So much to do, so little time. It’s funny how life is sometimes. I feel like I had a few months of doing pretty much nothing productive here and now that I’m down to the last 3 weeks (which I still can’t believe), I feel like I have way too much to do and it’s never all going to get done.
I really have taken quite a liking to this project in Dueñas. I love that they are dreamers and they really have a vision for their place, whereas a lot of people I have met here don’t really have motivation for anything and don’t even dream anymore. It inspires me to actually help them. I am a bit discouraged by the resources they have. To be quite honest, a lot of the “recycles” is just garbage. Even me, with my supposed creativity, thinks a lot of it is unusable. But they continue to tell me that they use everything. Their dream is already under way. They are teaching kids with special needs for free because the families can’t afford to pay for them. But they are providing a facility where these kids can come learn and grow instead of be cast out by society.
Because of their lack of money, they are also extremely resourceful and want to start their own environmental program. I am no tree hugger, but Guatemala definitely needs to work on the way they treat the environment. The pollution is ridiculous. There are hardly any trash receptacles to be found. There’s trash in the streets an they don’t really have dumps. The “dumps” I have seen seem to just be huge collections of trash thrown over a beautiful mountainside, ruining a perfectly good view. There’s trash all over the streets, people pee in the streets all the time, dogs poop all over the streets, and there’s obviously no emissions tests for vehicles.
Their ultimate dream is to have a separate facility for the recycles and have a huge factory type thing where they can turn recycles into useful things like furniture. As of now, they rely on donations, but since they don’t live in a touristy area like Antigua, it is much more difficult to receive donations because there aren’t a lot of people around with money. To get their dreams going, they basically just lack money. The dream for their school program is basically under way, the problem is they just don’t have any money to pay their workers, and in hanging out with these guys a lot I have seen how much time they spend at the association and I have seen the house of one of the owners and it appears to be 2 rooms- a pretty empty bedroom and a door that’s always shut (I assume a kitchen of sorts), with a tin roof. Danny informed me that he is a millionaire in comparison to the homes of the kids that come to his school. That was a shocker.
It is an unfortunate situation, but I am drawn to their dreams because I like to see people that still dream in situations that seem impossible to fix. I, myself, had nearly given up on a dream to help turn Guatemala around until I met this group because when it seems like everything is “normal” and “just the way it is,” it’s hard to think how you could change people’s minds without showing them another world. There is so much potential here, it just needs to be dug up and demonstrated.
Anyways, I had a new girl in my Spanish class this past week. I was bummed at first because it was my last week of classes, but me and her ended up getting a long well and she seemed to be in the right class, so it wasn’t a drag to have her there. I think I may have actually been motivated again to start learning more, but I did not want to pay for more classes the rest of my trip (And I started volunteering in Dueñas yesterday, something I would not have time for if I had continued classes).
One of our friends from Dueñas, José, took Emilee Sari and I to the jade museum Tuesday to find out our Mayan animal. I think I have mentioned that I was a Tz’i before when I went to Atitlán, but I did not remember what animal that was. I am a coyote (or dog) and you can find the meaning of my animal below. Emilee got the same one! How crazy.
After the museum, we went out for tacos that were pretty awful and dropped Sari and Emilee off at the bus station. Then I just talked and walked with José the rest of the time before my class. When I headed to class, I had to stop at Máximo to pick up a paper for class (Yeah, I had to write a full-page, not double-spaced paper on terrorism in SPANISH. Kill me now!), and there was Danny and Oliver in the office! Galleta was out waiting in the car, so I got to see three of my friends from Dueñas that day and that was a great surprise!
Thursday was a pretty standard day, but I had a really interesting tandem hour with Willy that day. He told me how their culture handles deaths in the family. It is intense! I don’t think I could do it. Like pretty much everything else in Latin America, it is overly dramatic and emotional. When someone dies, they have a viewing that lasts all night and everyone stays up all night sitting around the body and sharing stories, having food and cigarettes. (Yes, cigarettes and beer are WAY too common in this culture. Beer makes sense to me now though, as it costs literally the same OR SOMETIMES LESS than drinkable water).
Then, they have 9 days of prayer where everyone (big family and close friends) comes and prays for hours on end at the house for the next 9 days. After that, there is a 40 day rest, and then they come back and share stories again and visit the grave and embellish it with flowers. When it gets close to the year anniversary of the death, they repeat the 9 days of prayer and the stay up all night tradition AGAIN.
The close family members wear black for an entire YEAR after the person dies and do not attend any parties or go dancing out of “respect” for the person that died. Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? I don’t think I could do it. I feel like that’s when you need to go out more so you can try to get your mind off of it and not be sad all the time! But this is the way it works in their culture!
Friday was a fun day. The majority was just a normal day, but the guys from Dueñas were having a fundraising party that night on the other side of town. I had my first encounter with a nasty street occurrence, but I am thankful that I did not get robbed. I am also very thankful I live on this side of town because on the side where the fundraising event was is where everything bad seems to happen. It was only 7:30 at night and Emilee and I were walking to find the fundraiser. The wrong address had been put on the event card so we walked up and down the same street (but not all of the street) a few times before I caved in and called someone. I hate to use my phone on the street, even during the day, but I figured since I’ve been fine for 5 months, it wouldn’t hurt this one time since we needed to figure out where we’re going. Well, we were walking along and the next thing I knew, Emilee screamed and something touched my lady parts. I thought Emilee tripped or something at first ’til I felt the hand where it shouldn’t have been and turned around and a guy took off running. She thought he was robbing us because she said his hand grabbed her ass but seemed to be coming around towards her purse, but my phone was in my hand in plain sight and he didn’t even grab for it. So I’m pretty sure it was just some idiot trying to cop a feel. It was shocking because, although it was dark, usually nothing bad happens before 10:00 pm. I was just happy my phone was still safe.
My only regrets are that I was too distracted on my telephone to turn around and pratice my malas palabras. ¡¿¡CERROTE QUE PUTAS ESTAS HACIENDO HIJO DE LA GRAN PUTA!?!
So we arrived to the party a bit flustered, but it quickly wore off as we danced and chatted the night away with all of our lovely friends from the unforgettable trip to Acatenango.
Saturday was OVEN DAY! For the most part, it was a big waste of a day waiting on people all day. I was in a bad mood and we went to eat with some people for lunch who we waited on forever and ended up eating at a place that had terrible food.
Then, we were waiting on Galleta to come in town and he didn’t end up coming ’til we needed to be at the house to wait on Maynor to help us go buy the oven for Isolina. So we began waiting on him, who was going to show up at 3:00 and pick Isolina up at 6:00 from the church. Then he changed it to 4:00. Then 5:00 rolled around and he said he was stuck at a job and was on his way. Then Galleta, Noah, and Marcos came over to wait at the house with us because we asked for their help since the oven would have to be lifted over a countertop to fit in the kitchen. Then 6:00 rollls around and I called Maynor saying we should do it another day because Isolina needed to be picked up.
But he insisted that Saturday was the day, so we waited some more and he finally showed up at 6:30 and said he told Isolina a friend wanted to see her so he dropped her off at her friend’s house and came to get us. It took us ’til 8:30 to get the oven bought and installed so we were all hungry and I was overly frustrated because all these people had been waiting on me all day and Galleta and Marcos missed the last bus back to Dueñas.
But, as Isolina walked into a house full of strangers, it all became worth it. I calmly explained that we were all about to go out, but I broke something in the kitchen so they were just all waiting on me because I wanted to tell Isolina face to face before she walked into it. So she walks into the kitchen and I pointed to where the oven was and said what I broke was over there. And then she walks around the corner, shocked, and says “AY LIZZIE NOO” and began to cry and laugh. Maynor said she cried a lot more when we all left to go get dinner and she feels so bad because it’s such a big gift but she is so very happy to have it. I told her, I now expect more desserts. 😉
Thank you to everyone who was a part of donating to the oven fund. It makes me happy to be able to provide someone with something they need to follow their dreams and I know Isolina could be a cook as long as she has the right facilities. For me, this is just the beginning of something I think I’d like to do the rest of my life. Nothing gives me greater joy than traveling and giving and to be able to give someone a gift like that and watch the reaction clears up all of the feelings of anger that the rest of the day had given me.
I treated my friends to Pizza afterwards (It’s so much easier to treat people to dinner here since everything is cheaper!) for all their waiting and helping and we all were in better spirits after seeing Isolina’s reaction and getting some food in our bellies and all decided it was totally worth it after we saw her face. And then, Maynor kindly took Galleta and Marcos home since there were no more buses the rest of the night.
Sunday, Galleta invited me to Dueñas again so I went to spend another night in the association. This time, we didn’t feel like working so we hung out and watched movies (The Notebook being one of them. And he loved it. I love how romantic the guys are here! Hahaha) and listened to music and I introduced him to the amazing combination of oreos and peanut butter. Some of the other guys stopped by for a while and hung out too and we had a great time, but again had another night of unrest because it’s not terribly comfortable to sleep there and the trees whacking the tin roof in the wind make some terrifying noises. But it doesn’t make sense to come back to Antigua sometimes.
Monday we got up and started working. We got the recycling area back to a manageable state, but I decided I wouldn’t have the time to organize it in the way that I would like to with the time that I have left with my trip. I have too many other things that are more important to do for the association and it is not SO unmanageable that we can’t find things to make art with. So I will have to save organizing it for my return trip to Guatemala. 😉
We also started another project, but ran out of glue so it’s not quite finished yet. After leaving Dueñas, I came back and had my tandem time with Willy and we mostly just talked because he didn’t have time for two hours yesterday. But while we were in the park, we ran into Miguel and Orlando taking a walk and I haven’t seen them in forever so that was a pleasure to see them. We decided we needed to catch up so we agreed to get coffee today in Cafe Barista.
So that’s what I did this morning. I met with them and caught up and didn’t get caught up enough. They came late so by the time they got there, I only had 45 minutes before lunch and Dueñas. But we got to talking about a lot of things and the project in Dueñas for me and what’s going on in their work lives and ended up coming up with a really great idea to raise money for Dueñas, whilst helping their publicity as well. And it’s a damn good idea. I just hope I can execute it in 3 weeks. I have realized that these last 3 weeks are going to be insanely busy if I can do what we are thinking about. But it’s going to be totally worth it if it happens!
After seeing them, I was pumped to go work in Dueñas, started another lamp and started collecting the information I need to execute my idea. I met some of the kids today and I’ll never remember their names but I’ll remember that half of them came up running to hug me like they already knew me and loved me forever. I can’t understand a lot of them well because it’s spanish + kids + special needs, but I will always understand a hug. It is kind of beautiful. This project deserves to be funded!
I wish I had more time to spend there, but between lunch and my tandem time with Willy, it ends up being 3 hours. I was on a roll with my new lamp today and easily could have stayed and finished it, but I unfortunately had to leave, but will simply continue tomorrow and be sure to post a picture when it is completed!
My tandem time with Willy today went great and we had 2 hours this time so we got to practice quite a bit and discussed a little about our views on religion, which ironically we once again have a very similar viewpoint! I am going to miss him so much!
So that completes my (little over a) week of things accomplished. Time is running out so quickly! Forgive me if I get a little lazy with my blog. I have so many things to do now that, as much as I want to update you on all the things I’m doing and learning, I may have to put it on the back burner! But I will try to keep you all updated!