Mar 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home

It's Tuesday here in Xela (too easy to type to not go with Xela), and I'm sitting outside on the patio of our office. Don't get all that jealous just yet, with visions of a hammock, palm trees, and tropical birds on my
La Oficina
shoulder. It's more of a utility patio where there's a sink, trash and recycling cans, and cleaning supplies. I was actually told that there is no way to recycle here in Xela and that the program was eliminated several years ago. But we've at least got recycling bins here in our office. You can count on the environmental NGO to know how to pull it off! I just need to figure out how to recycle at my apartment.

I had a great first full weekend in Xela. Gaby, our Regional Director of Programs here at EcoLogic, took us on an afternoon-long tour of the city, which included lots of insider info - she was born and raised here! The parque central is so beautiful and there are a lot of great lookouts over the city because it's really hilly. One of the things I love the most about traveling/living in Latin America, and Xela is keeping the passion burning, are the local markets. There are several here - full of people, energy, and everything people with energy would want to buy: baskets, fresh produce, clothes, tortas and pupusas, toothpaste, baby supplies, auto parts, soccer balls, off the wall souvenirs, you name it. Gaby also took us to buy cell phones. Rest assured, cell phone madness is not limited to the States.

Flowers for sale in Xela
There are endless plans, phones, features, and deals to navigate through. My Spanish is totally fine if all I needed to do was get a phone and learn how the system works. But when they start trying to sell me all the promotions and deals, I'm lost. Come to think of it, I'm lost when it comes to stuff like that in English.

Besides the tour, we were able to spend a lot of time Skyping and calling people through Google. Which I still hardly understand but you should check it out - I think it's called Gtalk or Gcall. We've talked to all sorts of people in the States and even in Spain and haven't paid a cent yet. Really quite amazing to think about the ease of communication these days.

This week we've got several visitors here in the EcoLogic office from the States. And I'm having fun welcoming them to my country as if I've been living here my whole life. We have an intern, Sarah, who is currently in the Municipality of Huehuetenango to the north of Xela with Francisco, our Guatemala Program Officer. She's doing a study for her graduate work, focusing on our agroforestry work with our partner, the Mancomunidad de la Frontera Norte. And Melissa, our Director of Finance and Administration is in town as well for a series of meetings with our regional staff regarding budgeting and other administrative things that fortunately my job doesn't require me to know about in any great detail.

Hasta la proxima!

- Chris Patterson, Program Officer for EcoLogic
Chris collaborates closely with the senior program officer by writing grant proposals and project reports, investigating potential funders, and following trends in philanthropy, conservation, and international development. Chris was a fellow for the Ford Foundation's Difficult Dialogues Project and has documented his time working from EcoLogic's regional office in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from March to June, 2011. 

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