Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blogger Revisited

It was brought to my attention the other day that a friend discovered my blog I had kept during my service in the Peace Corps when it suddenly dawned on me...It was exactly two years ago that I finished my service. That also means that I have been home as long as I had been away.

I find it truly amazing that my life over the last two years has been on fast forward with comparison of the arduous life that once graced me in the impoverished yet beautiful nation of Guatemala. I continually look back on that experience as my formative years and it will always be my proudest accomplishment.

I also found it astonishing that due to current updates from blogger I was able to see that people from all over the world had read this blog. To me that was special honor and can honestly say that I await my next journey outside of the US with much alacrity.

I got home from the Peace Corps and like everyone else in the world I was greeted by the economic calamity which made it very disconcerting to find a job. However, I was constantly remined of the struggle that many of my Guatemalan friends encountered on a daily basis just trying to simply survive. Due to the fact that I never received any response to the ridiculous number of jobs that I applied for after the Peace Corps (most of which were Federal Jobs that I was optimistic about feeling that I had noncompetitive eligibilty***that was suppose to be a perk of serving in the Peace Corps which I unfortunatley found unhelpful) I decided like most people to take a step back and settle for any type of income.

Oddly enough in my hometown I applied for a job as a Police Officer and was shocked to find out that I got the job. It was a complete change from the life of a Peace Corps volunteer, but happily there were some similarities such as the special bond and comaraderie that goes with serving amongst others with the same purpose and goals.

I have since moved on to another job and I guess at this moment I don't have anything extremely profound to write, but simply that I missed writing on here and forgot how cathartic it is for me to write. In the near future I plan to write again and I have some funny stories that I feel need to be shared.

Until then take care,


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I had been waiting for the moment to write this final blog about my service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, yet until just recently while listening to Barack Obama I realized that what I had been waiting for was an inspiration. On this day that has changed the history of our country and the world I find it necessary to express how amazing my journey over the last two years has been. This experience signifies so much to me and doubt I can fully explain it through writing…but here goes nothing.


Leaving in August of 2006 the truth is that I had never experienced difficulty in my life. I had always been blessed with a great family that provided so much for me. Unfortunately, it took a significant period of time away from them and the US to completely understand it. One of the true blessings of the journey was that it allowed me to see not only the US differently, but also the entire world. In Guatemala I saw poverty that before could not have imagined existed, and yet I saw those same people offer so much to me for just being there.
We as Americans must understand that in the world today at this very moment there are people struggling just to survive. With that in mind as we face this financial crisis and difficulties let us unite and believe that…YES WE CAN


Never before in my life prior to Peace Corps had I understood the struggle of being someone different. During my first several months many people in my community would refuse service to me in the grocery stores because I could not properly speak the language and was a foreigner. Fortunately, through my hard work and the ability of people in that same community learning my character and not concentrating on the color of my skin I was able to develop the most amazing friendships.

This is Eva the Banana lady who became one of my best friends in the market giving me an excellent price on bananas everyday.

These are the leaders of the community where I lived presenting me with a plaque thanking me for my service and friendship in the community.

We as a nation are a melting pot of different races, cultures, backgrounds, sexual orientations, political beliefs, and religions to name a few. It is most important during these difficult moments that we end discrimination and hate towards others and unify for one common goal to work together…YES WE CAN


Leaving for two years was a sacrifice that was rewarding and challenging at the same time. It was heartbreaking to miss weddings, reunions, holidays, funerals, and other events that would have likely been more pleasant then being in Guatemala. However, during these difficult moments of sacrifice and struggle is when I learned the most about myself and developed the most character. Not to mention an understanding and appreciation of men and women who do it everyday serving our country around the world. It is imperative that we as a nation understand that the road to prosperity will definitely be met by struggle and it will take sacrifices to succeed…YES WE CAN


My stipend for being a volunteer was a little over 300 dollars a month. In the beginning I found this nearly impossible to pay for my rent, utilities, food, water, and enough left over for entertainment. Thankfully, the experience taught me how to value what I could afford and the difference between what I needed and wanted. We as a nation tend to get a bit materialistic and sometimes concentrate on what we don’t have. During these moments we need to value most what we do have and never judge anyone based on their economic status…YES WE CAN

These are just a few of the lessons that have changed my life over the last two years. The truth is that I would have never been able to accomplish this without the support and love of my family, friends, fellow PCV’s, and the so many Guatemalans that accepted me and gave me the most wonderful gift of all FRIENDSHIP. This blog may be over but the lessons learned through this journey will last for the rest of my life. Anyone who ever considers joining the Peace Corps, volunteering, or simply just traveling I encourage you because sometimes it takes putting ourselves in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations to grow and learn the most about the world.

Barack Obama is different than any leader we have ever had in our country and many people may not agree with this change. My advice for this is to reach out, try to be understanding, and most of all patient because great changes and achievements take time.



Monday, October 20, 2008

The end but not the final blog

Just can´t quite put into words what these last few weeks have been like. I want to wait until I get back to the US to write a final blog and have a little time to reflect on all that has happened. What an experience...but man am I ready to go home and see my family. Sorry but it is just too much to deal with right now for me to write something on here.

Take care,


Saturday, August 16, 2008

World Map pics

My Dad told me the project will not be complete without a GIANT star marking Forestburg, South Dakota.

Doing much better now that I have power and most of the town has stopped giving me a hard time about the short circuit. Happy, Health, and just trying to enjoy my last few months here.

Take care,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Feria Pics and Circuit Story

These were some of my favorite pics from last week.
It was neat because schools from all over eastern Guatemala were in our parade. Each school had their own band and dance team.
Hey dude!!! Getting ready for the rodeo to start. Nothing better than getting your picture taken in front of a bunch of bull's @sses.
I was a little appalled that families were sitting on the ledge during the entire rodeo. Thankfully nobody but the riders got hurt.
Last night another one of those classic moments occurred that I couldn’t wait to blog.
I had my night all planned out…I was going to spend an hour cleaning, then make dinner, and finally relax and read my book about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On the dance channel it was “Hora de Salsa” with great salsa music so I had the TV blaring while I was cleaning.

I washed my hands and started to chop veggies for dinner and decided I could let them steam while I took a shower. Had the electric stove turned up full blast and jumped into the shower…meanwhile keep in mind I still got salsa music jamming, with most of the lights in my house on, my fridge plugged in, and now I was about to turn on the shower which is heated by this obsolete electric device called a “calentador”.

I got about 90 seconds into my shower when I hear firecrackers going off, only it wasn’t firecrackers because immediately afterward the lights in my house went out. At this point I realized that I forgot a towel and clothes to change into and now the adventure starts because I can not see a thing due to the obscurity that is my casa. I open my shower door and see this beautiful display of fireworks when it occurs to me that it is a massive electrical fire. We are talking about a tremendous array of sparkles and lights that would rival most 4th of July fireworks. (jeez Drew did you ever consider that because the electric wires in this country are so primitive you maybe shouldn’t have every appliance and light in your house going at once???)

So at this point in total darkness I am wet, naked, and scared to death that I am going to get electrocuted while also looking for a my flashlight, towel, and maybe some clothes to change into. To make matters even better there is now a mob forming outside of my house of all my local neighbors and friends worried about my safety but maybe more so how they can put out this electrical fire. Everyone is screaming my name “Andrés, Andrés” when I finally found my flashlight.

In moments like these it really doesn’t matter how much Spanish you have studied because when experiencing sure terror/embarrassment it all goes out the window. I start to understand them telling me that they are going to put out the fire by throwing mud at it (which was pretty good thinking instead of water making it spread). I finally got dressed and greeted the helpful crowd after they put out the fire.

What makes this a unique and amazing experience is that after spending such a significant amount of time here you really become part of the community. It was so reassuring to know that during a moment like this I could count on all of my neighbors to help me out. The other thing that we volunteers experience is a greater understanding of the culture. Here in Guatemala I have learned that when your friends and neighbors are giving you a hard time, making fun of you, or calling you by an offensive nickname it is almost never to insult you but out of “cariño” (love or that the care about you) Immediately after the group realized I was ok they started giving me a hard time. “Andrés what are you trying to do burn the town down?” “Andrés you are going to have to get a bunch of candles and a pretty girl to keep you busy now that you don’t have power.” One of my buds even asked me jokingly “Andrés is it true you didn’t come to the door right away because you were playing with yourself?” You just have to learn to accept it, laugh with them, and dish it back. "No but I was wet and naked I told them."

Still waiting on the electricians as total darkness prolongs. A la gran puchicá!!!

Take care,


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Map pics

Well the kids never showed up because they were busy getting ready for the parade. Have to wait to next week to teach them how to paint. Luckily though I can always count on my good buddy Gabriel to help me out with projects
This is how it looked before we started

Neldy the librarian and I.

Gabriel and I working diligently. He was cracking me up cause ever time he would say "Andres where did you go. Are you in Africa now? I thought you were just painting in China?"

Next week the kids come and should be lots of fun.

Take care,


Friday, July 18, 2008

Map and town fair

I just started a new project in our local library to paint a giant map of the world on the wall. Unfortunately, our library resembles the appearance more of jail cell rather than a library. I’m in Antigua right now for a PC meeting but when I get back to my town I will put pictures up of our progress. I’m planning making this an after school project to encourage kids to spent more time in the library and hopefully entice them to check out some books.

!La Feria!

This week is our town’s festival of the patron Saint and fair. Basically it´s a five day event full of parades, dances, live music, and culminated on Friday with one of the biggest rodeos in the country. I got my boots polished, cowboy hat, and mustache ready to go. I’m optimistic that it will be a great week.

Take care,