How is it that all my life I am told I have great balance and I am athletic and then I arrive in Guatemala and I am a complete klutz? Is gravity different in Central America? First issue, lose gravel and hills. Self explanatory. Second, MUD! I am not talking about a little mud mixed in with rocks and grass I am talking about thick, clayish mud that is everywhere. After I picked up Lubu on Wednesday one of the girls in town told me the “quick way” to get back to the main road. Umm ya I should have just gone the long way, it would have saved me time. The “quick way” involved what looked to me like a mud flow that had peeled down the mountain side earlier in the week. With Lubu in my bag I carefully slid my way down the mud. I was sliding this way and grabbing on to bushes and half-way fell at least a dozen times. I had mud all over my pants by the time I actually made it to the road. I do not know how these Guatemalan women walk up these muddy mountains in plastic shoes with a baby strapped to the back and 20 pounds on their head- now that’s balance! Finally, the real icing on my unbalanced cake occurred this afternoon when I was exiting a camioneta. I had my backpack with Lubu in it and a crate with some veggies in it. Luckily I was carrying all of this in front of me because I took a step to get off the bus and the next thing I know I am going clunk, Clunk, CLUNK down all the stairs on the bus. All of the Guatemalans on the bus immediately stood up and tried to look out the window at the Gringa that can’t walk. The people outside the bus on the sidewalk just start laughing. I started laughing too but it hurt. My elbows were bleeding and now I have a bruise on my back. Basically the bottom line is that I can’t walk in Guatemala.
Aside from my embarrassing mishaps I think I have been “integrating” a little bit. The guy who kept waiting at my house invited me to his mother’s birthday and I said I would go with his FAMILY and I would only go in the afternoon. I just pretended I had something to do later. He and his two sisters came to my house and I followed them up a mountain to their house. When I got there I realized it was much more than a birthday. There were lots of people, at least ten women cooking in huge pots and a band playing…and the party didn’t even start for 3 more hours! The man (who originally creeped me out) told me it is his mother’s birthday but also a Catholic celebration of life and his family because the mother almost died while having an operation last year. I talked to the father and he told me he wanted his son to invite me because he wanted me to share with his family. I immediately felt horrible for thinking this man was a creeper/stalker. However I have to err on the side of caution. I sat around and listened to the band play for a while and then the Catholic mass started. The priest who serves the whole municipality came to this small house packed with Guatemalans. I sat and kind of knew what was going on since I know the Mass. I said the prayers in English under my breath and got a few strange looks. After the Mass most people left except the special guests, about 35 people, including myself. We sat and ate dinner and everyone spoke in Kanjobal and sometimes would all look at me and laugh. I am getting very used to that. I just smile and laugh too. All in all I was very glad I decided to go. I felt like the family really extended a hand to me to invite me to such a special event in their lives.
Also, I have been making friends with ALL the children in town. I have been working in the school and I make every class repeat my name so they know me and now whenever anyone walks by my house they call out my name. Two girls have started coming by regularly and they are so sweet. I give them 3 English words to practice every night and when they come back the next day they usually remember all of them! It may turn out to be that some of my best friends here are 6-14 years old! But I will take any Guatemalan friends I can get!
Finally, an update on the latrine situation. They finished my latrine and then it filled with groundwater!!! The water table is too high here for a regular latrine. I talked to my boss and he explained to the town leaders what a dry composting latrine is. He is going to help me with the money and supplies to build one. So now I have a latrine but I can’t use it…back to the Milpa for me!