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It’s been about six weeks since my last post – oops! In that time, I passed my six month mark of living in Guatemala, and things have just been crazy ever since. By November, rainy season started tapering off – finally! – meaning that instead of expecting a nice downpour every afternoon without fail, I’ve been getting used to beautiful, hot sunny days followed by stunning sunsets over the lake – typically enjoyed from the roof of my lovely Panajachel apartment, or sitting down by the shores of the lake. Last week, we even held a rooftop yoga class at sunset, followed by tarot card readings by our lovely friend, who leads both.

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Work: how to summarize? It’s been crazy. My region, Solola, is full of complex struggles, many of which are beyond my control but are still frustrating and exhausting to deal with. Sales have been tough, our office was closed for almost two months, and morale for my team (and myself) has been pretty low too. The problem is, that in a job like this one, it’s hard not to take things personally, and not to see structural failures or roadblocks as your own “fault” or your own “responsibility.” But I’m working on it, and continuing to get to know and understand the strengths and weaknesses of my region and how I, working with my local team, can make the most of our potential.

photo 1One of our biggest successes in the past month or so in Solola was our “Día Con el Agua,” an event intended to promote our water filters, though through education and interactive activities, rather than simply marketing and sales promotion. The entire team came out to support us, along with a great group of students from Atitlan Multicultural Academy, the school where many of my Pana friends work.

And then there’s been the travel, and the adventures – so much easier to fit in without worrying about those pesky daily rainstorms! On Todos Santos – All Saint’s Day (November 1), a whole crew of us decided to check out the Festival de Barilletes Gigantes – Giant Kite Festival – in Sumpango, a little less than an hour from Antigua. We spent the day wandering through a cementary and huge open field, full of giant paper kites up to 5 meters wide, snacking on delicious local treats, and finally, just before sunrise, watching all the kites launched into the air, one by one.

And this past weekend, I tackeld my third Guatemalan volcano, Acatenango – another highlight. At 3900 meters, Acate is a bit shorter than Tajumulco, which I climbed last month, but what really made the trip special were the amazing views. We spent the night camped out at 3500 meters, watching a meteor shower overhead and directly overlooking the constant eruptions of another neighboring volcano, Fuego – and I mean literally huge explosions of red volcanic rocks and lava spewing from the cumbre (summit). We summitted early in the morning, right after a fantastic sunrise, and found ourselves in a massive crater, in 40+ mph winds, overlooking huge, fluffly white clouds and the peaks of so many other Guatemalan volcanos, seeing as far as the lake where I live and the Pacific Ocean. Seriously – unreal.

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So – that’s been my life! December’s brought a whole host of year-end tasks – individual reporting on all of my projects, looking over sales goals from the past year, and moving forward to think about sales, goals, projections, and plans for the coming year. After the holidays, I’ll be back in early January with two student groups – a group from Indiana followed by a group from Miami of Ohio – before starting to dig in to everything we’d like to accomplish in 2014!

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