Esmeralda: the name of a bus company from Antigua to Guatemala City. They are Bluebird school buses from the States painted in bright colors.
Ayudante: the “helper” to the driver of the bus who would sing-song “Guatemala! Guatemala! Guatemala! Guate!” to announce the impending departure of a bus for Guatemala City.
Huipil: a Mayan woman’s brightly colored blouse.
Campesino: a man who lives in the rural countryside.
By Alan Yount - Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala (1985 – 1986)
The ayudante sings his song for
Her Bluebird school bus carriage
Transformed from Cinderella-pumpkin-yellow
To Mayan huipil hues of reds, greens, and blues
For her trip to Guate.
The city, the ayudante, Esmeralda
Beckon to the campesino,
His cowboy hat pulled low over
Coal black eyes
Watching his basket of chickens—his life—hoisted onto
The volunteer hurries through Antigua’s market
Smoke stinging her eyes, backpack slung across
With one change of clothes, a toothbrush, and
Her dreams inside.
The ayudante’s call to
For the campesino, for the volunteer,
All bound together on the road to
This poem was selected as a finalist in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. It was selected from more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.