Well, yesterday’s post ended up being so long that I decided to split it up. It already was so long without updating about my week that I didn’t want to add any more to it, so now I will update about my week last week. Or technically, it’s still THIS week if you’re using a Spanish calendar since their weeks start on Monday, not Sunday.
So last Sunday, I did end up getting to check out the fair. Madison and I wanted to at least give it a look around, so we did. It wasn’t much different than a fair in the states, aside from the fact that it was much smaller and a bit dirtier. Obviously, the food was also different and the food stands and rides and prizes were not as nice. We decided to ride on the caterpillar (gusano) roller coaster haha because everything else looked to sickening. Well, not the ferris wheel, but the ferris wheel looked too sketch so we avoided that one. Then we got some churros. Street food! OH MY! It’s fried, so it’s really not a big deal. Madison has tried other food on the street, but I’m still too afraid of getting sick. I only had a tiny piece of the churro even. Maybe I’ll venture out more later when I’m feeling brave and healthy.
We didn’t stay too long because we just really wanted to check it out and also Madison was pretty tired because she had just got back from a Tikal overnight trip (sleep on the night bus ride there, explore Tikal, sleep on the night bus ride back) where she’d been stung by an abeja (bee) and found out in the middle of the jungle that she was highly allergic! No fun. She said her throat swelled up and she passed out and had to be carried to the clinic by someone in their group. This is why I run from bees. I hope I never have to find out that way if I’m allergic or not! Yikes.
We also had a toenail painting party, which was great. My feet have been looking pretty nasty these days. They’re already nasty again, but I at least felt prettier for a day while they were spankin’ clean with fresh nail polish!
I also went to Máximo to see what types of things they had for teaching materials. They have lesson plan things, but it’s all hand outs and there’s way too much to sort through. I was rather disappointed that they can’t give you a book to use, because it’s not like you couldn’t return the book when you’re done teaching and return to the states. I was rather grumpy with Máximo that day because not only was I still a bit irritated by the fact that we are paying to work for free, but that there was not a solid text book for teaching English to borrow and because they weren’t sure if I can even get credit back if I end up going on some trips away from Antigua. Everything makes sense, I suppose, but it also doesn’t make sense too depending on how you look at it.
I was complaining quite a bit and some of the girls were making me feel selfish for being upset about these things and then I remembered one of my reasons to come down here was also to try to learn to be more positive. I felt bad for complaining so much, but I really want to help these girls at Rosa’s and I don’t feel that my help is enough. They need resources that I can’t provide and I thought that if I paid such a chunk of money to come help them, that I should be able to get those things through Máximo! Oh well.
Anyways, Monday I had the scary bus driver again. Not sure if I mentioned him or not before, but he drives like the maniac chicken bus drivers that you read about online. I literally was afraid for my life the first time I had him. The bus felt like it would tip at every curve. I am not sure what happened to my old driver at that time slot. I liked him! Fortunately, Monday’s ride wasn’t as bad as Friday’s, as I made a new friend who distracted me from the awful driving. First time talking to a Spanish speaker for a long time on the bus! Ironically, he wasn’t even from here. He was from Mexico and was visiting for an internship. He studied in the States so he had very good English when we did speak in English, but he spoke to me in Spanish as much as possible to help me practice. Perhaps we will encounter each other again, if he messages me through my photo page on facebook. I would like a Spanish speaking friend.
The best part is, I met ANOTHER person on the second bus back. He was ALSO from Mexico! How weird. He was also very nice and helpful with my Spanish. Sometimes people just can’t understand how to slow down their speech when you ask them to, but this guy was easy to understand and we had a decent size conversation. We were on a party bus, that’s for sure. Apparently it was bus driver appreciation day and I’d seen a lot of buses that day with wreaths or balloons on them. Ours was packed with balloons haha. Then a guy got on and was passing out candy and I thought it was free because he was just handing it out to us, but apparently that’s how some of the venders here sell things. They just hand it to you and then expect you to pay. You have to say no if you don’t want it. I bought it anyways just to try, but the guy selling it was an example of someone I could never fully understand because he never slowed down every time he spoke, even though I asked.
After the bus, ANOTHER guy talked to me. Monday was just my socialize with strangers day haha. I kind of ignored that guy at first because usually at the bus station is where I get all the “abusivos” (doesn’t mean abusive, means poorly behaved?) who “ch ch ch ch” (the most god-awful noise I’ve ever encountered. apparently it’s a way to get your attention. it just makes me want to punch someone in the face) and whistle at me (the typical pretty bird whistle). I also tend to ignore if I can’t understand what they are saying, but the guy came up and asked where I was from, which I could answer so I figured it couldn’t hurt. He ended up being polite and encouraged me to practice my Spanish and wished me well.
Tuesday I started my tandem program and I didn’t really like it that day because I spoke Spanish and she spoke English the whole time and I felt like I didn’t learn anything or do much besides help her. But I thought I’d give it another shot later this week.
Wednesday was, as usual, my favorite day. Salsa and Rainbow Cafe open mic night traditions. I had the bad bus driver again in the morning, but I also met more people on the bus. Everyone looks so grumpy, but when you start talking to someone, they always seem so friendly. I ran into this one guy, though, before my second bus who was asking what bus I was waiting on and said it already left. I waited for the next, and kept talking to him when I heard him say something about “robar” and “bonita.” The first time I just heard bonita so I said “gracias” and then he laughed and said I didn’t understand him. The second time I heard robar and I was so confused because robar means “to rob.” He wanted to rob me because I was pretty? Nothing was making sense. Leastways, I wasn’t really afraid because we were in a public area and I had nothing in my bag but hand sanitizer and my dictionary and 5 quetzales for the bus. He pointed to my ring and asked if I would give it to him and I said no. Later, I asked Isolina if she could decipher anything from that conversation and what I understood from her was that he wanted to take me home. That freaked me out a little bit that I had talked to him for so long and given him my photography facebook page (not my personal page, i’m not that dumb), forgetting that it had a link to my blog. I quickly proceeded to Máximo Nivel to delete the link to the blog.
Salsa was fun as usual. The really enthusiastic teacher hasn’t been there in 2 weeks which is a bummer, but the other guy teaches well too. He definitely makes it obvious that you need to have some kind of chemistry with someone to dance salsa well though. He always does extra moves with whoever is dancing with him and he always tells me I’m tense and need to relax. I’m tense because I’m resisting getting that close to him! hahahaha.
Open mic night was fun as usual and Madison sang again. Kenny and her never practiced together though because Madison was afraid of leading him on since he had a desperate crush on her. (Sorry for exposing you, if you ever end up reading this blog, Kenny!!) So she had to go acapella once again. She did great, as usual!
The guy that asks people to sign up kept bugging me and I told him I can’t do anything without a keyboard (there’s never a keyboard) so I told him get me a keyboard and I’ll sing (figuring that would never happen since we mentioned the same thing last week). Well, woopity doo, along came a dude with a keyboard and then I got harassed to play. I really was not feeling it though, so I said no and they said next week I have to. Dear god. Now I’ve made enough acquaintances here that I know they’re going to harass me all next week to play if I don’t. The sign up guy knows (I suppose I should learn his name). The people in my house know (but they’ll be gone muahahaha). Kenny knows. My new friend, Ives, knows. Shit. I hate singing in front of people.
Ives is from Chicago and will only be here for 10 more days, but he will be back for a month in November so I am hoping to stay in touch with him. He speaks fluent Spanish and I really want to make friends with people I’m going to see for a longer amount of time. Kenny also seems really cool. Maybe not so much when he has a crush on you, as he was gong a little nuts over Madison, but now that we’ve talked more he seems really sweet.
Everyone went out after Rainbow Cafe and I probably should have so I could make new friends, but I was thinking about getting up the next day (which I ended up skipping anyways because I didn’t see the point in taking the bus out there just to do my lesson plans for English class Friday) so I went home. Isolina and Maynor were oddly still up so I ended up talking to them for an hour. I love socializing with them. They are so precious. I can already tell how hard it’s going to be to leave them. They are really helpful with correcting my Spanish too.
My tandem program went much better on Thursday. I asked if we could do 30 minutes of each language instead like we’re supposed to and now I actually feel like I’m getting something out of it. We both learned about games growing up. Tag in our culture, is “tenta” in theirs and they say “tu llevas” instead of “tag you’re it.”
I also got a rather nice compliment from Nancy in the office because I decided to talk to her in Spanish when I came to pick up my bag. She said my Spanish sounds very “suave” which means smooth or natural. Hurray! I think pronunciation is one of the easier things for me. Memorizing vocab and verb conjugations is the hard part. I think I’m going to have to thank Mom for that one. I have been trying to figure out why I can pronounce so well at my level of Spanish because everyone else I run into is just not so good at it. (Not trying to sound prideful, it’s just true!) Some people in my class still pronounce the h’s and that’s one of the main things we learn how to pronounce in Spanish. H’s are silent! So haber is not “ha-bear,” it’s “ah-bear.” So I pondered longer because I’ve always felt like my pronunciations have been pretty okay and I remembered home school.
My mom taught me a little Spanish in home school so a shout out to her because, if I remember correctly, the books she used for teaching me STRONGLY focused on pronunciation and I think even had drawings of how your tongue should sit in your mouth. I don’t remember. I think it was pretty ridiculous, but I’m assuming that’s what helped me with correct pronunciation. So… Thank’s mamasita!
We went to Rainbow again after dinner Thursday (it’s quite possible that it will become a Wednesday and Thursday tradition now haha) to listen to the live music. Same guitarist as last week that I think is cute. I think it’s probably just because he’s a guitarist with a pretty smile. Are we surprised? Since when do I like anyone who’s not a musician? I think maybe 4 out of all my crushes in my life couldn’t play guitar. Well, leastways, I found out he has a girlfriend. Oh well. I’m only here to make friends anyways.
Friday I began my first English class. I think I mentioned 2 girls at Rosa’s can’t attend the class in the afternoon with the other volunteer because they have school so I offered to help. All the adults at Rosa’s want to learn too so now I have 8 people in my class. I bought them each a notebook and a pencil to use strictly for English class and I am offering a point system that they can use to buy things at the end of each week (or save up for better things). They can buy things like rolls of toilet paper, apples, dvd’s in english (only 5 quetzales at the market!), pencils, pens, etc. They already know a little bit of English though so I’m not sure where to start. I told them just bare with me if they already know what I’m teaching because I don’t know how to start in a random spot. I’m using my Spanish textbook that I brought with me and am just using that to teach the English equivalent. It’s a little intimidating. I have no idea what I’m doing. I need to find some really good resources like Mom’s Spanish books in home school to teach pronunciation and phonics. I feel like that’s the best way to learn because then you can always sound it out when you’re reading! If anyone has ideas, let me know. And if anyone would like to make a donation to help purchase their prizes, go to the support page and specify that it is for Rosa’s! Or you can contact me and we can set up a different way to send money.
Friday I also talked to my tandem partner about the guy who mentioned “robar” and “bonita.” She was also able to decipher better than Isolina and said he probably said “te quiero robar” which literally means “I want to rob you” but it’s an expression guys use to hit on you here. Like the US, it depends on the guy saying it whether he’s just being a guy or whether he’s sketch, but I explained that he was 18 and she said “Oh he’s harmless. He’s just a teenager. It was a compliment.” Yay! No sketchy friends for Lizzie. I assumed it was just a teenager thing, but Isolina’s interpretation kind of worried me. I’m glad Lily explained it better. I should probably just trust my intuitions. Obviously, I wouldn’t have given him even my photography page on facebook if I felt uncomfortable by him.
We went out for dinner because it was Barry and Jen and Deborah’s last night. They stayed for such a short time. They were all really awesome though and I wish they stayed longer. We couldn’t find the restaurant that Barry and Jen were referred to and since I haven’t explored yet, I don’t know where to go besides Rainbow Cafe. So Barry, Jen, and I got Subway. They have some different subs there, but you can still get the same things as in the states. The only one that I remember sticking out was a pizza sub. But it is more expensive here than it is in the States! How weird!
Yesterday I went to the market with Isolina again to buy some more apples. I brought my camera this time, but it was SO crowded. I was able to get some shots of the market, but not as many as I would have liked and they aren’t as good shots as I would have liked. 3 gigantic avocadoes for 10.00Q. That’s like $1.25ish. HUGE. I’m so jealous of all of their fresh produce here. I just wish I could trust it more. They are so unsanitary here. Since the meat is on the counter, Isolina was just picking it up with her bare hands to see which pieces she wanted! As well as I mentioned in an earlier post, the guy behind the counter does the same and then they handle money! Thank God meat has to be cooked. That is so gross for me. I asked her about it and she just says she washes her hand after the market because she touches so much dirty stuff there, but think of everything else that’s getting touched by the raw meat! Bleh! I can’t. I just. I can’t.
It was the NEW new girl (She arrived Friday), Sherea’s birthday, as well as Madison and Marnie’s last day (SAD!!!!!! ) so we celebrated once more with a piñata. I think that’s 4 piñatas we’ve had now? P.S. Sherea is from Bermuda! How exciting to make a friend from THERE! Beach trippppp!
After that, we all went out to watch Madison sing with Kenny finally. They were supposed to practice for last Wednesday at Rainbow, but never did, so we went to a new place called “Kafca” which was really nice, but there were not a lot of people there. That was kind of a bummer. They did a really great job though. Kenny and other guys I’ve seen playing are so talented at guitar and singing (in two languages!) and Madison has a lovely voice. It was nice to finally hear it put to guitar! Kenny says by the end of this trip, I better be sounding like a Guatemalan and proceeded to teach me some phrases that don’t translate literally to English. I’m looking forward to continuing the tradition of Rainbow Cafe on Wednesdays and am hoping that Kenny and the guys there are going to be my first official local friends! They all seem pretty cool. But I sure am going to miss going with Madison and Marnie. Traditions aren’t the same without the original people!
Marnie left this morning and Isolina couldn’t hold in her tears this time. Usually she can wait ’til the persons gone, but all three of us teared up today. You get to be such good friends in a months time; it’s hard to watch people leave. Isolina and Maynor are driving Madison to the airport later and invited me to go. Two long-term stayers leaving in one day! Isolina and I shall have a crying party together. I’m going to miss those girls so much. I was truly blessed with a great group of people for my first month here. So far, everyone has been great, actually! But Madison and Marnie I have known the longest here and so it’s emotional to say goodbye. It doesn’t seem real that a month is already over! Hopefully we’ll all meet again one day. Maybe in Guatemala. <3 The last of the 4 new people arrives today. So far, no one knows any Spanish. Looks like I’ll be taking over Madison’s position as translator. Good practice for me! Hasta la vista babies.