I never knew that Guatemala does not have four seasons! Instead it has two: dry (November – mid-May) and rainy (mid-May to October). All through the dry season I wondered why Guatemala was not as radiantly beautiful as I had pictured. Beautiful, yes, but dry. Then the rains started and within days, the country transformed into a radiant and glorious green!
Still, it’s beauty comes with some risks. Lately, Guatemala has had over a week of heavy rains, flooding, landslides and now, terremotos (earthquakes)! I am very safe where I am as long as I stay home and do not travel unnecessarily.
At times the Peace Corps Safety & Security office sends us text alerts with updates. When something puts us at risk, they ask us to send in our statuses and whereabouts. I appreciate that they are always looking out for us.
Today, June 22, 2017, the earthquake rattled at 6:30am while I was awake and trying to get myself motivated to get out of bed. The earthquake helped! Eight days ago, at 1:29am, we had a 6.9 earthquake. That felt smoother, like a waterbed (yes, I’m that old) rather than today’s jalopy-like experience. I guess this is what it’s like to live in Guatemala and I’d better get used to it. California earthquakes are one thing but earthquakes in a developing country are another. My housemates from the U.S., said that if there is an earthquake, the safest place to be in our home is on the roof. I beg to differ. There’s nothing to hang onto up there except rebars sticking up out of the roof. I can imagine myself standing up there and being hurtled into space by the jolt of a big quake. Their reasoning was sound given all the factors, but it doesn’t take into account my fear of heights.
Below: view from our roof, looking down onto the fallow corn field below. Our house is against an incline so the backside is up high whereas the front is level with the street.
Speaking of the corn field in the back, look at it now during our rainy season!
Over the decades, Guatemala has suffered many disasters from earthquakes and floods and landslides. The worst of the recent damage from landslides and earthquakes have been in other departments (states). A recent landslide in another department buried homes, a microbus and a car. It’s horrible what people suffer from catastrophes! We have had no flooding of the streets in our town but the woodworker next door lost his roof to recent windy rains. I have no idea who else in our pueblo or surrounding communities have had problems.
Over the past seven years in NYC, I experienced hurricanes, a tornado, superstorms and blizzards. Life is not so fragile, right? It’s pretty hardy, considering. Nonetheless, I will pack an emergency bag just as I’ve been told to do by the Peace Corps. It helps to have so little to cling to but I don’t expect I’ll ever have to use it.
To change the subject, today marks the beginning of school break. I have a lot of big goals to accomplish during my break and I’m very excited about all of them. I’m all about goals and achieving them. Collages help me pave the way. Below is my latest collage. It includes my priorities for now which includes writing, community engagement, activism, connection to Tonantzin (Aztec Mother Goddess, more popularly known as Our Lady of Guadalupe), trips to the lake (the bedroom image), staying fit & meditating, and of course, beaded necklaces. So here goes!