Tattoos and Guate City

¡Lotería!

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?

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