To get anything done here that would take maybe an hour in the states it takes at least 2 days. For example, my stove. I bought the cheap two burner stove and when I got home found out it was missing a part. Okay, so I had to go back, not a big deal. I traveled back to Soloma yesterday and talked to the store and said they did not give me this part. It turns out this stove actually doesn’t come with the part. All of the employees were fascinated by the Gringa so they all felt the need to help me. I had the whole staff trying to figure out how to put together the connection piece for my stove. During this whole time the men are talking about whether or not I was from Spain or Holland. They assumed I didn’t speak Spanish so I chimed in and said yes I speak Spanish and I am actually from the States. It definitely shocked them all. So after about an hour in this store they fastened me up with this make shift connector that looked like it would work so I headed back home. At this point I am feeling very proud of myself for going and getting this all done by myself. However that feeling soon ends when I get home and try to use the stove. I start boiling some water when I hear a WHOOSH sound and look over and see my whole stove on fire! I turned off the propane tank and ran outside. I looked at the stove and decided things just needed to be tightened. I tightened everything and tried again. This time it was after about 10 minutes I hear another but smaller WHOOSH! I decide this stove piece does NOT work. There was propane leaking a little bit from one part which caught on fire. At this point I am pissed and frustrated. I just wanted to boil water so I can drink without getting diarrhea, is that too much to ask?! I basically give up at this point and feel defeated for the night. Today, I asked Cathaleen to come with me to the store to figure all this out. She has a very strong and forceful personality and I needed someone like that when dealing with the store people. We traveled the hour back to Soloma and went to the store. The people there immediately tell me well of course it leaked it didn’t have the plastic protector stuff on it. WHAT! Why did they let me leave yesterday knowing I could potentially blow up!?!? I tell them they either need to fix it or I want to return it. Cathaleen tells them too we are not leaving with the stove unless we actually get to light it and try it out. After another hour and lots of input from everyone the stove was set to go and worked! I came home this afternoon and boiled water without incident so now I finally have a stove and can start cooking for myself. The whole situation really tested my patience but in the end it all worked out. I often have to remember to just stop and take a deep breath here when dealing with things.
Aside from the stove issue I have realized being an American here makes you kind of a celebrity. Everyone that walks by comes over and wants to talk to me and all the cars always honk at me. Also, one day this last week Becca and I were sitting waiting for our microbus to take us home and these two ladies in front of us were speaking Kanjobal and turning around and looking at us and clearly talking about us. We were chatting with this guy we had met at a restaurant earlier so we asked him what the women were saying. He told us that the people of the town have been talking and the gossip is that the American girls eat all the food they are served. This was hilarious to me! Gossip here is huge so it was no surprise we were the topic. The fact that we eat all our food is also a plus because it is rude not to eat what you are served. The whole thing was just great because I had never seen these women before but they clearly knew us. Also, today in Soloma the guy that delivered my gas tank walked by me yelling my name. I had no clue who he was at first but then I placed him. Pretty much I am very memorable and fascinating to all Guatemalans. Everyone stares and everyone wants to talk to me. I just have to be careful the intentions of the people…especially the men.