and of course plenty of bolos (drunks). The strangest thing I saw was an effigy (of who I have no idea) hanging in the central park in front of the Catholic Church. I spent most of the week leading up to Easter in Nebaj by myself, taking a break. I lounged around, worked out, read, watched a bunch of The Wire and wandered the muddy streets. I’ve got to admit it was good to have some alone time. Sometimes living with 5 siblings up in Salquil Grande can be trying and I’d spent a lot of time with Peace Corps volunteers in the past month so it just felt nice (and a bit lonely), to take a break from everything. That being said I did have a wonderful wine filled night with other volunteers at Passover Seder on Wednesday night. I hadn’t seen my good friend Noor in a long time so it was great to spend time with her and of course our terrific host Nicole.
Most of the major U.S. holidays have passed since I’ve been in country. Thanksgiving and New Year’s were celebrated in grand fashion with other volunteers and that was nice. It’s great to get together in big groups for such celebrations because while I come from a small family, it’s nice to experience that same sort of camaraderie. Christmas was a small event. I spent it with my two dear Dutch girls who had just arrived for their two month volunteer stint in Nebaj. I had planned on getting together with other volunteers for Xmas but I decided to spend it in a small setting, getting to know my new European friends. While I miss everyone back home, in regards to Christmas and Easter, it has felt nice to take a break from the usual madness that comes with holidays here in Guatemala and especially in the U.S. It may not seem preferable to hunting for eggs or microwaving Peeps but spending a quiet couple of lonely days was a nice change.