Sunday, May 18, 2008


And now here is a little something about all of the charms of the country. In the last post I mentioned the Chuchos or street dogs. In Santa Lucia, where the PC offices and training center is located, there are tons of chuchos. In San Miguel Duenas, there really are not too many. In Antigua, the chuchos are pretty well fed. Mat and I made a chucho friend the other day. One followed us from the central park in Antigua all of the way to the bus terminal and then waited with us while we waited for camionetas. Most of them steer clear of people. If they don’t or act aggressively, don’t be afraid to swing a stick at them. They are pretty scared of sticks because they have all probably suffered some pretty severe beatings by them. The attitude is definitely different here even toward pets. There is not a humane society or Animal Cops the TV show. However, the street dogs can be dangerous and if you are a runner it is highly recommended that you run with a stick just to scare them off. There actually is a rabies problem. Don’t worry, we receive three pre-exposure shots and then get the double shot treatment post-exposure. So we are safe.

I know you all want to know about all of the awesome illness that we may be experiencing in the next two years. Now, I have a cast iron stomach so I bet I will be the one so avoid the horrible cases of diarrhea. However, I bet I might end up with a little (or actually very long) problem with intestinal worms. At least, they don’t make you sick. One day you might just pass one or the nurses might find an egg in one of our mid-service poop samples. I really hope you all can handle the poop talk. We trainees have fully adjusted. In my program alone (of 15 or16), half have had “problems.” We have oh so many fun things to look forward to getting!

Okay so I have talked about the camionetas but in case I skipped a description of them or the experience, here it is. So they are yellow school buses from the US that have been sent here for transportation. However, they get spiffy paint jobs with sassy names like “Princesita.” It is a pretty cheap way to get around and always good for a bit of excitement. There is a driver and a helper (ayudante) that takes the money once everyone gets settled in. And by settled in I mean packed in tighter than a can of sardines. One ride in a full camioneta and an American will get over their right to space. Last week I was climbing into the back of a rather packed camioneta when, zoom, it took off. My friend Ellen and I were holding on the back of the bus for our dear lives. Turns out you don’t actually have to be in the bus to catch a ride. And remember the ride is through some curvaceous roads at a top speed. You always hold on or else you may find your self on the floor or in another persons lap. The PC told us that sometimes the drivers drink on the job so if you think they are drunk get off. But I am not sure how to tell if they are since in my opinion it is all reckless driving. Plus it is hard to tell when you are clinging to life on the back of the bus.

Guatemala is beautiful though! Sometimes I can hardly believe this is where I am living for the next two years. I live in the middle of three volcanos! Gorgeous. When we get our sites, the health volunteers will all be in the northwestern part of the country, the altiplano, where there are mostly indigenous people. Hopefully Mat and I don’t end up anywhere too cold. I can’t wait to see the Maya ruins or the black sands on the Pacific. Pictures will be posted, por supuesto!

1 comment:

Mamacita Jo said...

Well, Mija, I hear the cast iron stomach is no more. You sure do tell a funny, if not very reassuring, story. Love you both!