It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Guatemala for almost four weeks already! The time is flying, although I knew it would. I still have three weeks left to enjoy this country and I’m hoping to soak up every minute of it. I get to wake up here everyday, walk outside, and view an amazing ruin of an old church. It’s pretty fantastic.
I’m getting used to my life here and some things I thought I would miss I am finding surprisingly easy to live without. For example, television. I watch a LOT of TV at home. I’m always the one in the lounge at school asking people if they saw this show or that show last night. But here there has been no time and really no reason to sit around and watch TV. It’s a nice change of pace.
Another thing I am living just fine without is my car. Except for going to my school in Itzapa, which is a 40 minute drive through the hills, I walk everywhere. I have never done so much walking in my life! I don’t even know if I walked this much when training for the breast cancer walks. At first I couldn’t believe how much walking I was doing, but now that I’m getting used to it I actually really enjoy it.
Then there are some other things I can’t get used to. I have mentioned that my host mom’s housekeeper lives in our house with two sets of twin girls. The older ones are so well behaved, while the younger ones aren’t so much. Lisa, my housemate, and I call them the devil children. They just turned 3 years old and up way later than us every night and up way earlier than us every morning making more noise that you can imagine. They are always screaming and crying and running past our rooms. They also are always watching Spanish Tela Novelas. It would be really easy to hate them, but they are so darn cute.
Another thing I’m not quite used to is the food. Unfortunately, it’s been mediocre at best. There has been mystery meat served for lunch and dinner many times. Luckily I have found Antigua’s best bakery with the most delicious banana bread you have ever tasted. It’s possibly saved me from starvation on several occasions.
Something I’m getting accustomed to is hearing ridiculous fireworks all the time. They are the kind you can’t see but just make a really loud boom! Apparently they are very popular here and are set off for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. At first I would be shocked a little, but I’ve grown used to the sound. The loud gunshot sound almost makes me feel like I’m right back teaching in Dolton. Just kidding…kinda.
Then there are the dogs. Seriously I’ve never seen so many dogs in my life. Unfortunately, they are pretty much all strays and very sad looking. At first I was scared of getting bitten or attacked, but they are actually very scared of people. We learned in orientation that dogs are pretty much equivalent to bugs here and people do not treat them well. It really breaks my heart to see these helpless things running around. Many have wandered into the school, and call me a bleeding heart, but I just want to take them all home. Well, them and the kids.
One remarkable thing I’ve seen is the women who carry HUGE baskets of fruit on their heads. It’s fascinating. It is unreal how they balance these things and it’s pretty amazing.
And finally, there are the chicken buses. These are old American school buses that didn’t meet American safety standards. You can see the bright painted colors as they drive down all the cobblestone streets. They are abundant and pretty much this country’s public transportation system. Their drivers are insane and many of the passengers are as well, jumping on the back of the bus while it’s in motion. When these buses go by you have to hold your breath and they always leave a huge cloud of black smoke in their wake. I’m wondering if there is a chicken bus somewhere in Guatemala with the drivers side mirror hanging on only by a piece of duct tape…
So this place is a little crazy, but it’s starting to feel like home.
“This Is The Time” -Billy Joel