Breakfast this morning was at 7:15, and consisted of mosh, a hot, milky, sweet drink almost like very thin oatmeal; bread; and a mandarin orange. Daniel came to pick me up, and we walked to Maggie’s house to retrieve her. She was waiting at the door when we arrived, and we headed straight for El Nahual, our school. We missed the turn the first time around, but made it there with time to spare. Stephen and Brenna, the volunteer and international coordinators, respectively, pulled up at the same time on Stephen’s motorcycle. Stephen’s entire lineage went to Oberlin, and though he was the one maverick and went to University of Virginia, he still emits a strong Obie vibe. We were introduced to our teachers, and walked upstairs to the big room, with small tables set up all around it. We each took one table with our teacher, and began the lessons. My teacher is Sergio, who is young and from Xela, this city.
Though it gets hot here during the day, it is freezing in the morning. The cars all had a layer of frost, and when we started classes, I had to sit on my hands to keep them functioning. The first thing I did in the class was take a little test, to see where I was, we went through it, (I didn’t do too poorly, surprisingly) and then jumped into learning regular verbs in the present tense. Sergio is very funny, and loves the word ‘joke,’ so he often uses a word in a sentence, and then says, “No, es Jyoke.” We took a long break, and began to get to know the other volunteers and Stephen. He got here to Guatemala on his motorcycle, as he’s done before, and had many stories about crossing borders without papers, and paying off the right people to let him through. There are two women from Australia, one from Canada, and one from Finland, on a return trip here with her boyfriend.
We broke for lunch at noon. I walked back to my house with Daniel and Maggie, and when I got home, my host mother was cooking lunch. At first, she wouldn’t let me help her, so I stood in the kitchen and talked with her. When she started making tortillas, however, I began asking questions, and she taught me how to make them. They are super easy to make, and she has a little press, which makes them even easier to make. When we were finished cooking, we ate with my father, and my sister came in a bit late. With lunch, we drank starfruit juice, and though they taught me the word for starfruit, carambola, I could not remember it for my life. Daniel picked me up, and as we left my house, I realized I forgot the word again, and noted that my family would be sure to make fun of me for that. When we picked Maggie up, we got to meet her family’s dog, a little yappy white dog that always wears a Santa costume, complete with a hood and everything.
We all met for a while when we returned, and picked jobs. They are building some more classrooms in the school, so I offered to help with the construction. For the rest of the afternoon, I worked on building a few walls with the nice young guy who was working on the building. Stephen came and helped for a while too. Building standards are very different here than in the States. Though Stephen and I cringed at a few of the decisions made in the process, I’m sure they will be very nice, safe classrooms when they are all finished. At five, all the volunteers, tired from teaching and supervising children, and doing construction, walked to the Blue Angel Café, a popular gringo hotspot. There we talked about the week, what jobs we’ll have, and the other activities during the week. We also got to know each other a bit more. After the meeting, which was a bit drawn out, I used the internet for a bit, and then Maggie and Daniel and I walked home. When I got back, my host parents were watching Capote, so I sat down and watched most of Capote. They didn’t get to eating dinner (which I had done at the café) until after the movie, at 9:30. I sat with them and ate some plantains with crema, and drank coffee. It was not long after we sat down, that they asked if I remembered the word for starfruit. Much of the conversation for the rest of the night was at my expense, about the carambolas. But, alas, now I have heard it more than twenty times, and will hopefully not forget it. After talking and joking around a bit more, we finished dinner, and I went to my room to do my homework.