Hello all. So, I arrived in Guate a little over a week ago. During a 4 day in-country orientatation in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas (location of training center), we got a crash-course in Peace Corps policy, multiple immunizations (more to come), a Peace Corps suitcase full of meds, health ed, language training, etc. The rest of the trainees are all very nice and come any where in between Puerto Rico and Alaska. The average age is 26. During the orientation, most trainees stayed with families, but a handfull of trainees, including myself, stayed at a local hotel. Our meals were prepared by the owner and served in her garage at a table. After the orientation, they broke us up into 3 different projects: Ag. Mkt, Ag. Food Security, and Municipal Development. Within those groups, they broke us up again into language profficiency groups. They sent us to other surrounding towns to live and study (community-based training.) So, I currently live in a town called Santo Tomas Milpas Altas about 1.5 km away from the training center. There is only one other trainee in my town. We meet up with the rest of the big training group about once a week, and we meet with othger Ag. Mkt trainees about 3 times a week. The towm I live in is the real deal. Some people live in cinderblock houses with corragated tin roofs, while others linve in houses made of wood. The house I´m living in now (see pictures) is nice. I have my own room, there is running water, and there is electricity. I take a cold shower everyday (my host mom calls it ¨tivio¨ which means lukje warm. Its not. I brush my teeth, clean my hands, etc in a pila (see picture.) For brushing teeeth, i use purified water becasue the tap water can make you really sick. I have been using purified water, and I have had an interesting experience with bowl movements. I´ve been super busy with technical training, spanish classes, meeting the mayor of Santo Tomas. I visited Antigua, which was beautiful. And I bought a phone. Almost all volunteers have them. Peace Corps provides you with a small amount of walk-around money, so i used mine i saved up to buy a phone. Peace Corps almost requires you get one, so they can keep in touch with you for safety reasons, health, etc.
So, thats what I´ve been up to. How am i taking all of this in? It was cary as hell when Peace Corps vans dropped you off at a strangers house, in a strange place. And, the thought of staying in this environment for two years really freaked me out. But the initial panic of being dropped in a different cluture (not traveling but L-I-V-I-N) eventually wore off. And, sharing experiences with other trainees helps. You aren´t doing this by yourself. Let me know what everybody is up to, so I´m not completely out of the loop. I think I want to visit home in 6 months for about a week to recharge. After that, I would love visitors.