A Never To Be Forgotten Account Of My Time In Guatemala
23 May 2013 - 2:36pm
My six weeks as a volunteer in Guatemala was unforgettable. I arrived in January and stayed with a family: Dennis, Enelia and their three children, who did all they could to make me feel at home. Alex Peréz and Carlos Colombi, the project coordinators, helped with orientation and assisted me with all aspects of my stay in the village of St. Lucia. On my way to the project centre each morning I would say “Buenos Dias” to all I met. People always responded with a friendly response.
This week marked six months since I departed from Senya Beraku, Ghana and touched down in Cork on a cold, blustery November morning. What a six months!! Having been struck down with cases of reverse culture shock and many tummy upsets in the Christmas season, I can honestly say that I don't think I felt like the real "Aileen" till at least after the festive season had passed and 2013 had kicked in. This being said life in Ghana and the children of Mum's Care were, and still are, constantly on my mind.
Nearly a year on since my journey with EIL Ireland began and I find myself in a position of great gratitude, not only for the opportunity to travel to South Africa, the opportunity to taste a culture, meet a people and witness a landscape so beautiful and varied but now in particular, I am truly grateful for being introduced to the issues of HIV in Ireland, to be given the opportunity to become more aware, less ignorant to the issues of our own citizens as well as those from other countries.
Annie Apple, Bouncy Ben, Clever Cat and Dippy Duck. These were the letterland friends who taught me the alphabet when I was the spritely age of four. Up until recently I took for granted the impact that Queen Q and co. made on my life. I mean how important can knowing the alphabet be, right?
Soo...that blog writing thing went well while I was in Ghana eh?! Ok, so I admit my commitment to blog updates were moved swiftly to the bottom of my priorities once I arrived in the elusive Gold Coast..and in the two months since I've returned. Oops!! Contact with home became my first priority once I arrived in Ghana and I had no time to update my blog, and since I've returned I needed time to re-adjust to Irish living and overcome reverse culture shock before I could write about my work away with more clarity and honesty.
It's been a pretty adventure-packed month since I last wrote, and a real plunge into Mexican culture and traditions, which has been fantastic, and made the Christmas holidays one of the most memorable I'll ever have.
Yesterday I have been to the Precolombian Museum, the Religious Art museum and the Machu Picchu Museum. Quite proud of myself I have to say :) (I never go to 3 museums in a day...or even in a week!) I hesitated a long time in front of the "Pisco (strong peruvian alcohol) museum" (it was a museum after all...) but my conscience told me not to. Good girl. Then coming home I was invited to Julio's house again for a hot chocolate, a long chat, and...say goodbye. He also taught me how to dance "el Huayno" an Andean Dance.
Yesterday when I arrived at work, there was a woman in labour. She looked really weak, walked very slowly around, and was apparently not eating enough. She didnt seem to suffer...or feel anything indeed. She looked like more of a ghost to be honest with you...
I have celebrated New Year's Eve with Rebecka, the other volunteer from Sweden and her boyfriend who's from Colombia (the Capital), we went to a restaurant, and at mightnight we were on the Plaza de Armas to see the fireworks, hear the concert and hug each other to say Happy New Year.