Friday, September 7, 2007

Training Started

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.

11 comments:

Damian said...

Glad to see that your home accommodations are a little better than the ones in Guatemala! Your Dad!

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

oops i deleted my last comment.

I've heard 'tivio' showers are the best. Love the pink house!

do you have a sunglasses tan yet?

Damien said...

Hey buddy, good to hear from you. I have seen where you lived during you college days and I think I can confidently say that your new place in Guatemala is much nicer!! I added your blog to my rss feeds so I will keep up with all your updates. Check for my comments as I will post as often as possible. Take care my friend and stay safe.

James said...

I'm trying to think of something funny to say, but nothing comes to mind. People ask how I am, and I tell them about you. I miss you, I love you, I'm proud of you. Please stay safe.
I tried to call you yesterday, but it didn't work. When is a good time to call?

-Jimbo

Judie said...

Michael - Thanks for sharing your adventures with all of us. It's great to read about it. Bob and I will be thinking of you and we send our best wishes. peace...

melinda said...

Hi Michael,
Glad you got in safely. Glad to be a part of the blog. Just drink Tequilla or Cheecha instead of water and stay safe.

Chris said...

hey mike, your digs look nicer than mine. although it's not that hard to beat when you're livin' in a van down by the river.

Megan said...

So far you have one entry per month. I think that's a great rate, it keeps people on their toes and makes everything you say that much cooler! Try not to get lost in the maize...

Kelly said...

Hi, My daughter's birth mother is from SAnta Lucia Milpas Altas. I hope to see it one day. Can You tell me more about it ? We did not get to leave the hotel when picking our daughter up. I would love to share this info with her as she grows. Keeping hewr culture and knowing where she is from as well as finding her birth mother is very important to us. Good luck to you , I think what your doing is great!

Michael Buckley said...

kelly -
Check out the my photos link on the right hand side of the blog. most of the pictures of "training" are of santo tomas. Let me know if you have any specific questions about it.