It’s crazy to think that I have been in Guatemala for a week. For it seems like just yesterday I was saying goodbye to all my friends and family, boarding the bus and getting on the plane to spend my semester in Guatemala and Mexico. My time here has definitely been a different experience, but an amazing one.
I live with a family that is extremely extroverted, they love to sing, dance, and do so many different things. I tend to be more shy and an introvert, so at times it can be overwhelming, but I wouldn’t change it in a heartbeat!
This week we had a guest speaker who came to talk to us about Guatemala’s history. It was really interesting to learn about. We learned that 10% of the population owns 86% of the land, and that they only ended their civil war in 1996. We also visited the National Cemetery and the landfill. Learning about the landfill was really something. I could picture the landfill in my mind but to actually see it in person was truly amazing. And to think that people actually pay to go into the landfill so they can look for material to make money. After seeing people in the landfill looking for things, it really made me appreciate what I have at home.
On Wednesday this week was my birthday, so I’m not going to lie, I was a little homesick. It was hard not being able to call and talk to my family but my family here definitely made up for that. They didn’t even know me for a week and they had a party for me. I was truly blessed and touched to have them. I am really looking forward to the rest of my time here. Learning about this culture and actually being a part of it is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Oh 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.
Yesterday we arrived safely in Guatemala. We are tired, but in great spirits.
We are enjoying the warm weather!