Over the past few days not a lot of things have happened that are worth blogging about. I haven’t been out of the house much, also because it is Holy Week and most of the stores and forms of public transportation are closed. This week a lot of Guatemalans travel to the beach or visit their families. There are many festivities and parades but they are mostly catholic celebrations.
I am spending most of my time on the roof, enjoying the burning Guatemalan sun and heat. My favorite place of the house is the hammock on the roof where I am out of the sun but I can still enjoy being outside there. After 8 days I can still not get enough of the breathtaking view here. The roof terrace is so big that I can see a big part of the city. I can look at the people on the street for hours. There’s a park on the other side of the neighbor’s house and there are often kids playing football. I might look like a crazy person sometimes, but I can just watch the world go by for hours.
My favorite place in the house.
On Thursday we celebrated my brother Carlos’ 21st birthday! The day started early with preparing a lot of food for lunch. I was told to not eat too much because there was a big barbecue coming later that day. Around eleven in the morning the first people arrived at the house to celebrate his birthday with us. Most of the visitors were people from church and it was good to see some familiar faces. We spent most of the afternoon eating on the roof. A lot of chicken, meat, tortillas and potatoes from the barbecue, salads, vegetable soup and cake and icecream for dessert. The day started off amazing because for the first time during my stay in Guatemala I could see all three volcanos very clearly: Agua, Fuego and Pacaya. The most near one is Agua, which is absolutely enormous and very impressive. This one also has a cool history because during a horrible earthquake in 1541 the volcano broke and the water, mud and rocks that came out of it destroyed the original capital of Guatemala.
After the big lunch we played games with the visitors and it was super awesome, because I noticed that I could actually understand what they were saying. My Spanish ears are improving! We played something that’s called Mimi-K which means you have to act out words and it was a great way to learn more Spanish. After that we played another very awesome game named Cranium, entirely in Spanish too. My team and I won! Spending time with ‘real’ Guatemalans speaking ‘real’ Spanish is awesome and I loved every second of it, although I was exhausted when the visitors went home. I had to listen to Spanish natives for about ten hours and my brain was working harder than ever. I felt like it was far beyond midnight but it turned out to only be 8 o’clock in the evening… I was just about to rest a little when new visitors turned up for a small devotional in the living room. I was so tired that I didn’t understand a word of it anymore. It seems like my brain can only take in a certain daily amount of Spanish and then the system shuts down. But that’s okay, I am sure that I will be fluent in a few months.
Carlos’ birthday was a great day and the days after that were a little more relaxed. The thing I struggle most with is the fact that I lost a great part of my independency. If the family doesn’t go anywhere, then I am not going anywhere. That’s is fine by me because I know that the coming weeks will be a lot more stressful but I need to get used to the idea that not every second of my day is planned out carefully. When I wake up in the morning I don’t know what the day will bring and that is a big difference with ‘my life at home’. I can’t take my bike, go to the train station and go wherever I want. I can’t go to the store alone, I can’t take a walk outside when I want to and I can’t visit other people whenever I want. That’s hard sometimes but it might also be good for me to let go of my habit of being busy all the time. Life in Guatemala is much slower and that’s also a big reason why I choose to come and live here for a while. I needed to get out of the hectic chaos that creeps me out very often in order to discover what I want with my life. It is so easy to get dragged into the Dutch 24 hour economy and it’s hard to not be a part of it. That’s not the life I want. I am not made for that.
Chicken, beef, salad, baked potatoes, vegetable soup and a tomato-coriander salsa. Heaven!
Luckily there are also moments here that I will remember for the rest of my life. I sometimes feel like I have been here for months already. Not a cell in my body regrets moving to Guatemala. Last night was one of those moments. During the day we decided to watch a movie but since we live here with 10 people the internet connection was so bad that it took us hours to get the movie up and running. We tried to watch My Name is Khan on Netflix, but it absolutely took forever. After a few hours we could finally see the first half hour of the movie. I loved it! So there I was. A Dutch girl in a Guatemalan livingroom, surrounded by Guatemalans, watching an Indian-English movie with Spanish subtitles, eating popcorn and drinking coke that we bought in the store just around the corner. I really feel at home here. Life is still good.
(Funny thing about the store: when you want attention from the store owner you just yell ‘Hay Maria?!’ which means something like ‘is there a Maria here?’. It is more common in the villages but they sometimes use it in the city as well. Doesn’t matter if the person is a man or woman or if his or her name is actually Maria… you just ask if Maria is there. Or you just take out a coin and tap on the iron bars that separate you from the person in the store.)