Mi Familia Guatemalteca
Monday, 09 February 2009 00:00 Tracesea Slater
The bus ride to Xela was about 4.5 hours, including many stops due to traffic and construction. The bus was very old and the seats were falling apart, about 3/4 of the windows were cracked or had holes in them. The ride was very bumpy and if you didn´t hold on then you were thrown from side to side as we went at lightning speed around the hairpin turns. Each time we stopped people got on the bus either to ask for money for some malady or to sell things. I unfortunately had not bought anything yet, so I had no change to buy small things. Once we got out into the country the scenery was marked by hills covered in trees and sporadic towns of indigeous Guatemalans. Some were dressed in traditional clothes and others wore typical western style clothes.
For most of the ride I was entertained by three small boys who had gotten on outside of the city with their mothers. I befriended the boys by offering them some chicle (gum). The boys were eager to talk with me and sometimes just stare at me. I made lots of funny faces and tried my best to converse with them in Spanish. Their mother´s spoke some English and they would ask me how to say certain things or try to teach their children to say funny things. I took their pictures and then showed them, which they really liked.
Upon our arrival in Xela we exited the bus and were relieved to find that our bags had also made the journey safely. We expected someone to pick us up, but no one was there. I still had no change and all the stores were closed. Clayton had a little change, but less than what the man told us it would take to make a phone call. Somehow, Clayton managed to call the person who was supposed to pick us up and he was pretty sure that they were coming even though he doesn´t understand Spanish and the phone cut off because he didn´t have enough money. Luckily, it was only about 10 minutes before Luis came to pick us up.
I was dropped of at my family´s house where I was greeted by Noemi, who turns out to be exactly the same age as me. I met her whole family eventually that night, which includes her husband Jose Antonio, her children Maria Jose and Jose Antonia Jr.(Tony), her mother in law Sonia, her sister Mariana and her niece Jennifer.
I occupied myself for most of the day by playing with the children. I gave them some gifts I brought and the warmed up to me right away. We played UNO and then I watched as they played Nintendo. The kids were wonderful to play with and I could understand them better than I can adults. There is a lot less pressure when talking to kids, so I was happy to spend my time with them. Later we ate lunch, very late, at 4:00 and I had the chance to talk with the rest of the family. Noemi talks slow and uses simple words so I can understand her most of the time. Sonia speaks very fast and uses lots of words that I don´t know, so I just nod my head and hope she isn´t asking me a question. I tried saying ´no entiendo´but I found that her explanation afterwards was not any clearer and I just kept saying I don´t understand. So, I´ve found that if i pretend like I understand most of the time she just smiles and then lets someone else talk. Later that night another student, Johanna, arrived from Germany. She and I played with the kids some more until it was time to go to bed.