I don’t think I could even narrow it all down to 30 statements and still describe it all, but for the sake of my readers’ attention-span, I’ll do my best. As a preface, I can say that these last three months were hands-down the most insane (and 50 other adjectives) months of my life. And that is what makes for great stories. These are the highlights:
1. Celebrating the end of my site-mate’s service in October and going to goodbye parties on a nightly basis, giving me party-gut-rot (lots of food…all the time).
2. Making a day-trip to Honduras and visiting the Copán ruins with my site-mate and her two friends as a last-hurrah before returning home.
3. Briefly visiting the U.S. for the first time in 13 months to celebrate the wedding of two friends.
4. Dressing up for the very American holiday, Halloween, and pretending to be an ayudante (helper – the guy who takes your bus fare).
5. Witnessing another year of the Todos Santos horse races to observe All Saints Day and watching two female PCVs compete (the first females to ever ride in its 400+ year history).
6. Hiking from San Sebastián to Todos Santos with a fellow PCV (in short, we crossed a very big mountain).
7. A visit to the hospital and a chance to catch up on the “Must See TV” that I haven’t seen since 2008.
8. A trip across the country to the renowned tourist locale – Semuc Champey.
9. “Spelunking” in a cave with bats circling my head. (That wasn’t just chance; we paid to do it.)
10. Foraging across a mountain for ducks to be slaughtered and cooked in a toaster-oven, Thanksgiving morning.
11. Celebrating Thanksgiving with other PCVs, eating dinner at 10:30PM and sharing that for which we were thankful in 2010.
12. Reuniting with my sister and brother-in-law for a whirlwind adventure across two countries and sharing the exciting and challenging parts of daily life in Guatemala.
13. Seeing Tikal for the second time (the first time in 2007)—still awe- inspiring.
14. Visiting Caye Caulker, Belize.
15. Making a round in the “camp season” (school vacation) and playing team building games with kids in San Ramón, Totonicapán at Camp K’amal B’e.
16. Dressing up as Santa Claus at Camp K’amal B’e, courtesy of a PCV friend who passed the costume down to me before he left last spring. Santa danced to “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and “Manos Arriba” by Don Omar.
17. Seeing my friend Jared for the first time since 2008, as he progressed back to the U.S., after finishing his service in Peace Corps Peru.
18. Celebrating Christmas with family from afar through an email chain, explaining donations we had made in honor of Advent/Christmas to organizations each of us treasured for different reasons.
19. Celebrating Christmas my Guatemalan family and friends. The agenda: wait until midnight, light firecrackers and eat tamales.
20. Roasting marshmallows on Christmas Day.
21. Celebrating New Year’s Eve (Christmas Eve, part II) with the same family and friends, forcing down four tamales in one night, bringing my final count to 15 tamales eaten between Christmas and New Year’s.
22. Hiking from Todos Santos, Huehuetenango to Nebaj, Quiche, crossing challenging terrain, seeing beautiful and remote places, and getting to know the group of PCVs with whom I hiked, a little better.
23. Surviving the end of the Todos Santos to Nebaj hike with a bacterial infection and enduring a six hour bus ride to find a resolution with a lab test. Cipro is magic.
24. Completing my final Peace Corps meeting and celebrating with the compañeros (my fellow PCVs) who did it with me. We got through it with the support of each other!
25. Enduring my last town feria (fair), staying up into the wee hours of the morning, riding the Ferris Wheel more than desired and surviving street-food with a stomach of steel.
26. Hosting two PCVs to witness the feria with their own eyes and stealing the show with one at that was the town dance, turned competition. Signature move: a running start into a slide across the dance floor.
27. Reuniting with a good friend who finished Peace Corps last March and was back in Guatemala researching. Reveling in the good ol’ days (of 2009 and 2010)!
28. Sending off a close PCV-friend with sushi, sake bombs and lots of pictures.
29. Sharing moments that organically happen with PCVs and Guatemalans in the present, or friends and family over Skype, or by myself in the solitude of fresh air, a good book, or my own daydreams.
30. Bringing the finale at our final Peace Corps meeting with my presentation of our evolved faces over these last two years, set to the music of “Changes” by David Bowie. We’ve all aged 15 years for the better or worse!
What a ride! Five weeks to go. Time is running short.