first night

Published: January 25th 2008
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Okay, let’s see what has happened so far. We left Guatemala City at around 8:30 on Wednesday and got in to Xela around 1:30 or so. We had lunch here and had a little bit of class with our country coordinator. We went out to the markets and split into groups to buy food, clothes, school supplies, and medical supplies with 25 quetzales each. Apparently 25 quetzales is the average daily income for rural Guatemalans. I’m not sure what that translates into for dollars, but I think it’s really really not much. So I was in the group that was to get medical supplies, so we went to a pharmacy and struck up a conversation with the druggist and with 25 quetzales, we couldn’t get much. A bottle of pepto bismal was 32 quetzales and Tylenol was 65 quetzales. So that on top of needing food and clothes and everything was to show how hard it is for rural Guatemalans to live.

Wednesday night, some friends of mine and I decided to go dancing out at a club. After hanging out for a while, some decided to leave, some decided to stay. there are a lot of other gringos here, apparently this is a really good place for spanish language schools. anyway, I decided to hang out a little bit later, but still wanted to leave early. Everything closes at 1 am here, but I was exhausted anyway and didn’t want to stay out late. We were taking turns being at the table with all of our stuff while others hit up the dance floor. After the first group left, I went to the bathroom and told two of my friends to stay at the table and watch our things. Well, they decided to enter into a Salsa contest and asked some random girl to watch our stuff. So I came back from the bathroom to find some random girl at our table, which totally caught me off guard. She told me that my friends had asked to watch our stuff. But when we went to leave a couple of minutes later, of course my stuff was the only things to be stolen. So I lost a jacket and that cell phone, which I was REALLY upset about. I mean, if they want to leave their stuff in a complete stranger’s hands, fine whatever, but when I ask them to watch my things I had really expected them to watch it, as I had done with their stuff. There wasn’t anything important like my wallet or anything in my jacket, although it was there for a lot of the night, but still I just found it so disrespectful. But there really isn’t anything I can do about it now, except know not to leave my stuff in the care of others, even other students here.

So after still being a little cranky about this morning (Thursday the 24th), they gave a poor apology that was more like “I’m sorry that happened to you” than “I’m sorry I was somewhat responsible for your stuff being stolen”. But again, really nothing I can do about it now so I just had to let it roll off me being the wiser for it. So today we did another group thing about where we’re at in our lives and what not. Not exactly my favorite thing in the world to do, this sort of group community sharing stuff, but I guess it’s good to know where other people are at in their lives. The sun has been really strong so far and I got a little sun burned in the face, but not bad at all.

So we had dinner and then me and two friends of mine went out for a cup of coffee. As we walked into the coffee shop there was a little boy about 5 or 6 years old begging for money. It was hard to say no, but honestly, I really didn’t have any small bills to give him. It just shot me the idea of kids at Vincent House (the after school program I work at in Syracuse with mostly Puerto Rican children). Those kids live in what would normally be called high risk areas: poor education, low income, high crime. But honestly, as much as I love those kids and feel for their situation, they don’t need to beg in the streets for money. I guess it’s the difference between poverty here and poverty at home. There was a really interesting conversation at dinner one night with my cousins about whether or not it is better to be poor in Guatemala or poor in the U.S. Both had good arguments for their case and it was interesting to hear the different points. Obviously not every child in Guatemala is like this little boy I saw and who knows if he was made to beg in the streets or what, but it only takes one to really start the emotional roller coaster. I guess I have to get used to it and try to resist the temptation; otherwise I will just constantly be hit up for money by kids, plus I’ve still got two countries to go in four months.

So tonight, I think we’re going to back out, but believe me, I am holding onto my stuff the ENTIRE time.

So tomorrow we have an orientation at the language school which I guess also consists of a soccer game against the staff of the language school. Oh and also I guess I meet my homestay family tomorrow (friday the 24th) instead of today, so we’ll see how that all goes, but I’m very excited about it. Hope all is going well with everybody!

And just to recap what´s up: I´m living with a family here in Xela for three weeks studying spanish at a language school for five hours a day with a one on one tutor, then we either go to a place called Cantel which is a indigenous community for a last week of spanish or go to La Montaña, which is a little bit more of a tropical local for a last week of spanish. There are also weekend excursions set up: one weekend in february we going to Lake Atitlan, which is supposed to be beautiful. then after the four weeks we role to El Salvador where we are all staying in a group house together in San Salvador taking a Liberation Theology class for five weeks, then to Nicaragua for another homestay taking poly sci classes.

again, i´m working on the pictures, but walking around with a camera makes you stand out a bit, so i´ll try my best!

i´ll post soon!


14th February 2008

Whats going on cuz!??! I heard about your blog from Richard. I'm laughing my butt off hearing about your little adventures... can't believe you had that sweet cellphone stolen! Haha!!

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