Searching for treasures in the jungles of Guatemala

It is about 6pm sitting in our project “Office”. It was over 100 degrees F in the shade today, the humidity is a little better than the last few days, so I would guess it is about 90%! I am dead tired. I desperately needed a cool shower, stripping down only to find that there is no water. So here I am sitting not knowing what to do, tired, sweaty and smelly. But as I sit here, thinking about my day, I become energized from what we were able to accomplish today. For the last couple days, I have ridden a motorcycle through the forest, driven over 100 miles on rocky dirt road, crossed a river on a pure dugout canoe and hiked paths that were accessible by foot, all this to search for our treasure. I felt like was back in the times when Spaniards explored the world. We searched out far flung villages wherever the rumors pointed us.

click here for photos taken during our search

Actually we have been searching for people with Cleft Lips! It is one of the new projects that I am initiating here -- developing a new network as part of the Partner in Health which focuses on searching out the poorest of the poor in Guatemala needing surgery matching them up with visiting surgeons from the States and Canada. The goal is to search the remotest parts for people who do not have access to medical or financial means. Working for a multimillion dollar project as a business person, I sometimes feel frustrated due to the inability of overcoming the realistic challenges of the situation to bring major economic changes to the lives here. So I have been excited to start this project on my own because, I figured if I can not help people make more money directly and immediately, with this project, I can directly affect someone’s live immediately and dramatically with the potential of saving some lives!

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How time flies in the Peace Corps

As you have all noticed, I have not written much. It is not like there is nothing to write about, afterall it is the Peace Corps. But somehow the time just keeps flying by..I keep saying to myself "Tomorrow..Tomorrow..!!" and now it is like 9 months since I have been here. So I promise, I will write more.. But for now, you can check out my sitemate Zach's blog site.
Click here for his site
It seems not a momment passes without him thinking of a new entry into his blog, talking about his adventures here.

Zach came to this site(Salacuim) basically a month later than me, but had already served a few months in Puerto Barrios before the PC office changed his site due to drug trafficking problems in his previous town. Now we work in the same Project and office and live with on the same family compound, we basically eat 3 meals together and share our adventure here. This morning, I commented how we are like a married couple, after using our shared latrine, I yelled at him for not neatly folding his toilet paper before putting it in the wastebasket so that I have to look at the pile while I do my morning duty!

So if you every wonder what I am doing, you can always read his entries. Anyway, he is proving to be much more humourous and creative writer than I.

How refreshing it is to shower in the pouring rain!

Well, only in Salacuim does the saying "When it rains, it pours!" come alive. The climate is mostly ideal here, except now whe the temperature hovers around the 100F (40F) mark with 100% humidity. But the days are clear blue skies with strong sun rays lighting up all the different hues and colors of green of the surrounding forest. And as the night falls, when most are in their houses anyway (due to no lights anywhere and nothing to do in the village), the rain begins to pour bringing down the sweltering temperature just in time for a comfortable night sleep.

I, as with most everyone here, have a tin roof, so the sound of the rain drops bouncing off the roof makes a symphony of noise that totally wraps and surrounds you, and drowns out any noise or even any thougths in your head that may be keeping you up. The symphony of rain drops somehow becomes as comforting for sleeping as any elevator music.

Then you wake up the next morning, to see that the trees are even greener as they had their fill of water and the dusts have been washed off the leaves. The day after a night of rain,truely a "New Day", cooler temperatures, more beareable humidity, cleaner air, and brighter colors and animals and birds all come out of their holes playing.

But the reason that I am writing about this is that I had the most awesome experience with the rain here the other night. At about seven o'clock the other night, the wind picked up out of nowhere, lighting can be seen in the distance...then all of the suddenit was like we were in a movie about a natural disaster, with coconuts dropping like bombs all over our tin roofs, and our humble wooden cabins were making noises as if it was gonna lift off the ground. Then the rain came, and it was litterally coming down in buckets and the buckets were flying sideways. My land lord came into my house with a neighbor to hide as they thought their houses were going come crumbling down. The sky was as angery as ever with lighting striking close enough to feel as it was gonna touch you.

But in the midst of the nightmare, I marveled at how refreshing the rain was, especially in the dry season when our waterwell was starting to dry up and I never had running water in the first place. Plus I had not taken a shower that day when I was dripping in sweat.

I got this crazy thought to take advantage of the fresh rain and decided to take a shower underneath the roof gutter. Then I decided since no one was around and it was dark, I was gonna do it nude. I jumped into the gushing gutter waterfall.. and started screaming in happiness as the water was so pleasurable (hard to imagine this, unless you had been taking bucket baths and using well water). I sang in the rain. I didn't care, no one can see me in the darkness (except the occasional falsh of the lightning) and no one can hear me over the noise of the rain.

I thought to myself how beautiful nature is and how lucky I was to enjoy such a natural experience, showering in the nude, in the water from the sky and watching the light show of lighting and not to give two shits as to what anyone thinks or sees..

But things suddendly changed as the lighting hit somewhere too close for comfort.. I started turning on my rational brain again. I thought, I don't have to worry, what is the chance of me getting hit by lighting, after all I am not standing next to any towering cell towers or buildings ...the only thing that is tall are the trees and they are not conductors..But then I thought, well the roof is metal..but then I am not touching the roof or the house for that worries..Oh shit..I am showering with water that is coming directly from the metal roof with a big conducting waterfall to my head!! you never saw me run naked so fast into the house!!

This will be one of the most memorable momments in my life...I am waiting for the next big rainstorm with lighting... Not only was it a wonderful experience but what an adrenaline rush!!!

Let there be light or not!!

First I was nervous when I found out I was going to be assigned to a place with no electricity. How can one survive without electrictiy? How will I read, and get around at night? When I finally got to my site in December, I kept thinking how great this place would be and how things would be so much easier if I just had a little big of electricity. I remember one night, I stared into the darkness and saw the darkness sparkle like a beautiful light show. It turned out to be fireflies, and I thoguht to myself how beautiful they were and how wonderful they are to have light. I realized that I was envious of a little fly for having electricity and light that I did not have.

But slowly over the last few months, I have gotten used to living in darkness, I always carry a flashlight, infact, I have like 5 flashlights, so I do not get caught in any one place without light at night. Instead of using candles, I have gone the hi-tech route and use a kerosene camping latern. I have also gotten used to reading in my bed with my headlamp switched to the red bulb to ease the stress on the eyes.

Life without electricity is much simpler..when I go into the city to go shopping, I simply skip the items requiring electricity. Shopping is so much simpler, you buy the daily necessities as a result. I tend to go to sleep earlier and rise with the sun. It is always a nice surprise to finally figure out who is coming to visit you when you shine the flashlight in their face. Nevertheless, I always wished for electricity.

But I was taken back today when I heard that they have finally resolved the issue with the farmer who cut the powerlines through his land. Apparently, we will have electricity in a few months. At first, I was excited. Then a few seconds later, I thougtht life will really change here, technology will finally reach this end of the world! My little adventure of living in the middle of nowhere will not be the same. Maybe I rather not have electricity, I realized actually that I do enjoy life without electricity, or limited electricity, life is just that much simpler.

Oh well, we will see, after all this is a developing country and we are in Guatemala, so we have a different time system. So who knows maybe it is just a rumor. Until then, I am already stressing over what appliances I would buy for my little cabin if it comes, and what business opportunity will be ideal to be the first one to take advantage of the electricity?

Until then, I will continue to think the ultilmate question

Let there be light or not??