Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ya Lleguè

La Primera Semana...

Oye! Guess where I am? Well, if you’ve made it to this site, you probably already know: Chimaltenango, Guatemala. It’s beautiful! More importantly, the people are beautiful!

The first day, Luis picked us up from the airport late at night, and we drove about 45 minutos outside of Guatemala city. It was then that I found out that I actually CAN speak Spanish! Who’d a thunk it? Luis and I talked all the way to the orphanage. We discussed everything from chu chus (another word for perros) to the political geography within the country to the soccer game that EVERYONE was watching/listening to (don’t worry, Guate won) and more.

When the other 4 volunteers and I arrived to the hogar, most were asleep but we met a couple and then we went to sleep. Four other volunteers, you say? Why yes! Marissa and I met three girls in the airport who were also on their way to an orphanage in Guatemala. You’d think that when we all got in the same car, we would have guessed that we were going to the same, but nooooo. We didn’t realize we’d all be working together until we pulled up to Clara Fantasia and Luis dropped us all off. We’re slow, but we eventually get things.

En the MORNING, however, we met TODOS! Now, we’ve only been here…hmm…less than a week? Yeah, about 4 ½ days and it feels like we’ve been here for months. These ninos are so quick to befriend and love. The more I learn about their backgrounds, the more I am just completely inspired by how resilient and happy and eager they are.

I only have a bit more time, so here are some highlights:

The other volunteers don’t speak Spanish, so I translated the Welcome to Clara Fantasia speech that Guillermo (the owner) gave us. I get to translate a lot nowadays. It’s so fun!

The kids LOVE abrazos y besitos, and we get plenty around here. The leaders just say “bessssho!” and someone always shows up with the cheek-peck greeting.

Chicken funeral. Oh yeah, there’s no way I can go on without mentioning the chicken funeral. The grounds here are actually absolutely beautiful. Basically, everything is outside. There’s a courtyard with a garden and a court (where we play tag, soccer, basketball, dance parties, and everything else) and then around it, there are rooms and a kitchen (of sorts), and all that jazz. Then out back there is a yard with the most enormous avocado tree that I have ever heard of. Grandote! But I digress. Though avocados are important, I was going to tell you about the chickens. So, first, one of my little amigos taught me how to catch them and keep them calm. A day or two later, we received word that some animal had attacked and killed five of the six chickens. Just so we all remember, that’s a lot. So, kind of unfortunate. However (now, don’t think I’m insensitive; after all the people here don’t really seem to mind that they’ve died), it was hilarious. One of the boys came and told me to come out for the burial service of the pollos. When I did, a bunch of the kids were out there, pick axes and shovels still in hand, huddled around the gravesites. They had made little crosses out of wood and then we all sat in a circle while one of the boys conducted a prayer. One of the little girls sat in my lap and was quick to note that I was more busy trying not to laugh than bidding farewell to the birds (or, “cinco de nuestros amigos”). When the prayer ended, everyone jumped up and was eager to show me traces of bird around the yard. Eeeeeew. It was so funny though. The boys insisted on taking pictures next to the battle scenes they’d discovered. Group pictures were also taken. It was a big deal. The kids had so much fun. Goodness, I love them!

Oh! We also went to the park to see a parade (it’s the season of Independence Day), but we missed it. Instead, we danced to all the music around. We were our own parade: five white girls, a couple older Guatemalan ladies, and about 15 kids. Oh yeah. One of the toddlers is always so quick to dance whenever he can, and he gets down! So we all cut the proverbial rug until the kids realized I was tickelish. From then on, I’ve been at their mercy. They are expert tickelers and I am very weak to such things. So we played in the town center a while and then took off.

Argh!! There’s so much more to say, but time doesn’t permit. Curse you, Time!!! Actually, I’m a big fan of time. More of it would be nice. Whenever I think about having to leave in December, it makes me very very sad. It was so easy to become best friends with each kid (I’m so grateful for the Spanish that I do speak. It’s helped so much). I get to spend a lot of one on one time with each and I also get group time. It’s just so wonderful! Every once in a while, I’ll be watching one of my amiguitos do a play for me or read with me, and I have to fight back thoughts of having to leave. I just want to help them all so much more.

Okay, well I should go. I LOVE it here. There are things to be wary of, but that’s just part of life anywhere. Let’s just say, it’s becoming more and more apparent that “normal” doesn’t have a universal definition.
AAAAH!! I want to write more! But no! NO! I must away.

I love you all! Thank you all for everything! I hope all is well.

Hasta luego!
Maria

p.s. good news: after our room’s check, we see that none of the volunteers have lice! Good news indeed! That’s your prayers at work, folks! Well, actually your prayers help WAY more than that. But lice-lessness is good too.

6 comments:

Jana said...

Have you ever noticed that when you start talking about lice, people start to run their fingers through their hair, and your scalp suddenly feels itchy?

Katie said...

Mary Mary, Good to know you are alive and attending chicken funerals. We are so proud of you! I love reading about your adventures.

The Smith Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Smith Family said...

WE LOVE YOU AUNTIE MARY!!!

Randy said...

Hey sis,

sounds like you're doing as amazingly as we all predicted... I'm the only one who put money on you being successful so thank you Sugar Mamma!!!

I'd like to send you an Mp3 recorder so you can record the voices of everyone and then you will be able to keep the audio recordings for a long time. I wish I had done more of that when I was in Brasil.

Is it permissable to send that to you?

I don't really care if it gets stolen (financially its no big deal) but I don't want to bend any rules that you might have.

Let me know.

Love ya,

R3

CarolJoy said...

Mary I enjoy reading about your adventurous days. I know that you and the children are going to have many more! Guatemala is truly a treasure and now you know why my memories of my time there are so precious. Savor each second! Love, MOM...yes...MOM is WOW spelled upside down...we must get the word out...cd