This week has been a good one… up late a few nights worrying about spiders and scorpions(because we’ve had both of them in our room) and bothered and entertained by day by loud turkeys and roosters downstairs. I think we’re finally settling in a bit to life here, albeit a fake, touristy, student one. We started the week with canned refried black beans and packaged tortillas and now we’re making fresh black beans(have to cook them overnight!), eating local tostadas and buying fresh avocados. We still have a ways to go and need to start shopping more at the local market versus the grocery store with packaged goods… trying to avoid the D as long as possible, though.
So, we’ve learned that we are in the very touristy part of town and that most of the locals live farther away in different circumstances, you could call them. Yesterday, I went with one of the teachers at the school, Ruben and another student to visit and bring food to a poor family in the local area. Part of our tuition goes to buying food every other week for the 22 poorest families/residents in the city(apparently these people are known by the community and were selected by them to receive aid).
The first person we went to visit was an old woman(70ish years, more or less as I’ve learned that they don’t celebrate birthdays here or keep exact track of how old they are) who lives by herself in a large house that she essentially house-sits for. Her husband died and she has no other family or other place to go to, so a rich family from Guatemala City lets her stay there and look after the house. She only spoke the Mayan dialect of Spanish, so I couldn’t communicate with her but she was telling our teacher how grateful she was and that she hoped God would bless our travels. What a sweet, adorable little lady she was! It broke my heart that she had no other family here and stayed in that house by herself in one room with a kitchen and nothing to her name.
The second family we visited literally brought tears to my eyes. The father was blind, the mother was sick and recuperating from a surgery she just had(the poor can get healthcare – imagine that U.S.) and they had at least 3 children. They lived in one room altogether, with a little outside kitchen to cook their food. The mom, when she’s better, will make handmade belts that apparently take 2 days to make, that she will sell to tourists for 20 quetzales(about $2.50 U.S.). So amazingly sad, but what great spirit the people still had. It’s very interesting though that they have no homeless people here as the community is very family/community focused. They take in or help feed people that are struggling.
Last night, we then met up with some of the gringos from our Spanish school and drank cervezas and talked about our travels. I must have had something bad to eat for dinner, or just too many different things, because I had to leave for a few minutes to vomit in the street(mind you, I wasn’t drunk at all). However, once whatever demon was inside of me was out, I was fine again and went back to chatting it up(although I didn’t drink much more).
Today, Lex and I woke up early and took a boat to Panajachel – a local town, where we saw a parade for the Children’s Day celebration here(yes, they have a children’s day and a mother’s day) that was pretty awesome. Lots of little kids in costumes dancing and playing in marching bands. We ate breakfast at a little restaurant and then took a taxi to an awesome nature reserve that Kate and I went to last time. We saw spider monkeys, coatis and waterfalls. Oh yeah, and pouring rain… as we were at the top of the preserve(we climbed up quite a ways), it started pouring rain down on us. Luckily, I had brought my rain poncho, but as Lex hadn’t brought his, poor guy was soaked. He bought a dry t-shirt at the gift shop, then we walked back into town and hailed our boat back to San Pedro. For tomorrow, we bought tickets to the Chichicastenango market – so excited!