A La Gran Puta

Wow, time flies. I have already been here 2 months. I’m a month away from having to leave the country for a few days to renew my visit (you can only be in the country for 90 days at a time without a visa). And I can’t believe all the adventures I have lived in 60 days. Good and bad. More on that later…

Saturday, I pretty much spent the whole day with José. I slept in nice and late and I skyped my hermano amigo, John, a bit later. Love you so much, John! And I miss your face. John got to meet José over skype and I got to translate a little. That was fun. I can’t wait to be translating more for people. It makes me feel so special. Sure, I still can’t understand a heck of a lot of Spanish, but I know a lot more than some people and when I encounter those people, I sure feel cool.

Afterwards, José and I went to the park and met up with a few of his friends. I really liked them. They were nice and interested in talking to me slow enough to where I could understand. I like when I am included in conversations. We hung out with them for a while in someone’s house while they shared a few beers and then we headed to Punta Cera to watch some movies. I’d been craving watching some movies lately and Punta Cera has a nice little TV room with couches. So we watched a couple of movies in Spanish and I didn’t understand much at all, but it’s good to expose my ears to it.

Sunday I got a TON of reading in. I shocked myself with how much I read. I thought José and I were going to get lunch together that day because he said he wanted crepes, but I heard nothing from him all day so I urged myself to get out of the house and stop being stupid and do nothing while waiting on him. So I studied and studied in a café while I waited to hear from him. I finally heard from him at 5:30 and we met up again in the park. We had a special dinner Sunday night. I couldn’t decide what I wanted so we just walked around and we finally passed an Italian place that had the most inviting environment I’ve seen here. Gorgeous lights and a fountain. The place was a lot pricier than most places here, but for me, it costs about normal like a place in the states ($11-$17 a plate) so I thought I’d treat him to something nice since he’d been so good to me. It ended up not being the greatest Italian food, but it was still a nice environment.

Da Vinci's restaurant

Da Vinci’s restaurant

It has been so romantic hanging out with him. He also said he wants me to meet his family and wants to meet mine and I thought that was so precious. A bit early for that, but precious none the less. He’s asked what do I want for my birthday and told me he is always there if I need him, just call. You can tell I obviously cleared up some feelings since my last post. Apologies to those I offended in that post by the way, but I promised to be honest in all my posts and warned that I cuss sometimes and so I felt it was all necessary. But the last thing I want to do is hurt anyone in my blog. So I hope I have not done so. Also, thank you to everyone who’s been keeping up with me. I hope you are learning some things through my experiences and are enjoying all my posts. I appreciate all the people that told me they’ve been loving my blog so far, even people I didn’t expect to be reading it!

I skipped my job again on Monday because I just couldn’t wake up again. My body has readjusted to staying out late so I just couldn’t do it. I’ve lost my motivation to go there. I haven’t been in two weeks now. I don’t remember what I did Monday morning, probably studied, but I met up with José again after class Monday. He treated me to dinner on another side of town that I had not been to yet and it was really good. Some kind of bread twisted with Italian pizza-like filling. We went to Punta Cera again after because it’s just so much more comfy to sit on couches than the hard chairs that most places offer. He returned me really early Monday night (10:00 pm) which is unusual for us. I wasn’t tired and I didn’t want to go home yet, but that’s what we did.

Things started changing Monday night. My house was empty and I had had so much fun the last few days that I suddenly hit a lonely spell. I was anxiously awaiting my next encounter with José. I don’t like lonely spells like this. Perhaps some people can relate, but I just can’t do anything but hang out with people and if I can’t hang out with people, I can’t do anything but worry about everything under the sun and get depressed. I don’t know what happened.

Tuesday didn’t help. I was so excited to be meeting my tandem partner to tell her everything that had happened and she cancelled. I was supposed to skype David, but never heard from him. I was supposed to see José before his job at 3:00, but I never heard from him until he was already working and didn’t hear much from him at all. I felt horrible all day. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything or to cheer up. And José said he wanted to talk, which I of course thought the worst things possible and worried some more.

Thank God for Willy. Tuesday, my day was brightened for at least a short time as I arrived to class. Willy could tell something was wrong and slammed his books shut and said “Ok, tell me.” So I started explaining what happened and how I tend to worry if this or that happens and he was saying “Oh yeah, me too. It’s like this….” and would explain that he knows exactly how I feel. Then he paused and said “Wait. When is your birthday again?” And based on the subject of our conversation and his question, I instantly knew what he was saying and I filled with excitement and said “September 28…. and yours is… OMG OCTOBER 7th! We’re both Libras!!!!!!” And we burst into laughter. I don’t believe much in astrology, but it’s pretty fun sometimes and can be rather surprisingly accurate.

This was the best class I’ve had yet. After we realized that, we talked about hundreds of things. What’s your favorite color? Chocolate of vanilla? Do you LOVE chocolate? Music and art or sports? Everything. We share the same favorite colors. We both die for chocolate. We don’t really like sports, but if we like anything- we like gymnastics and figure skating in the olympics. We’re both great at remembering dates and we love romantic movies (He LOVED the notebook when we watched it in class). We both like peace and hate fighting with people and we are really uncomfortable if anyone is upset with us in our life. We are sensitive and get hurt easily and also are sensitive to the feelings of others and can easily read people. We want everyone to like us, sometimes to the extent where it’s unhealthy because we just don’t know what to do if someone doesn’t like us. We hate being unoccupied and can often spiral into a depression if we don’t have something to do. We prefer to be surrounded by people we love instead of being independent and we love romance and to be in love. We both get sick a lot with colds and stomach issues and often the stomach issues come from a love of indulging on the wrong food. We always think the worst when something happens if we don’t have all the details and we have a horrible guilt complex where we can think anything is our fault even if it’s not. And we’re so overly sensitive and romantic that we often feel like we’re completely out of place with the rest of the world and don’t know how to relate. And we LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVEEEEEEE being able to hug and love on someone. WHAT?

ALL of this. Everything we talked about and asked each other about, we shared the same feelings. We had so many moments where we just couldn’t say anything more because we were so shocked. We both had never met another Libra before (aside from my dear sweet grandmother, but I’ve never talked about any of these things with her before. But I have seen a lot of things that we have in common through observation). It felt like finding your soul mate (Or, I suppose soul friend is a better word because we’re not in love and he’s married haha) and we were so excited that class. We hugged a bunch of times and couldn’t stop laughing and when we hugged before I left, I said “And now we’re going to cry, right?” And he said “Shut up!” because he knew it was true haha. It felt so good to finally meet someone who knows EXACTLY how I feel.

It was nice to have a ray of sunshine on my day. I have felt disgustingly unneeded lately (personality issues once again) and it has made me depressed. I have a need to feel needed in my life and get really sad when I don’t feel important. With not much communication with my friends here and when José doesn’t answer me and people cancelling things, I get lost. I like to plan and when plans change, I don’t really know what to do with my day. Wednesday, I finally got up to return to work, but I thought maybe I should text first before I show up since it has been so long. Well, I texted and they said they didn’t have time for English class this week. So I skipped again and wonder how I will return after so long. It will be hard. I told my tandem partner we could meet up that morning and she said that’d be great so I got excited to finally see her again too, but 2 hours later, she cancelled. So I had another slow and lonely day. I did finally get to skype David, but poor thing just had to listen to me complain.

My teacher too. I got to see José for a moment after class and then I went to an hour of my salsa class. But I just can’t deal with it anymore. I’m going to start taking private lessons too. The class is too hot and too boring and I’m not growing at all. I went to eat at A Lo Chapin again because I’ve grown tired of Rainbow. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but it’s true. The music is the same every week so I thought I’d spend some more time with my friend Kevin. I’d been spending too much time with José recently and that wasn’t good for my heart. But about halfway through, I heard a familiar voice coming from Rainbow and realized Rodrigo came in town to sing again so I went to go visit him. Afterwards, I spent the rest of the night until 3:00 am with José.

Thursday I got a random invite to Monterrico with my friend Xavier. I was feeling rather depressed and only got 3 hours of sleep Wednesday night so I was thinking maybe I should rest, but the thought of escaping Antigua and spending more time with new friends drew me in. I decided to go for it since we’d be back in time for my class yesterday and away we went at 9:00 at night. I’m so glad I went! He has a nice group of friends and they were all really welcoming and tried so hard to make me cheer up from some things that have happened.

Xavier, Me, and my now new friend, Rosie! :)

Xavier, Me, and my now new friend, Rosie! :)

And holy crap was his house nice. This definitely beat my time in Monterrico with José. I had no desire to really return there after because it’s not that nice and it’s horribly hot and dirty. But no. Xavier has a private house there and it was like a RESORT! SUCH a beautiful house with lots of comfy beds, a housekeeper/cook, a wrap-around porch, a gorgeous pool, a gazebo with hammocks, and it was right on the water. He also had four-wheelers- so much fun! A real escape; just what I needed. I was so grateful that Xavier thought to invite me. I need some real friends here. It’s a shame they live in Guatemala City though. I won’t be able to hang out on a regular basis. But I much appreciated the time I got to escape Antigua.

Hotel like bedrooms

Hotel like bedrooms

View of the house standing in the backyard

View of the house standing in the backyard

view standing in the house. that's the beach in the background!

view standing in the house. that’s the beach in the background!

Gazebo with hammocks!

Gazebo with hammocks!

A much better view of Monterrico than where I stayed with José

A much better view of Monterrico than where I stayed with José

Additionally, I came to find out that I met two famous people. Two of his best friends are famous. One is a soccer player for the national team (I think that’s what Xavier told me) and the other is a famous singer in Latin America named Ale Mendoza. PSHYEAH. I met famous people, kiddos! How lucky am I? I felt so special to be included because Xavier told me that they don’t like to tell people that they are famous and they also don’t have many friends because most people just want to be their friend because they’re famous and have money. But how nice was it of them to trust me to not be one of those people? I’m not one of those people, but they don’t know me. I could be a crazy that chases people for their money, but they trusted me enough to include me. I felt bad that I was so tired and sad that whole trip to really open up and be my usual self.

Xavier also told me about the history of the name “gringo.” He’s not sure if it’s 100% true, but supposedly the first people to cross the Mexican border were marines and since the Mexicans couldn’t speak good English, all they could say was “Green, go!” to tell them to get out of their country.. Entonces… “Gringo.” hahaha!

Since I went with them, I most certainly didn’t catch up on sleep. I got about 6 hours that night and came back just in time for class. My poor brain was fried and I was trying so hard to get Willy to have another fun class, but we’ve had “fun” classes all week where we’ve just talked about the drama in my life. So thank God that Willy decided to put an end to it. He’s mad at me because he knows I’m studious and I was climbing so fast in the beginning but now I’ve had so many distractions that my Spanish is not improving. So he pulled me in and started introducing the god-awful Subjunctive tense. This is going to be a beast to learn. And additionally, I’ve got to learn it AND fight some serious depression at the same time. My poor brain. Why are you depressed Lizzie? Why are you homesick?

Well, two things can make a girl feel really homesick- being physically sick and being emotionally sick. I’ve been physically sick over half of my trip. And this girl’s heart has been broken in 100000000 pieces. Like an idiot, I fell for a guy here. Like a god-awful stupid idiot. After all the warnings about how guys here are players, I had to go and be stupid and fall for one. And now I hurt just as much, if not worse, than how I hurt when my long-term relationships came to an end. I don’t know how people have short-term relationships. I just couldn’t deal. I’m always in things for the long term and it kills like a knife to have something so short-lived. Maybe it hurts more because it was all a lie and it was the first time I’d opened my heart back up to someone since being cheated on, but the lesson I am trying to learn is to press on.

Thank God for Isolina and Maynor. They sympathize with me just enough, but Isolina is a tough cookie that tells me the truth. I’ve been pitied my whole life and it has made it hard to be strong when these things happen. It makes me want to run home to mommy and cry and be waited on and stay in my bed for weeks on end because I always know I would be sympathized with when I run to her. I don’t like this. I came here to change myself. And I’m going to do it. I’m not going to be that silly girl that cries for weeks and quits everything and doesn’t care about life when I get my heart broken.

Isolina reminded me that I came here to change and I can go cry everything I need to cry, but after that, I need to wipe my face, wash my hands of it and carry on. She’s right. I’m not at home. I don’t have the luxury of having mommy to cry to. I’m on my own. I never felt so homesick. But here I am. I chose this because I wanted to change. And for the first time ever, I’m really being shown that THIS is life.

At least I know that I’m really living. I sometimes forget that to really be alive means to feel pain too. I hate that part of life, but it’s true. You can either have a protected life and be bored to tears, or you can live good and bad experiences and really know how to live. And I’m living! Look at everything that’s happened to me in two months…

-I’m in a foreign country away from everything familiar for six months
-I’m learning how to speak another language and communicate with more people in the world
-I’ve been sick for over half of my trip but still have been able to enjoy it
-I’ve seen beautiful and ugly new places
-I’ve taught English to people
-I’ve stayed out til 3 am in a place that is considered dangerous and nothing has happened
-I’ve peed in the street
-I’ve kissed 3 guys in one night (one of whom I didn’t really want to kiss)
-I’ve learned how to dance a little of Salsa
-I’ve met amazing people and I’ve met some not so amazing people
-I’ve ridden on a motorcycle, sin helmet
-I’ve hung out with a famous person
-I’ve been treated to a luxurious stay at the beach
-I’ve ridden a chicken bus, countless times
-I’ve experienced two tremors (yep, we had another one last night when I got home from class. It was funny to look out my window and see everyone walking around like nothing was happening haha!)
-I’ve gone a week without showering and have had to shower a few times in ICE cold water
-I’ve fallen in love and had my heart broken by the typical Guatemalan player

Life hurts. Life is fun. Life is good. Life is bad. But the main point that I’m having to learn is life moves on. And life goes fast. And there is no time to waste on the things that hurt. Because then you’re ruining your life. What if I indulged on my thoughts when I got my heart broken? I would be hating myself right now because I would have not only had my heart broken, but I would have failed my entire point in coming here.

What were my thoughts? Go home. Quit. Run away. Spanish is getting hard to learn anyways and now your heart hurts. You can’t concentrate when your heart hurts. What’s the point of continuing? Just get a ticket back home and get your money back. And what would I think of myself later if I followed through with these thoughts?

Hate myself more. It’s an ongoing spiral. If you are hurt and indulge yourself in the negative, you will hurt more later. Life is painful. But we have a choice. We can live a depressing life and indulge on the negative, or we can focus on the good things that happen and forgive forgive forgive the people that cause the bad things. Forgiveness is for us, not for the other person. They don’t deserve to be forgiven, but we deserve to be set loose from our angry thoughts. It’s hard. It’s harder than anything else I can think of and I will continue to have sad thoughts and mad thoughts and will continually have to re-forgive and re-forgive, and as Isolina says….You have to grab those thoughts and throw them out every time they appear. You have to just be thankful for what you have or you’re going to be miserable all your life.

So I’m putting my foot down. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and as my Italian side of the family likes to say “Gotta keepa go.” So here I am, keepin a go. I’m not saying nothing is affecting me. I still cry. I hurt like nothing else. But I’m not going to stay in my bed and wish I was dead or wish I was home. I hurt more than I can express or explain and every part of me wants to give up on everything, but I refuse. I hurt, but look at all the amazing things I’ve gotten to do on this trip. Life sucks, but life is beautiful too and through all the pain I’ve experienced, I still never want to stop traveling. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my adventure, scarred and hurt, but here in Guatemala. And you can bet your butts, I won’t be kissing any more guys here.

How can I let myself be depressed if I get to wake up to a view like this every day? I can't get over my view

How can I let myself be depressed if I get to wake up to a view like this every day? I can’t get over my view. I refuse to let him get me down!!!!!!

What Happens in Guatemala Stays in Guatemala

Ok, maybe not since I talk about what happens here on my blog. But I haven’t been 100% honest about everything that’s happened here. Perhaps because some people from Guatemala can read my blog now and I don’t want to start drama.. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to talk about boy troubles where my Daddy can read it and worry about me. But, I’m an adult now and…

I said I’d be honest on my blog right? Good and bad? Right and wrong? So people could really live the experience and hopefully be inspired to take their own travels? And if I don’t update everything, it will get confusing later if I mention something I thought I’d said. So here goes… I could pretty much use Phantom of the Opera to describe my life here. I’ve got a Raul and I’ve got a Phantom. If Becki keeps up with my blog, she’ll be cracking up right now. (Love you so much, Becki Lorraine!!) But seriously, it’s true. I’m in a love triangle. This has never happened in my life and I have NO idea what to do with it. I like two guys here and they both like me, among others. I have never ever ever EVER had this problem in my life.

And I love it. No, not really. I hate it. Sure, I love the attention. Everyone knows I’m an attention whore, but it is honestly the most confusing thing ever because I feel like a hoe if I kiss them both. And I am no such thing. Sorry dad, I’ve kissed some people here. Don’t hate me.

Seriously. This has never happened to me. I know all my friends at home like to encourage me and say that I’m so pretty and guys love me, etc. etc. But I just don’t ever believe it because it’s just not true in the States. I’ve rarely been asked out. I’ve rarely been told that so-and-so has a crush on you. I’ve dated 2 guys in my entire life and kissed just a few more. And there’s usually months and months in between different guys who I’ve kissed. I’ve never had a problem with crushing on more than one person and having more than one like me back. But apparently Guatemala is a whole new world.

Never in my life have I been grateful for my middle and high school experience until now. I was not popular. I was made fun of. I was hurt. I still am friends with the group I made in middle school because they were my only friends. All of 3 guys that I know of liked me between 8th grade and graduating high school. I’m pretty sure I’ve beat that number in all of 2 months here. But I hate it. I don’t want to hurt anybody and I don’t want to get hurt and I don’t know what to do with these two that I like.

I am now grateful that I didn’t have these problems in high school. I believe getting made fun of is what has kept me humble all these years and what has made me sensitive to the feelings of others. I can’t imagine the head I would have if I had grown up popular. So this lesson here has made me thankful that I was a loser in high school. Never thought I’d be grateful for that!

Why is it like Phantom of the Opera? Well. It’s kind of like a dream come true and a nightmare all at once. It’s a dream come true because when does this ever happen besides in the movies? I have a crush on my Salsa teacher. Sure, that happens in real life. But when the hell does it ever happen that he likes you back!?!? It’s like a fucking teenage girl movie. Excuse my language. But the problem is, I feel for my best friend too. And now it’s even more like a movie, except a drama instead. It is exactly like Phantom of the Opera. Here is my sweet and adorable little knight in shining armor (Raul) that is a gentleman and takes care of me and makes me feel like a princess and I really like him a lot! But then, here is my hilarious mysterious ridiculous cute teacher (the Phantom) who comes and steals me away if I encounter him. I feel bad for Christine in that movie. It’s really quite the awful situation. It’s a nightmare because it would break my heart to hurt anybody and I can’t make up my mind between the two guys. I don’t want to stop hanging out with either of them. But the last thing I ever wanted to do here was hurt myself or someone else’s feelings.

Oh God, I can’t believe I’m writing this where my family can read it. This is so awkward. Why did I start this blog? Ugh.

I’m not a player. I’m no such thing. Everyone at home knows this. I look like a player here, but I’m not. I’m not enjoying this. This situation could be one of the most awful things I’ve had to go through because I’m sensitive and I love everybody and don’t want anyone hurt. I don’t want to lose anyone either because I love them! What’s a girl to do?
Yes mom, I know God will show me the right way to go, you don’t need to tell me. I already am embarrassed enough to talk about this on my blog, but I said I’d be honest.

My dear sweet Spanish teacher, Willy, listens to all my problems and now I’ve adopted the name “pequeña monstro” (little monster). It cracks me up. But I am no such thing. But that’s okay, because I call him a mentiroso. I suppose I deserve a name too ahaha.

Monday night, José came by the house to pick up his things that he had left temporarily to walk with me to dinner Sunday night. Since I stayed out and he went home, he had to come back later and get the things. I thought he was still mad at me for Sunday night but we talked and worked things out. I was glad, because I really like him and don’t want to lose him to something stupid. We have had some off moments but I can now credit a lot of it to the language barrier, I have learned. I will mention that more later.

Tuesday I was sicker so I didn’t do much. I watched a lot of movies in bed and chugged some water and tried to just chill so I could get better quicker.

Wednesday, I changed my tradition for the first time ever. I still felt too sick to dance, so I skipped my Salsa class. I’ve never skipped! And of course, Orlando told me later that they actually learned something new this week instead of the basics. Go figure. Either way, I was too sick and my friend Xavier was going to be in town that night and we hadn’t had a chance to hang out since I met him at Las Palmas a few weeks ago. So I decided to get dinner with him at A Lo Chapin (where Kevin works) because I hadn’t actually eaten there yet and because it was Mary’s last night (Mary is Kevin’s aunt who is from the States and she has to go back and forth to the states for work still) and I wanted to say bye to her. Xavier seems pretty cool. He knows 4 languages and is half-italian like me, but he grew up in Guatemala so his first language is Spanish. I’m jealous of his life. He owns businesses already and can pretty much travel wherever he wants whenever he wants!

He was going to join me after he regrouped some friends at Rainbow afterwards, but they never came back. But I got to see Rodrigo again who came to sing (and did awesome, as usual!) so that was nice to have someone to sit with. José is working so when no one else comes, I don’t have as much fun, because he can’t be expected to sit with me the whole time. And everyone knows I love to be surrounded by a group of friends.

Afterwards, José and I went back to A Lo Chapin (It’s literally right next to Rainbow, so that’s convenient) so I could spend more time with everyone there before Mary went back to the US. I felt uncomfortable having both crushes in the same room, especially since they know I like them both, but I was just trying to bring more people together because I love spending time in groups. I also thought Rodrigo and other people were going to join us, but they couldn’t. Everyone reassured me that they love everyone here and it’s perfectly acceptable to bring someone if that’s what I want to do. I still felt bad though. Maybe it’s all in my head.

Thursday was a pretty typical day during the day, but I just had an itch to be out of the house Thursday night. I really shouldn’t be going out this late when I’m sick, but I’ve skipped my project all week so I’ve been able to sleep in. I rarely like to be at home anymore, I don’t know why. I guess I’m just sick of my room and there’s not really anywhere else to relax here since they don’t have a couch. So I figured I’d take my books and go read at A Lo Chapin since that’s the only cafe/restaurant where I know people (aside from Rainbow on Wednesday nights). I didn’t want to bug José because I get uncomfortable texting people constantly. I prefer to be chased and let them contact me if they want to hang out.

Orlando ended up showing up again so we all hung out again like Sunday night when the restaurant closed. I met another guy, who’s name has slipped my mind, who used to be the Salsa teacher for Máximo and gave the job to Orlando when he decided to start his own thing in Guatemala City. The two of them are going to be the teachers for this dance group I’m supposedly going to be a part of. (I missed the first practice though because these idiots kept me out til 3 AM again, but Orlando missed too. So I don’t feel bad).

So him, Orlando, Kevin, Byron (Kevin’s uncle) and I hung out again in the street. Again, it still hasn’t felt unsafe here like I hear in the rumors, but maybe that’s just because God watches over me. Unfortunately, pretty much everything is closed at that hour and I had to pee like a racehorse. Byron and the other guy had already left and Kevin and Orlando weren’t ready to go home yet and I have to wait for them so I can get a safe ride to my house (and honestly don’t think I would have been able to ride a motorcycle on a cobblestone street at that point. I’m not really sure why I waited so long to tell someone hahaha). So I got to have another new experience.

Everyone pees in the street here. It’s disgusting. I’ve seen it happening at least once every few days. I’m appalled. And then, I had to become one of them. I argued and argued and argued with Orlando and Kevin, but I gave in because I had to go so bad. Thank God I had toilet paper with me (I had brought it for blowing my nose!). Orlando told me he thought of a bathroom he could take me to and I got so excited and then when we started walking, he said it was the street. Nasty little jokester!! Anyways, he at least took me to a dark corner away from people and stood guard so I could have privacy which was sweet, but how un-lady like I felt doing that. I suppose it’s like camping, but it’s also not like camping because we are not in the fricken woods!

My bad guys. This post is full of too much information. Sorry my life is interesting.

I enjoyed my new experience, despite the feelings of being completely gross. I was relieved because then I could sit in peace and enjoy the rest of the night. We got onto a subject about beliefs in God and I always love to find out that my friends share similar beliefs.

And I got to have another new experience. Which is the whole reason I’m here for right? New experiences. New lessons. Conquer fears. Meet awesome people. Learn Spanish. Learn how to dance. Everything I wanted here is happening. God has blessed me infinitely.

Yesterday, I found myself really missing José. I missed him Thursday night, but he went out with some friends and I feel that’s better that way. It’s stupid to pass time with one person all the time, as I have learned in my past relationships, because then you tire of each other and then it gets sticky. So this was good! But I still missed him.

He said we could meet at 8:00 so we hung out when he got to Antigua. After last night, I am now sure more than ever that whatever conversations we had in Monterrico that made me question him were probably just the language barrier because I really can’t understand him all the time and I think I got some things twisted and said some things wrong as well. But I am now 100% certain that he is a great guy and trustworthy. He never ceases to take care of me when we hang out. Buys my food, tells me to wear my jacket if it’s raining, worries about me being out in the street at night, tells me we can do whatever I want to do, introduces me to his friends, gives money to homeless people, etc.

To top that all off, we went to my first “After Party” last night. Everything closes at 1:00 am here, but there are a few secret places that have after parties for people that want to stay out later. I had heard these were packed with drugs and drunk people so I was a little hesitant to go, but it ended up being perfectly fine. I mean, there were people drinking and smoking weed, but not everyone was and no one was a nut job so it was fun. And I wanted to spend more time with José and the streets were wet from the rain. So it was perfect! And here’s where I learned that I could 100% trust José from here on out….

I ran into two people from Máximo at the after party!! Two people that work there, I mean! Lori is my coordinator for my volunteer project and Collin is the guy that helped me get my phone working. How crazy? I never expected to run into them at an after party. Either way, I realized Lori was dancing with José’s friends when he went off to the bathroom and I thought “huh.. She knows his friends. Small world.” But then, when he came back from the bathroom, they greeted and she knows him too! So José is friends with some of the people at Máximo and now I have the liberty to ask whatever I want about him. I don’t need to ask them anything because I’ve felt this whole time he’s a good guy. I’ve just had doubts that have come up due to not being able to understand perfectly clear. But if he knows people at Máximo and I know Máximo tells me everything I need to know in order to be safe and they like him? Then I know I was right about him. In which case, I now trust him 100% and more than anyone else here so far and can chalk anything weird that I’ve thought he’s said up to the language barrier.

What a great night. <3 Sorry this post doesn’t have any photos. Hopefully I’ll be exploring Antigua this weekend or taking the food photos for Byron’s restaurant and can put those up in my next post!

Que Rico Monterrico

Monterrico. Monterrico. What can I say about Monterrico?

Well, obviously, I went to Monterrico with José. As I said in my last post, we were going to talk later that day to work things out and he still wanted to go to the beach and so did I and all was settled, so away we went. We spent the majority of Friday night hanging out at a rooftop restaurant watching music videos and lightning. Antigua is so pretty at night when there is lightning.

Anyways, Saturday morning at 8 AM, we left for the beach! This ride was SOOOOOOOOO much better than the rides to Pacaya and Atitlán. There were no crazy curvy roads so I never got carsick. Just a lovely normal road trip with my BFF. When we arrived, we put our stuff in the hotel room and headed to the beach. Holy balls was it hot in Monterrico. I thought Antigua could get hot during the day. No. Monterrico was hot the whole day and WAY worse than Antigua.

We tried to lay on the beach for a bit, but the wind picked up and kept throwing sand in my face. A large wave also decided to reach all the way to where we were sitting and drench my towel. So we decided to return to the hotel and swim in the nice clean sand-less pool. I never actually ended up swimming at the beach there. The waves were GINORMOUS. I didn’t feel like getting my eyes full of salt water.

The beach at Monterrico

The beach at Monterrico

For the most part, I don’t have much to say about this beach. We did beach-like things, I suppose. Basked in the sun. Hung out in a restaurant and ate food. Went to a dance club Saturday night, but it wasn’t my cup of tea, per se. I love going dancing, but I am so obsessed with salsa and other forms of dance here because I can’t get them in my country. But this club was just playing a lot of stuff that’s hard to dance to except in the usual US white girl dance type of way. I still enjoyed myself however, as I always enjoy spending time with José. I really like him.

Mi chico guapito :P

Mi chico guapito :P

Oh!! We saw baby turtles get released. I forgot about that. They were so tiny and cute and they held a race to see which one crossed the line first. It was too precious. There was one turtle that kept turning in circles and never got anywhere without someone picking it up haha. Pobresito.

How cute is that?? I've never seen a black turtle before!

How cute is that?? I’ve never seen a black turtle before!

Race for the win!

Race for the win!

Monterrico was different than any other beach I’ve ever been to. Even in Costa Rica. I’ve seen black sand before. That’s not what I’m referring to. I guess it was different because in Costa Rica, we went to a resort on the beach so it still felt fancy. But Monterrico felt so poor and run down and in the middle of god knows where. Not that that’s a bad thing. It was just different. It was an interesting experience to see a beach town so different than anything I’ve ever seen.

the beach town of Monterrico

the beach town of Monterrico

Not even a paved road in site!

Not even a paved road in site!

Sunday, I woke up to a horrible sore throat. Three cheers for being sick for the bagillionth time! I’m so good at getting sick here. Whether it’s the climate, the food, or maybe people are just less hygienic… I don’t know. But I’d say I win the award for being sick all the time.

We mostly just chilled out that day since I wasn’t feeling good. We left to return to Antigua at 4:00 that day. So the beach was fun, of course, because I was with my dearest boy. I got more tan. I experienced a new place. I got away from Antigua for a weekend so I could miss it a little. All was well.

When we got back to Antigua, I was really tired but I needed to get some things for the week at the Bodegona and I needed to eat dinner so I obviously invited José to join me since he is my favorite person to spend time with here. We decided to eat at the Sala because my friend Kevin had invited me there to come dancing. Kevin is the guy I met a few weeks ago in my salsa class that I didn’t hear from until Orlando invited me out last Thursday. But now we’ve hung out a few times and he invited me to be in this dance group he’s in because they’re looking for a new girl and said if he knew a girl that wants to learn how to dance, she can come be part of the group! AND I GOT INVITED! BAILE BAILE BAILE! Can’t wait to get started. Anyways, I had turned him down last night since I was tired, but since we needed to eat dinner, we decided to go to the Sala anyways. Once I got there and heard the Salsa music however, I was given a burst of energy. Oh, my happy feet.

Poor José was too tired to dance, but I wanted to dance so badly. He danced with me a few songs, but we decided to leave around 10:30 since Kevin still hadn’t shown up. As we left, there was Orlando and the two people from the restaurant last week. I’ve forgotten their names already. I need to learn them. I was sad to be leaving since some friends had just arrived, but since I didn’t see Kevin, we kept walking. Then I got a text from Kevin saying he had just arrived. Poor sweet José wanted to walk me home but I wanted to dance so he said we could go back and see my other friends.

So back we went. I danced with Kevin for quite a while as José so sweetly and patiently waited for me, but I urged him to leave since I felt like staying and dancing and he was tired. Eventually he gave up and left, but I feel like he was mad that I didn’t want to walk with him. Of course I wanted to walk with him, but I wanted to dance too. The guys are so possessive here. It’s a little hard to get used to since I’m more of a free spirit. And most of my friends at home are guys so I’m used to having a lot of guy friends… Here is different though. I’m pretty sure at this point that all my guy friends are just my secret admirers. This is what I was talking about earlier when I said I’ve finally experienced the guatemalteco drama. I just love my friends. That’s how I am. The culture doesn’t understand as much here because they seem to think if you spend time with them that you like them. But I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

Anyways, so I felt bad for José but what could I do? I love José to death and if I had to choose between people, I’d pick hanging out with him, but in reality my ideal choice would be to hang out with all of my friends in a group at once. But that’s just not the culture here.

The closest I’ve found to that is Kevin and his aunt and uncle and Orlando. They’re a funny group of friends. Both times I’ve encountered them, they’ve been hanging out in a group. I LIKE GROUP HANG OUTS. I was going to go home at 1:00 AM when La Sala closed because I was obviously even more tired and sick and we’ve been told not to stay out super late here, but..

I decided to have my first after 1:00 AM Antigua experience. I stayed and hung out with Kevin and his aunt and uncle and Orlando and nothing bad happened. Didn’t feel any different than staying out late any where else in the world. Didn’t feel dangerous. We went to a place in the market that had some street food, but I was still chicken to try it. It was absolutely freezing at that time of night riding around in shorts and a tank top, so go me for being smart. Now I’m sick once again, but no importa. I’m still happy. And that’s what matters.

This is my friend Kevin! He's a sweetheart!

This is my friend Kevin! He’s a sweetheart!

I had a great time last night and I’m so excited to finally be having people to hang out with. It was an interesting weekend to say the least, but that’s about as much as I can explain without going into great detail.

What I can say is… And what I like to reiterate on my blog over and over and over… Don’t listen to everything you hear and don’t let people scare you into thinking something is awful. Nothing bad has happened after dark that I have seen here, even staying out til 3:00 am. Yet, you hear stuff about it all the time. Why? Because the news is always negative. They don’t mention all the good stuff that happens. Don’t want to do something because someone died once? Then you’re not really living!

Today I woke up late and just ran some errands and did some homework. Kevin wanted to meet up again for coffee at 3:00, but I wasn’t really hungry or thirsty and only had an hour to kill before my class. So we ended up going on a motorcycle adventure!! He took me to another city called Ciudad Vieja and one other, of which I forgot the name. It was such a beautiful ride! I need to bring my camera if we go again because I definitely wanted to stop and take some photos. Holy crap, I love riding on motorcycles! You can take in so much more of the view!

And of course, who wears a helmet in Guatemala? 😉

Living on the edge, kiddos. Living on the edge.

And I couldn’t be more grateful for my life right now. Drama or no drama, sickness or no sickness, nothing’s going to bring me down!!

Mi Vida Loca

Just when you think your life is getting into a routine and starting to feel boring… You have a week like this one!

As usual, I am just going to write in chronological order, but as you will see… I’m definitely having quite the adventure here.

Friday was a great day. I had ANOTHER private class (I just can’t get over how lucky I am to keep having private classes when I only paid for group ones. Keep it coming, Máximo!) because Ayesha didn’t show up. I told Willy I couldn’t find books at the Bodegona for me to read to practice my Spanish so for the second half of the class, he accompanied me to the Bodegona and picked out books for me to read. We passed some coffee mugs on our way out and he just fell in love with this one mug so I had to just buy it for him. He deserves a gift. What a blessing it has been to have him as a teacher. He puts up with all my shit. You will see more later.

This is my dear sweet Willy. Best teacher ever. Although not the best picture of us. Oh well.

This is my dear sweet Willy. Best teacher ever. Although not the best picture of us. Oh well.

Friday night, José and I didn’t end up dancing because Las Palmas looked rather empty. Kenny was playing at a place called Café No Se so we decided to go and listen to him play some music. It was alright. I much prefer Rainbow. I didn’t like the environment as much as this place, much darker and more like a dive bar instead of a happy chill hang out place. But Kenny played well as usual. Afterwards, José politely walked me home, as usual. I actually think that I prefer just walking sometimes. I can understand things better. It’s hard enough to hear English in a bar, let alone Spanish. But José is very patient with my poor Spanish speaking abilities and I am very grateful for that. He told me he only knows like 10% of English and I honestly didn’t believe him, but after hanging out, I actually think he doesn’t know much English. This makes me feel happy because that means I’m actually talking to a legitimate Spanish speaker and am able to communicate enough to have fun together!

Kenny just switches to English when I can’t understand. That can be frustrating. He likes messing with me though. Our friendship consists of sticking our tongues out at each other when I come to listen to him play guitar. Never have we hung out outside of that so whatever. But I apparently adopted the name “Shuca” which means dirty. Which I am not in any way. But that is men for you. (Sorry guys, you know it’s true). He also was messing with me because me and José walked in the rain to get there and he said “How romanticcccccc!” Oh boy. I hate it and I love it all at the same time. Teasing friends is the best.

Saturday I was going to go swimming with José, but it ended up raining. My morning was rather boring, but I got to meet my tandem partner for lunch with her mom. We went shopping afterwards to find some new shoes for me because none of mine are comfortable enough to dance well in and I REALLY WANT TO DANCE!

After that, José and I met up again and just café hopped. He looked at all my photography and we visited like 3 cafes before eating dinner at Mono Loco. Then after dinner, we finally went dancing at Las Palmas! Oh how I love dancing and oh how I need ALOT of practice. My stomach was hurting a bit so I couldn’t handle too many twirls, but I loved it all the same. He was a blast to hang out with. He saved leftovers to give to a homeless person after dinner and he took me around more blocks when I didn’t feel like walking straight home. He was so sweet to hang out with someone for that long that can’t speak or dance very well. 5pm-1am!

Sunday is when my week started going on a roller coaster. I was really bored and started getting into my depressed state and then more things happened that made it spiral faster. I think I was just bored and lonely because our house is empty and I learned it’s going to be for quite a bit of time now. It’s hard to go out alone and I can’t go out alone at night at all because it’s dangerous to walk alone so I need friends to go with.

What made Sunday worse was that I thought José had said we could hang out again (but I possibly twisted something in translation) after he went to a baby shower. Rodrigo ended up texting me to invite me to go swimming with him and a friend, but when they arrived in Antigua, it began to rain. I invited José to join us, but never got a text back. We ended up just walking around and hanging out and talking, ending up lastly in Café Portal. Rodrigo seems to be super nice and he’s definitely very intelligent. Degree in law, studying international relations, and he teaches English here with a perfect accent even though he’s from Guatemala. But he lives in the city so he’s not someone I can just hang out with at any old time.

I was really excited to go swimming so when that fell through, I got sad. I was also sad no one I invited came to join us, but thankful that I at least had Rodrigo and his friend to spend time with. But when I still didn’t hear anything from José, I started to get concerned. He usually is good about answering texts.

Monday, I still hadn’t heard from José and started getting more concerned. I was so worried about him that I couldn’t concentrate in my class. This is another moment where Willy wins the best teacher award. Ayesha actually came to class on Monday, but she had just had 2 make-up hours of Spanish right before and was having trouble concentrating as well. She also wanted some books in Spanish after hearing he took me to the Bodegona. So, Willy closed his books and basically said “Fine then. Let’s just go walk around.” So off we went….

WELL.. Mr. Mentiroso who has been lying to us this whole time about speaking English got caught red-handed. Ayesha and I went down the stairs to meet Willy to go out walking and saw someone talking to him in English. This is the second time I’ve encountered someone talking in English to him so I said to Ayesha “I think he CAN speak English!” And she said “Yeah, I asked the office if the teachers here really can’t speak any English and they told me ‘Yeah, the only teacher that knows English is WILLY!'” AHHH! This was followed by a day full of teasing because I KNEW Willy could speak English and then I knew for sure that day. So I proceeded to continuously call him a mentiroso. Mentiroso means liar in Spanish (but isn’t is so much more fun to say? I’m going to end up calling everyone liars here just because I love the word!)

After the Bodegona, he took us to walk around in the park and we were all still laughing at finding out he speaks English. Once we found out, obviously, we had much more questions in English and this time he couldn’t just answer “I don’t speak English” so we’d bother him til he’d tell us in English and then started calling us his monsters because we’re so awful for making him break the rules (Máximo has a rule that no English should be spoken in Spanish classes. It’s actually been amazingly helpful, but sometimes it’s really a pain to use the dictionary instead of just ask “how do you say ________?”)

I wanted that class to last forever because it was at least somewhat getting my mind off José. I still didn’t hear from him that night so I texted Kenny because Kenny knows him a little bit. Kenny finally answered and said he saw him working that day. That gave me a bit of relief, but then my crazy mind decided to think “well… then why isn’t he answering me? Did I do something wrong?” and I stayed sad and worried. Since he had been pretty much the only person to spend real time with me and I’d had so much fun, I was so afraid I’d already gone and lost my best friend here.

In addition, Sherea, the last roommate here, decided to leave early. So Monday was her last day and now there is no one else here. I don’t want to speak English, but it’s nice to at least have some people to come home to or to hang out with if I can’t hang out with a Spanish speaker. It made me feel very lonely, especially since I was still not sure what happened with José. This all has made me very thankful that my first month here was so full of love and life. I think if it had started out the way it felt Sunday and Monday, I would have left early. But because of that, now, even with these trials, I still don’t want to leave!

Tuesday, I finally got some relief. I met with my tandem partner for quite a while to practice Spanish and at the end she asked me to download an app on my phone called “Whatsapp” which is an app where you can send messages for free as long as there is internet (unfortunately, my internet never functions anymore and I can’t figure out why. Only works with wireless, not data). Well, apparently you can see when people are online on whatsapp and ironically, I saw José! If you have someone’s phone number, it automatically puts them in whatsapp for you. To my great relief, I sent him a message and FINALLY got a response. He said that his balance had run out on his phone and that’s why he hadn’t been answering. I don’t know why it takes 3 days to refill your phone, but that’s what happened.

When my class finished at 6:00, I had a text saying he was outside my house waiting to see me so I could know he was okay. He even had to be at work by 6:30. How sweet is that? I am kind of loving the fact that you can walk everywhere so easily in this town. He invited me to eat with him, but that’s impossible in 30 minutes, so I told him he needed to go to work.

Is that enough drama for one week?

Oh, sorry, I’m only at Tuesday.

Wednesday, I went to my project and found out that three of the girls escaped and ran away. They said they would have expected two of them to run, but not the other. I was in agreement because the one girl, Aracely, always seems so happy. She was one of the two girls in my English class. This was extremely sad news and I hope that God is watching over them.

After, of course, I came back to start my regular Wednesday routine. Get pretty, go to class, go to salsa, go to Rainbow. I had ANOTHER private class because Ayesha had been throwing up so she didn’t come obviously. I made Willy speak in English so I could hear what he sounded like and he actually knows quite a bit of English. He still has an accent and I think he’s embarrassed about it, but I think it’s adorable. He’s even funnier to me now that I know he speaks English.

Salsa is really starting to get boring because I’ve been here long enough to know the basics. But since the new people don’t know, we end up doing a lot of the same steps all class and I end up with guys who can’t dance and I end up not learning anything. But of course, I always like to go anyways to see mi vida! Hahaha. How did I get so lucky on this trip? I have the best Spanish teacher.. the best Salsa teacher.. the best Tutor.. I love everybody!

Rainbow was also a lot more lonely than usual because I don’t have anyone to bring with me anymore. José and Kenny are both busy working so I don’t get to talk to them much. Lily, my tandem partner, was going to come, but ended up not being able to. But I still enjoy hearing the music and being out so I still go. José and I and his best friend, Francisco went out afterwards because I wanted to dance. Unfortunately, there aren’t really any Salsa clubs on Wednesday nights so we ended up in some bar with too much American music. But I still had fun. Everything is fun as long as it is being shared with other people. Francisco seems nice too. More friends for Lizzie!

Ok. So… I thought my friend died Monday, then I thought he was mad at me, then the three girls from my project escaped Wednesday.. Now is that enough drama??

Sorry, still not done.

Thursday could probably be classified as my most interesting day this week. It started out as a normal day…

I woke up, got bored, went to see Diego. Diego is the free tutor at Máximo who is there to help us when we get stuck in class. I’m not stuck too often so I sometimes just go see him to hang out. He’s fun to talk to too and is also awesome just like Willy. Both Willy and Diego have been like guidance counselors this week with all the drama going on. It’s been an adventure and I’m grateful I have them to talk to and hash out my problems with (in Spanish, of course!). I didn’t have problems as of Thursday morning so we ended up talking about my photography and I got to teach him a little bit about how to use Manual mode on a camera.

Diego and I. Best Tutor ever! Again with a horrible photo, however..

Diego and I. Best Tutor ever! Again with a horrible photo, however..

The afternoon was when everything changed back to cray-cray. I was supposed to meet Juan Andrés in the park at 2:00. I think I mentioned him before a few weeks ago when he invited me to come listen to him play at Café Estudio. Either way, I finally saw him again Wednesday night and go to apologize for not coming to watch him play since I was sick. But then he invited me to meet him in the park yesterday and said he doesn’t have a phone. This is why EVERYONE should have a phone. Because I actually did want to go hang out with him because we all know I love having friends… But….

As I arrived in the park, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was Aracely! One of the girls that ran away from the volunteer project! Thinking she’d surely be glad to see me, I smiled and started approaching. As soon as she recognized me, she bolted. I thought for a split second whether I should chase her or not and decided to give it a try.

I’m out of shape. That’s for sure. Funny enough, Francisco happened to be passing by and saw me looking like a crazy person running down the street in flip flops and a skirt with a purse. I’m sure I looked rather gringa that day. Well, he thought she robbed me so quickly came to my aid to help chase her. Unfortunately, we lost her, but since he had been on his way to the park, we returned together. And then….

THERE SHE WAS AGAIN! We still couldn’t catch her before she saw us and took off again. This time, we figured we would just let her go. It’s not in my control, but I felt awful for not being able to help at all. I was only 10 minutes late, but I never saw Juan Andrés and Francisco waited with me for 30 minutes. We then decided to just grab a coffee together and I spent time with Francisco instead. I was grateful to run into him so I wouldn’t be depressed and go home sad and bored for not running into Juan Andrés.

I invited José to join us, but he couldn’t so Francisco started bugging him and I found out José has a girlfriend. Or at least, that’s what Francisco said. So I got mad at José because he had invited me to the beach this weekend and I felt that was so inappropriate if he has a girlfriend. Then he said we weren’t going anymore and everything got confusing. I thought I’d somehow made him mad, but I was the one who felt lied to. I don’t want to be THAT girl. So then started drama amongst my new friends. What? I make friends with boys usually more than girls because there’s less drama. But not here! Finally starting to understand the culture of men here. They don’t seem to like to share, even though I really just want to be FRIENDS. I guess they don’t share female FRIENDS either. Dios me ayuda.

So poor Willy had to listen to all my drama again and again I couldn’t concentrate so he ever-so-wonderfully let us have another class of walking about and just chatting. Ironically, I saw José in the park with all his friends and since I thought we were fighting, it was awkward to say hello. I just have the worst luck with that park I guess! Hahaha.

Anyways, Francisco invited me to come out that night so I thought that would be fun. I came home after class to eat dinner and get ready when I received 3 missed calls and a text from my Salsa teacher! I never expected to be hanging out with him, but I was quite okay with this. Except for the fact that his facebook says he has a girlfriend and again I feel it’s inappropriate to call someone else “mi vida” & “mi amor” when you’re with someone else, but he proceeded to explain later. He got my number from Kevin who I hadn’t heard from since I gave him my number last week. And he wanted me to come hang out so I figured Francisco and I would just go there so that’s what we did.

And Francisco arrived on a motorcycle. First motorcycle ride EVER! Way too much fun. I loved it!

Orlando told me when I arrived that he does not have a girlfriend and he just hasn’t changed his facebook status yet. Apparently she went back with her ex. Oh the drama here. I am still not sure who to believe anymore since José told me he didn’t have a girlfriend and Francisco said he did and José told me Francisco had a girlfriend and Francisco told me he didn’t and Facebook told me Orlando had a girlfriend and Orlando told me he didn’t. These games. I cannot handle it. I am not even looking for a boyfriend, I just don’t want someone to flirt with me that has a girlfriend. It’s not cool. So who knows if Orlando is telling the truth, but for the moment, I’ll allow the “mi vida” comments to slide. Cuz I love being called that. hahaha. I’m totally going to adopt these terms of endearment here. Ay mi vida loca. (Funny because this can mean my crazy life or my crazy salsa teacher. And I find that hilarious. Because I’m strange. Leave me alone. Haha)

Mi vida. I assure you, I just fail at taking pictures this week. He is much more adorable in person. (And obviously, so am I. Gross!)

Mi vida. I assure you, I just fail at taking pictures this week. He is much more adorable in person. (And obviously, so am I. Gross!)

You come try being called “mi vida” or “mi amor” by someone with a Spanish accent. EESh. I didn’t think I’d find anyone attractive here when I arrived, but I must be growing accustomed to their looks because I now find all my friends attractive. In case they read this blog, THAT DOESN’T MEAN I WANT ANYTHING. Just so we’re clear.

The owner of the restaurant we were at, however, wants me to take photos of the food for their menu! Food photography is the hardest ever, especially without studio equipment, but I’m sure going to try because that would be awesome to help someone out with their menu. What an interesting chain of events. If I hadn’t asked José to take me dancing after Rainbow Wednesday night, I wouldn’t have met Francisco. If Juan Andrés hadn’t invited me to the park, I wouldn’t have gone to the park. If Aracely hadn’t run away from Rosa’s, I wouldn’t have gone running after her in the park. If I hadn’t gone running, I wouldn’t have encountered Francisco and if I hadn’t met him the other night, he wouldn’t have helped me. If he hadn’t helped me, we wouldn’t have hung out and if we hadn’t hung out, we wouldn’t have made plans for last night and if we hadn’t made plans for last night, I probably would have been too chicken to walk by myself after dark to go meet Orlando and Kevin. And if I hadn’t given my number to Kevin, Orlando wouldn’t have been able to invite me out and if I hadn’t gone with Francisco to meet Orlando and Kevin, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to help these guys with their menu. What an interesting web life weaves.

Sigh. My friends. Despite the strangeness of this week, I just want to stuff them all in a suitcase and take them home. I’m way too forgiving of a person. But I think life is better this way. I’m supposed to see José soon so we can clarify all this whatever-the-hell-this-is. And perhaps if everything is well, I will still get to go to the beach! Fingers crossed.

And a perfect quote to go with this week: “Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending. May you live all the days of your life.” -Jonathan Swift

I’m most definitely living. And I’m loving every good and bad minute of it! Gracias a Dios!

And my apologies for the lengthy post and the lack of good photos. I will try to get better ones later and get some with my other friends I’ve been talking about! Abrazas y Besos!

Your place or mine, baby?

A great quote to start off a post- and how convenient that I encountered this lovely quote in my favorite place to hang out! :)

A great quote to start off a post- and how convenient that I encountered this lovely quote in my favorite place to hang out! :)

Well, here’s a good lesson everyone should know. Don’t believe everything you hear. Or likewise, don’t take everything people say to heart. I’ll get to my point later in this post.

Not much to update this week. I’m rather into a routine at this point and since I stuck around for the weekend to do some things on my computer and to rest my voice, I don’t have much new to say.

I have a new girl in my Spanish class now, but still there’s only 2 of us and that’s way better than 6. She’s super cool though and knows just the tiniest bit more than me to where it’s helpful rather than harmful. I wish she’d be staying longer than 2 weeks! But I won’t mind if I have more private classes. I really get the most out of those. But I never know when more people are going to be in my class or no.

Monday I skipped work because my voice and cough were still just too much to be returning to teaching, even though I took a vow of silence on Saturday and a lot of Sunday and hid from people so I wouldn’t talk too much. José invited me to go dance again, but I sadly had to turn it down AGAIN. I thought it was sweet of him to ask how I was doing though.

Tuesday was rather uneventful, aside from a special house guest. I got to meet with my tandem partner for double time in the morning and she helped me find some headbands so I could cover my nasty greasy hair that hadn’t been washed in a week. I can officially say that I’ve gone a week without showering (Ok, ok. I KIND of showered Friday, but didn’t wash my hair. So it was a week of not washing my hair and 4.5 days without showering). Grossed out? Yeah. Well, come try to take an ice cold shower (yeah, the shower broke again) when you’re sick. Haha. Don’t worry, I showered Wednesday though. I used the family’s bathroom because that shower is working.

A little friend that came to visit us at the house Tuesday night

A little friend that came to visit us at the house Tuesday night

Of course, everyone should know by now what I did on Wednesday. My favorite day of the week here. Work, then a long shower, then get pretty, then go to class, then off to salsa with mi vida (I love that teacher more and more each week. He is my absolute favorite.) And then, as usual, off to Rainbow Café for open mic night. This week the class was really full again! How abnormal. Perhaps they are advertising better. There were enough guys again too! I could be okay with this. But it is still a bit boring learning the basics. We learned a new spin this week though so that’s exciting, but I still don’t quite understand it (unless I’m dancing with a pro, obviously). I made a new friend in Salsa class who’s name, I think, is Kevin (but he’s still a Guatemalteco) who said we should go dancing one night.

Hell yeah, we should go dancing. I’m going to be a pro when I come home as long as my health sustains enough to go out more often! Now I have José and Kevin AND mi vida (my teacher haha) to go dancing with.

In Rainbow, I finally got Kenny’s number now too. More amigos for me! I also met a guy named Rodrigo who sang AMAZINGLY and we exchanged numbers as well. I’m on a roll for making local friends this week! I won’t lie, it’s kind of fun being the person who knows the most Spanish in my house. I know now how Madison must have felt before. I feel important and special and everyone always seems so impressed, even though I know how little Spanish I really know. The girls from my house were at Rainbow with me, but I’ve been making an effort to talk more to locals. I still talk to them, but the real fun part was this: they were all thinking how great this guy sings and how cute he is and since we sat near the stage, I just called him over to tell him he had a nice voice and voila, now we’re friends. He has a perfect English accent and I actually thought he was a traveler since I hadn’t seen him before, but he’s actually Guatemalan. He just teaches English so that’s why his accent is so good. I wish I could keep this outgoing and confident side in real life. There’s just something about travel….

“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” -William Lewis Trogdon

It’s true. It’s somehow easier to let loose and become your true self while you are traveling because it’s almost like getting a clean slate. I am on a mission to figure out how to be this way in real life too. Madison, I know, experienced this when she was here as well, as we talked about this, and I understood her completely. It’s some different attitude you seem to naturally adopt when you travel for a long enough time. I love my outgoing self and obviously so do other people or I wouldn’t be making new friends. I’m working on keeping this back at home too. There shouldn’t be anything different to be afraid of! Now I have 4 local people to hang out with and I hope we start hanging out soon. Since my voice is better enough to at least chat (but still can’t sing) and my cough has reduced to only at night time, I will be going out with José to dance tonight! This will be my first official hang out with a Guatemalteco in somewhere other than Rainbow Café! Excitement!

Kenny invited me to the fair last night for the Día de la Asunción de la Virgen which is a special day in Guatemala City and Jocotenango, but he didn’t call til 10:30 so I unfortunately had to turn that down because I had to work this morning. One of these days, I’m going to be able to survive on 5 hours of sleep. I hate missing out on things because my immune system sucks at life. I’m sure we’ll have another opportunity to hang out, but how fun would a fair in another town have been? Bah.

But at least I got to have another private lesson in Spanish yesterday because the girl went to Pacaya for the day. I got to show Willy all my photography from last semester and learned a bunch of new words about photography that I am probably going to forget rather quickly haha. There’s so much to absorb vocabulary-wise; I just can’t keep up!

Ahora, voy a mostrar cuanto español yo he aprendido. He aprendido mucho en solo cinco semanas. He aprendido casi todos los diferentes conjugaciones del verbos y si tengo tiempo para pensar, puedo entender mucha gente si hablan despacio. A veces, puedo entender cuando algunas personas hablan rápida. ¡Es loco! Nunca he pensado que podría hablar tanto español. Todavía tengo mucho para aprender. A veces me equivoco mucho y es posible que me equivoqué aquí en este párafo, pero solo usé el diccionario dos veces y no usé Google Translate nada. Tu puedes usar Google Translate para traducir este párafo, pero a veces Google Translate está equivocada con la traducción. Es posible me equivoqué la ortografía o accentos o posible usé la palabra incorrecta, pero estoy orgullosa de cuanto español ya he aprendido. Un chico en el mercado me dijó que mi español es muy bien cuando fui a comprar una película para mirar en español. Rodrigo, José, y mi intercambio Lilly me dijeron que mi español es muy bien también. ¡Que dulce! Creo que es porque mi pronunciacion esta bien, pero es un cumplido muy simpático para mi. A mi, me gusta mucho español, pero a veces prefiero mi cultura y idioma porque es muy diferente aquí. Tengo miedo de decir algo incorrecto y doy un mala impresión a alguien.

In case you are too lazy to use Google or if Google messes up…. This is what I meant to say:

Now, I am going to show you how much Spanish I have learned. I have learned a lot in only 5 weeks. I have learned almost all the different conjugations of verbs and if I have time to think, I can understand many people if they speak slowly. Sometimes, I can understand when some people speak fast. It’s crazy! Never have I thought I would be able to speak this much Spanish. I still have a lot to learn. Sometimes I mess up a lot and it is possible that I messed up in this paragraph, but I only used the dictionary two times and I didn’t use Google Translate at all. You can use Google Translate to translate this paragraph, but sometimes Google Translate is wrong with the translation. It’s possible that I messed up the spelling or accents or possibly used the incorrect word, but I am proud of how much Spanish I have already learned. A guy in the market told me that my Spanish is very good when I went to buy a movie to watch in Spanish. Rodrigo, José, and my tandem partner Lilly told me that my Spanish is good as well. How sweet! I think it’s because I pronounce pretty well, but it is a very nice compliment for me. I like Spanish a lot, but sometimes I prefer my culture and language because it is very different here. I am afraid to say something incorrect and give someone a bad impression.

(If there’s someone out there that does speak Spanish better than me, you are welcome to send me a message and correct my errors. I appreciate being corrected, as I don’t want to speak improperly for the rest of my life.)

Why am I afraid? Well, their culture is different. As you’ve seen in other posts, the expressions we use don’t translate the same in Spanish. Also, since I really don’t know that much Spanish, I can easily misinterpret or say something wrong. Here I will get back to the point of my first paragraph. Isolina is a bit overprotective of us and since I take things so literally, I really take it seriously when she tells me to be careful how I talk to boys etc. etc. But, as I have asked many people and experienced a few things and talked to my tutor, I have found that it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Just trust your gut, as you would in the States. You just have to be a little extra careful since your gut can’t understand the language all the time. But, people mess with each other here just like in the States and I’m not going to get raped just because I teased or smiled at some guy. Therefore, don’t believe everything you hear or read. It’s generally going to be an exaggerated version of the truth.

My story to go along with this? It’s rather funny. My gut has told me the whole time that José is a gentleman and wouldn’t think of hurting me in any way. For this, I have not had any concern about the thought of going out dancing with him. I even asked if he could walk me back from Rainbow the other night because it’s not safe to walk alone and my housemates left early. Before I could even finish explaining, he said “con mucho gusto” (with much pleasure). He brought me mints last week when I was sick and has texted to see how I’m doing and hasn’t given up (like some guys do that just want something from you) on hanging out with all the times I’ve had to say no (since I’ve been sick).

However, this all changed for a split second yesterday when my Spanish translating skills (and his lack of punctuation and good grammar) confused me. He sent me a text about going out to dance last night or tonight and at the end, wrote “Quieres salir conmigo esta noche puedo recojerte y dejarte despues en casa quieres ;)” How did that translate to me? “Do you want to go out with me tonight? I can pick you up and bring you back to whatever house you want. ;)” In America, I’m pretty sure that equates to “Your place or mine?” in a half-joke to try to have sex with someone.

I thought, “Oh shit. That’s not what I wanted when I gave out my number or asked you to walk me home!” Ah, but I am not finished. Because I thought I understood, I quickly proceeded to send a message explaining that I’m still learning Spanish and sometimes I mess up and say things improperly and I just want him to know that I am only looking to make friends and go dancing, nothing more. But because I was still confused, I decided to push aside the embarrassment and tell Isolina what he sent me. Isolina proceeded to say that his grammar is bad and the message is punctuated improperly and he meant to say “Do you want to go out with me tonight? I can pick you up and bring you back to your house. Do you want to?” Or “Do you want to go out with me tonight? I can pick you up and bring you back to your house if you want.” The wink face probably meaning he was messing with me about Wednesday night when I asked if he could walk me home.

Well, I’m sure you can imagine how silly I feel now and how embarrassed I was to send him a message explaining that I just want to be friends when he was never implying that he wanted to be anything more. Hahahaha.

Therefore, I am back to my original belief that he is a sweetheart and will be a good friend to me. And the moral of this story is, like I said at the beginning, don’t believe everything you hear. Because I have heard so much about guys here trying to get tourist girls to sleep with them, I quickly jump to conclusions even when I don’t fully understand what someone is saying to me. If I had not asked Isolina what he really meant to say, I could have thrown away a perfectly good friend in fear that he’d try to take me away and have his way with me.

And now, off to class, then to dance with my caballero. :)

(I love how I say I don’t have much to update, but my post ends up being a book anyways. My b.)

Just thought I'd share my lovely blue sky that I woke up to this morning

Just thought I’d share my lovely blue sky that I woke up to this morning

Te Quiero Robar

Another week over! Another week of adventures!

Before we dropped Madison at the airport last Sunday, I got to watch her dance Salsa with the guy across the street (Remember we live across from a salsa school? Chyeah. Mi vida es mejor que tuya.) and she was awesome! She only had taken 3 classes with him and was already getting flipped upside down. I can’t wait to start.

I had a bit of a cough last weekend and was hoping to go straight home to rest up for this week, but Isolina and Maynor had things to do while we were in Guate dropping off Madison and we didn’t get home until at least 10:30. I keep trying to establish catch up days to fix my blog gallery and plan my trips, but it has yet to happen. I don’t think I’ll be joining them to go to Guate again for a little while because it is unfortunately a bit boring when you don’t understand enough Spanish to participate in rapid conversation.

Me, Madison, and Geovana on the way to the airport

Me, Madison, and Geovana on the way to the airport

Fell asleep with a cookie in her hand and crumbs on her face! LOL

Fell asleep with a cookie in her hand and crumbs on her face! LOL

I most definitely did not get enough sleep that night, but I forced myself to go to work Monday because I knew how much they were excited to learn English and I did not want to let them down. My cough was rather off and on so I figured I would be fine to go to work and come home and rest and go to Spanish class. I was able to finish teaching my class, but I ended up going home early due to something ELSE. I’m just a mess, aren’t I? My stomach had a horrible pain about 15 minutes before the class ended and I felt a little woosy. I was able to finish the class, but I thought for sure I’d barf on the walk or chicken bus ride home. I had no idea what was going on. I made it home; I never threw up; I never had diarrhea like the first two weeks here, just horrible pain in my stomach. I couldn’t lay on my side. I skipped my class. It dyed down but would come back off and on throughout the day.

Because of this, I finally made the decision to just volunteer 3 days a week. I keep getting sick and feel obligated to help them, but then I miss out on the things I wanted to do in coming here (like learning Spanish). Also, since I’m mostly teaching the adults, they often have things to do in the morning so this way they have break days to get those things done and I have more time to study my Spanish. What a change this has been from my original plans to shower children with balloon animals. Go with the flow, my aunts always say.

Oh, by the way, Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning, I got to experience my first earthquake. Well, tremors. Whatever. THAT was interesting. I heard a truck tumbling down the street, but I knew from being here a month that the trucks never make anything happen to the house except maybe vibrate a little. It also lasted longer than when the truck passed and our whole house (except for obviously the locals) felt it. Put your house on top of a giant washing machine and you’ll pretty much get the same affect. I’m thankful we don’t have those in Georgia! Such a strange feeling to wake up to!

My stomach ache went away Tuesday and I never figured out what it was. I imagine it’s because I am eating so unhealthy here, but I don’t have much of a choice without buying my own groceries and cooking my own food. So, the fight to stay well continues. I could tell that I made a great decision to switch to 3 days a week when I got to sleep in on Tuesday. I just relaxed and studied my Spanish and sat up on the rooftop. Got a nice sunburn. Woops. First one yet! I’ve been on the roof before too. Not sure why I got burned this time instead of all the other times I’ve been out in the sun here. Not a bad one though. Now I’ll have a nice base to get toasty tan!

When I got to class Tuesday, I was bummed that I had been sick the day before because I was the only person in the class! WOOHOO! Private class for group class price! Yes please. When there’s no other volunteers at your level, you get your own class. I learn SO much more this way, but it’s twice as expensive if I were to pay to always have private classes.

One of the new girls that just arrived Sunday or so already left Wednesday! Chickened out! She came all the way from Australia too and was only going to be here for 2 weeks. I felt bad for her. I wish she had read my blog before deciding to go home, but no one even knew she had been thinking about it. I know how awful it can be to let your worries take over your mind. You miss out on so many great things when that happens. She was a mess when she arrived, crying over missing her boyfriend, but we chalked it up to being on 3 hours of sleep, considering she was 28 years old. But with the tremors on Tuesday and her low self-esteem in her ability to learn Spanish, along with finding out that she’d have to take 2 chicken buses to her job by herself, along with the warnings not to walk around alone at night by yourself, her fears swallowed her up and off she went. The new group is definitely much different than the first group. They’re all really sweet, but we almost rarely see each other or eat together or hang out as a whole. We’re down to just 3 other people besides me now, but the 40-something year old is usually too tired to do much after working or is more independent, and the others have a lot more friends in the volunteer house.

I think this is for the better though because now it is encouraging me to go make friends with locals, which I wanted to do from the beginning. I just loved my first group so much that it was hard not to hang out with them. We did almost everything together. I miss them, but now I will be able to better my Spanish quicker. As I thought, I have become the house translator. I obviously can’t translate as well as Madison at my level of Spanish, but it is helping me practice more and I can already tell I’m learning at a faster pace than before.

Wednesday, my cough still hovered over me. I wasn’t coughing up a storm all day, but it would come and go. Of course, did I let that stop me from having my traditional Wednesday? No way dude. My cough actually suppressed all day besides when I woke up, so I figured it would be fine to continue on to salsa night and Rainbow Cafe. Salsa was a little boring this week because we had a lot of new people and AJ and I were the only repeat offenders. AJ was a friend of Madison’s we’ve hung out with a few times now. Me and him practiced a little on the side while the others learned the basic basics, but we joined in once the line started moving. (We line up and every once in a while the girls move down the line to switch partners and make it fair). I was rather bored and I think the teacher could tell. For some reason though, everyone left like 15 minutes early. I finally made my way back around to the teacher (the fun one, Orlando, finally came back by the way) and got to dance with him for 30 minutes! We were mostly doing Bachatta at that point though. But I did get to do a flipty-flip salsa move. Definitely need more practice on that one.

Orlando cracks me the hell up. He is always goofing off and doing a bunch of different moves with the biggest smile on his face. Since I knew a little more Salsa this week than the others, I sometimes made a fool of myself back at him like a dance off and had a blast. When I got around to him in the line, he was calling me “mi vida” (this literally means my life, but they use it as an endearing term like my love or my sweetheart) and telling me (in Spanish- yes I can understand a bit now) “Oh, I’ve been waiting for you all night. Where have you been all my life?” hahaha. He’s such a drama queen and I love every minute of it. I really enjoyed getting 30 minutes of straight teacher time, even though most of it was just goofing off. We took a picture on his phone too and I should have had him send it to me, but maybe I’ll get it next week. He invited me to a bar he works at where he sometimes teaches more Salsa, but unfortunately I’ve been too sick to go out since Wednesday. Today I am taking a vow of silence to heal my cough and voice.

At Rainbow, since the girls in my house brought a big group of people, I didn’t feel obligated to entertain and was able to talk to my acquaintances that work there. José is the guy that takes down names for people who want to participate in open mic night. I got a chance to talk to him for quite a while (all in Spanish. So proud of myselfff) and we exchanged numbers by the end of the night. He seems so sweet. My cough came back with a vengeance after I ate and I went to the front to ask where the nearest pharmacy was for cough drops because I knew I couldn’t stay at Rainbow without them. José gave me some strong mint candies they hand out after dinner so I didn’t have to leave or walk somewhere alone. And he brought them to me the rest of the night. So precious! I gave Kenny my number too, but haven’t heard from him yet. I just got to meet Juan Andrés, the other guitarist, so no numbers with him yet, but he invited me to come to a cafe Thursday afternoon where he was playing and then back to Rainbow Thursday night because he plays there again too.

I’m loving how quickly people pick up on my personality though. I barely know these guys and Kenny was laughing at me because I was wearing my shirt that has a sunshine smiley face with heart sunglasses that says “Hello Sunshine” and he was saying how perfect that shirt is for me. What? How does he know this already? Am I that transparent? I mean I’ve been a little goofy sometimes at Rainbow, but still. Either way, I like it when people see the happy side of me.

I lost my voice by the end of the night with all the chatting and coughing and it was still gone the next day. Since I had the day off besides class and tandem, I thought I would get to rest it, but nope. I got to skype with my Becki Lorraine and then I had a tandem meeting and then class (private again so lots of talking!) so no resting my voice for me. My tandem partner and I stopped by the cafe where Juan said he was playing that afternoon, but he was not there yet and the barista said he never even told him if he was coming or not! Haha. Oh well. I tried. I didn’t get to go to Rainbow because I knew I needed to rest my voice this time. Next week, maybe I’ll be finally hanging out with people outside of at Rainbow Cafe Wednesday nights.

Of course, skipping Rainbow Thursday night didn’t do much because I ended up talking to Isolina a lot at dinner. I just love talking. Losing my voice and having a cough sucks. I’ve been so sick this trip. About as often as my first year in college. I’ve had diarrhea, constipation, zero energy, a fever, strange stomach aches, a cough, and I’ve lost my voice all in a month’s time and have probably had maybe one week of being normal-ish. Still the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m thankful I haven’t thrown up. I’m thankful that I can usually talk. I’m thankful I can walk and hear and see. For the first time in my life, being sick hasn’t gotten the best of me. Yeah, it has sucked because there is a lot I’d like to do that it is crippling me from doing, but in general I am still so happy here.

José invited me to go Salsa dancing with him last night at Las Palmas. That was my first text from a local! My first new friend. :) Yay new friends! I couldn’t go, obviously, and I was super bummed out about that, but I am so excited to be making some local friends. I hope I heal up soon so I can actually go do these things, but for the first time in my life, I am still at least happy in spite of being sick. I pray I finally heal up in every form soon so I can begin planning my trips to other countries, because time is absolutely flying by and I’m starting to wonder when I’ll have time to go. I thought I would be glad if time flew by when I was afraid of coming here, but now I really don’t want time to fly because it makes me sad to think about leaving. I’m getting ready to plan some trips to other countries soon, but I almost don’t want to even go because I’m falling in love with the people here. Travel is always about the people. I’m learning this the more places I see and the more things I do and the more people I meet. The thing that lasts the longest and makes the strongest impression is always the people. Like my travel journal says:

“Though I have seen the oceans and mountains, though I have read great books and seen great works of art… there is nothing greater or more beautiful than those people I love.” -Christopher De Vinck

I’ve already fallen for so many people here. I love my family. I loved my first group of volunteers. I love my Spanish teacher and my salsa teacher. I just want to put everyone in my pocket and take them home. Everyone is so precious here! Maybe it’s because they’re so little, but I just love them and want to eat them up. I decided to ask my Spanish teacher yesterday if there was a phrase in Spanish that equals our “Ohhh he’s so cute, I just want to put him in my pocket.” After long explanation of what this phrase means, my teacher came to the conclusion that it’s roughly the same as “Te quiero robar” (That thing that the guy said to me at the bus station last week). Except it’s more common here if a guy says it about a girl or someone says it about a child vs. a girl saying it about a guy like our “pockets” phrase. But now that I’ve heard a third local explanation of “te quiero robar,” I know for sure that guy at the bus station just thought I was cute and wasn’t being rude or sexual at all. That’s good to know.

In conclusion, I come bearing great news. Jesus has risen! Okay just kidding. Not THAT good of news. But, I had been waiting and waiting to hear from another department of Máximo about being able to receive money back for the times I will be traveling to other countries here if I chose to do that. I had been angry all week because I heard I can’t get money back, but maybe could get credit. I finally heard I could get credit, but only use it towards volunteering or housing in Guatemala which upset me because that’s basically the same as not getting anything back since my plane ticket home is already booked. I decided to email back an upset, but polite, email and yesterday found out that they changed their mind. I can now can get credit for the time I am not here and use it towards any Máximo program (TEFL, Spanish, Salsa, Housing, Volunteering) in any of their countries (Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala). I couldn’t be happier. Now I don’t have to worry about wasting money on rent and things in Antigua while I’m visiting other places. Although like I said, it’s getting hard to think about even leaving Antigua for a week!

This has been an amazing experience. I have been sick so much, but I still feel overwhelmingly blessed. I essentially have no friends here at the moment (meaning friends I get to see regularly enough to call them friends), but yet I’m not depressed. That’s odd for me. I’ve been sick and I will admit I’ve been sad that I’ve had to miss some things, but overall am not regretting the trip at all.

Yesterday, my bus stop in San Lucas was oddly crowded and none of the buses were coming. Four buses to Antigua passed by, but turned a different way (Apparently they were going back to Guate City). I almost got on them since they said Antigua, but hesitated because they weren’t going the usual way. I had to wait at least 30 minutes for a bus (vs. the usual 2 minutes) and had no idea what was going on. I found out in my class later that there had been protests in San Lucas or Su Pongo and any volunteers that had projects there in the afternoons were not to go to their projects because people were throwing rocks at buses or something! But I came back unscathed and never saw a sign of any of this happening.

All that comes to my mind right now is “I’m blessed beyond the curse, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” It’s true. I’m well on my way to becoming a Spanish-speaking, positive-thinking, world-traveling chica. Join me!

Adios amigas :(

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.

No importa.

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.

Yeah, we rode the gusano (caterpillar) rollercoaster. What of it?

Yeah, we rode the gusano (caterpillar) rollercoaster. What of it?

view from the top of the roller coaster

view from the top of the roller coaster

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!

Barry & Jen. Sweethearts! Never got a chance to get a picture with Debbie though

Barry & Jen. Sweethearts! Never got a chance to get a picture with Debbie though

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.

Look at the size of those carrots!

Look at the size of those carrots!

A flower stand

A flower stand

part of the "indoor" part of the market

part of the “indoor” part of the market

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

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!

Happy Birthday Sherea!

Happy Birthday Sherea!

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!

Kenny and Madison singing at Kafca

Kenny and Madison singing at Kafca

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.

Are you living or are you just existing?

¡No puedo creer ya es Agosto!

It’s starting to get hard to remember what I’ve already mentioned on my blog and what I haven’t. This turned out to be a lot more work than I expected (partly because the way it works is not very user friendly, especially when it comes to uploading photos! -and my apologies that my gallery page still sucks!), but I still want to continue because I know later in life when I want to really remember the details, I will be very happy I kept this up. When I went to Costa Rica with my high school, I got too caught up to remember to write about it and now I only have 3 pages and a few memories and I can’t remember anything in great detail and I wish I could.

And por eso, I shall continue this blog!

You’ll learn more about a road by traveling it than by consulting all the maps in the world” is a quote from my travel journal this week (no author listed) that seems to ring more true each day.

I remember how worried I was to come down here. Yes, deep down I was excited because my true self really loves to travel and make friends and love people, but my other self (I swear I’m not a schizophrenic) was afraid….

What happens if this happens?
What happens if I end up in a hospital?
What happens if someone robs me?
What happens if I can’t communicate with anybody?
What happens if I get lost and I can’t use my cell phone?
What happens? What happens? What happens?

Shoot that shit out of your brain right now if you ever have this type of thought process. In your every-day, normal, comfortable life, you can’t even prepare for these things, but the thing is if you are living the same life every day, you start to get comfortable. And the more things that don’t happen, the less you think about these things that worry you. The truth is, no matter where you are, anything can happen. The thing with our brains is that when we change our day to day life, we start to worry too much because something is DIFFERENT and UNKNOWN. But the reality is that every day life is different and unknown; it just gives us a false sense of assurance when it seems like our every day life is the same and will always be the same.

Well, here I am, nearly a month later and what happened? Lots of things. But nothing bad. Nothing that I worried about. Ok yes, I did get sick and that sucked a lot and made me worry even more that I wouldn’t make it six months. I thought I would go home and return to my normal boring life and hate myself for being such a coward, but here I am. I’m better. I’ve been better for 2 weeks with no signs of that whatever-that-was returning.

Here I am only a month into my trip wondering if I made this trip long enough. If it weren’t for Christmas, I would consider extending my trip! Before I left, I thought for sure this would be the hardest and longest time of my life. Nope. I am already getting sad just thinking about leaving. The last of my original roommates, plus the newbies that only came for a week (which were awesome by the way- Barry, Jen, and Deborah) left this weekend and I get sadder every time more people leave. I can’t imagine how hard it will be in 5 more months to leave sweet sweet Isolina and Maynor. I can’t imagine.

And here I thought, I would be down here every day counting the days ’til I could return to my comfort zone.

So now I’ve come to this conclusion with this thought that I’ve been pondering on for quite a while and I think I do really believe this the more I travel and the more I learn:

If your life does not surprise you, you are not really living!

Why did I come down here? What decisions led me to this trip? I believe I mentioned in my first post that I wanted to talk more about this issue in a later post. I am pretty sure I meant to do that within a few days time, but I’ve been having so much else to say that me olvidé (I forgot). For this reason, prepare yourselves for another book of a post so I can touch on this topic before I forget again.

I think every person can relate to this at some point or another, whether it was in a down spell or whether this is your typical every day feelings like mine have been. I am most certainly a dreamer and I think of how much I would like to do something some day. The problem is when I have a thought like that, one of 2 things happen:

a. procrastination
b. “realistic” (more like negative) thinking

Por ejemplo…

Oh. I would love to travel the world. Ok… well.. I don’t have a lot of money. Maybe when I have more money, I’ll do it. (But I never “have enough money”) (Procrastination).

Oh. I would love to travel the world. Ok… well.. I don’t really want to go by myself so I’ll just look for someone who might want to join me! Oh, that person can’t afford it right now? Ok, I can wait for someone else. Oh, wow, actually. Traveling is pretty expensive… Maybe I should get a real job first. But then if I have a job, I guess I can’t travel because I won’t have any vacation time. Well, that’s okay. You’re supposed to get a job or whatever after college right? You’re supposed to work your ass off so you can pay to live, right? Ok, well maybe I can’t travel… Maybe I’ll just have to wait ’til I retire. Or maybe I just am not one of those lucky people that gets to travel. Or maybe I just can’t do it because I am too afraid to go by myself. No surprise. I never do anything exciting anyways. Forget it I guess. (Negative thinking)

Excuse me? Here’s my favorite line: “…so you can pay to live, right?” Yeah, no. YOU’RE NOT LIVING IF YOUR LIFE DOES NOT SUPRISE YOU. Now, don’t get all offended if you’re feeling like I’m attacking you with these comments. I’m yelling at my other self too for being silly in the past. I’m trying to show you what I go through sometimes so if you can relate, my experiences can help you. I really REALLY want to encourage people to go do what they want and what they love if the only thing that’s stopping you is fear (which it most likely is. If you disagree, you best step back and take another analysis). For example, it seems like a rather logical reason to not quit your job because you need the money. Now I’m not saying that it’s bad to stick it out at a job you hate sometimes because you need the money because sometimes that IS really necessary, especially if you’re in debt. Sometimes its good conditioning to keep at something you dislike or at least try to find something you do like about it.

But if you’re sticking it out with something you hate for an extended period of time? I think it’s time you best be quittin’. It’s something you have to decide for yourself, but I think if you are truly unhappy somewhere for a long time, it’s a good sign it’s time for a change.

In my situation, I’ve disliked GA for a long time. Nothing personal to any of my friends in GA because they are the main reason I had so much trouble leaving, but I have always been bored with my life there. But I was always too chicken to leave my friends for too long of a time. I’m not sure why, but possibly because I was afraid I wouldn’t make friends elsewhere or I would lose the friends I had in GA (There’s that fear thing again). But see, I can make the fear part disappear and make it sound completely logical: I don’t like GA, but my friends are awesome so I don’t want to leave them. See what I did there? Sometimes it’s hard to realize that you’re afraid of something because it’s rather easy to convince yourself that you just can’t do it for some good reason. It’s not that you’re scared, but you just can’t. That’s probably just your brain trying to block out the fact that you’re actually scared of something. If there’s something you want to do and you’re not doing it… You’re afraid of something. I promise.

So what led me here? Fear of being fearful my whole life. I’ve seen how it can destroy a person (and so that I don’t embarrass or call out anyone, I will not name any names. Besides which, I’m included because obviously, I’ve watched myself grow up). I’ve seen how it can ruin so many beautiful opportunities. I’ve missed out on so many things already at 24 years old because I was too afraid. And I was too afraid to tell anyone I was afraid because I didn’t want to get made fun of for having such a silly fear. Afraid afraid always afraid.

I wanted to travel here for many reasons, but that is the main one. I wanted to conquer a huge chunk, if not ALL, of my fears. I’ve wanted to speak Spanish fluently since I took Spanish in school, but always wondered how that would happen because I didn’t think I’d ever study abroad unless I found a friend to go with me. So, to come on this trip would mean I had conquered the fear of going alone. Check.

To come on this trip conquered the fear of thinking my friends would leave me if I was gone for too long or if I moved away. Now, when I return, I get to move to Charleston to live with a huge chunk of awesome people who will still be waiting when I get back and I couldn’t be more excited. Check.

To come on this trip would mean conquering the fear of being far away from anyone familiar and the fear of being independent. Check.

To come on this trip meant I would have to overcome my fear of trying other food. Suffice to stay, I’m still a bit picky when it comes to what I like to eat, but now at least I can say I tried when someone asks if I like something or not! Kind of check?

To come down here would mean I would have to conquer my fear of children. Ok, not fear of children, but I’ve always said to everyone my whole life how much I hate kids for fear that they would think I wanted kids or for fear that by saying I don’t mind kids means I would end up with one. The truth is, I just really don’t want one of my own EVER, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love on other ones. And I shouldn’t be afraid of what other people think is going to happen to me because they are not in control of what happens to me. I’m not going to have kids, but I do enjoy kids (sometimes. only when they behave well. never when they’re behaving poorly.) I love Isolina’s kids and I love the girls at my project. Check.

¿Que más?

I’m not sure I even remember what other fears I was trying to conquer, but my point is… Do you remember all the comfortable things I had to give up to come here? Do you remember how worried I was at the airport and how sick I was? Have I elaborated enough on how difficult this was for me? Then why are you still reading my blog? Go find what you love and do it. Afraid of quitting your awful job because you may never find work again? Afraid of taking a long period of time off from work because you might run out of money? Afraid afraid afraid? Just stop! Just go. Just quit. Just do what you love. If you don’t know what you love, stop what you’re doing and go figure it out. Stop dying and start living.

Honestly, I can’t give any further suggestions. Just do it. (As Nike would say..) That’s the only way I got here. In about a week’s time, I decided to come here, booked my trip and paid for it before I could chicken out. When I started couch surfing, I just decided to sign up and look for a place and go before I could turn back. Two of the best decisions in my life. Now I’m moving to Charleston when I get back and know some of the most amazing people in the world because I just stopped and just did it.

Speaking of couch surfing, time for a shout out to James Banicar for being my first couch surfing host. When you first start couch surfing, you can’t have any reviews on your profile because you haven’t stayed with anyone yet. I could have been any old creep trying to fake a profile and kill someone, but James extended his trusting invitation that I was a real girl and let me come to his house. And not only do I now have an amazing group of friends in Charleston (no thanks to James), couch surfing has changed so much of my life. If James hadn’t been such a welcoming host and shown me what couch surfing was really about, I wouldn’t be here today in Guatemala. Couch surfing helped me come out of my shell enough to decide to try to conquer my fears further and come here. So thank you, James. You really did change my life. (John, you too. I was fearful my first time couch surfing and James took me to a party down town and I was still coming out of my shy box and shut down. If it weren’t for John, I probably would have stayed shy the whole time and not have had as great of an experience. I’m better with one-on-one conversations with people at first and John took me to the beach to walk and talk. After this, I was so much more comfortable. So I must say if it weren’t for James and John, my life story would be hella different right now. HELLA different.)

Thank you Audria (the girl from the first week I was here) for adding hella to my vocabulary.

And in conclusion, for a final reiteration…. Please. Go live. It’s fabulous.

Tattoos and Guate City


For a moment on Thursday, I thought I was going to have a nostalgic moment to think about my aunts who love the Lottery. Apparently, the “lotería” here is Bingo. Thursday was a special day for Antigua because it was “El Día de Santiago Apósto” which I may have spelled wrong. He is the patron saint of Antigua so they had a celebration going on from Thursday through today. Well, in honor of the “Fería” (fair), my teacher brought in a game of Lotería to play to help us learn some new vocab. The game has pictures of different things, with the name (in Spanish) beneath the photo. It was so much fun. Willy made it really intense by making a bunch of noises between each drawing such as a heart beat or the jaws theme. I kept jesting at him that he wasn’t allowed to win and he’d keep sneering (jokingly) at me that I would lose. He is so precious. I don’t think I could have gotten a more fun teacher! I just want to keep him forever haha.

Madison somehow made MORE friendships with musicians at the Rainbow Cafe so we returned again Thursday night because they invited her to play drums for the band. The guitar guy from Wednesday night is so in love with her. It’s kind of ridiculous actually haha. She feels bad though because Marnie like this guy, but oh well. They are only here another week anyways. (SAD!) Madison did a really good job doing drums on the spot with no previous practice with the band!

Friday, my bus ride was rather awful. That would have been a good day to know the customs of another country. I sat in the first seat because it was empty and only had a towel in it (that I assume someone left behind). After the bus filled (and by fill, I mean the usual 3 people to a seat with people standing full), the bus helper boarded and proceeded to tell me that the towel meant my seat was reserved. Well, guess what that meant? Since we were only at our first stop, that meant I had to go back as far as possible to make room for more people so there I walked (it felt rather much like a walk of shame) to the very back of the bus squished between all the other people and standing, holding on to the rail on the ceiling all the way to my project. It killed my arm to hold on that way. I thought I’d end up on a lap for sure! Leastways, I survived.

The good news is I can definitely tell I’m learning more Spanish. I don’t think I’ve learned that much, but if I think about how little I could understand when I first got here vs. now, I think I’ve improved. Or at least I’ve gotten more confident in trying to speak and asking people to slow down. I was able to talk to a few of the girls on Friday at my project for about 10-15 minutes about their family and my family and tattoos etc. I also feel like I’ve been talking more in my Spanish class too because now I’m able to tease my teacher more. It’s so much fun. I also talked to Isolina and Maynor more at lunch on Friday after everyone already excused themselves. It’s fun to sit for such a long time at the lunch and dinner table and just talk. It’s really good practice too. Isolina has been saying the last few days that my Spanish is really improving and I’m learning a lot. That’s really encouraging to hear. I, by far, was given the best host mom in Antigua. Isolina is always willing to correct, whereas most people don’t as long as they understood what you were trying to say. I want to be corrected so I don’t walk around talking like a baffoon! I’m hoping to only speak Spanish in the house after this group leaves and before another group arrives so that the new group is forced to speak Spanish too instead of revert to English! I want to be fluent!

Friday we also went with Madison to get her tattoo. Tattoo in Guatemala?!?!! Don’t freak out. Actually, Antigua has a lot of reputable places and Máximo suggested her to this tattoo place because they are as reputable and clean as a US company. I wasn’t too worried about the needle being un-sanitized as I am that she’ll get it dirty or wash it with dirty water, but she made it to Tikal (the jungle) and back this weekend without any tattoo problems, so it appears that all will be fine! She only has a week left anyways so even if something happened, she’ll be back in the States to take care of it and her dad is a doctor. No thank you for me though. That was the first tattoo I watched. She said it wasn’t painful, but I feel like I’d probably end up psyching myself out with nervousness.

The only sign of pain I could see on her face

The only sign of pain I could see on her face

The end result- an A for Avery (her sister's name)

The end result- an A for Avery (her sister’s name)

Friday was also Anna Maria and Devan’s last day. I’m starting to get sad now with everyone leaving. It’s sad to watch Isolina get all emotional every time too. She is so sentimental. They printed a picture from our Pacaya trip and framed it for her for a gift and both her and Maynor teared up. It was so presh. It is the first legitimate frame I’ve seen in their house. The only others I’ve seen are those foam kind you get in preschool.

piñatas again!

piñatas again!

I also found out that even if I raised enough money to help them go to the States, they still could be denied a visa because apparently even if you can afford a trip there but you don’t have a lot of money in the bank, they will deny you a visa because it will be assumed you’re going over there to find illegal work. That really bummed me out! The US is so strict. I would love to have Isolina visit me! And I’d love to be able to help her see her brother. Going on a trip an talking to people like this will definitely change your perspective about immigrants. Not that I’ve ever had a problem with them, but for people who do have issues with all the illegal aliens, go meet one and hear their story and hear how difficult it is to go to the US legally. I just want to take them home with me and I’ve only been here 22 days! They’re so cute! UGH!

Yesterday, all the other volunteers were gone on a trip except me so I got a taste of what it will be like if the house isn’t full all the time. It was a bit lonely not being able to speak any English, but Isolina and Maynor invited me to Guatemala City with them so off I went. It was very interesting. It was most obviously a city and even though it was different that the US, it was also very similar to a big city in the US. The buildings maybe aren’t as nice, but there’s a lot of stores and people and pigeons and graffiti and a municipal building and a central park, etc. There actually were even quite a few US restaurants too (a lot of these we have in Antigua as well, but you don’t find them as easily because the building style in Antigua is so different, it’s sometimes hard to tell what a place is): McDonald’s (I’m pretty sure I spotted about 5 of these while driving through the city), Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Ihop, Picadilly’s, KFC, Payless, Walmart, etc. The ad for Dominoes had different things on it that we don’t have though like a meatball pizza! They also use motorcycles instead of cars! Weird, right?

Anyways, Isolina and Maynor took me to a train museum first which was interesting. Very similar to what I might expect in the US. The train no longer runs, but apparently they are trying to restore it for 2014. I’m excited for them because it looks like it was a really cool form of transportation, especially around all the beautiful landscape here. Maynor was really excited too because it’s nostalgic for him as he grew up around the train tracks.

An old train station

An old train station

For lunch, we got to have pizza again (we had it the night before for Devan and Anna Maria’s going away party) which I most definitely couldn’t complain about. After that was Parqueo Central and an artisan market. Although, the artisan markets are all starting to look the same to me now. They pretty much all carry the same things.

Parqueo Central

Parqueo Central

After that, we visited some of Maynor’s family. I was then able to tell that they are middle class. His family had a pretty nice house and I spotted a couple of TV’s (that work properly), a DVD player, a stereo, and a Wii. When we arrived, his cousin(?) was dolled up and painting her nails. Also, when we had lunch, Isolina and Maynor paid for me (which since it was in place of a meal at home, I guess technically they are supposed to, but I still felt bad. They refused to let me help however). And Maynor pulled out a credit card to pay. They are also considering taking a beach trip in the near future which I can join them on. So I can now tell that they are middle class here. They do very middle class type things. They go to church every sunday & thursday(?). We went to a museum in the city. They try to take a trip to the city every weekend and that outing felt like a typical middle class outing. So even though they are obviously much poorer than our middle class, I’m now able to tell that they are middle class here. They have a decent sized home (obviously if 8 other people can live in it), they have 2 TVs (kind of broken, but still), a computer, a car, a motorcyle, a telephone line, cell phones, 2.5 bathrooms, and internet (but not wireless because I’ve never been able to use it). Still though, much different than US middle class.

We ended up being gone from 10 am-8:30 pm so it was quite a long day. The last stop we made was Walmart for me because I needed to find some things to organize my room with and I figured Walmart would be the easiest place to find something since it would be somewhat familiar. I’m not sure that it was much easier though because they definitely didn’t have all the same things we do. I was able to find some organizers though and now I am much happier with my room (Oh, and I switched into Devan and Anna Maria’s old room now because it has one (well 2, if there’s a couple) bed instead of three. Hopefully there won’t be any more married couples because if there are, I have to keep switching rooms! I really like this room, it’s the perfect size for all of my stuff and the bed is more comfortable. I also have a view of the volcano, instead of just the street. My window is a lot smaller and I have to stand in order to look out of it, but I still like this room much more. I’m hoping I won’t have to do any more switching, but I am so grateful I never have to share a room!

My old room- view from peering around the door

My old room- view from peering around the door

view from standing at the dresser

view from standing at the dresser

My new room - view from the door

My new room – view from the door

view walking into my new room

view walking into my new room

view from the dresser- much more organized than my last room! thank God!

view from the dresser- much more organized than my last room! thank God!

I also bought Isolina a waffle iron because we were talking about that a few weeks ago and she loves waffles but can’t make them. It was like $10-$15 at Walmart here which is so cheap compared to the US so I just grabbed one and gave her a gift. We had waffles for breakfast this morning. I’d say it was well worth the investment! :)

Two newbies arrive today! Can’t wait to meet them! And hopefully I’ll finally be going to check out the fair!

P.S. Did I mention we had a rooftop patio?

P.S. Did I mention we had a rooftop patio?

Pizza, Spaghetti, and Pancakes

I’m sure you’re all dying of anxiety to know if we had a piñata or not on Sunday. We did. This time, we had an Angry Birds piñata. Kershena killed it on her first turn! Kershena left shortly after that, which is a bummer. Everyone is slowly trickling out. No newbies yet.

You can't even escape Angry Birds in Guatemala!

You can’t even escape Angry Birds in Guatemala!

For dinner, we had PIZZA! Feliz Lizzie! It was really good pizza. Isolina didn’t have time to cook since she threw a party for Kershena so she and Maynor left us with the kids for a minute and went and picked some up somewhere. At dinner, Isolina was so excited because Kershena offered to take some gifts home with her to Texas from Isolina to her brother who lives close to Kershena. She apparently has not seen him in 10 years. He was only visiting the US, but ended up staying and neither party can afford a visit to the other. Isolina is very sad and really wants to see him and visit the States just to see what it’s like. It made me sad. I so very much want to help Isolina’s family. They are so good to us and deserve all the blessings they can take.

I’m a little upset because I found out I’m paying more for the volunteering than I would be if I just went through Máximo to take Spanish classes and find housing. Money I could have used to help Isolina or put towards some of my trips. I will never fully understand why you have to pay to help someone and it really puts a damper on your desire to do so. But, Máximo is going to give me a breakdown of my costs so I can better understand. They also said if I go on long term trips (i.e. 1-2 weeks), I can’t get my money back, but I can get credit towards other things so I may use that to tack on more salsa lessons, spanish, or if I have enough credit, TEFL certification. But I’m still irked that I’m paying money to give my time and help to others.

If you want to offer your support, please be aware of the support page on this site. :) Normally I fundraise for a volunteer trip, as I did for my mission trip in high school, but this was such a spur of the moment decision that I didn’t have time to do so. My darling sweet wonderful perfect Aunt Mary has paid a large portion of this trip, as a graduation gift that she does for all her nieces and nephews (sends us all somewhere for a vacation), but I like to think of her contribution as paying for all the fun stuff since that’s the vacation aspect! 😉 Thank you, by the way, darling Auntie! Love and miss you dearly!!

I will remind you of this page again later, as I am headed to the Dominican Republic in January to help build houses. If you want to help another way, please contact me. I just want anyone who is interested in contributing to know that all contributions go to help cover the costs of my volunteer trips, this one first, then the DR. I cover the additional costs of things that I’m doing for fun, and any money that I receive over the amount it costs me to participate in these programs will be put towards spending money to use on the people for whom I am volunteering. I may also start a separate fundraiser for Isolina’s family as I would really like to be able to get them a trip to the US, but I will have more info on that after I think about it longer. That would be a large amount of money to just gift to someone, but they are just near and dear to my heart already because they have come such a long way and work hard and are thankful for all the blessings that God gives them. We also heard the story of how they met and looked at wedding pictures. Maynor said he saw Isolina working at the market one day and thought “She is mine.” He asked for her phone number the minute he met her and she didn’t want anything to do with him. Her friend gave him her phone number and Maynor pursued and pursued until Isolina got so sick of him calling that she finally agreed to go on ONE date with him. Isolina finished the story with the wedding pictures and she talked about how she cried and cried the whole day because she was so happy. Congrats to Maynor for having the balls to pursue her despite her resistance. That’s a real man.

Ok, enough with the sappy stuff….On to the updates… I’m better!!

And this time I really do think I’m “100%” better. Energy levels have been up since Monday. I skipped work on Monday because I was still feeling a bit bad in my stomach region when I woke up. I didn’t want to push it and get to work and feel worse. So I decided to skip and go shopping with Isolina for some fiber rich foods.

Holy crap. I’ve been to the “mercado” before, but I was completely unaware of this entire HUGE area that has all the food in it! I had only seen a small portion where they were vending clothes and movies and street food. This was like farmer’s market to the max. I’m going to try to go back on Saturday with Isolina again to take pictures. There is fresh food EVERYWHERE. And all kinds of it. All the vegetables and fruits I could think of (and more I’ve never seen before) were there. There were places to buy fresh grain and flour and…. gross… even meat! And when I mean fresh meat, I mean unrefrigerated not packaged nasty stuff hanging from the ceiling and displayed on tables. I watched the butcher cut our steak off a slab for dinner. I’m pretty sure I don’t remember any gloves and I’m pretty sure I don’t remember any washing of hands before handling the money. Officially grossed out, but thank goodness meat has to be cooked! Still, it is a definitely a site to see. I’ve posted a picture of a butchers shop on my “Gallery” page, which now has all of my pictures from Atitlán and Pacaya uploaded if you want to go look. But, picture that butchers shop times about 100 and add some other types of meat and that’s the market! There’s endless vegetables too. I don’t know how Isolina decides which one to go to. I will always be going with her if I go because they try to charge the “gringos” almost double the price from what I hear. But with Isolina, I got 6 apples for less than a $1.25! And Isolina bought a bag of green beans and it cost roughly 25 cents!

Ironically, after returning from the market to buy all my fibrous foods, I had diarrhea again. At least it emptied me from the pains of constipation! Sorry if that’s TMI for you readers, but I DID say I would be extremely open on this blog and talk about ALL my experiences so those that haven’t done this before can really get a feel for everything and see if they want to try it out or not. I guess a lot of my experience so far may make you not want to travel, but despite my two weeks of exhaustion, diarrhea to constipation back to diarrhea, with a slight fever thrown in there, I still highly highly recommend travel to anyone who can. Look how many experiences I’ve had so far despite my poor health!

In spite of the diarrhea however, I felt like I had enough energy to walk around and go seek out a massage. My bed here is really hard and I’ve been stiff along with all my exhaustion. I thought a massage could help. And hey, you can’t beat an hour long full body massage from a licensed US professional for $30. Yeah. I said it.

This is a bad picture of the beautiful entrance of the massage place I went to

This is a bad picture of the beautiful entrance of the massage place I went to

I was in heaven! The massage was fantastic and I think that really helped me out a lot. After the massage, my energy levels on Monday spiked and I finally felt like I was flipping back into my bubblier side. Tuesday, they didn’t go away and I noticed a spike in appetite despite some remaining stomach cramps. Now I still have energy and don’t need to sleep for 5 hours after work anymore and I’m sin cramps and sin diarrhea. I think that was the end of it, knock on wood! (They DID warn the first 2 weeks are always the hardest. I would say that’s true!)

Tuesday, I got to ride my favorite bus in the morning. There are buses going every 5-10 minutes so depending on when I leave the house, I don’t always get the same people. I’m trying to time it better now so I do because it’d be fun to be able to talk to the bus drivers and have them recognize you at some point. This is my favorite bus because the helpers (the guys that jump on and off to yell “GUATE GUATE GUATE” and herd people onto the bus) on this one are sweeties. They always lend a hand in helping me climb off the bus. Maybe they just want to touch me because they think I’m a hottie, but I like to think that they’re gentlemen. They are also some of the most enthusiastic helpers that I’ve encountered. I don’t know why I get such a kick out of their yelling, but it puts a smile on my face every day at 7:35 in the morning!

At my job, Richard(?) has gotten to liking me quite a bit. Richard is one of 2 boys at Rosa’s. One boy is Rosa’s son and Richard is the son of one of the girls (got pregnant when she was 13 I think.) I think he said he was 2, but he speaks rather well for a 2 year old. He’s obsessed with the “gallinas” (chickens) they have in the back of the complex. He takes my pinky every day after devotion and says “Vamos a las gallinas.” (Let’s go to the chickens). I’m rather sick of looking at chickens after 3 days in a row, so today I asked “¿Porque gallinas? Gallinas, gallinas. ¡Todos los dias! ¿Porque?” (Why chickens? Chicken chickens. Every day! Why?) and he answered “Porque las gallinas no tienen amigos.” (Because the chickens don’t have any friends). Melt. He’s too precious. But I hate those damn chickens. They were hilarious the first day, but now NO MÁS POR FAVOR.

Yesterday’s chicken bus ride was quite interesting. I wish I wasn’t so afraid to take out my nice phone in public because that was a good time to take a picture of how crowded it was. It was packed out the door. And when I mean out the door, I mean… well.. 3 people across in every seat and people standing in the isles all the way to the door. And they leave the door open while they drive.

And I was the last person in. Guess where I rode? :)

Haha, I only rode in the door for a bit, but it was rather fun, despite the danger of standing in the door of a bus going around windy roads. But it’s actually rather easy to hold on standing up vs. sitting in a seat and sliding around! More leverage.

Yesterday was also salsa night. My favorite! I think I improved since last week too. When I have more time, I hope to sign up for some somewhere else to get more practice in. Or just meet a hot salsa dancing guy who wants to teach me and take me dancing every night. 😉 That works too. We need more guys at the class Máximo provides. Not many guys show up and the ones that do, aside from maybe 1 or 2 depending on the night, are SO terrible. I know we’re all learning and they’re learning too, but it’s really important for the guy to lead and none of these guys have the confidence to lead, which makes it harder to learn my part because the guy is not doing his properly. They are doing their steps right (sometimes), but they are not putting any pressure on us at all and they are supposed to push the girl around essentially. Eventually maybe hopefully?

Afterwards, we were invited by one of the guys to partake in a delicious watermelon at his hostel. Madison and I and another girl we met at salsa and him and 2 of his girl friends shared in eating that beauty because he said he couldn’t have eaten it all himself. After that, we all met up with Marnie and headed to Rainbow Cafe again for open mic night again. This time, Madison sung! She has a beautiful voice. The guitarist didn’t know the song though so she had to brave it acapella. Not something I could do! She did great and the guy loved her voice so much that he wants to practice with her for next week. Lucky girl. She gets all the cute guys here. I think it’s because she has light hair and light eyes. (Well, aside from the fact that she’s sweet and pretty much drop dead gorgeous too!) Marnie is a little jealous because she’s pretty much in love with this guy. I preferred the cafe barista myself (Madison won his heart too haha), but I found out he’s only 18 so Madison can most definitely have him. LOL!

Anyways, open mic night was fabulous as usual and to prove my appetite and normal energy levels are returning- I ate 3 pieces of watermelon, followed by a 3 layer BLT and tiny salad, followed by a big brownie with 2 scoops of ice cream. (Oh, I’m sorry, did I mention that that only cost me like $8 including tip?) Example B is we didn’t return until midnight last night and I still got up and went to my job today and won’t be taking a nap before my class at 4! I also had 3 pancakes and a bowl of watermelon for breakfast.

Most I’ve eaten in a row on this trip! Least amount of sleep I’ve gotten too! Yay health. I also went to the Bodegona (the supermarket here) today to get more snacks because I’ve eaten all of mine up! Note to self: start carrying toilet paper. I had to pee there because I went straight from work and poor Rosa’s had run out of paper. Well, apparently the Bodegona doesn’t provide paper for the baño (nor do they have toilet seats!) so yeah. Drip dry for me! Gross! At least I got my snacks.

I haven’t been remembering to take pictures of my food; I’m sorry. But, Isolina definitely means it when she says she wants to fix what we like. Tuesday we had fried chicken for lunch with pasta and some kind of really amazing potato salad (and I don’t even like potato salad). For breakfast yesterday, we had fruit loops and a bowl of papaya. We had pancakes for breakfast today, as I mentioned, and for lunch we had SPAGHETTI AND GARLIC BREAD. She listens. I love it. She’s so cute. Or maybe I’m looking at all the good food she’s fixing instead of all the stuff I don’t like now since it’s easier to be positive when I’m not ill!

Working towards optimism is a difficult task, especially when you were surrounded by realists your whole life. Sorry mom & dad. Love youuuuuuuu. 😀 But poco a poco, it get’s easier.. And with that, I will end with a quote that I found in my travel journal today:

In the long run, the pessimist may be proved to be right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip. -Daniel L. Reardon.

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