I’ve been in Guatemala for almost a week now and I’m absolutely loving it here! On Sunday, my group took the 5 hour trip from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango. We had to stop for a half hour because there was a rock slide that blocked half the road. As we waited, venders came by trying to sell fruit and other snacks to the people sitting in their cars.
By the time we got to Xela, we were greated by huge mountains and volcanoes surrounding the small city. It’s a sight like none other. I can’t wait to upload pictures to show you all. The city is such an interesting combination of traditional houses with modern products and mountains in the background. Everyone here is super friendly and welcoming and patient when I attempt to use my Spanish with my super gringo accent.
On the first night in Xela, me and my housemate, Alyssa, met our homestay mother, Joaquina. A younger grandmother who has three kids and 3 grandkids. The grandkids, Joaquin, 12, Pablo, 8, and Pedro, 4, are the cutest kids ever. Joaquina’s daughter, Aida, is close to my age and is very sweet. I love this family. This morning, Joaquina and I spent the morning talking about my family back home. I’m beginning to be able to actually have conversations and not just simple phrases.
Classes have been very intense. They are one on one for four hours every day. My teacher, Anabella, is super nice and we spend a lot of time working on abstract thinking and speaking. We have conversations that range from kidney stones to the cost of meats in the US to dance competitions. It’s hard to form sentences that describe my thoughts and feelings rather than just simple sentences like “where is this or how do you say that?”
In the mornings, we’ve been exploring the city and learning about the history and culture of Guatemala and Xela. We watched a movie yesterday about the Guajeros, people who live in the garbage dump and take recyclables to sell for a living. And then we had a discussion completely in Spanish about poverty and health as a human right. It was a challenge to sound intelligent when we have the language skills of a 5 year old but it worked out well.
Today was a free morning so I went to explore the city on my own. I found an internet cafe downtown that costs Q4 per hour, or 60cents in American funds. And that’s where I’m typing this from now.
So overall, I’m having a great time here. In a week and a half, I will begin volunteer work in a clinic nearby so I can use all the medical spanish I’m learning in class to use.