Hola friends and family!
I am happy to say I have safely arrived in Chimaltenango, my next Guatemalan destination! It has been about a week and a half, and the transition has been smooth overall. Upon arriving in Guatemala, my Antiguan host dad, Felix, graciously picked me up at the airport, even after waiting over an hour due to my flight being delayed. I stayed in Antigua for a night, catching up with family there, exchanging a few gifts, and playing lots of Uno Flip – if you haven’t heard of it, you should check it out! Can you tell I have become an Uno fanatic while I’ve been in Guatemala?
The next day, two members of my new host family, Mario and Veronica, picked me up in Antigua and drove me to their home outside the city of Chimaltenango, about a 45-minute drive. Veronica speaks English very well, and so it was nice to have the opportunity to introduce myself in my native language (a luxury I rarely have here). That being said, we have barely spoken in English since then, which is good for me because it forces me to continue improving my Spanish! When we arrived at their house, I was honestly quite shocked at how big and beautiful it was. After living in a remote village for 3 months, it almost didn’t seem like Guatemala. That being said, I’m grateful that I can experience two completely different ways of life while I am here. What a profound way to get to know Guatemala and its people better! As soon as I stepped out of the car, I was promptly greeted by Papa Mayo and Miki (Mario’s parents), as well as José and Sebastian, Mario and Veronica’s children. We all live in Papa Mayo and Miki’s house together, and so far, it’s been a wonderful experience!
Except that… unfortunately, soon after arriving, I started to not feel well. I’d already managed to go three months in Guatemala without getting any sort of sickness, but I suppose the lack of sleep due to traveling took a toll. Not only was being sick annoying simply because I didn’t feel good, but it also inhibited my ability to spend time with and get to know my new host family. The good news is, I felt significantly better by the weekend and was able to explore the city a bit (pictures #1-2) as well as participate in all of the family events! We went out to eat Friday night at a Mexican taco shop, Saturday I met all of the extended family, and Sunday there was more relaxing and hanging out with the whole family. Everyone has been so kind to me and I can’t wait to get to know everyone better!
This week, I also started classes at Monte Cristo (picture #3)! For those of you who need a reminder, Monte Cristo is a middle/high school located in the town, Monte Cristo, which is about 20 minutes outside of Chimaltenango. Every morning, Miki (MC’s principal), Veronica (MC’s coordinator), and I head to the school at 6:10. I like to consider myself an early riser, but 5:15 comes VERY quickly! Thankfully, I’m adjusting to the hours and am not yawning every 10 minutes like I used to.
Here at Monte Cristo, I am collaborating with the English teacher, the chef, and the music teacher. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I have each grade for English class. English classes are my favorite because it gives me an opportunity to demonstrate to the students that even though I don’t speak Spanish perfectly, I still do my best and they are still able to understand me. Likewise, if they mess up in English, it’s not a big deal and I can still understand them. This allows us to have a more comfortable atmosphere where we recognize that we are all learning and making mistakes only helps us improve! The cooking classes, which I have on Tuesdays, are also fun because, even though I am assisting the chef, I get to learn traditional Guatemalan recipes alongside the students. This week, we learned how to make Jocón (picture #4)! And lastly, I help with the music classes every Friday. Although I have extensive experience singing, playing piano, and playing guitar…apparently that means nothing when it comes to playing the recorder, which is, of course, what we’re learning in class. That being said, I’m not sure if I’m much help in these classes or just more of a distraction, but it is still a fun time!
As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers!
Much love y hasta la próxima,