I found out my site this week…I am going to be living in San Martín Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango! It is about a hour and a half from where I am now, located in the middle of the mountains, which are beautiful! I will be working with an organization called SID (Strategies for International Development), a US run NGO that works with farmers to help them organize so that they can sell and export for higher prices. I will be working in about five or six different aldeas (smaller communities around the municipal)! I am really excited because I think that I will learn a lot, from Spanish to legalizing here in Guatemala! I also get to learn Kaqchikel, one of the 22 Mayan languages here! I don’t know much more about it right now except that it is a new site for a marketing volunteer and that it is a new SID office! I meet my counterpart on Tuesday and leave for a five day site visit on Wednesday! I am just really excited to get started now that I know where I am going!
This has been a busy week, received our sites, had a final presentation and it was Dia de Muertes/Todos Santos! So Thursday the marketing gang headed to Santa Maria (three other trainees live there) for the kites! The Guatemalans believe that flying the kites allows them to be closer to the deceased! Families build these huge kites, 8-12 feet in diameter and then they go to the cemetery to fly them! We walked to Santiago to see the biggest ones in the area, it was INCREDIBLE! I cannot believe that they had kites that big hundreds of feet in the air! They are not just the diamond shaped kites these are octagon shaped kites with elaborate designs on them, seriously I cannot even begin to describe them! They also build four huge kites for different things within the community; these do not fly because they are like 50 feet high…and the same across! They are also elaborately designed with the history of Santiago and the Mayan traditions of the day!
When I got home I had the chance to go with my family to the cemetery to decorate their family graves! It is one of the most beautiful celebrations I have ever seen! Everyone brings flowers and wreaths to the graves of their deceased family members and it is a time to remember the family members and what their life stood for and who they were! They are so open about death…they still see it as a sad time but at the same time they see it as a happy time! My mom was asking me if we had the same holiday in the States and I was telling here that it would not be ok for kids to be running around flying kites in a cemetery in the States, the cemetery is sort of a different place for us! Then she continued to ask why do we not have a day to remember our family members didn’t we love them! I had no response for this statement, except that we remember in our own way! She also asked if we were scared of death in the States…I told her there was somewhat of a fear surrounding death but it was more of a personal thing! She then proceeded to tell me that I did not need to be scared of death because life is just a period of time before we began our everlasting life in the true Kingdom! I am blown away everyday by the my family’s faith…they believe that everything that happens in a good thing because God allowed it to happen therefore there is a higher meaning that we don’t know about! I am continually overwhelmed by their strength!
Well I swear-in in two weeks…I cannot wait! I will be officially living in my site on November 18th! I cannot wait to find my own house and set it all up so that I can start having visitors (come visit, flights are relatively cheap)! I have to say that if two years go as fast as the last two months, I am going to be home before you and I know it!