April 3, 2006

Visit to Salacuim & Training Wrap Up

We made our first visit to our site! Our counterparts from the "Proyecto Lachua" drove to the training center and picked us up for our all day journey into the jungle on Tuesday (march 21st). It's beautiful place...warm climate, friendly people, tropical rainforest ecosystem (fairly natural and unspoiled within the park boundaries), big rivers, lakes, caves, ect. There are approximately 272 bird species in the area...more than in the entire US. Probably the best part of our assignment is a really well organized agency with good resources to do good work. They have an office set up in Salaquim complete with electricity, running water, and even internet. They work on several development projects focused on conservation on the National Park like: environmental education, tourism development, alternative income generation. We're both excited about getting involved.

There is one drawback in trying to find housing. So far the best option is to move into the departing P.C. volunteer's house. It's pretty rough--without a working kitchen, electricity, running water, complete walls or pest control. We're looking for other options, but we won't know for sure what we'll do until we move to the area for good (April 7th). Wish us luck!

We got back from our visit & now we're near the end of 2 weeks of wrap up training. We both officially "passed" spanish--which really means that we speak well enough to point and grunt to get through the first few months. We've had a bit of basic training in the indigenous language of Q'eqchi', but we may get more into this after we see how much we need it to communicate for our work.

Another highlight was a great religious procession within our pueblo of Santo Tomas last night. This was part of the country-wide build up during the "quarenta dias" before "semana santa". It was something incredible to be a part of, about 100 alfombras made of sawdust, flowers, and other creative materials were made all over the streets of town during the day & then trampled by the procession during the evening.

Not much time to upload pictures lately, but we'll add a big bunch of them in the near future.

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