¡Hola! – From under the mosquito net

Greetings from under the mosquito net! Hola todos! I’m at my first homestay in the region of Sacatepéquez (Sah-cah-tay-peh-kez), Guatemala. It took me a lot of tries to say it right and I felt pretty cool when I did, so I recommend trying it out!

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This is the municipal building in our city. It’s too pretty.

The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind. So I’ll start from the very beginning (in brief, I promise!)

Day 1

I left Boston for my 8:15am flight from Boston to Houston, and let’s just say I’m surprised I made it that far! I left behind my family, friends, boyfriend, job, apartment, and everything that I love to start this crazy journey. This was not easy. At all.

Upon arriving in Houston, I met a small group of other Peace Corps Invitees so that we could split taxis to the hotel. Even this was a major task, given that we’d all packed enough things for two years…but we did it!

The next step is an all day event called “Staging” which is essentially Peace Corps 101. We went through the mission and goals of Peace Corps and talked about our own personal goals and fears of joining the Peace Corps (Bonus: We were officially called Peace Corps Trainees! Which we will be called until we swear in after 10 weeks of training). After several hours and lots of ice breakers, we got to go to sleep before our flight to Guatemala.

We woke up at 2:30am to check out of our hotel for out 9:00am flight to Guatemala…plenty of time. Thankfully, the airport had wifi and a Dunkin’ Donuts so I was able to enjoy a Medium Iced one last time stateside, while downloading a few extra shows and movies to watch while I’m here.

Day 2-4

After we landed in Guatemala, we were greeted by a group of current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and PC Staff! This was so kind and thoughtful, as well as incredibly overwhelming. Everything is overwhelming about this, really. Especially on only 3 hours of sleep.

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Yay! And also, Ah! There was a live marimba band in the airport too. They said this is a normal way to be greeted.

These next few days were spent in more orientation activities and events at the Peace Corps Office in Guatemala, which is absolutely beautiful and not at all what I expected! I don’t know what I expected, but it really is incredibly lovely.

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Not pictured: The trees that always have hummingbirds buzzing around. Those are my favorite part.

Day 5 – Now

Every day is something different, so I apologize for how poorly I am probably explaining this! My current training class has 18 Peace Corps trainees, of various ages, backgrounds, faiths, experience, etc. etc.

We each live in a separate home-stay, over several different cities and towns in Sacatepéquez. I live in a valley surrounded by 3 volcanoes, in a house with a host-mom who is 68, a young couple (25 and 26), and their daughters (1 and 3). I have my own room with plenty of space for all of the extra stuff I decided to pack at the last minute, plenty of privacy, and plenty of good food and company.

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We have classes every day, Monday-Saturday, from roughly 8:00am to 3:30pm or 5:00pm. Each day we either have a Language and Culture class, Technical Training, or other classes ranging from how to stay safe in Guatemala, to “What Diarrhea Means to me,” and from how to clean fruits, veggies, and water so it’s safe to eat, to learning the PC approach to Maternal and Child Health. It is only mildly overwhelming. My brain thinks in Spanglish, even after just two weeks, and it’s hard to decide what word to use in almost every conversation, and even while typing this post. It’s exhausting, but really exciting to finally be here and doing what I set out to do (or, rather, learning how to do those things).

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This is where I had class this afternoon, in this park. There’s a volcano in the background, and somehow that’s a normal part of my life now.

I don’t have wifi in my house, but I think I’ve figured out this whole Hotspot thing. I’ve already learned a whole heck-of-a-lot in just the 17 days that I’ve been here (has it really already been 17 days?) and continue to learn more every day. We’re still 6 weeks away from finding out where we’ll be living for the next two years, and 8 weeks away from being official Peace Corps Volunteers! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress 🙂

Side note: The Guatemalan mailing system has apparently been down for a bit over a year now, or something like that, so unfortunately, I don’t have an address for you to send mail to at the moment and I won’t be able to send any letters home until it’s back up and running – BUT! I will do my best to keep you updated on life in Guatemala and please feel free to send me a text via WhatsApp or shoot me an email. Yay!

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