Wednesday, July 28, 2010

#3

It has been a busy 2 weeks... After spending some time in Antigua I went to EL Quiche Province and headed up into the Ixil triangle an area of the coountry where most people are very much connected with indigenous tradition, everyone was wearing the traditional clothing- beautifully hand woven tops and skirts- and few people spoke spanish. While there I did a bit of hiking and got the chance to talk to some interesting people... one of which was a man who had spent 20+ years in Nebaj (the biggest town in the triangle) who had endles stories about develkopment projects and the difficulties of implementing effective interventions... he had a lot to say and most of it left me thinking he was pretty jaded by the big aid organizations. He was running a bee co-op and school for disabled chioldren in the town and was very clearly sick of some of the poorly thought out gringo interventiuons... one he told me about was USAID gain bags that say do not sell on them that eventually end up in thye local tiendas where they are sold for such a low price they undercut local farmers who cannot compete with the prices. Aside from him I spoke with 2 girls who were shcoked to come across me in the town Chajul... very few gringos around... and were working for an organization that did eduication and some healh interventions in the area... Im thinking at the end of my time in Xela I might head back up and work with them for a bit.

As of right now I have found an apartment here in Xela or Quertzaltenango and am planning on stayiong for a month.. the apartment is great and almost all of my roommates are working for local NGOS, one among them a specifically health education focused NGO I am hoping I can hook in with. Its been fantastic here in Xela have spoken with a local social worker, various other Guatemalans and some gringos who have been here for a LONG time about what they hace seen. There are endless perspectivces on local dveelopment projects and the need in Guatemala finding the best kind of intervention in a courntry with so many problems seems to be the hardest task... Im starting to think it is education and empowering the local women. More to come later...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#2

So I am now in Stanta Cruz de Quiche after spending a day talking with a group that does family planning and cervical cancer screeingin in the towns around Antigua... really cool approach with some really interesting insights. I spent the rest of the day watching the Reicken foundation do one of their librarian training sessions where they teach librarians who work in various small towns how to make their libraries a communityu center of types and how to engage the community in the process. It was so obvious in the training that Reicken has a great hold on what the local mythsd are surrounding books and reading in GUatemala and how to educate these librarians on how to really engage the people in the communities they are working in. I espeecially liked the emphasis they put on creating what they call a ´biblioteca comunitaria moderna´ making people shift their thinking away from the traditional image of what a library is. IT WAS AWESOME.

Aside from that I decided I had to get off the tourist trail and out of Antigua... I took a 1 hr bus to Chimaltenango and transfered onto a bus headed for Santa Cruz de Quiche. The busses around here are called chicken busses and are converted school busses with wild stickers and paintings all over them... they are really neat looking but are not really gringo sized person friendly, even sitting straight up my knees are against the front seat. The ride was great all the same very windy through some really cool countryside. Im definitely not in gringolandia any more, this town is so cool with a market selling piles of the indigenous clothes, belts, ribbons, and skirts the market is filled with incredible color, I am so excited to go even further in to the highlands to a town called Nebaj on what is called the Ixil triangle- very much a indigenous area from what I understand. I have plans to visit one of the libraries Reicken has been involeved with and also chase down some whispers of projects in the area.

Really loving Guatemala

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Few Days

Thought I would give this blogging thing a chance so no one has to be unnecessarily subjected to my emails. Pardon the spelling and rambling nature of my writing.

Well what a couple of days it has been, in addition to a few leads on projects I plan to chase down this week I ran my first half marathon! After meeting a friend in the hostle I am staying at we made plans to try and climb the volcano Agua after breakfast and while he was looking in to rendting a motorcycle he came across a huge event in the town square... the half marathon las rosas... plans changed and we decided to run that instead. It was fantastic! There were people all alopng the road chearing and encouraging all of the runners (probably 1000 runners in total). It was such a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the surrounding area without the trouble of busses in the road. I even got a metal at the end of the race as proof for all of you nonbelievers out there.

Aside from that msot recent adventure I made it up to the town at the base of the vlolcanoe for some exploring and spent an afternoon skethching the town square church. The sketch is horrible but while I was sitting there I managed to somehow make friends with a huge group of kids on a field trip up from guatemala city. The were waiting for their bus so while they were waiting we sat around and chatted. As they were all called away to catch their bus I was givin probably 50 sticky goodbye kisses on the cheek. That would have been enough excitement to keep me content but I got even luckeier. The indigenous women selling their bracelets and trinkets on the tow square apprently decided I was safe and each took turns sitting down next to me on my bench for a chat. OUr conversations ranged from talk of the local stoves used to my religion to joking about my lakck of artistic ability.

Have plans for Monday to visit the nearby offices of the Riecken foundation a group that builds libraries in emproverished areas. We will see what they can give me- also plan to visit an organization WINGS that does womens health in Antigua. Vamos a ver que pasara.