[Editor's note: I wrote this post a few weeks ago and upon realizing that it might not pass the Peace Corps inspection (keep reading), I decided I'd put a password on my blog which they suggested if you feel that some of the things you post may be potentially sensitive or revealing. Turns out, it's not very easy to put a password on here and I'd have to invite everyone I wanted to have access (preferably through their Gmail accounts!) which seemed much more daunting than just editing out a number of jokes and self-censoring. I didn't want to lose this entire post so here it is with the edits, sorry that it doesn't flow as well as the original and isn't nearly as hilarious or sarcastic. Email me if you want the unedited version and I'd be happy to send it. Enjoy!]
Welcome back my aimless ramblings. I'm sure you're thrilled. First off, I want to apologize for the password, it's certainly not my preference but I just sat through two weeks of orientation on all of the old and new Peace Corps rules, regulations, and policies covering everything from which buses we're allowed to take to which areas of the country are in the green zone, which are in the yellow zone and which are in the red zone and whatever that's all supposed to mean. It turns out, Peace Corps Guatemala has gotten even stricter in the past five years to the point that if you have a blog, you're not even supposed to mention where it is that you're living for security reasons.
At first I thought this meant that they didn't want you to give specific details about where exactly you live (like don't draw a map to your house) but apparently it means not even mentioning the name of the town in which you live. I'm not really sure how I could possibly write anything of any substance if I'm writing from “Anywhere, Guatemala.” The whole point of this is to share a little slice of my experience with those of you who are interested in following along from afar. My experience is specific to the town of ██████ in the department of ████████. That might not mean much to those that don't know the country well but regardless, that's where I am; it feels like a bit of a disservice to pretend otherwise.
Apparently there are people in the Peace Corps office in DC who read volunteers' blogs and email the country offices if anything in there is questionable or potentially offensive. I rather enjoy being offensive and really don't need some ████████████ to ruin that for me so I've put a password on here for that reason and that reason only. The truth is that I'm pretty much always joking around on here just trying to have a little fun. People that know me understand that I'm just trying to get a cheap laugh and it's not my intent to patronize the people who are working hard to keep us all safe here, but it's not the people who know me that I'm worried about.
So anyways, here I am in █████. It's my first night here and it feels like 2009 all over again. At times it's hard to believe I ever came back to this place. I could have sworn that I swore this place off after coming home one too many times to a moldy house from one too many meetings that resulted in absolutely nothing getting done with an omnipresent Evangelical preacher screaming through a blaring radio at an absurd volume. Yet here I am, back for more in the land of eterna primavera. Of course this depiction is grossly ignoring all of the incredibly positive experiences I have had here in my life; I guess I'm optimistic that this time I'll be even better at tipping that balance in my favor.
I'm not actually in the house in which I'll be living for the next nine months (I'm doing a nine month stint, not two years for those of you that didn't know). Doña Yohanna, the owner of the house I'll be renting, promised me last week that the guy who was living in the house would be gone by the time I showed up. Once upon a time, I probably would have believed that and maybe even been upset when it ended up not being true but it came as absolutely no surprise to me when I showed up a few hours ago to learn that he's still there and that she has a room across the patio from that house that she'll rent to me until he leaves at the end of the month. Whatever, I'm not really worried about it. I have a place to sleep and a door that locks, that's enough to hold me over for a few weeks. Eighteen days. Doña Yohanna kept repeating that over and over again. It'll be ready in 18 days. [Editor's note: It's ready, I've moved in and I'm quite happy with it.]
The room I'm in is a pretty standard Central American abode: cement block walls, one black metal door facing an outdoor patio, one opaque glass window with bars on the outside, cement floor painted with a once glossy maroon paint and one overhead light with an energy saving LED bulb. The walls are painted light blue expect for one wall which is inexplicably one-third light blue and two-thirds beige. I've opted out of the overhead light for a few candles I picked up at the tienda and one that Jessica gave me for my birthday that she made me out of beeswax from her host family's hives in Jamaica. Louis Armstrong and the caterpillar crawling slowly across the ceiling will be my writing companions tonight.
When I showed up, there were only two wooden bookshelves in the ~15' x 20' room and an empty water jug. We since moved in a spare bed from the other room which is just some wood slats with a thin pad on top and all of my belongings are now spilling out of my bags onto the dusty floor in the corner. I'm sitting here on the hard bed staring at the two-toned wall in the Guatemalan mountains pondering everything that led me back to this place and wondering what the next nine months will bring. I have a hell of a lot better idea of what I'll be doing this time around than I did last time but there's really no telling for sure. It'd be a great comfort to know exactly how it's going to play out but alas, no such comfort exists. I have an idea, but I don't really know.
But then again, comfort is a big part of what drove me back here in the first place. I had comfort back home. More comfort than I knew what to do with. So here I am in █████, sitting in the dark hoping there is more happiness outside of the comfort zone than within.