First report from Guatemala

Guatemala/Mexico 1Oh my goodness, I’m in Guatemala.  CRAZY.  I don’t know where to begin.  Get a hold of yourself, Brent.  Okay, here we go.

We spent our first night in Guatemala at CASAS, the school where we’ll be studying. The next day (Friday the 15th) we met our host families.  It was probably one of the scariest moments of my life.  I was extremely anxious all day.  I was about to pass out when they called my name and introduced me to my host father.  Let me tell you a little about my family!  My parents are Luis Roberto and Elsa Recinos Illescas.  I have three siblings: Andrea (20), Pablo (18), and Ilse (15).  And they’re all really nice!  Andrea works at CASAS, so I go with her to school every morning — we have to take three buses to get there. Pablo and I share a room, and we’ve talked about everything from driving to movies to Guatemalan history to our plans for the future.  Ilse has been pretty shy but she’s a Glee fan like me, so what’s not to love?

Here are some random thoughts about my time with my family so far: There is no hot water, so cold showers are quickly becoming my friends.  I have eggs for breakfast every morning, sometime with beans, always with bread.  My suitcase takes up half of the floor space in my brother’s bedroom.  I have about a zillion aunts, uncles, and cousins, and all of my little cousins are adorable (one tried to talk to me in German, which is not the same as English).  I feel like an idiot every time I speak — I say “si” and “bueno” all the time. We went to church and I may have lost my hearing but it was the best church service I’ve ever been to — so exciting and passionate even though I didn’t catch many of the words.

On Saturday, we took a group trip to La Plaza Central with Don, Esther, and two women from CASAS.  We had to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts that required us to read a map (not one of my strong points) and ask questions to Guatemalans (also not one of my strong points).  But it was actually a really good experience!  Most of the people we talked to were incredibly friendly, and we didn’t even get lost all that badly.  The market is intense and slightly terrifying.  I tried to barter but this little girl shot me down and made me pay the full price.  Fail number one in Guatemala.  I’m sure there are many more fails to come.

So far I’m exhausted but exhilarated.  I’m not homesick in the least, which kind of surprises me.  There’s so much to do and see and learn!  I feel extremely out of my element, more so than I ever have before.  But in a way it’s a good thing.  It’s incredible.

-Brent Anders