Me Embracing the World

Me Embracing the World

Friday, June 8, 2007

Homeward Bound... (Guatemala City, Guatemala)

I´ve been meaning to write a blog. An entry about all the wonderful, interesting, and at times frustrating things I´ve been doing in Guatemala. At first, I had been meaning to write it for 3 weeks. Then I was meaning to write it for a month. And now... well you get the picture.

It´s as hard to write as it is for me to wrap my head around it. I´m coming home. Tomorrow.

My flight leaves at 7am, I´ll be back in America by 11am, and, after a 3 hour layover in LA, back in the bay by 3pm. I´m coming home. Tomorrow.

I´ve been intending to write an entry just filling in on the details of my life in Xela. Not much too much has happened, but small changes are felt more when you live a domestic life.

My private little situation living with my loving homestay got invaded about a month ago. Sara, from the United States, but with an Argentinian accent moved in. For the first time in my life, I had a feeling of what it was like to be an older sibling, to have all the attention that used to be focused on you robbed by the new child in the family. Sure you´re more experienced and get to guide them as they get their feet on the ground, but there´s always that resentment, just sort of sitting there in the back of your head :). Ben! I understand now! well... maybe just a little bit.

Jose got married! It had been on his schedule for a while, but he finally had the civil ceremony and made it official. (Sorry the pictures are blurry! I didn´t want to be too invasive and take lots of pictures with flash). Sandra, his bride, is a warm and lovely person who´ve I´ve got to know after the past few weeks, and she has a bright sense of humor that matches Jose´s perfectly. I broke out the old shirt that my dad gave me, (ugly green plad), for the occasion and was not only the ´photographer´ but also the entertainment! As we sat around eating cake afterwards, they asked me to break out the guitar and I played what I could for them. The highlight was a song I wrote for Mamá Cony on mother´s day, ¨The song of Mamá Cony¨ a.k.a. ´A Comer...´. Look for it on music shelves soon :). As part of the marriage, he moved out of the house and into the 3rd story of the piñata shop in La Democracia. We helped them decorate and they´ve turned the space into a real cozy apartment area. A paticularly memorable experience was helping them move their giant gas stove, a wedding present. Riding through the streets of Xela at night in the back of a pickup, securing the stove so it dosen´t fall out, we couldn´t actually just carry it up to the 3rd floor because the stairs weren´t big enough, so we devised a quick makeshift system of tying a bunch of ropes, pushing from below while pulling from above, and hoping it wouldn´t fall and crush us. It looks real good now in their apartment by the way...

Jose moving out left room for...

My house being invaded again! Another Sara, friends with the first, also from the US, but without the Argentinian accent, moved into Jose´s old room and became my new cottage-mate. For all the talk of invasion, both Sara´s are actually very wonderful people, and I´ve enjoyed their company very much. The only trouble was deciding what to call them. We have different naming schemes, Sara and Sarita, Sarita and Sara, Sara A and Sara B, but I think we decided on Sarita Uno y Sarita Dos.

So things went very well at home. Saying goodbye today was very tough, and the cause for some tears. I just stayed home so much that I really felt like I became a part of the family, and I´ll miss them all very much.

On the work front, I did accomplish something. I finally ended up completing my prototype filter, a ¨UV Tube¨, that disinfects water with UV light, and out of all locally available products too. I also set up the foundation for a collaboration with another NGO, Cantaro Azul, which has developed a degree of expertise about UV tubes in Mexico over the past few years (Also run by a UC Berkeley student). In the process of doing so, I realized that what puts the appropriate in appropriate technology is really considering the specific situation and needs of the community in which you look to implement your technology, and I finally started that process towards the end, going out into the local communities and talking with the people, taking surveys, about their water situations and quality. I feel like its starting a shift in the way AIDG approaches their technology development, and its something that I feel both very good and proud about.

Life besides that was filled with lots of little details. The Super Chivos (our local futbol team) won the Guatemalan championships and the town went nuts for at least a week. I went to the hotsprings up in the mountains (Giorginas) with the family, getting a good natural hot tub that made me oh so homesick. I went to El Salvador with Vinay, Giovanni, and all of Gio´s family...

Wait that last one was a big one. But it´ll have to wait for another day, because it´s late, and I´m getting up at 5 tomorrow morning to hop on a plane for home.


It still hasn´t sunk in. It´ll take a while I´m sure. I´ve started a retrospective entry, started it a while ago actually, but its such a massive task that it ended up delaying this entry for a long time I think. So yes, more to come, as my journey continues, continues in America!

But from the last time for the meantime in Latin America, this is Jesse saying...

Thanks so much for reading my entries everyone who has been. It´s great being able to keep in touch with you all, to have you know what I´m doing, to talk to you and have you say, ¨Oh, I´ve been following you´re travels on facebook-your blog¨. It´s been a long journey (7 months), and it was never intended to be this long. When I left in November, I thought I was coming back in December. Ha! Well, I´ve never traveled for this long, and I´ve never traveled alone before, and I totally didn´t imagine in my wildest dreams when I left that my journey would end up the way it did. But it has, and I´ve really loved it, really enjoyed, and really been glad that I could share what I could of it with you all. Even just knowing you´re out there reading this was always a comfort, a way of feeling at home, no matter where I was, and I thank you for that. I hope to see you all soon, and VERY soon if you´re still in the Bay Area, so do keep in touch.

Well, here I go... Home I come! In the words of Paul Simon...

Home... where my thoughts are leaving... Home... Where my musics playing... Home... where my love lies waiting quietly for me... quietly for me.

Or something like that :)

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