Greetings friends, family, acquaintances, people I don’t know, and Mom-
Miss you all & I hope you are all well. I figured I would give an update because I haven’t really posted much about my last month in my new site on social media and I haven’t posted at all on my blog. My site got hacked a month or so ago and I lost all of my Guatemala posts. They’re all written down on a file I have on google docs, but for a couple reasons I’m not going to post them nor worry about my blog anymore. Peace Corps sets pretty strict rules on what we could post on the internet. I can’t post my 2-year site name, political opinions, inappropriate content, and although they say nothing about being too opinionated, I think I’d cross the line there too. That’s not to say I am not writing – I have about 15,000 (60 book pages) written and I’m trying to write at least a few times a week. I just cannot post a single full page on here without editing the content, and I’m not going to compromise what I write because of our overly sensitive policies. So better I don’t write for my blog, which would limit what I am able to post and thus influence what I am writing. With nothing better to do with all that I am writing, I figure that I’m going to self-publish a book by the end of this journey. More on that in two years though-
Everything is well here! I live on the shores of Lake Atitlán which is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world – our beloved Aldous Huxley called it “too much of a good thing.” My host family is very kind and the food here is absolutely delicious. I’m settling into my room, though I’ve been telling myself every day that I need to put some art on these white walls. Poco a poco. My work, though sometimes confusing (I am part of the first group of Rural Extension Agents in Peace Corps Guatemala, so we’re the people laying down the groundwork rather than following somebody’s lead) is generally productive and I am learning a TON. We’re planting organic gardens in schools, medicinal gardens in family plots, and working with farmer groups to tackle issues that they commonly face. I was lucky enough to attend a permaculture conference and even luckier to meet a badass lady with a love of native plants and a strong hate for corporations dominating our food system. So we’re friends. She and I have been planning some workshops on native plants of Guatemala that 1) are incredibly nutritious and cheap, and 2) offer great alternatives to pre-packaged food coming from monocropped farms across the world. Our first workshop, on a plant called Chaya, is coming up soon and dozens of different organizations are going to attend, which is really encouraging. This sets a high standard for the next two years of my service, but I will really try to keep this all going.
I have lots of free time here, but between Peace Corps friends close to me, people in my site that I’m getting to know, the beautiful lake and all its hippie villages, my guitar, books, writing, and life-long search of hot sauce, I keep myself occupied. I’ve been on an Anthony Bourdain kick since he passed away, which has got me thinking quite a bit. I remember being an apathetic shithead in high school without much of a goal besides something you’ll read in my book in 2 years because I shouldn’t post this now, and I watched a ton of Anthony Bourdain. This was before I traveled and well before I considered an international career, and I have been thinking a lot about whether Anthony Bourdain was a pretty big influence in getting me abroad and, in a way, getting me to give a shit. He was the opposite of the pompous chef or the obnoxious traveler – he wanted to get to know humanity and food was his avenue. I wonder whether his curiosity about the world and his perspective on humanity in general were one of the few things that broke through to me – to give me something to care about or something to search for.
Looking back, I think it did. I thought he was living the dream and now his death gives me kind of a shake – maybe what took him so far and what kept him traveling so long was something he was searching for but couldn’t find. Or maybe it was what was distracting him from the demons in his head. I’m not really sure – life is strange and beautiful and confusing at times, and it’s a damn shame he has passed away. But I am sure that there are tens of thousands of people in his path from the shows that he made and the love that he shared from street side stalls around the world, and I’ll put myself down as one of those people.
Anyway, that’s about all for now. I might deactivate this blog sometime soon because it’s not worth paying $5 a month for a blog that isn’t worth using given all the Peace Corps rules. Miss and love you all, I am going to make a post soon about what it takes to visit me. It’s thankfully a relatively cheap trip and I’m lucky to be living where I am, and I think ya’ll would love it here. Love & Light