Someone asked me how it was that I seemed to have (almost) constant access to the internet AND no indoor running water or heat. From an American perspective, it seems irrational and contradictory. But, Guatemala is filled with (seeming) contradictions and contrasts. I suspect that many of my “fellow” fellows have experienced the same in the countries where they are working.
The family I live with has satellite TV, a wide screen television (and a television in every bedroom) but they have no indoor running water or heating. They still wash their laundry by hand in a lavadero, outside. They cook over a wood stove. The water for showers is heated by a fire lit under a big black drum, which they fill with water early, every morning (before the water runs out). They make their own masa from the corn that they grow. And they all have cell phones, MP3 players and their favorite “novellas” (soap operas) on television.
The office where I work has internet access (including wi-fi) and right outside my window, there is an elderly couple working their land like it’s probably been worked for centuries—all by hand, living in an adobe structure (with no running water or heat). One of my most surreal experiences during this fellowship was the day I was sitting in my little office at ASDIR, uploading Kiva borrower videos to YouTube; listening to a loan officer explain the terms of a loan in K’iche and, through my office window, watching the elderly couple plant their corn.
At dinner, in the weeks before Easter, my host family would sit around the dinner table and listen to the story of Christ’s resurrection told in K’iche, being broadcast over a radio on someone’s cell phone.
The inside of their stores and homes are very tidy—almost meticulous. Yet, they don’t hesitate to litter pretty much anywhere and everywhere else.
Lori Gibson Banducci is a Kiva Fellow, working with ASDIR in Nimasac, Totonicapan, Guatemala where she blends in perfectly with the people who live here.