A New Home


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Yes, it´s true! I finally figured out how to get to and from school from my family in two different ways, and then on Saturday morning I moved! The other place was OK, but I was hoping for a place near Zona Tres (3) where San Marcos is, and with kids. Well, I have found it, and its only about two blocks from the school. A young couple moved into this house (Helen and Olger) and they have a baby daughter of a few months called Eliza. Helen also has two sisters living close by (Maciel and Norma) with spouses, and her mother Gloria. Then there is her brother Darwin and his wife Ana, who have a little boy whose 5th birthday was celebrated last night at our house (his name is Daniel) Also at the fiesta was another sister, Linda, and her boyfriend
The invited me to stay for the party at 8PM, with a meal, and though I had just stuffed myself with pizza I agreed. The foods we ate I will name next time but a potatoe dish baked in banana leaves (traditional) and a sort of cracker that looks like it has spokes like a wheel and is called something like madonna, but I don´t think that´s correct. We also had birthday cake.

The whole family are super friendly and Helen and Olger have told me to use their living room and TV anytime, and also I can use their computer to burn CD´s or DVD´s if I wish (they don´t have internet however). And they talk to me a lot, unlike the other families I have stayed with. The baby is always sleeping in the morning so it is quite peaceful. I have the upstairs (a roofed patio with clothes lines, a bathroom with shower, and two bedrooms) all to myself at the moment, until this coming Sunday when another student is coming. I bought a plastic lawn chair and a good bulb for my lamp so I can read on the patio (there is a light there) or lying in bed (the room has a circular florescent in the ceiling but its not good enough when I´m lying down). I have no table to work at, but I know I could work downstairs in the kitchen if I wanted.

The only problem has been that the lock to my room isn´t working. It´s a steel door with a small barred window with opague glass. The latter is hinged, so he ahd a string connected to the latch inside that we pulled to unlock the door. Well, when I went upstairs last night the string jammed and broke. None of the people at the aprty could get in, so finally Olger took a hammer and broke the glass! He later cleaned up quite carefully as there were glass particles around the room including on the foot of my bed, and she taped a piece of cardboard over the hole for the night. This morning a service person got the lock working and someone else is coming this afternoon to repalce the glass. Apparently they know someone who is giving them a good deal.

Meanwhile, school is going very well. My teacher si great, very kind and patient and encouraging. The only thing is, when he learned that I work with kids back in Canada, and have a couple of "adopted¨grandsons, he decided I am jsut the person his community needs. I had a very moving conversation with him Saturday morning. He says the biggest problem in Guatemala is not lack of money or education, but aq problem of heart or spirit. Many fathers work long hours, often elsewhere and are home only a little, and do not consider it important to spend time with their kids or listen to them. As a result kids have little discipline, little self esteem, and no dreams. And they get into gangs, etc. Sound familiar? I learned today that his is finishing his training as a lawyer on July 9, and that his whole family is united in a determination to establish a foundation in their small Mayan community (he rides a bicycle 20 minutes to our school from his home) to work with kids. I also elarned his father is a retired lawyer, originally from a well-to-do white family, but his mother is from a lower class Mayan family. When his father married, his family threw him out, and refused to have anything further to do with him. As a result they descended into extreme poverty. But little by little they worked their way back, not into wealth but into a middle class situation. His mother is now a social worker. His two brothers work in the capital, and all are determined to see this incredible program come to be. He will spend his first year as a lawyer doing the legal necessities to set up the foundation.

I have written him in Spanish and talked to him in Spanish this morning about all the reaons I am probably not someone who could help directly, but he is not giving up easily so I know the subject will come up again. I have explained to him about my sabbatical, because he thought I should come immediately, or at least this summer, to help.

My weekend was not exactly as planned (surprise!) The hike I was to take with several Scout groups in the downtown area did not happen. But the woman from the Scout shop did walk me to visit Cubs and Scouts at Grupo Uno (a five or ten minute walk), and then she got a Scout who was waiting patiently at the office for his buddy to show up to take me to meet Grupo 31 at a park near my first house (this trip). I had a good visit with the leader of the Scouts but not with the Cubs and we exchanged gifts).

On Sunday I went early to the church (San Marcos) but nobody was around so I walked four blocks back to Wendy´s for a glass of juice and a nice place to sit and journal (in Spanish). At 10:30 I went back and the service was just starting. I got a smile from Roberto, the priest, who obviously recognized me, and in front of me sat a couple with a young girl who speak English - he is from Texas and speaks only some Spanish but his wife is fluent. No parade around the block this year for Semana Santa/ Palm Sunday though they passed out palms with flowers to everyone - I was being organized and had bought one at the market on the way to the service earlier. I was a bit surprised I could catch some of the page numbers (announced by the organist) and even a bit of the message. Having been assured the table was open to all, I went to the front and Roberto signaled me to take the host from the cup by myself (eveyone else he served), obviously in respect of the fact I am an ordained minister.

After the service Cynthia (who played guitar with the organist) came and talked to me quite a bit. She explained that she is no longer a Scout elader, nor is the man who was three eyars ago - a new crew has taken over and the group is growing. But this week they are at a Scout event somewhere in Guatemala for Scouts from all over Central America. And I´m not there!!!

After a chicken burger at Wendy´s (sorry MacDonalds) I headed downtown to catch a 2:30 shuttle to Fuentes Georginas (other student from our school climbed the local vocano Santa Maria on Saturday but I opted out). The tour company office was not open until my second trip there about 2:20, and then I learned that because I ahd been their only passenger they had arranged for Adrelina Tours to take me, a common arrangement they told me. But Adrelina had a new secretary, and so when Monte Verde called, the bus had already left without me. Oh well, I saved $7US! Then I walked through the monthly artisan´s market, and spent about that same amount! I had not noticed the market earlier because they´ve moved it to the far side of the park.

I returned early to the house for a shower, a cold drink, and a sit in my new chair (had to wash it first becasue here in the dry season it´s very dusty and it was in the lobby of the supermarket which is not closed in in the daytime). I´ve also learned that as in Canada the weather is changing, and the rainy season which once would have started by now is delayed by a month or so. It means lots of dust (polvi), and respiratory diseases. In the wet season, on the other hand, which is great for all the vegetable growers around here, there is tons of mud and many stomach infections. They can´t win.

Today I´m due back at the school (maybe 10 minutes from this internet shop) at 4 PM to see a film, not sure what as there were choices. Tomorrow afternoon there are dance lessons, which I plan to skip! I may go back to Fuentes Georginas. Thursday afternoon at 5 I think here is a big children´s procession at Parque Central. MY teacher has asked me if I would study in the afternoon starting at 2 PM instead of the morning, and the procession will be a part of our session for that day. No classes Friday of course (Good Friday). He was also not available last Friday so I studied that day on my own until 11 AM when we all took a bus to the university tos see the students preparing for their annual procession/protest, and to view many large murals making political statements about war, the government, and large corporations who abuse the poor with high prices, etc. The parade itself we/I viewed at Parque with many hundreds of other people for whom it is an annual family outing. I was there at 2 as suggested, but most people came much later, and the parade was mostly between 4 and 5:15 with the occasional motorbike carrying 1-4 students and friends earlier. Many has water pistols, and the whole idea is to teach some history and social conscience as well as educate and protest, all the time having a lot of fun. There were all kinds of costumes, street venders (mostly mobile) and many hundreds of people of all ages. An elderly Mayan man near me was selling candy and maybe other things, and I saw him smile and laugh several times at the antics fo the students.

I forgot to mention that my host family are Mormons. The first meal with them they asked me to say grace (it took me a while to figure out what they were saying). They don´t drink anything withh caffeine or alcohol. She asked me last night if I would come to their church on Sat April 18 to tell the kids a bit about Scouting, and Pedro (the boyfriend of her sister if you remember) has agreed to help. That should be interesting!

The good news is hat I found a shoe palce that sells insoles to prolong the life of my shoes (they are starting to wear) and I also after many tried found a pair of nail clippers - the latter it turns out are really for babies, but after a shower they worked for me! So I have a shower, a bad (forgot to say that I bought an airbed (with a pump) to put on top of the one in the house which is pretty hard) - luckily it too was on sale at a discount. I have a room with a lock, a pleasant place to stay, and a home with a family that are extrremely kind and considerate. Also Cynthia has told me to make the church my home while I am in Xela, and spoke of a possible trip to an attraction, the name of which I´ve heard before but forgotten, and the nature of which I am also unclear but I think some sort of nature park). We shall see!

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