Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Christmas, New Years, and New Digs

So Christmas outside of the US was a little surreal. The decorations in Coban included a Christmas tree sponsored by Gallo, the national beer company. I saw one fake snowman, which made me laugh. I heard a Spanish Christmas song, Peces en el Rio, which reminded me of Christmas as a kid. The cooperative celebrated Christmas with Posadas. This includes carrying a manger scene through the tea cooperative from house to house over the course of 12 days. Little kids drum on turtle shells and blow whistles to a beat. Once the manger scene arrives to a house, there is a prayer service in Qeqchi, which is tough to understand, and then a rice and milk drink is served. Definately different, but cool to experience.

For Christmas, I met up with two buddies from my training group and a Peace Corps buddy and his old roomate here in Coban and his sister. We rented a cabin just outside of Coban for the 24th and 25th. Fireplace, soccerfield, etc. It was a blast. I cut down a pine tree from the coop and hung up the stocking my mom sent for Christmas. For Christmas eve dinner, we ate at a guatemalan buddies house, where we ate turkey legs the size of baseball bats. At midnight, everybody in Coban lit off fireworks. Think baghdad/fourth of july.

For New Years, the same cabin group went to Nebaj for a two day Hike through the Cuchumatanes mountains up to the cumbre of Huehuetenango. We were guided by an ex-guerilla fighter from the guatemalan civil war who was really familiar with the area. The area is called the Ixil Triangle and is well known for the atrocities that occured there during the war. We hiked the first day to Palob and spend the night in a wooden cabin with plenty of beds for all. We were all feeling pretty nasty so the five of us crammed into a tamascal, which is a sauna/bathhouse mayan families use to bathe. Think two tiny benches, a couldron of hot water, and a little crawlspace lit by a candle. The next day we hiked up to the Cumbre of the Cuchumatanes mountains. Check out pics below.

When we got to an intersection, we waited an hour for a truck to pass in our direction, and hitched a ride to a little town, where we were meant to stay. However, the place was pretty grimey, so we hitched another ride on a pickup truck down into Huehuetenango and enjoyed the amazing views as we dropped 1000 meters down the mountain.
We spent the night with some Huehue volunteers and headed for Lake Atitlan to meet up with a bunch of volunteers for New Years.

As you can tell, the lake is amazing. We stayed in Panahachel, which is pretty touristy and pricey. There are also a bunch of other little towns around the lake. After two days in Panahachel, I headed back to Coban. On the way back, I ate somthing funky and spent the next couple of days vomiting with various other stomache issues. No more street food for me.
Two previous volunteers from Chirrepec, came back to visit for a week. Marsha, the volunteer I replaced, introduced me to a bunch of families I hadnt met and gave me the inside scoop on various things.
Work is going well. Continuing the harvest and post harvest trainings. And, Im planning on organizing sales routes and transportation that is more cost effective for the coop.
Last weekend I moved into my place inside of Coban. I like it alot. I have two rooms and a kitchen shed with a sink in the back of a family courtyard. I finally get to cook my own food and hang out in my own space. Furnishing it is a work in progress. I do have a nice bed, which is an change from the wood plank i had been sleeping on for then last two months. I take a van shuttle 10 minutes down the road to the coop for work. Pictures to come.
I also booked my ticket home for the first week in March, so be there or be square.

1 comment:

Tom said...

San Miguel:

Thanks for the update; I look forward to reading your adventures...keep 'em coming. Also look forward to seeing you in March. In the meantime, Happy New Year!!!

Uncle Grappa