I have yet to shave this month. My overgrown facial hair and an interest in Luddism are the only things I have in common with Ted Kaczynski. Come on, I hate math. What I’m saying is that just because I haven’t shaved doesn’t mean that I’ve been a recluse this month (or been mailing bombs to people). With the exception of spending countless hours in my room obsessed with watching The Wire, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve been out and about visiting my beneficiaries and trying to get work done. Emphasis on the word “trying”. My work is rather stagnant at the moment and that doesn’t sit well with me. Part of being in the Peace Corps is having a tremendous amount of patience and constantly having to adapt and change with what’s going on. I came into this month excited with a plan of where I wanted to go with my work but as I’ve realized in the past week I’m going to have to refocus my work from making gardens (everyone has already planted) to doing more nutrition and compost work. I’ve focused a lot on composting the past few months. It’s been a hard concept to get across to the people in the towns where I work but I have had some success stories that I’m proud of. It’s a good thing that I’ll be doing nutrition work because that’s the area in which I have the least amount of expertise. In my last blog post I mentioned the rainy season was beginning. Well now it is fully upon us. That’s downpours every afternoon. The rain can be a pain with work but the good news is I’ve got beets, onions, radishes, and carrots growing in my garden. Carrots are difficult to cultivate up here but radishes grow like crazy. Just taught my host brother how to play solitaire.
Salquil Grande is 99% indigenous. The only person living there who is not Ixil Maya would be yours truly. In a way I’m special in that I am the only Peace Corps volunteer who lives in a predominantly Ixil speaking town. It has gotten to the point where it’s strange for me to hear people speak Spanish. I never hear it at my site unless people are talking to me. As a result I began taking Ixil lessons in April. I’m not the best at learning languages (i.e. my still sub-par Spanish) and Ixil is not an easy language to speak. The pronunciations are tricky and sometimes guttural but I’m enjoying learning it and little by little it will come. I don’t expect to be proficient but I would eventually like to get to the level of being able to converse. People just light up every time I say even the simplest thing like “thank you” or “goodbye”. They’re thrilled I’m at least trying to learn their language even if I butcher it and smiles from Guatemalans are always welcome. The title of this blog post is “I’m learning Ixil” in Ixil.