Finally – a structure!

March 21, 2007

The headline says it all… during the first week here, I think that all of us were quite confused about what we are actually supposed to do here, what our output should be, and so on. On top of that, we don’t have something like office hours here, and our office was the lobby for the most part of the time, so it was a bit difficult to coordinate the group of people. However, now we seem to have a bit of a structure and a rough plan on what happens during the next couple of days. Yesterday morning, we had some effective discussions (and at that moment, I was still glad that power went off, because in this way nobody could be distracted by computers and Internet and whatever might be going on). Now we all know what the others have been doing so far, and everybody had the chance to give feedback on the work of the others. Also, we figured out who depends on whom during the next days and in what parts we need to work together closely.

After this session and lunch, everybody now went to their rooms because there was power here until some minutes ago (now it is off as I’m typing), so we can go on putting our work together. (when I wrote this, it was Tuesday afternoon – just could not upload it until now)

We are all very much looking forward to Kate’s arrival on Wednesday afternoon, because she might be able to give us a better global picture of the project as well as some qualified feedback on our work. The biggest problem this time clearly is that there is nobody at the moment clearly owning the project, so that we keep making assumptions about why we’re here and what we’re expected to deliver.  Reviewing the last days, there’s a lot to tell – I think the last time I wrote was Friday. On Saturday, Dustin and me went on a casual fishing-trip with Manuel, which gave us a whole day of talking. We did not go into much detail about the cross-trainings themselves, as most open questions need to be answered either by Xyaat or within a conversation between Xyaat and CTSK, but we got some valuable information about CTSK and Xyaat in general, their history, efforts, problems, contacts, and so on. As to the fun part of this day, I’ve done many things I have never done or seen before: We went fishing with three different supports, and on the way to our spots, literally five minutes after taking off the shore, we ran into a dolphin family (I think it was a mum with two kids) playing around in the water. They were absolutely not afraid of us but stayed where they are, although altogether three tourist boats were watching them, and one woman all the time wanted to jump into the water (thankfully, her guide held her back although she was begging…). It was a great experience, as I had never seen dolphins in the wild! We also saw on our fishing trip a whole bunch of fish – either in the water or on the hook (but we released them back into the water!), for example a ray, which looked quite impressing.At the end, we went snorkelling in the coral reef, which again was new experience for me and I enjoyed it so much! After coming back out of the water, I was just so happy I had seen this fascinating underwater world. So when coming back to Punta Allen (where we took the boat from and also had a late lunch) I was as happy as one can be, especially because the fisher village itself is such a beautiful place as well. Nearly unspoilt by tourists or other exterior influences, it preserves its tiny-fisher-village flair, and the surrounding nature with the whitest sand I’ve ever seen, the coconut trees all over and the clear green and blue water – it all adds together to a place that seems like taken right out from paradise. 

Sunday was our day off, and Barrie and me went to Cobá to see the ruins there. It was a good trip – you can rent bikes there and ride on the nice trails that run through forests, connecting the spread-out ruins. They were really big, Muyil can’t compare to them at all! So this was a really fascinating trip, but I also enjoyed the fact that there was enough time to talk to just one person (as the day before, in a small group with Dustin and Manuel) and really get an insight into another persons thoughts on the project, the communities and our work here. I know five people is not a big team, but still, if we’re all together, you just can’t get too deep into one topic – for whatever reason, I wouldn’t even be able to explain it.   Yesterday, Barrie, David and me went to Senor again. The aim was to get their feedback on the brochure that David had done, but also to take
Barrie out there to let here experience their offer. I was there mainly for translating, but took the opportunity to have a chat about my work with CTSK as well. So during lunch and after the whole tour, we presented the work we had done and got some very valuable feedback from Marcus and
Santos. This time, Julia was there as well (we had asked them to have her participate in this meeting as well, because we found out she is a part of the core-group after our first meeting with Marcus and Santos a week ago).
Julia seems to be very shy, but they explained to me that she usually does not interact with the tourists, so this might explain it. While talking about the training opportunities, we found out that actually it is very hard for women to leave their town for something else than bare necessities. It seems to be harder for married women than for singles, but still it is very uncommon. Therefore, we were trying to figure out a step-by-step plan to get Julia’s parents used to the fact that she might be working with Xyaat and also interacting with other people, including receiving training out of town. Marcus and
Santos promised that they would try and convince her parents of letting her participate in the big meeting we’re having with everybody on Friday. This should work, as there is no overnight included and she is going with close friends and even family (Marcus is married to Julia’s sister). If it does not work, then the next steps are way more difficult than we thought… What would be in our mind for the next step, but still needs to be checked upon of course, would be to let Julia participate in a training with CTSK for a short time, such as just two or three days, and let her go together with Marcus or Santos, not on her own. However, this is all dreams at the moment, and we will know on Friday how tough the gender issues in the community really are…

Thanks for staying with me and my explanations again! I hope the things we write about are as interesting to you as they obviously are for us. It is a fascinating environment we are in here, socially as well as in terms of nature, and I really hope we can put together some things that Xyaat can use in the future for their business and that make a difference to them.  
Magdalena

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