A lot of good stuff has been happening, so I figured I'd write a quick update. In rough chronological order:
Dentist appointment: After four appointments, three trips, and some 250Q in taxis into the capital, I have a permanent crown. It almost feels more comfortable than my own teeth. That dentist is an artist. Thanks, Uncle Sam, for the best root canal I will ever have in my entire life. (And let's hope, the last!)
Antigua: At this point the calories are all a blur, but I think we ate every type of dessert available in Antigua, probably twice. And the regular meals: Thai food, Tipico food, Antigua-gringo food, all so delicious. We also visited an old convent, Las Capuchinas. Really impressive.
Reconnect: It was good to see folks, and the highlight was probably a pizza lunch and Q/A with the Ambassador, who was really down-to-earth, but also well-composed and eloquently spoken. It was good to see him having three months of experience in-country. I liked him. And I hear he makes awesome brownies. Perhaps all US diplomats should be required to bake.
Feria: I got back from Antigua in time for the Feria in my town, and three days off from school/muni. I'm not sure our Feria really boasts anything all that special, but I will be pining away for churros for months ... And it was interesting to see the town full of vendors and cheap carnival games and rides. Pictures to come of the 30-some men dancing around in the church courtyard in skimpy Princess Xena costumes for the Baile of Disfraces. (Cross-dressing at Feria seems like a common-place occurence in Catholic Guatemala...)
Xela: On the weekend we went into Xela for awhile; I think I'm officially addicted to that Indian restaurant in town. Add it to the list of stuff gringos like.
Laguna Chkab'al: On Saturday we went with a friend who was visiting Xela up to Laguna Chicabal for the first time. I felt pretty out of shape but I remembered how much I love to get out hiking, and realized I need to figure out a way to get out more. Technically it is part of my work... But anyway, Chicabal is a pretty cool community tourism project, and for the moment it seems to be working well. A good example for us to think about following...
Panajachel: Now we're here on Lago Atitlan for five days of annual leave. I had expected Pana to be so touristy and expensive it would be a bummer, but after 5 days in Antigua it's actually not so bad. The lake is teeming with gringos, as promised, and locals following gringos around selling artesania, but the mellow atmosphere and beauty are pretty relaxing. And I've eaten more tofu in the past 36 hours than I did in the two weeks before I left for Guatemala. Interesting how tourism itself interacts with and influences local culture.
A tourism volunteer on vacation as a tourist... is that, like, meta-tourism?
Anyway, this break has been a good time to reflect on the past three and a half months, think about the perspectives and worries tying me down in site, and how I can readjust and refocus my approach for the next little stretch of work...