February 20, 2014 – Translation: Spanish & I’m sick. This post includes 2 days because not much happened…Because I was sick.
My trip to Guatemala so far is humbling to say the least. I’m living in a great housing situation, with a lovely family who is so sweet to make sure I understand everything they tell me. I realize I’m very lucky. Even if this trip did start off a little rough, and not exactly the way I had planned or pictured it, I just have to keep my spirits up and appreciate my situation.
The morning started off with Anna giving me a short tour of Nebaj, and the places where I’ll be spending a lot of time during the next 2 weeks or so. We met at El Descanso, where I had a cup of coffee while I waited for her, and then she took me to the office. I met several people who work in the office, including Ricardo, who is apparently the most creative mind on the team and likes to throw lots of parties, and also Jenni, who is from a European country (Sweden I think) and is yet another person I can speak English with. I helped prepare for the following day because we were going to travel to Chuhul, a town about 40 minutes away for a “stove day.” Stove day means we go out into a community to demonstrate our stoves and other products to people in the community in hopes of them buying stoves. We prepare popcorn and hot chocolate and serve it to the people there to show how well the stove works. SEC has built their own energy efficient and fuel efficient stoves, which are also mobile, as opposed to most stoves, which people have to actually build into their house, and are often not fuel efficient.
It’s only a few days in but my lack of Spanish was really deterring my spirit. After today’s Spanish class, however, I’m feeling much more confident. My teacher took me around to several places in Nebaj, and the city that seemed to be part of Nebaj but was actually a separate city, and they were having a celebration for the Mayan new year, which started the next day. Then he took me to un lugare sagrado (a Sacred Place), which was at the top of the steepest hill I’ve ever climbed, where he explained that is where Mayan and Catholic people alike come to pray and you can tell which people made offering by whether they placed crosses or different items as prayer offerings. Then it was back down the treacherous hill and after walking around a bit more we arrived at the hotel SEC runs, and went to the very top, where there are little open-air classrooms. We had our class for about an hour, where Pedro seemed impressed with my Spanish, especially my pronunciation, and said he could tell I just needed some work on verbs and vocab words. I definitely have a much easier time understanding what someone is saying to me than actually trying to speak something, but I’m hoping to improve quickly as I am mostly forced to speak or listen to Spanish every day. I’m already starting to think a few things in Spanish, which I know is a very good sign because the last time I was pretty fluent, I would think in Spanish constantly.
February 21, 2014
Well today did not start out well, as I was up all night with a horrible stomachache. I woke up at 6:15am to get to the office in time for our first stove day, but after arriving, and determining that I wasn’t just hungry or dehydrated, but that I was really sick, I decided not to go and instead go back home and sleep. On the way back, I picked up some suera, or electrolyte juice, and took that immediately when I got back, to pump up my system and flush out whatever I was fighting. My host mother, Yuvi (Finally can at least remember her nickname) and Claudia (15) were very sweet and helpful in getting me some fruta and tea. And then I slept.
I pretty much slept the entire day, which felt good. And around 4 oclock, finally felt much better. So I set off for El Descanso to try to skype my parents and Navin. I stopped on the way to buy “Saldo” for my phone, and I had received a text saying it was a “Triple day” meaning whatever I bought that day was tripled, so you’re saving a lot of money on whatever you spend that day. Then I arrived at Descanco and luckily I got a hold of both my parents and Navin, and although I was somewhat of a blubbering baby, as I always am when I get sick, I felt so much better after talking with them. Around 6:30pm, I finally headed home and shortly after, we had dinner. The family had been so sweet to go out and buy soup for my ailing stomach. And I explained my different allergies, like how I can’t have harina (which I thought included wheat, but it just means flour), so they told me they would go to the market to buy pan de trigo, which I was a little confused about, but politely thanked them, and made a mental not to look it up later. I also explained I can’t drink milk, or at least not too much, and also can’t have too much cheese. I felt much better when Yuvi told me she can’t eat too much cheese either, and she’s allergic to a kind of meat, I think pork. Feliciana’s niece, who was staying with us, also had an allergy to chocolate. And I literally watched her drink her hot chocolate and start having a reaction, itching all over. It was a little comical and Feliciana explained she’s allergic but also loves it so much that she begs them for it, and knows she’s going to be itchy, but drinks it anyways.
After a day of mostly sleeping, I headed to bed early to get plenty of sleep and try and get rid of the bug.