Have been trying to get a blog on for awhile now but have not had opportunity.
We have been challenged by living conditions as we talked about in the last blog. Our wonderful Associate Peace Corps Director saw the real challenge of our living conditions and we have made a change.
We have been moved to a one bedroom cabana complete with flush toilet. We don't even know what to think as it is quite surreal after living in villages for three months. We will be moving forward with building our own thatch in the village. Even with flush toilet we are very excited to have our own place and start working in the village. Yes, we will give up the flushing excitement but we will also be able to have a place of our own.
Our village changed administrations last May after Peace Corps volunteers were requested. Now the current village leaders really don't know what to do with us. We have been told this is very common. Even though we are there for the benefit of their health and hygiene their main concern is a village telephone and school expansion.
We have tried to make in roads into working at the school. Again, even the principal and teachers seem very very passive about assistance. We went to the school to help cover government provided textbooks. An interesting program....up til now students in school...primary or secondary...have had to pay for their texts. There is much uproar about these truly paperback texts that must be in perfect condition at the end of the school year or they must be paid for. In this humid climate anything paper is subject to deterioration.
But cover the books we did. Since we are quite an anomaly in this community we attract way more than our share of attention...and it is attention these children crave. At times children were five deep hovering over us to the point we couldn't move and creating quite some chaos. Their curiosity is boundless and to sit and stare at us for an unprecedented amount of time. They don't care if you have to "knock" them out of the way (which we didn't). It is not only the children the adults will stop and stare also. It is something that we have become used to but the leaving no breathing room went over the top. We have learned to make boundaries. Just our walking by classes in session can disrupt the learning process. Peace Corps teacher trainers say the lack of classroom control/discipline is a very common occurrence. These children are basically allowed to do whatever they want.
Our living situation in the village was interesting. We were living on the second story over a store/pool hall owned by our host family. There was a cement deck with no railing. Children of all ages from 1 - 17 came up to be in our presence. The little ones sometimes not only carrying machetes and or knives and coming precariously close to the drop off point. There is no concern among the adults or very young caretakers....one child had already fallen off down to the washing stones two weeks before we moved in. Children play with these sharp tools, crawl in animal excrement and it isn't given a second thought except by us.
We lived in a 10x10 cement room with barred windows with wood shutters. A double bed filled most of the room. As we were moving in the whole family would try and cram into the room to watch our every movement. In the evenings we shut the windows to keep the flying critters out and in the morning upon opening there would be faces waiting for us. It is considered impolite to close windows and doors during the day as the Mayans will be suspicious of what is going on. If it started raining and we had to retreat from the "deck" to our room the children would get umbrellas and watch us from outside as we did finally give them outside boundaries to our space.
These are just "isms" and despite the challenges we will be happy to build our own thatch next to our host family. We did notice a little of our novelty was wearing off but we have been told that all PCV's have to be assertive and set parameters. Since the Mayans don't even have sealed homes we have been told to make sure our space is not peep proof.
We are learning about the local inhabitants of our area. We do have a black tailed snake currently living under our house. We are told that is a good thing as they eat the venomous tommy goff (sp?) snake in these surroundings. Two coral snakes have been found near our current abode. We have asked the animal spirits to spare us the visit! We have seen beautiful blue butterflies the size of our hands or bigger. There are many beautiful flying species around here and we love to wake up to their music. Bats fly in an out of the house...only to hunt and leave. Still remember we currently have a flush toilet...not only flushing but clean!!!
That's all for now
keep looking for photos as our wonderful Nathan will get them attached to the website. Hopefully with the captions
all our love