Yesterday, my counterpart and I went on a little trip into the mountains to visit a small community called Yerba Buena. (good herb aka. Mint) I was really excited about this trip as we had been invite to attend a meeting where they would teach us how to make different medicines, pomades and shampoos from plants. I was expecting nothing but the best, of course, yet highly amused by the dynamic of the meeting and how the events shortly unfolded.
Just to re-cap on Guatemalan culture and more specifically what its like here in Pachalum I'll run you through the basics.
A. Here in Pachalum we travel with the metro police. I regularly have a police car outside my house waiting to take me somewhere. Yup, that's my possy.
B. When a meeting is planned to begin at 8 am it begins at 9 am, or later.
C. Guatemalans are the best on-the-spot-speakers I have ever encountered.
With that little information you can assess the following.
My counterpart and I show up to this small community with our possy in the hills of Guatemala and begin to ask for directions. We get lost in the forest because it was super foggy and ended up in a cow pasture. Ran away from the cows an finally reached this danky house where the meeting was being held. That was at about 10am and the meeting of course was to begin at 8am.
A guy proceeded to explain his job and the basics of food security in the local mayan language of Achi' with bits of Spanish here and there.
However, this poor fellow was wrongly informed and honestly blew me away by his presentation- not in a good way.
He asked a couple questions and then proceeded to say that broccoli, coliflor and cabbage have little to no nutrients and we should not eat them.
That was the jaw dropping moment. Mostly because I have spent the last 10 months explaining to people why they should eat broccoli, cabbage and coliflor.
Here was this guy, who lived in this community, who held a position of authority, who was suposed to be educated, who had a decent job and who the community actually respected and he was killing it! Absolutley ruining the basic principles of educating people who suffer from malnutrition! I wanted to stand up right then and then and say "people, eat ALL your vegetables!" but I didn't. I didn't know how to react, how to express myself while simultaneously respecting their culture, the speaker, the village. Respecting the fact that ONE, I'm a foreigner and TWO, I'm a woman. In any other situation, in any other country these two factors would have actually lead me to speak up and represent. Guatemala, Peace Corps and other personal reasons kept me from doing that, and wow was that a strange feeling. Learning to hold back.
So that was the conclusion to this mans talk, but it wasn't over just yet. He kindly proclaimed that the remainder of the time was allocated to us.
Like me and my counterpart?
The invitees to YOUR talk?
So thats when my counterpart proudly stands up and starts daring palabras (giving words) out of her butt, practically, about anything an everything she can think of! It was great, and I enoyed watching how good she was. Then it was my turn and, well, that didn't go so well. I am not versed in daring palabras like Guatemalans are, but I try.
Learning to hold back and give in.
Can't really say that I am proud of these qualities quite yet, but one day I might be able to.