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Published: October 17th 2010
View from the mountains
I forgot the name of this community... it's about a 40 minute drive from San Gabriel
I'm entitling this entry confusion because that's how i feel a lot of the time here when im with my host family or trying to communicate in spanish. I understand some things, but most of the time I'm confused about what's going on. Last sunday i was pretty sure i was going to church and got a little dressed up, but then it turned out i was going with my host sister to her boyfriend's house and not to church. And yesterday I asked what we were doing that day and heard something about pizza so I thought we might be going somewhere else to eat pizza, but it turned out that didn't happen at all so I guess it was just a joke.
It is really tiring to try to understand all the time and to be listening really closely in order to understand. And it's hard sometimes to know that I'm making so many mistakes when i speak and to subject myself to the laughter of my brother which happens everytime i say anything. But i know thats the only way im going to improve is to keep trying and making mistakes. This is training and we have host families for a reason, this is the time to make mistakes, but it's still challenging.
But on the other hand, it is also really rewarding when I understand and start to understand more. My host mom has been really great and patient with me. And my cousin Gustabo who's 8 yrs old and at my house a lot has also been really helpful to me. He's very interested in helping me with the spanish and likes to point to things and ask me if i know the words or anytime im studying and he sees me looking for a word in the dictionary he asks me what im looking for and then tries to explain it to me. Even though i still dont understand after his explanation, i still appreciate his efforts. Even though he gets frustrated by my lack of understanding, he still continues to work with me so i appreciate his persistence. Yesterday he pointed to a picture of a tie that was on his shirt and asked me what it was. I of course misunderstood and said "amarillo" (yellow) instead of the word for tie and he just slapped his hand against his face in frustration as if to say " what am i going to do with you ". It was really cute despite my feelings of hopelessness in learning spanish.
Today I did end up going to church, and it was a very interesting cultural experience for me. I thought that in Vanuatu the churches were pretty interactive and people were very expressive, but turns out that was nothing. The church i went to was a Christian Church, which is for any Christian community members except Catholics since there is a Catholic church in this town. At the start of the church service the chorus group played music and people get really into it, waving hands and dancing. There is also a lot of loud praying and shouting, which I wasn't used to. Then during the sermon, since another Peace Corps trainee was also attending this church, the pastor decided that we needed to understand everything said during the sermon so he asked a girl to go to the front and translate everything into english for us. At the end of the service, since this was my first time at this church, i needed to be blessed by the pastor and church members. The pastor called me up to the front, put his hand on my head, and prayed for me and the whole church lifted their hands to me during the blessing. The whole service lasted about 2 1/2 hours which was a little longer than I was used to both in the states and Vanuatu. It was definately a new experience for me, which it seems like I'll have to continue for the next 9 weeks that I'm here.
Other than the struggles with communicating in spanish, everything else is going well here. I'm not a big fan of the cold weather and, but it could be worse. That's to be expected in the mountains, you can't have these beautiful views and beautiful weather I suppose. My host mom has been really nice and has lent me sweaters and shoes since I foolishly didn't bring any cold weather clothes. My nephew Brandon is so adorable and I hang out with him a lot, we're about on the same language level. I think he knows more words in spanish than i do and he's only 2. It's sad that i learn vocabulary from his "my first words" elmo book.
I love the food here, we eat rice and beans at least once a day, but luckily I am liking it more and more each time, kind of like laplap in Vanuatu. We've also had empanadas at my house a few times with this delicious cheese inside. That's quite the change from not having any cheese available in Vanuatu on my island. We have fresh juice at every meal and a lot of coffee with meals and during snack times. My only complaint in regards to the food is that I would like to eat more fruit at my house, but i can easily find fruits at the local store for really cheap prices.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the four of us in San Gabriel have spanish classes. We're all intermediate low level, although i feel like I should be beginner a lot of the time. Our classes our held in a room at a Rehabilitation Center for drug addicts. So we have 5 or so friends that live at this facility and tend to make a lot of noise with whatever they're doing. They also occassionally pop into our room randomly. During the last class a guy barged into our room during our class to ask one of us to look at his watch and tell him what day it was. So we get a little bit of entertainment from our addict friends on spanish class days . On Tuesdays and Thursdays we travel by bus to another community where we have technical training and other general sessions like medical, security, admin, etc. Those days are pretty long days from 7 or 8 am to 5 or 6 pm at night. It's kind of strange to be on a schedule again without a long nap or 2 hour break in the middle of the day. It seems so controlled compared to how much freedom I had gotten used to in terms of making my own schedule, sleeping, and eating whenever I wanted. But I don't think I'll be able to have that lifestyle for a while so I need to accept having a schedule.
I think that's it for now. I'll update again soon and also try to upload some more photos soon of my family and the community. Ciao!
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