Until recently, most of my successes in Peace Corps have been invisible. In other words, this has been a complicated and convoluted process, hard to quantify and even harder to explain succinctly.
Well I am happy to inform everyone that I have finally reached the point where progress is visible. While this is very exciting to see, I would like to remind myself about the hard work required to get to this point. Here are the giant steps that it took to get here:
- I developed a project in a field outside of my expertise
- I got consensus about said project and collaboratively planned its main aims and objectives with people who do not typically identify as “planners”
- I applied for and received a grant that passed through three governmental bureaucracies
- I assembled the correct tools for the project in a second language, and I know very little about tools
- I decided on a strategic route for a trail with co-workers and incorporated a variety of staff criticisms that were communicated indirectly
- I helped my co-workers refine the finer logistics of the project with almost no reliable data
After all of these steps were complete, we were finally able to inaugurate our trail project this week. Without further ado, here is visible evidence that our labors have not been in vain.
Before any work had been done, scenes from inside the heart of the park, untouched and inaccessible
Route scouting with my co-workers
Trail work begins!
Some segments of the trail are nearly finished
Three cheers to:
- Park visitors who will have greater accessibility and connectivity with nature
- Park staff who will have sustainable eco-tourism infrastructure
- Nearby community members who are supported economically with this temporary job
Making me smile
- The trusting nature of Mexicans: I realized that I forgot my wallet and would be unable to pay the fare on public transit last weekend. I informed the driver before we left so that he could tell me to return later with money. Instead, he insisted that I stay on and pay him later. Something similar happened at the bakery: when they did not have change for a bill equates to $3.75, they also insisted that I not pay for the bread, and suggested that I pay them next time
- Lengthy trail-side conversations about anything and everything, with topics such as the legal drinking age in the USA and how it affects Mexico’s economy, the pros and cons of marriage, illegal border crossings and the lives of undocumented workers in the USA, and traffic laws that favor cars rather than pedestrians. NB: my co-workers were absolutely amazed that in the USA, intersections come with a button that pedestrians can use that makes the stoplights turn red…and that the cars actually stop!
- A fellow volunteer found a shampoo that touts its ingredients to be aloe and chilies rather than citrus and vanilla or some similar combination that might be found in the USA
- The sun has finally been around long enough to allow me the opportunity to read in the park; what a luxury in winter! I hope this continues