Our research is starting to progress, giving us a focus and a drive to our time here. While it has taken our first two weeks (crazy it’s been two weeks already..) to settle in, survive, and earn the trust of the community, we are eager to move forward and continue asking questions. Yesterday, we strolled through the mountainside from house to house, conducting our first round of interviews (out of roughly 4 phases) in Pena Blanca. We met with 6 different families, all of which were microfinance borrowers, and were welcomed without resistance.

         Our first questionnaire gave us a background on each family, their house, and microfinance history. (Ie. Number of loans taken, for how much, for what activities, etc.) We then opened it up for general discussion to garner a sense of their opinions of microfinance, and means of improving its services to meet the family’s financial needs. The majority of the women were vocal and excited to share their thoughts on the matter, and every family agreed to a second interview next week on film. The consensus was unanimous that microfinance helps their families, but also that it can be improved. The most frequent responses were concerns that the loans were too small and the payment schedule too inflexible. The borrowers have to repay every 15 days, which many noted was too difficult for them due to their unpredictable incomes and that a month would be much better. Most of the families bring in income by selling food (onions, corn, etc) or textiles, sales of which fluctuate greatly with the time of year, weather outside, and luck. Our next round of questions will delve deeper into the issues.

         My personal reflection for the day is regarding the consequences of our actions. We all know that every action has a consequence. In this lifestyle though, the consequences of your actions are magnified and unavoidable. For example, if I am nonchalantly cooking and the one pot of beans burn, our family (the four of us) all suffer and miss 3 meals. One is forced to take accountability for their actions here, as there is no hiding the truth.  Typically though, one can make up an excuse for their selfishness, blame another, or mask their mistake. Moreover, if Zach or I are lazy in the market and get ripped off by two quetzals (25 cents) or get something stolen, it means the difference between another half pound of rice and beans for the family or not. In the Mayan culture, the lifestyle is about selflessness and giving, while not asking for anything in return. This type of philosophy, where everyone does their part and more, has proven integral to the survival and stress-reduced prosperity of both our neighbors and ourselves. Just some thoughts that are on my mind.

           All in all, we are settling into a routine and generally feeling very optimistic. Still haven´t washed clothes yet, but hanging them in the sun seems to do the trick. We also are yet to fill up a very small trash bag in two weeks here, which astounds me. Lastly, I am sad to report that we will be unable to buy Harold the chicken, as he way too expensive, so for now our frequent visitors of flies, worms, and spiders will have to suffice

           All of your thoughts and support gives us strength and inspires to uncover new research and create even better video blogs. Thank you muchly!
Lisa
6/29/2010 07:31:55

Dear Chris,
I can't truly fathom the experience you are having and so appreciate how you and your compatriots are sharing everything through blog and video blog. It helps us all be a part of it and stay connected. I especially appreciate the honesty with which you all are sharing. Aside from the obvious cultural and lifestyle differences, the downtime without distraction must be a seismic shift from life in the U.S. and may offer a way to truly get to know your inner self. Looks like you all will come back to us transformed on many levels! Caroline and I will need to get your download for our work! So proud of what you all are doing and proud to know you.
With great respect and love, Lisa

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Margo
6/30/2010 00:56:05

Hey Chris! This is so cool to be able to follow your adventures. What a wonderful perspective you are getting on this increasingly global world. We'll be following your progress after we get back from our annual trip to the Lake! Think you'll ever eat beans again after your return?!
xox Margo, etc.

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Lizer
6/30/2010 12:33:24

Temps, Have loved following you through your blog and videos. What an amazing project with life changing insights. Given Fairfield County's value of productivity and efficiency, isn't it amazing how hard it is to stay in the moment and be with the feelings? Had dinner tonight with your mom, Jack and Dearma. We ate a few bites for you. xoxo

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Johnno
7/1/2010 12:06:01

I am impressed. You have come a long way kiddo.

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5/10/2012 13:36:51

The post is absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need! Also like to admire the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often.

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