I apologize for the lack of updates (Mom, and calling for that matter). I've been extremely busy and haven't had access to phone or internet, which is actually a deep breath of fresh air. Many of you know in the States I was less than reliable with answering my phone anyways. I'm writing this summary post, incapable of explaining all, hopeful I will recount some of the better events thus far. No later than 4:45, my parents and I took the long five minute haul to Hancock Airport (Thanks Garett,chiste!). Upon arrival I made un amigo nuevo and we took the shuttle to the hotel. Staging lasted a solid seven hours and reminded me a lot of RA training from college, but with more passionate liberals. There are so many interesting individuals in our group of 45. People from all across the states have studied and done research in a plethora of areas, both topic wise and world locations. Following staging, a group of 6 of us (MA, TX, CA, ID, CT) went out for Ethiopian food (Perfect last meal in America right?) Either way it was delicious.
The first three day staging period took place in Santa Lucia, Milpas Altas, a town outside of Antigua with a beautiful view of the volcanoes, including the currently active volcano Fuego. My host family in Santa Lucia M.A. consisted of a grandma (abuelita), a married couple, and their three kids. Directly off the main road my host mother and her two siblings each own houses in close proximity (off the same driveway). I was able to spend time with all three families, including un concierto in which we sang a number of songs including "When the Saints Go marching In" in both Spanish and English. Inevitably sounding cliche, they were as welcoming as I could have imagined and really became a second family during the short stay. With minimal education in the Spanish language, being here is similar to being thrown in the deep end. Luckily my experience has at least built a vocab base, more of a floatie on my left arm keeping me afloat.
My roommate, Joe (Chepe) and I (Evanito de Polonia) would spend our time following dinner with our host family, specifically the father Samuel, yellow Spanish-English dictionaries in hand. Learning went both ways, although the eldest daughter probably knows more English than I do Spanish. One specific word which came up was chata, meaning bedpan. Samuel assured ( I'm sure our pronunciation was off) that his wife had a chata on her nose. We all eventually burst into a long hard laughter when it was explained she was said to have a container one uses to poo and pee on on her face. Ordenar is to order in Spanish. By addiding a tilda on the n you can completely change the meaning of a word, similar to the way not having a fridge can change the way you live. The verb ordeñar is 'to milk a cow' and is something I was able to do in the mornings. Breakfast consisted of cereal with hot milk, pancackes, tea, and fresh fruits.
Other highlights from my short stay included my first bucket bath, jenga, (piedra, papel, tijeras) rock-paper-scissors, and a hike partway up the mountain. On our hike Samuel made a flute out of a plant reed and also climbed different trees to pick fruit for Laura, Chepe, and I. Fresh fruits included mangos, limes, passion fruit, oranges, and a delicious fruit called an anona (I recommend looking into this one!) Despite my major language barrier, I was reminded that laughter is universal. Before a minimal improvement in understanding, I was able to use laughter to make the family open-up and feel more comfortable. By the end of the three day period the children were calling me gordito "fatty" (similar to my name locito in the States), which was very endearing they felt comfortable enough to joke around. They were joking right? jaja
I've been assigned with my host-family for the next three months of training. I am living in a town directly next to the active volcano Fuego. I live upstairs and can see the smoke/fire during the day and night respectively from standing in my doorway. My family has a very nice house, including a hot shower downstairs and a fridge! It is crazy how my perspective of well-off has changed in such a short period. The family consists of Aura, Jime, and the children (Christian-6 and Andrea 2.5). Grandpa rides over on his horse fairly often as well. I am the sixth volunteer the family has hosted, which is helpful in terms of expectations and pushing me to speak the language.
The other three volunteers staying in my muni; Winfrey, Patty, Breanna, are with various members of the same family throughout town. The cousin owns a finca in town where they harvest coffee. Our language classes will take place at their house. On my first visit we were given some amazingly fresh coffee and bread. I hope there will be more cafe during my 8 hour language sessions. As I hear dogs barking and Alvin and the Chipmunks in Spanish blasting from across the way, it is time for bed. It is in fact 9:15pm! Hope all is well and I would love comments :-)
5 years ago