Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pachita = baby bottle

One noise I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get out of my head, long after I leave Guatemala, will be the pat-pat of tortilla making. You can hear the noise come from every household at intervals throughout the day. In the morning, it signals the first bowl of beans of the day, the madre making sure the kids are ready for school, and the murmur of plans being made for the rest of the day. Later in the evening, they’re patted out for the nightly bowl of beans, while the madre and daughters gossip about the days events, catch up on telenovelas, and sweat around the fire. Even though we don’t make tortillas in the US, the sound makes me homesick. I think of hectic mornings, with all of us getting ready for school, family dinners, and chatting about the mundane things in life with people that are vitally interested, for no other reason than they’re your family. One of the things I enjoy and admire most about Guatemala is the sense of family here. To us, it may seem odd that children live at home right up until they’re married, or that everybody has the time to sit down to not just dinner, but all 3 meals together, but out here they wouldn’t have it any other way.

This weekend I went to a baby shower for the sister-in-law of my host family’s oldest daughter who lives in a nearby aldea. Since I’d never been to a baby shower, I didn’t really realize until about half-way through how intimate and emotional it could be! After we did the mandatory embarrassing party games (I won at being fed babyfood the fastest while both the feeder and I were blindfolded) we got to the advice for the mother, and wishes for good health. I was the only non-mother there, so I’m sure I don’t fully understand, but it was so sweet to see these women reflect back on their times as a scared new mom. The only advice I could give was to spank the kid hard and often, just like my parents did to me. (Just kiddinggggggg, Mom and Dad!!! I didn’t say that!) After the party, as I sat with some of the ladies and talked about what I was doing in Guatemala and how things were going, I had nearly all the women in tears! One of the women asked me “But how can you do it all alone, without any family? What happens if you need help?” Another wanted to know “How can you do all the men’s and women’s chores, all alone in your house? Don’t you want someone to kill the bugs and dig up the soil for you?” I told them that of course it’s tiring living alone, especially when I can’t run to get fast food if I don’t want to cook, or just toss my clothes in a washer, but I get by every day and have constant support from people nearby. They all of course immediately pledged their help, and the help of their sons, cousins, neighbors, pets, uncles, and whoever else was around. It’s funny what I consider tough, and what they do. Having to do all the chores at my house is hard, sure, but I’m only doing them for one person. I would much rather do the man’s and woman’s chores at my house for 1 person than do just the woman’s chores for the entire family. That’s a lot of clothes to handwash. It was a delightful party overall, with a delicious spice cake with some marshmallow-type frosting and pulled-pork sandwiches.

Anywayyyyyy, the countdown is still in effect. Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen, because in T-34 days, I will be touching down in Atlanta.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hogar = home

So I’ve moved! Hurrayyyyyy! I’ll hopefully be able to post pictures sometime, but ever since the unfortunate disappearance of my camera, I haven’t been documenting too much.

My new house is right down the street from my work, and across the street from the soccer stadium. When people here asked me where I moved to I say “the little white house that the Esquivel’s own that the doctors used to live in” and everybody immediately knows where that is. Not that too many people didn’t already hear it from 15 other people. The house is very small, but still too big for my scanty few possessions. The front door opens into a very short entrance, with two larger, rooms on each side. Very symmetrical. The back door opens into a great covered patio, where I’m going to eventually put my kitchen things. There a pretty large back yard, with plenty of space for my garden, and a pila and bathroom/shower about 10 yards away. All-in-all, the most simplest of spaces. So far, I only have a bed and a stove, and the 2 suitcases I brought from home, but I’m slowly building my own space. My Guatefamilia gave me my bed and dishes for free, and I bought the stove at half-price!! Hopefully I’ll be getting a table in the near future, but for now, I eat all my meals sitting on a ledge of my patio, watching the neighbor’s chickens peck around my pila. The thing I like most about my new house is the relatively private, open space in the back. I can have my garden, tan, and shower with little interruption.

The month of February came and went fairly quickly. Our training group all met up for Reconnect on Valentine’s Day, and enjoyed getting to see each other. Other than that, daily life is the same. Sometimes, especially on the weekends, it seems that there are more hours in a day than I really know what to do with. My typical day consists of waking up, going into the office for a few hours or going to the school to garden. Then I head back to the house for a quick lunch of whatever is in the market that day, and a rest with a book or tv show on the patio. After my 2-3 hour lunch, I head back to the office and mess around until 4 or 5, where I head back home to make dinner, hand wash laundry, work out, and laze around. I’m usually in bed by 8 or 9, and getting a full night’s sleep before 7am the next day. The weekends add some variety if I’m traveling, but when I’m here alone, I tend to lay around in bed a while longer, telling myself that I can’t get up before 9 on a weekend. Then I do whatever chores I have, go visit with my host family, tan, and be bored. It’s a very solitary life, but most of the time I don’t mind.

This past weekend, I worked on “home improvement” projects, and was very proud of myself. I’m becoming more like my dad every day. I started my fledgling garden, and have high hopes for constructing a table, if I can find cheap enough wood. I’ve also downloaded the Harry Potter books in Spanish, so that should be interesting.

Ok, so now that I’ve written the most boring blog ever, you guys will finally know how uneventful life here is on a daily basis. I guess that’s what it means to be “one of the people.” We recently had a group of American doctors come through our town, putting on a free clinic, and after talking to them, I realized how different it is to be doing a mission trip and to be living like a Peace Corps Volunteer. There are definite “pros” and “cons” to both.

This coming month, I’ll have a lot more interesting things to tell about. I’ll be going on vacation to Rio Dulce with the girls from the East and some friends of Kristen’s, and will also be going to Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Ambassador’s house. Oh yea, and I’m going home in less than 6 weeks. Hurrayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Vecino = neighbor

All Guatemalans know each other.

Ok, that may not necessarily be exactly true, but after being here 7 months, it sure seems that way.

A month or so ago, a group of us went to vaccinate chickens. When we missed the bus up to one of our aldeas, we just waited near the turn-off to go up the mountain, and hopped in the cab of the first person to pass. The way the women were talking to the driver, and the small size of my town, I figured they had known them for a while. Nope. He was a random deliveryman. Within the 25-minute drive, I found out about his impending wedding, AND what every single one of his relatives thought of the girl.

I was riding back with my family back from Cabañas, a neighboring town in Zacapa, and as we passed by the bus stop, we saw a small family with all their groceries, waiting on a bus to pass by. My host sister and her husband stopped the truck so they could hop in the back with us, and we continued on our way, eventually dropping them off in a small aldea of Cabañas, and later when I asked my family how they knew them, they said “Oh, we didn’t, we just figured they needed a ride.”

The way the mail works here is if someone sends me a package (hint hint), they only need to write my name on the package, and the town I live in, and in the entire population of 6,000 people, they’ll be able to find me. I moved to a different house here in town 2 days ago, and when I went to the post office to tell them the lady told me she already knew and would just walk the package down to my house for me.

I guess another thing that helps, besides the immediate bond Guatemalans form with random strangers, is that Guatemala is so small. Guatemala is roughly the size of Tennessee, and when you meet someone from your “departamento” it’s like meeting someone from your county or town, but it’s crazy that every time I mention Zacapa, someone knows someone from where I live! I live in a small town about two hours away from the capitol of Zacapa, with only roughly 6-8,000 people, but there’s still someone’s cousin or friend or even worst enemy out here.

And that’s why I bet you could play “7 Degrees of ‘________’” with any person in this country.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cursi = corny

“Tal vez el camino es feo, pero la vista es hermosa.”

There are two ways to get home from my friend Kristen’s site: the “Zacapa way,” which goes almost directly from her town to mine, on paved roads with only one stop in the capital of my department; and the “Jalapa way,” two separate buses, with the final one winding through mountains and small towns, with some spots nearly impassable. After a beautiful day in Esquipulas this weekend, where I got to see Black Jesus and socialize with the nearly 300 San Diegans that also came, I met up with friends to go visit Kristen at her new house. I returned a day later, and as I got down from the bus from Jalapa to San Diego, where I live, I saw my padre give me a confused look. He had personally dropped me off Chiquimula with a friend, so why was I on a bus that went through Jalapa? I walked inside, tired and glum from my day’s travels, hefting my groceries and sweating profusely. After I had made it in and dropped off my stuff, my padre finally turned and asked “Y porque viene de Jalapa? El camino es mas dificil y bien feo.” (“And why did you come from Jalapa? The road is more difficult and very ugly.”) I could explain about the more convenient bus times, or the better waiting area in Jalapa, but the truth is, I just wanted to take the other way. I needed to see the views of the mismatched and lumpy mountains, green one second and sparse the next. I needed to pass through the small aldeas of my communities, to watch the slow activity of a leisurely Sunday afternoon. So when I responded, I couldn’t help but smile and say “Tal vez el camino es feo, pero la vista es hermosa.” (“Maybe the road is ugly, but the view is beautiful.”)

And so goes my time in Guatemala.

This past weekend was the 3-month anniversary of being in my new site in San Diego, Zacapa. It’s a little bit of a big deal in the Peace Corps world, since it marks the end of our stricter confinement, and for most, a feeling of “home” and trust with the people of our communities. They also say that most Peace Corps Volunteers drop out either during training, or during the first three months in their site. Yikes. So there we have it. I’ve made it. I survived the first three months, and more importantly, I survived January. It’s interesting that although I’m coming up on the 6-month mark of being in Guatemala, this past month has been the one that truly made me aware of my commitment. I’ve questioned myself the most this past month, and some days honestly were a struggle. I’m here, though, on the other side, slightly less “awed” by being in Guatemala, but definitely more content. I’m more prepared to deal with the slow or sad days, and I’m sure they’ll be coming way less often, as I have really begun to settle in as part of the community. I’ve stopped thinking about what I’m missing back home, and stopped comparing Guatemala to America. I always assumed there are some things Guatemala just can’t give me, like my family and friends, but when I look around, I see that a new family and new friends surround me. Some days I’ll still cry, and some days I’ll want to go home, but I know I have people both in America and in Guatemala to support me. And those sad days pass, and better ones follow. No matter how ugly the road, I know there will be a beautiful view soon enough.

And so here it is, my cheesy blog post, full of trite metaphors. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but after a few months in, you find yourself motivated by the most surprising things. I take it where I can.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Piñata = piñata

The month of January has by far been the craziest so far. It’s been by far the best, and sadly, the worst too. I’ve only made it halfway through, and I’m already tired! This year started out with a New Years trip to Panajachel, a town on Lake Atitlan about 7-8 hours away from where I live. We met up with almost everyone from our training group to hang out and celebrate, and fun was had by all.

We arrived at the lake the day before NYE, and immediately got to the point of the whole weekend: boozing. I ended hanging out with the East girls most of the evening, and by the end night, we somehow found ourselves in “Jack’s Nigth Club.” That’s right, “Nigth” Yikes. We thought it was a dance club, but much to our surprise, we had inadvertently ended up in a strip club! Not exactly the place a girl wants to be, especially when the cops came in and patted down everyone there. What a night. The next day, some of the girls and I went on a boat ride around the lake, and it was so beautiful. Quite the relaxing afternoon, eating, shopping, and getting ready with the girls to go out that night. For New Years, we went to a local bar, where we hung out, made new friends, and general caused a ruckus. The bar had FIRE DANCING early in the evening, so that was pretty fun to watch. The next day, I layed around in bed with Lexi all day, eating Chinese food and watching movies. It was great.

After New Years, I got the best late-Christmas present ever. My friend, Nick, came to visit, and we had such a good time. He came out to the East to meet my family, and actually did pretty great talking to my family in Spanish, even though he hadn’t spoken Spanish in about 6 years. They loved that I brought him out to visit, and spent almost the whole time making fun of me in front of him. He also met my boss, which was a little scary, but my boss surprise visited me for an evaluation, so there wasn’t much of an option. Nick and I also visited Antigua and Panajachel again, and we had an amazingly relaxing time. One of the highlights of the visit was doing ziplines across the mountains overlooking Lake Atitlan. The views were amazing, and it was a lot of fun. I was a great visit, and I’m so happy I got to see a friendly face from home.

The down part of the last few weeks has been mostly to do with my job, and some to do with Peace Corps. After my evaluation with Sal, I was excited to start working, since it seemed like both my boss and counterpart were inspired to start helping me out and really get the ball rolling on my projects. Since Sal has left, though, things haven’t moved quite as quickly as I would’ve liked. I think I’m going through what most Volunteers go through at some point, in feeling like I’m useless and unwanted. I know it’s also timing, since I’m at the 5-month point, and really starting to miss home. After a rough few days, though, I got a pep-talk from my sister, and I’m ready to make my own changes and take charge. I know that to be happy here, I have to find my own way, and I’m taking that challenge with gusto in the new year. The other sad news we got is that Peace Corps National has decided to not continue the program I am part of at the same level, and will be slowly phasing it out. Although this won’t affect me, it does make one wonder about how effectual their projects will be if Nationals hasn’t seen effects enough to continue it. Ah, well, I guess that’s just a challenge to make my project MORE sustainable and MORE meaningful. I’ve gone to talk to some teachers here, and they seem helpful enough to want me to come to the schools, so at least I have something to plan for.

At the end of this month, I’ll also be allowed to move out, and I am SO EXCITED. Although I love love love my family here, and I’m sure I’ll be over often to visit, it will be nice to have my own house, where someone doesn’t start blaring music at 6:30am, and kids don’t stack chairs in front of my door for me to run into when I come out. I’ve started looking for houses, but the houses in San Diego are actually a little nicer than I can afford, and bigger than I need. I’m still hoping though, and awkwardly asking every single person I run into.

Oh! I almost forgot to add the story of Angel Omar’s birthday party!!! Angel Omar is my host sister’s son, and he turned 2 this past week, warranting the biggest party I’ve ever been to in my life. We worked the whole week before, hand-making intricate invitations and goodie bags. It felt like every second was cutting, gluing, and glittering. The night before the party, Friday, began the real work though. My madre had dropped a few hints throughout the week about how I would have to help “picar” (chop) some veggies with them for the party. I’ve helped cook here a good bit, so I didn’t think much of it. Boy, was that silly. At around 8pm, just as I had straightened up my bed to crawl in with the new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I hear my madre shout my name. When I walked outside of my room, I saw a line of aunts, cousins, and nieces walk in the door, each with their own knife, ready to start peeling and chopping. I don’t know if I can explain in words how much we cut without sounding like I’m exaggerating, but it took about 10 of us 4 hours to chop the vegetables, and we STILL weren’t done! We chopped pounds and pounds of potatoes, carrots, beans, and onions. (I actually was the only one to chop onions and NOT cry…I’m such a badass.) After that, I helped madre with the chicken rub and marinade, and then finally, FINALLY crawled into bed……….only to be woken up at 5am by the traditional birthday fireworks and loud music. After getting up to sing and drink café, I actually got my lazy butt back in bed and slept for 2 more hours, despite the noise. My madre gave me shit about it later, but I told her if I could sleep through all that noise, I probably needed it. Unfortunately, this meant that I missed chopping up the cabbage and beets. What a shame. The rest of the morning was spent in preparations, putting up decorations, cooking mind-boggling amounts of food, and filling piñatas with candy. Although the party started at 3, in typical Guatemalan fashion that’s when everybody started elbowing to get in line for the shower, and about an hour later, guests started showing up. Among those guests, two of my Chiquimula friends, Lexi and Kristen, and my sitemate, Brynna, came over too. For the first 45 minutes, everyone sat around in a huge circle while they blared music over the comically big, rented sound system. After that, Omar started the dancing competitions and such for the kids. My friends gamely joined in too, and all the Guatemalans laughed while they tried to blow up balloons and then pop them with their butts. Kristen won. Guess she must be the most full of air. Next were the piñatas, and I have never seen grown people go so batshit crazy in my entire life. Only the kids get to hit the piñatas, obviously, but everyone, including the adults, thow bows to fight for the candy. I was the official photographer, and I got over 300 pictures, but was almost trampled in the process. Afterwards, the gringas and I helped serve all 200 people enchiladas (not the kind you find in a Mexican restaurant) cake and ice cream, and then picked up all the trash later. The work was totally worth the delicious cake. When all the little kids and their families left, we celebrated Jhonny’s birthday afterwards. Jhonny is my oldest host brother, and turned 25. The girls and I joined the old men in boozing, and later started a dance party with some other girls from my town our age. It was a lot of fun, but we were all tired at the end of the night, and ready for bed. What a day.

Ok, that’s all.

Navidad = Christmas

Happy Holidays! My first Christmas away from my family, snacktivity, matching pajamas, and (fortunately) Flood Town. Getting ready for and celebrating Christmas in Guatemala has been quite an experience!

Christmas here is like in the US, where a lot of the focus is on family and food. We had my uncle and cousins visiting, so we had quite the full house, but we also had enough food to match. My family ended up making about 150 tamales, which we ate for every meal until they were gone. That’s a lot of mushy corn. Kristen also came for Christmas, so she and I helped make the punch and watched a lot of American tv. It was a lot of fun and kept us busy. At one point during the day, I actually convinced my family that I still believe in Santa. Funniest. Moment. Ever. As everyone talked to me and questioned me about how Santa would find me, and my other traditions (leaving out cookies is a really foreign idea to them) I could see them exchanges confused glances. I even had my 5-year old sister come whisper to me “Santa is in your head…” I finally got to tease them as hard as they usually tease me, and it was hilarious.

Later that night, Kristen and I waited up with the rest of the family to light fireworks and sparklers, a tradition I don’t quite understand, but was fun all the same. All down the street you could see other people lighting fireworks, and nearby cousins came by to give a Christmas hug and a wish for a happy new year. The next morning was Christmas Day, and as we watched the kids open the presents I finally realized I’m not the kid anymore. When did that happen????? My family got both me and Kristen high heels for Christmas (luckily they fit my huge American feet!) and I was so touched they thought of us. What good good good people.

I have to admit, I did cry twice on Christmas Eve. The first time I cried was definitely the funniest and awkwardest. Kristen and I had gone to visit some friends in Chiquimula the night before, so we were headed back early on Christmas Eve to spend time with the family. Giddy from exhaustion and missing our families, we got onto the chicken bus at 7am and were greeted by the song “Feliz Navidad.” What luck! Of course she and I sang along as loud as we could, happy that it was Christmas and that we were with friends. However, as the 2-hour journey progressed, things got worse. Kristen was hit with a hangover, and I was hit with…..sadness. After not having thought about missing home too much the preceding week, I finally got to thinking about how much I wanted to be home. The bus pulled up to a town about 20 minutes away from mine, and a young family all piled in. They were poor and dirty, and probably wouldn’t have a tree, much less presents, but they were together. All of a sudden, I looked at Kristen and said “Oh np. I’m going to cry!” And I couldn’t stop! As I was crying, I was also laughing at how silly I was being, probably looking like a crazy gringa and completely scaring the other passengers. It was only a minute, but the rest of the ride was definitely awkward, as I kept receiving covert glances from my fellow busmates. The other time I cried was later the day when I opened a present from my dad and it had a really cheesy Hallmark-style card. I know it was just a piece of plastic, but the words actually did remind me of my dad. Ah, well. I’m such a softie.

Despite being so far from my family, they really went the extra mile to make me feel missed and loved. I got SO MANY packages from my family!!!! My mom sent me a “12 Days of Christmas” box with a little present to open up for each day of Christmas. It was so cute, and really put me in the holiday spirit. It was a little hard explaining to my family why she would wrap a can of pears, but it was funny to me. It was amazingly thoughtful and kept my mind off of being alone. She also sent Mannheim Steamroller and the obligatory terrible pajamas, so when my Guatefamily caught site of me in my bright red onesie, I was called Santa Claus for the rest of the night. Great. I also got knitting supplies, and a crossword puzzle. I’m so cool. From my dad I got a TON of candy, which lasted approximately 3 days after the kids realized how much of it was under the tree. I seriously had enough candy to fill about 3 piñatas, and it was the good stuff too!!! He also sent me more puzzles and some amazing art supplies, so that I can pass my time becoming a budding artist. My favorite present from Dad was a flash drive I requested, but he had filled it with pictures, home videos, and music. I’ve showed all my Guatemalan and Volunteer friends, and even though I know they don’t think it’s as cute or special as I do, it’s fun to show off my family to everyone. I also got a card from my Aunt Carole, even though she was busy getting ready to leave the country too. What amazing people love me! I’m so lucky!

So anyway, family, thank you so much for not just the presents, but your thoughts too. I felt missed and remembered. You guys are the best. I love you so much.

Everyone else, I hope you had a happy holiday season!

Bailar = to dance

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was filled with a whole lot of nothing. Not that I’m complaining. Too much. Who would have every thought that lazy Emily would be wanting work?! But the office was closed for most of the month, and we Volunteers passed our times by hanging out with our Guatefamilies and each other. Some of the more interesting happenings during my down time were going to pick beans and corn with my family, random dance parties with my Guatemalan family, and going to parties (like Jesse’s birthday!) with other Volunteers.

Picking beans and corns is exactly as much fun and as much work as it sounds. It’s not the most difficult thing in the world, nor the worst way to spend a morning, especially the way my family does it. We all woke up early at about 5 to pack up the truck and get ready to head out to the family’s land. Once we got there, we all spread out and started picking beans, joking and singing (or as the boys of my house would think of it “howling”) and working on our my tan. After a few hours of fairly diligent work, we stopped for breakfast and all ate around the campfire in the small lean-to they have setup on their property, complete with hammock! We leisurely ate before we got back to the beans. The best part about going out with my family was that there was such a good atmosphere and no “push” to get things done. Obviously they wanted the beans picked, but no one was going to get yelled at if they were tired and didn’t do as much, and enjoying each other’s company was just as much a part of the day as actually picking the beans. The same was true for when we went to pick corn, except this time the whole family (all 21 of us who stayed in the house over the holidays) went, and even more fun was had. My family truly treats me as a part of the family, from helping me through my roughest times and making sure I shower every day (I swear I don’t need to! It’s a constant battle every day) to teasing me about how terribly I make tortillas and making me wash the dishes instead.

My family and friends are also some of the most fun people. When the day is done, the cheese is made, and all the corn separated, my family also likes to get down. Every volunteer who I’ve brought here can tell you that my family likes to get down and are funny, energetic people. For Brynna’s birthday at the end of November, Kristen came to visit, and we made FOUR HUGE CAKES!!! Then all of us (not just the young gringas!) knocked a few back (the basically only do shots here; wtf?) and the dance party commenced. I have never seen anything funnier than about 10 Guatemalans and 3 gringas crammed into a tiny room all singing to Spanish music and “dancing” for literally hours. We definitely all learned that night that even my 12 year old sister can move her hips in ways I’ve never seen.

That wasn’t the only time Brynna and I have been seen dancing in front of a crowd here in San Diego. For all of December our town has “bailes” (dances) in the center of town, which basically consist of about 200 people standing around just watching a group or singer. Kinda awkward. At one of the first bailes, they made us get on stage for a dance-off, where I immediately got super awkward and weird and refused to dance. Not the best image for America, I know, but I just can’t compete with these Guatemalan girls! The next week, after Brynna and I had gotten on stage and looked like complete assholes, we went to another baile. This one turned out a little different. At the beginning of the night, I wasn’t too excited to go to this baile, since we had to leave really early the next day, so I embarrassingly enough went in my pajamas. Yikes. As it turned out, Brynna and I had caught the eye of a local young gentleman (also coincidently a little mentally challenged, as we later found out; awkward) who came up to us and made his intention of dancing with a gringa quite clear, by pointing and basically humping the air. Both of us tried shifting around my family, hiding behind whoever was closest, but apparently we don’t blend in so well. After a good THIRTY MINUTES (you would think he’d get the point) of my family laughing as we awkwardly avoided getting close to him, we finally gave in and fell into the arms of our dance partner (and my future husband, probably.) We both tried to jokingly do a little shuffle in hopes that seeing our terrible dance moves would scare him off, but boy were we wrong. The “little shuffle” quickly caught the attention of the ENTIRE TOWN who was standing there, and we found ourselves in the middle of a huge circle, all chanting “Hey! Hey! Hey!” while she and I moved around, trying to get out of the way and get the other closer to the random guy with a flashlight hooked to his belt. (wtf?!) Oh, Neilson, the lucky man that got to dance with TWO gringas at the same time!

Besides the “Misadventure of Brynna and Emily in San Diego”, I’ve also been lucky enough to hang out with the Volunteers in my region a good amount of time. Although there are only about 20 of us out of 200 Volunteers out in the East (and even still, I’m about 2 hours away from the next person besides Brynna) we have a really really good group. Even though just 2 months ago I wouldn’t have known which people I would want to be nearby, especially since I didn’t know half of them that well, everything has worked out so great. I enjoy my little group out here, and we make sure to get together as often as possible to hang out and relax. We went to Jesse’s site to celebrate his birthday with some grilling out and a baile. We all had a good time, but since we’ve all gotten out of the habit of staying up late and partying, most of us were asleep before 11!

Anyway, that’s all for now. Hurray for Christmas and New Years!