This crazy big earth worm slithered up to us in the rain. What was I supposed to do?... It just looked sooo good.
The weather here seems like it could only be created by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Our days of beautiful sunshine left sparkling clean by evening showers have been violently interrupted by torrential rain. It is hard to think inside our house with the violent sound of millions of water droplets amplified by our sheet metal roof, so I will keep my own thoughts relatively short…

Our experience here has not been easy and will continue to be the most challenging thing I have done so far in my short life. Already I have found what I have learned here invaluable and I hope that what we are able to share through these blogs and videos inspires others to challenge themselves and their beliefs. If I ever stop pushing myself and re-evaluating my purpose in life then I will have failed. It is with this understanding that I hope I am continually evaluating what I am learning in Peña Blanca.

As I have become slightly more adjusted to our lifestyle here I occasionally find myself thinking that this life isn´t as bad as it may seem. The pace is slower, it is impossible to not appreciate the little things I usually ignore and there aren´t any cell phones! (Granted this feeling is usually only during the five minutes after eating when I feel relatively full). However, this misconception of poverty is flawed and demonstrates the one thing that I will never be able to truly experience. No matter how much I suffer now, I know that I am going home in six weeks. For my neighbors this lifestyle is a reality and their chances of mobility are next to none. To know that every choice they make budgeting their money will effect if their families have enough to eat not only tonight but for the rest of their lives must provide a level of stress that I can only find inconceivable.

Luckily, the research and interviews we are conducting has started to fill in the gaps of understanding that the experience of us living under one dollar-a-day would never be able to fill. This week we have begun interviewing people in Peña Blanca. Each and every interview has both inspired me to continue with our own struggle and to find a way to help them with theirs. I have included a summary of one of our initial interviews below. This simple peak at Rosita´s life will teach you more than I will ever be able to.

Initial Interview - Rosita Coj

Rosita lives in a mud brick house in the same compound as Luisa in Tierra Linda. She is the daughter of Doña Maria and is able to speak Spanish. Her husband Avalardo was also present at the interview and is fluent in Spanish. She has been married for 20 years and has nine children. The oldest is 18 years old and the youngest is 1. The eleven of them live in the same small house, which they own and have lived in for 19 years.

Rosita received her first microfinance loan for Q900 on the 13th of July, 2007. She has received seven more loans with the last totaling Q4,000. All of the loans have been for growing cebollas (onions) which she sells in Sololá. The final loan was also used for purchasing a pickup which can be used as a taxi to provide some additional income. Additionally, she has taken five loans with another MFI called Genesis but has stopped because the interest was too high.

 Unfortunately, her family lost half of her crop of onions (worth Q10,000) because of mudslides during hurricane Agatha. She has found additional part time work sewing full-size quilts for a white woman in Panajachel. She receives Q150 ($18.75) for each.

She has agreed to have us come back for additional interviews and provided translation for her neighbor Luisa´s interview.
6/29/2010 03:52:51 am

Zach: Ewwww on the worm! Thanks for the updates, I so look forward to them. You provided an additional perspective for me when you wrote how much Rosita receives for sewing the quilts - unreal. Be well, I'm thinking of you all and continue to be inspired by you.

Rose Beer
6/29/2010 04:12:06 am

WOW - that worm looks like it might be big enough for Thanksgiving dinner?!?!?!

I wonder if Rosita would sew quilts for us? Special order - we could help her pay off that loan?

You guys continue to amaze and inspire me. Hope for the future is strong.

6/29/2010 05:39:00 am

If one of your goals is to increase awareness of what is poverty, what is our role - what can and/or should we be doing in our own lives and in helping others...you four are a great success. I have been part of many conversations discussing microfinance, charity, poverty, choices....that would not have been happening if you all weren't doing what you are doing. You ALL make us proud.

6/29/2010 09:54:33 am

Hi Zach. What an amazing project. I'll definitely be checking your blogs for your progress, and cooking recipes. I live in Guatemala City. Let me know if I can help you with anything from here, or if you need a place to crash while in the city. Suerte!!!

6/29/2010 11:56:34 am

DON'T EAT WORMS!!!!!! (from personal experience)

I've been telling everyone I know about about your guys' project - just put the link on my school's microfinance club listserv! Loving the updates, all of you are beautiful writers. And cinematographers! Wow.

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