Monday, June 23, 2014

First 2 days in Paquip

Sorry for the delay on these, I have had many thoughts and wasn't sure how to communicate all of them to you.  The next few posts will be my best attempt.

Monday marked my first day in the field in Paquip.  At 6:15AM, I met up with Mildred, one of the research assistants affiliated with Wuqu Kawoq.  There is no official bus stop for this bus, it just comes to a corner that everyone figures out somehow.  Anyway, we got on one of those exotically-painted school buses and were on our way.

The scenery along the way was unrivaled.  Beautiful mountains all covered in vegetation because of our altitude here.  I could get used to that.  Though I can’t say I’d like to get used to those tiny, uncomfortable bus seats again.  These aren’t as nice as the buses in Peru that are old commercial buses instead of old school buses. 

At about 7:30, we arrived in Paquip.  What a pretty place.  The view out over the nearby mountains is just stunning.  The main town center is small, but it has several stores and a respectable road.  The rest of the town has dirt/gravel roads and is less organized.  We weren’t able to find someone to walk around with us, but a lady in town did draw us a map and we went on our way.  I was a bit nervous for the first interview, but (shockingly) everything went very well.  I think we are going to get some very good information about the root causes of malnutrition in this little town over the next month or 2.  This is such a unique experience.  A year ago it would be hard to imagine myself sitting in little adobe, cement, or wooden houses in an indigenous Mayan village.  I am with a translator who speaks Spanish and Kaqchikel, doing interview in a language I didn’t even know existed a year ago.  I love it though.  I am going to make sure that we get all the best data possible throughout this survey so that Wuqu can improve their programming in the best possible way.

I had several surprising experiences, but I will limit myself to 2 examples.  First, unless the women were new moms, they often had 7-8 children.  It is typical of the region, but it is crazy to see such families among poverty that can’t support them.  This is likely one of the causes of malnutrition here.  Second, I met a woman that really shocked me.  When Mildred asked her for her age, she told us that she didn’t know.  She asked if we really needed it, which we did, so she had to go inside and dig up her official ID.  I am not sure if she could even read it, so she gave it to us and we informed her of her age.  Can you imagine that?  Not knowing your own age?  It is an incredibly different world than the one that we live in.  She doesn’t speak a major language (only Kaqchikel), and is not aware of basic facts about herself.  Meeting people like that really opens my eyes to the blessings I’ve been given.  I will certainly be more thankful of where I come from when I return back to the United States.

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