Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye

The time has come...

to say goodbye to Upire, El Salvador, and my Peace Corps life. The goodbye process was difficult and just plain weird. I could not quite grasp my impending departure so I ended up just telling people I would see them later or tomorrow. That made it easier. I have grown accustomed to approaching goodbyes bye just ignoring them and acting like it is not actually happening. Seems to work...

Basically, all of August I have spent time just hanging out, going on random trips, hugging people, and trying to stop tears from flowing (mine and my community members).

These are just pictures of me saying goodbye to my peeps. I promise a more lengthy post documenting the actual mental and emotional process shortly.

Obligatory pensive picture...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One Year Anniversary of Dia de Comercio Upire

August 10th was a big day for Upire. It was the one year anniversary celebration of opening our community farmers market. For one full year now my community has been coming together every Saturday from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. to buy, sell, and hang out together. Over the course of this past year the market has evolved. In the beginning it was a weekly (surprise?) event that everyone assumed would just end at one point. However, today it stands as a permanent community establishment that everyone looks forward to attending all week long. Saturday is now the day to go shopping, hang out in the community center, and enjoy Comercio with its frequent games, competitions, activities, and much more. On top of celebrating one year of comercio August 10th also become my "going away party" with my impending departure from Upire being the 13th of August. I think the best way to describe this incredible day is through photographs. Hopefully with the pictures you will feel like you were there. 
Parade of our Queen, horses, motorcycles, people, clown, etc. 
Queen of Comercio

My Community decided a Jamie shrine would be appropriate

Town band performance 
Crazy clown performing
Yours truly giving her speech to the community
Raffle of apple pie provided by my Peace Corps bosses that came!
Horses relaxing before the belt race!
Horse Racing!

Mayor giving diplomas to superstar vendors!
I hope this variety of random photos conveys just how packed this day was with fun and entertaining events. Between all the activities the streets of Upire were packed with people, cars, animals, motorcycles, different booths- basically more people than have ever been witnessed in this small, rural community. 

As much as it was fun, entertaining, and packed with my closest friends, family, and neighbors it was also a sad, overwhelming day. This large community celebration/party so to speak also served as my goodbye party, which meant speeches made in my honor, this large banner (pictured above) served as the center of the event, and everyone came up to me with hugs, kisses, well wishes, gifts, and much more. I was also asked to make my final speech to the entire community which ended with me crying (not going to lie...couldn't really finish the speech)/ Afterwards, I began the long process of saying goodbye to the many members of Upire that have made the past two years some of the best and formative of my life. 

Dia de Comercio has probably been the highlight and the best part of my service both personally and professionally. It has been a way for me to meet more members of the community, hang out every Saturday with everyone, develop an important relationship with the youth population, and hopefully leave a successful and sustainable project that helps Upire grow and develop. I feel so thankful that I was able to see it reach its one year anniversary and be a part of this pivotal year in the history of Upire. I hope when I return over the years to come that I still find them celebrating this special date.


July was a month of celebrations. Well I guess that depends on your definition of celebration. Here are my definitions:

4th of July with all of the volunteers in the country at a beach in the eastern part of El Salvador. It included the finest of American things found in El Salvador: water balloons, ridiculous games, and overall debauchery. I wish I had a good picture of this event, but I don't. I am sure you can picture it though... 

Shortly thereafter I celebrated being parasite free at my close of service complete medical exam. Yay for coming home healthy! 
YAY for zuccini keeping home gurl healthy.
or it might be the vitamins from my watermelon consumption...

Dia de Alumno: celebrating all the students at the school. It included pinatas, a clown, and a show put on for the students. Here are the kids collecting all the candies from the floor. Semi organized chaos...
Then the youth group and I were able to celebrate reaching our fundraising goal of $1100.00 and buy our VERY OWN SOUND SYSTEM for Dia de Comercio! Needless to say, we were (are) happy!
This month I also had the pleasure of celebrating the amazing accomplishment of my good friend and fellow volunteer Mike. He finished his classroom made out of trash and plastic bottles!!!! I took my community on an excursion to visit his site and see his school. It was a fun day and my community is more motivated to begin this project on their own! Hopefully one day there will a classroom out of bottles in Upire or in one of the surrounding communities.
Mike and my host mom!
The final celebration of the month was that the youth group and I finished painting our trash cans. Hopefully the BRIGHT colors will make people want to actually throw the trash in the cans. One can dream, right?!