I´ve been in site now for almost 2 months (June 10), and so far I´ve experienced some pretty cool things…and some pretty not so cool things too. But in all, I´m alive and well.
Let´s start here as it´s the most unique thing about my site. It´s active, but you already know that. Everyday when I wake up I´m looking out the window to see what´s happened. If I´m up before the sun, and lucky, sometimes I´ll see the incandescence of an explosion, or before I got to bed too. In the past week I´ve felt a few small sismos (or earthquakes), but local. There have been a few lahars here, but I´ve missed them because I was out of site, or waiting at the entrance to the fincas because the transportation is so…nonexistent. I´m hoping to catch one soon…
Volcán Pacaya is in an eruptive stage right now, spewing out aa-aa and pa-hoe-hoe lava (same composition; different transport mechanics). So, being a volcanologist in training, and a current “employee” of INSIVUMEH, we (John Lyons and Gustavo (real employee of INSIVUMEH) and a couple other non-INSIVUMEH-related folk) went to check out the flows. Awesome. We got up nice and close to take samples of the stuff with our highly sophisticated lava-sampling equipment (metal broom stick; one end like a pole the other in the shape of a “T” to hold the mop (these details are important later, trust me)). Wicked hot, but fun. There was also this Italian documentary crew, or something, there doing a bit on Pacaya, and they wanted to talk to Gustavo about Pacaya and volcanoes in Guatemala. So we met up with them and they asked about out equipment, which we answered was our highly sophisticated lava-sampling equipment. We told the face (some Italian who knew nothing about volcanoes, less the earth) that we stuck the one end into the lava to pull the stuff out. “And what´s this end for?” she asked, pointing to the end shaped like a “T”. We told her it was for mopping a floor. Dumb Italian s. Otherwise we didn´t find these folk too amiable.
I´ve been getting to know the people here pretty well. Everyone is generally really nice and interested in me, and almost everyone tells me to be careful walking around out side the finca because of the ladrons (robbers). I´m getting close to the people who work in the offices of both fincas, El Faro, and Patzulin. I´m also spending a lot of time talking with the women who work in human resources, just talking, although there is still a lot of Spanish I don´t understand, or they just talk too fast sometimes. The kids on the finca call me Adams or gringo if they´re younger and I get Adam too if I´m lucky. I´m playing soccer with the campesinos (labourers) when I can and I´ve taught some women how to make pizza. I´m on a good relation with everyone, except the occasional bolo or baracho (drunk) that I encounter. They don´t sell beer or anything in the finca, so it´s not a problem really in the finca. I´ve only had to deal with 2 or 3, but I really just try to dodge their spit, and not look at them or listen to them. At the town where the entrance to the fincas is (Las Marias) I ran into one of these bolos, at 7:30am none the less, and just tried to book it. What bugs me most about these folk isn´t just that they are oblivious to what they´re doing, but they are completely incomprehendible(?) and expect me, or us, to understand completely what they are saying. Otherwise though, I really like the people here.
Last week the activity I did with the kids in school was a charla about gorwing population and where we live, and how much space there is for us, nature, and agriculture. I did a dynamic to begin where everybody had their own sheet of news paper. Plenty of space. Then I started to take away paper from them so they had to move to another sheet and share with somebody else. I did this until there was only 1 sheet and all 20-or-so of them were almost fighting to get on that paper. In class I showed them the difference between a new world (untouched sheet of newspaper) and their final world that they were fighting to be on. Quite a difference. Almost real life, huh?
Life is good. Tranquilo we say here. The volcano is doing its thing, I´m doing mine, (and yes, I´m working too…), and everything is basically just going along.
Talk to you guys later---