Sunday, October 31, 2010

David *****, RPCV

So there is a phrase repeated among many volunteers I have met who successfully finished their 27 months in the Peace Corps and COS'ed (Close of Service): "The second year flies by!"

And I have to say, I agree with that statement. As I sit in a hostel a stones' throw from Guatemala's Aurora International Airport, waiting for my flight to Panama to see my family, I took advantage of the free wi-fi to check out some stuff online. Then I seemed to remember at some point in my service I had a blog, and checked up to see if it was still up. Lo and behold, it was still here, and my last post was almost exactly one year ago, just as I was finishing up my first year of service.

Since it's all over now, I took a moment to run through some of my sparse postings, and I laughed at stories I had forgotten over the course of two years. For this, I plan to take advantage of the next few weeks of vacation I have carved out for myself and plan to augment my stories on this blog, if for no other reason than to jot them down before I forget.

I finished my service with Peace Corps Guatemala on October 21st, 2010. It's been a crazy two years and three months, but the last year was truly special. I'll now try to post some of the greatest hits of the last few months...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finally an Update

So I know its been like 3 months since I posted anything, but life has been really busy lately. I have fortunately had alot of work, and unfortunately had little access to internet.

On the good news side, I found out I now have 50 channels on my cable tv in my house, which means that I was able to watch both national and american league championship series, and now I'm able to watch the world series games.

A crazy story, I just hosted a couple of PCV's from El Salvador who were passing through Huehue and needed a couch to surf. They were really awesome and we had a good time. A few minutes after meeting, we started sharing about where we had been, gone to school, etc. I came to find out that I had actually been at a Thanksgiving dinner with her back in 2006 when she couch surfed with a mutual friend we had in Panama. It was wild we met three years ago and finally met because we are both in Peace Corps. I really enjoyed their visit but unfortunately they were only here for a few hours and had to keep going on their way back.

I'm now sitting in a swanky hotel in Huehue receiving training on how to use the new GPS devices our planning office received. It's awesome, we have a shiny new toy, and I'm really looking forward to going out in our communities and making maps of the Muncipality. We just got our snacks, pastry and coffee, which should keep us going strong all morning long.

In the last month I had my mid service physical exam, and I came back healthy, if not with a couple cavities which I'll have to return to get fixed. I also tested negative for TB which has been making the rounds up here in Huehue lately. There was also a panel with the older volunteers and the trainees, soon to be volunteers. We shared our experiences and gave them some ideas of what to do in their first few months in site. I had a really good time with all the people who were in town, it was good to see old friends and meet new faces.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Here's a picture of the radio station. That's my partner on the Public Info show.

So it's now July, a month before our one year anniversary of arriving in Guatemala.

I can not believe its been nearly a year. This time last year I was chasing kids around the day care and putting band aids on boo-boo's. I was serving ice cold, (most of the time) delicious brews at the coffee shop. Not both things at the same time of course.

Now I'm working in a small municipal office in the mountains of Guatemala and working with two radio shows which I enjoy immensely.

I'm preparing to go visit my family in Panama in about a month. It should be awesome.

I got a box from my dad the other day, packed with lots of beefy jerky and puerto rican treats.

Earlier this month I was at the Peace Corps center for some training and conferences, and then we had the 4th of July party which was in one word, Epic.

Now I am listening to some funk from my favorite radio station in San Antonio, KRTU. You can listen up on and by checking out the archive. I highly recommend the diggin deep soul shakedown and the super soul saturdays, both on saturday. I also LOVE labkids radio which is on sundays' at midnight. The great thing about the audio archive is that I don't have to try to find an internet connection when the shows are live, cause midnight on sundays, there isn't much inter-netting going on in Malacas.

So about the radio show, I do an hour of public information on wednesdays, where we talk about health topics, citizen participation, and general community announcements. As for the other show, I do two hours of strictly music on Saturday nights. I call it Musica del Mundo, and I always focus on a few different genres. I did a Salsa Merengue show, a Rock/Rock en Espanol show, HipHop/Reggaeton show and for mothers day, I dedicated the two hours to only female performers. I also did a Jazz Funk and Soul show, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to do another one cause they seemed to like that one.

If you got some good music and would like to share, please do share. You can email me for more info.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crazy Week

So my family is coming to visit this week!

Of course everything at work decided to pick up, so I had a crazy busy week. Starting last Friday, I had the COMUDE meeting, which is kind of like a great big town hall meeting. It was productive, so that was nice.

On Saturday, I hosted my music radio show for the second time. I barely screwed up this time, much smoother than the first time. It was all going well, until the lights went out. They came right back, but it took the PC a good 3-4 mins to boot up. The FM broadcaster however, came right back online. This meant we were on the air, but without music. What did I do in this case? After apologizing profusely for our ¨slight technical difficulties¨ I began to tell stories. That´s right, about where I grew up, how I learned Spanish, how long I was going to be in my town, etc. This luckily kept the listeners occupied, and before I knew it, the music was back on. Like I said, a smooth show give or take. We listened to Reggae and Reggaeton, and we had 5! callers call-in to reqest songs. However, almost without fail, they wanted songs either a) I didn´t have or b) I didn´t want to play. Also, even though I repeated it every five minutes, people kept asking for songs of other genres, even after I specifically said, ¨Tonight we will only be listening to Reggae and Reggaeton.¨ People still kept calling asking for their favorite banda songs. ugh.

On Sunday, I went on what ended up being a 4 hour hike, which we were told took half an hour there and a half hour back. In our defense we did a fair amount of sightseeing before hand, but my sitemate was looking for a school in one of our outlying villages. We decided to walk even though it almost always rains in the afternoons. We threw caution into the wind and hit the road with our rain jackets and umbrellas.

After an hour of walking and severely missing the fork in the road we had to take to get to the school, we decided to turn around and ask for directions. After getting on the right path, we then came to a river, which we had to cross. We didn´t want to get our feet wet, so we decided to walk the LONG way around. (after returning to town, a friend said, why didn´t you just take your shoes off to cross? - DUH!)

Anyways, it had been raining the past few days and the river, while not quite white water, looked a bit strong. As soon as we started walking however, we saw a pickup begin to cross the river. At this point we were out of shouting range, and miserably continued our path. There was one last crazy steep hill to climb to get to the school, and then as soon as we got to it, surprise, it began to rain. Hard. And thunder some. Now I was the tallest thing around, so I was pretty worried.

And as for our shoes, they were totally, inexorably soaked. I think if we would have crossed the river on the way back they might have been drier, but what the heck, we took the long way around. I am please to report however, my Marmot Minimalist Goretex Jacket is 100% waterproof. That was a sage investment I made. When I got home, I was super tired, so I went to sleep. And I woke up to a crazy work week.

So on monday, I had a surprisingly busy day at work, with lots of meetings. One tuesday, I attended a Women´s group meeting, which are always interesting. Then on Wednesday was my super day. I had a meeting with a nutrition NGO who is trying to work in our community. I wanted them to give me info to say over the radio. I met them in the morning. Then I had to go get money and a pizza for lunch, since it was the Champions league final, and I was having some folks over. Barcelona won handily, and I ran to the top of the hill in town, where I had to begin my radio show right after the game.

I did my show, only blanked out like 3 times, (a marked improvement from the first week let me tell you) and actually ran out of time! We talked about the COMUDE meeting, the womens group meeting, some info on avoiding the H1N1 virus (pig flu) and finally disaster preparedness, in this case having to do with flooding. I should have done it on earthquakes because that night we had one.

After the radio show, I returned to work where I learned we had been challenged to play in a indoor soccer match by the environmental agency office in Huehue. We headed to the match, and I was goalie. I only let in 3 goals (Again, a marked improvement over last week) and got to use the goalie gloves I got a few weeks ago (great investment by the way!)

Then it was back to the house, to try and catch the NBA playoffs, which were supposed to be on TV. When we flipped to the sports channel however, the audio was working but the image was not. Add to that the fact the lights kept going out about 10 times an hour, and it made for a pretty interesting game. We made cheeseburgers and relaxed watching the game for short stretches. I went to sleep early, and then woke up early today to go to work. I got ready to head out because tomorrow I am picking up my family!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Visit to Panilla

So we took a field trip with the Planning Office a couple weeks ago to check on the progress of some projects the Muni is helping on (Read: we basically went to figure out why the project was behind schedule.) When we found out it was because one side of town didn’t want to hike up the hill to work on the road construction, we had to agree to a community meeting to seeverything straight.



It was a dusty and bumpy ride in the back of a pickup because Peace Corps has decided it is too dangerous to ride motorcycles for us volunteers. Please note that was a formerly BLACK leather jacket in his lap.

When we started our ride, the bed of the pickup was relatively clean. Imagine all that stuff in your face anytime we got any kind of speed going. 

Xela Hot Springs Part II

So I’m trying to post more since some people, Katie, feel I have been neglecting my posts as of late.

So I went to the hot spring in Xela again. I had been nagging everyone who talked to me that we should go soon. I finally succeeded in convincing Charlotte, Katie and Nice in joining me.

We took the tour again, which just makes everything easier. Before taking off, we were tempted by a pair of tourists eating what appeared to be a delicious brownie outside our micro bus. We were however, disappointed to find that the brownie was in fact not delicious. On the other hand it was quite strange. Example: I guess the lady in the cafe micro-waved it when they bought it, but somehow the Styrofoam was melted underneath the brownie. It was kind of weird, like I said before.

ANYWAYS, back to the story, This is what the water looked like.


Notice the steam coming off the water. That’s kind of remarkable given it was probably 80 degrees outside that day. The water was incredibly hot this time around. I had been to the springs about a month earlier and it had been considerably colder out. The water had been hot, don’t get me wrong, but this time it was ridiculous. I got in, but could only take it for a few minutes.

In the following picture, Katie and Charlotte illustrate what it felt like to get in the hot pool.

The other pools (There are three, Tepid, Hot and “Are You Kidding Me?”) were acceptable. Here’s the gang in the tepid one.

At the top is a guy who accompanied us on the bus. He was here taking Spanish lessons. He gave out candy and Canadian flags to all the kids who wanted.

On the way back, we stopped to take pictures of the Volcan Santa Maria.

Henry the cat

So there is a cat that hangs out in my backyard. His name is Henry. We had been getting along fine, as he respected some simple rules of cohabitation.

The first rule was he didn’t come in to my living space. And for this I didn’t poison him. It was a mutual agreement we had going. It worked out for both of us. A friend also pointed out that he would probably keep the mouse population under control. It seemed to make sense.

The second rule was he didn’t eat my food. Barring an isolated incident many months ago when he ravaged a loaf of bread in my kitchen, plastic wrapper and all, we had gotten along relatively well.

Until recently that is. I understand he is a street cat, and probably has to hunt his own food. Well this shouldn’t be a problem, as I know first hand there are quite a few mice/rats roaming around town. I have seen him hunting as far as the central park. However, he seemed to be incapable of hunting down the little mouse that was frequenting my bathroom for a few days. I considered this an affront to our mutual agreement. Ultimately though, this isn’t the greatest transgression. Inept hunting skills, I can deal with. Its unfortunate, but I haven’t really witnessed any mice for a number of months (knock on slightly rotted wood I hang my hammock from.)

However, when Henry began getting in to my food stores, my bread and butter (literally) I began to take issue with the feline fink. The volunteer I replaced had warned me to watch my food, because he sometimes helped himself to your foodstuffs. I had heard stories of a bold Henry making steaks on the grill disappear. I had not experienced such a contravention of our agreement so I thought I was safe. Until a few weeks ago when I was getting ready to cook up about a half pound of ground beef for some hamburgers. I left the meat unattended for a few moments, and when I returned it was gone, nowhere to be found. It took me a few minutes of searching to find some of the meat tucked away in a dark corner, half eaten.

I wasn’t going to risk cat cooties to salvage the rest of the meat, so I just let him eat the rest of it. Luckily for me, my mom had sent me a spam single package, an ingenious individualized serving of that delectable, fully cooked meat which only required heating to consume. I had already prepped the hamburger bun with ketchup and mustard, so I wasn’t going to waste that simply because Henry got greedy. It worked out in the end, the Spam turned out to be a formidable hamburger substitute.