Well, Guatemala is coming to an end. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that time flies, so I need to start soaking it all in a bit quicker.
So, here´s real Latin American culture. A soccer game. It looked more like a riot to me, but apparently this is how things are done here. On the outside of the stadium there are food venders, jersey venders, all the normal event necessities. With that said, we were expecting the inside of the stadium to remind us of home…Give us a little taste of Seattle: Quest? Safeco? hahahaha what a joke. There are cement bleachers all around the field with no numbered seating. Your basic free-for-all. So we ask around and find out that one section in particular is known for lighting things on fire and yelling profanity (well actually, all of our teachers told us to take a notebook as we would be learning a great deal of new vocabulary at the event), so we sat opposite of them so we could clearly watch the event. The game started with multi-colored fire extinguishers. This was an extremely cultural experience. Probably even more so since all the gringos sat together drawing plenty of attention.
This extremely good looking cow was in the house, (note: house, not backyard) of Thelma and Luis, the weavers we spent Sunday morning with. We spent most of this week thinking about what our homestays in Honduras are going to look like, and we are all very hopeful that it is similar to the house of Thelma and Luis. The conditions weren´t great, but the love and joy within the family and their furry friends was perfect.
This week, Katie and I spent more time than usual with our family, and let me tell you, that allowed for plenty of inappropriate conversations. This family LOVES to discuss co-ed relations. It is hands-down one of the most comical things I have experienced, but also the most uncomfortable. I try not to give them opportunities to pester me, but when I made the mistake of saying “Tengo hombre” instead of “Tengo hambre”, I deserved the next few meal time conversations. On Wednesday, however, we got almost the whole family to come salsa dancing with us at La Parranda, and it was SO fun. We´re doing it again tonight before Katie and I leave! I couldn´t have asked for a better second-first homestay.
On Tuesday night, we played (I watched) a soccer game against a ministry called Interchange that works with kids that live and work on the streets. These kids live on the streets, they know how to play soccer. We were in for a loss the second we agreed to the game. However, vale la pena. We put up a good fight and the kids were excited that we wanted to play despite our obvious handicap. We finished the game with 25 Dominoes pizzas, and lots of stories. These kids have spent most of their lives drugged up, working for a few Quetzales a day, yet have come out of it like champions. They were full of laughter and smiles, more than willing to share their stories with us.
After watching the movie on Monday, some of the teachers wanted to show us some of the glimpes of hope that are offered in Xela. Welcome to Nuevos Horizontes. This is a secret house that is behind giant, black doors on a random street in Xela. It´s a shelter for victims of abuse. There are 37 people living there now. 7 of them are girls between the ages of 13 and 16 that have babies. All of them are hiding from the people that have hurt them. They normally stay for about 3 months, with the hopes that that person has stopped looking for them. The only way to know about this shelter is through word of mouth, which is why they were hesitant to let us in the doors. They only receive funding from donations, and there are only 6 people that are paid to work there. They serve over 400 victims a year, most of which are children that become orphans when they leave the house. It took everything in my power to get me to walk back out onto the street. I wanted so badly to stay and help in whatever way I could. Those children deserve so much love. It was amazing though, because this abuse problem is huge in Xela, yet there is only this one shelter, and most people don´t know about it. It´s hard to see this mission as one of hope when you know that there are so many more people out there without the opportunity to hide. I need to choose to see it as hope. If not, there can never be justice- there has to be justice.
And then there is the end. Last night, the six in the picture went to dinner at a restaurant that overlooked the entire city. It was stunning. It was full of great conversation, all in Spanish of course, and great company. I have learned to appreciate this language so much by being here. It is beautiful and difficult. I love it. Today, we started by going to our favorite Mennonite Bakeshop to get our last fill of delicious sweets, which was then followed by a party with two chocolate cakes, hot chocolate, chocolate colored cookies and bananas, and enchiladas. Of course that wasn´t the end. Obviously it was time to make crepes. All of this took place before lunch, yikes. Edgar (my food baby) definitely paid me a visit, which was fine because I would hate for him to miss out on this experience. We left the school with hugs and blessings. They all told us how ready we are for the rest of the adventure.
Tomorrow we head out. “El Plunge”. At 9 am tomorrow morning, we are meeting in Parque Central with our packs packed, ready to find our way to a little pueblo. We will be split into groups of 4, given a name of the pueblo, and a bit of money. We have two days to get to the pueblo and meet in Antigua. Vamos a ver!!!
Honduras in less than a week….Let´s go!