I had my first cry of the trip tonight. After dinner, my family was sitting at the table, when my host father began to break dance. Seeing my host dad, all 5’ 5” of him, in his baggy, cut-off, Gold’s Gym sweater just about killed me. I don’t remember exactly how we got to break dancing, but I do remember that the beginning of the conversation was very serious. After work this afternoon, most of the volunteers watched a documentary about the Guatemalan Civil war, which went from 1981 to 1996. Though it was very compelling and the cinematography was impressive—very up close and personal with the conflict—it was not very informative. When I got home, I began talking to my host mom and sister about the war, while they finished cooking empanadas. The conversation for most of the rest of the evening was about the war. It was very interesting to hear about what it was like in this city, and how it affected people like my host family. My parents were in university during the war, and my father participated in several protests against the military government, which was incredibly dangerous. Though my mother did not participate in any protests, she did once hide a few guerrillas, and although three of them got away, the last one, who had already been shot in the foot, did not get more than two blocks before my mother saw the army shoot him dead. Other than that, however, the war did not seem to penetrate the city all that much, and things were basically business as usual. The conversation, however, was very interesting and informative. By the end of the conversation, my father suggested that the war happened to control the population, and was, therefore, a good thing. It all went downhill from there. He told us about their drug dealing neighbor when they lived in Jersey City, about various exploits in the bars in New Jersey, and he danced for us. Multiple times. Needless to say, dinner was the best part of the day.
After breakfast this morning, Daniel picked me up. It had been freezing last night, and I was a bit more tired than I would have liked, but not exhausted. We picked Maggie up, and walked to the school. My class was good, I’m chugging through lots of irregular verbs right now. Nothing is better than learning new words and new grammar, and coming home for lunch and being able to actually use what I learned in class. After class and before lunch, Maggie, Daniel and I went walked with Jose to the Central Park. We used the ATM there, and then Daniel and I bought watches from a street stall. Mine is a little bigger than Daniel’s, but other than that, they match perfectly. I needed a watch for a few reasons: I didn’t bring an alarm clock, I’m not carrying around a phone so I actually need a watch, and all of the clocks in my house are different, because my dad wants different things to be at different times—the clock in the kitchen is ten minutes fast, so that meals come early, the one in the living room is fifteen minutes fast, so that guests leave when Manuel is ready, not when the guests are ready, the clock in the bedroom is eight minutes fast, so that he’ll actually get out of bed and get to work.
This afternoon I worked on construction again. We put up some more siding, but did not get very much done in the time we had. There have been several very interesting decisions made in the building process, and I daresay the final product will be amusing, if not completely safe. Nothing is very uniform, nothing is very straight, and nothing would pass building codes in the US. However, I have full faith that it will serve its purpose well. We finished a bit early, and hung around the office for a bit, until we started the movie.