domingo, 1 de enero de 2012

Arriving in Antigua

After the several month long process of applying, interviewing, waiting, and doing all the paperwork, going to Guatemala to serve in an orphanage for a year suddenly became a reality.  Yesterday I hopped on a plane and found myself in a sunny, warm, everything-is-in-Spanish world full of strangers and hopefully future friends.

With this blog, I hope to record some good memories, challenging experiences, and just to share my adventure abroad.  I’m really excited to be a caregiver for kids with disabilities.  Combining my interest in Spanish/Latino culture with working with this population couldn’t be more perfect.  Well, anyway, here goes the beginning of my year.
Landing in Guatemala City, I met a pleasant woman with my name on a sign.  Her family was there to pick me up and bring me to the language school I decided to attend a week before starting at the orphanage.   We chatted for some time and I began to realize 1) that my Spanish needs a lot of work, and 2) I was going to get lots of opportunity for that. 

About an hour or so later we arrived in Antigua.  I had heard so much about this city; the tourism, the beauty, and a lot of good things.  It is beautiful but different than I expected.  It doesn’t have a big city feel, but the buildings are smaller and brightly colored in orange, yellow, and red.  When we arrived, there were people all over the place for the New Year’s celebration.  I could see people buying and selling fireworks and congregating in the central park.  We passed by the school I will be attending on Monday and a minute later we were at the doorstep of my host family.  Immediately they were very warm and friendly.

Exhausted from the travel they showed me my room and gave me some time to rest and unpack.  All afternoon and evening I could hear fireworks outside.  After a few hours I joined the family and had a really great conversation with my host dad.  I appreciated his patience with both speaking slowly and giving me time to struggle through sentences instead of finishing them.  We talked about other students (they’ve been hosting students for 20 years!) and family and God and life.  We talked about the importance of being grateful for everything one has.  It was a wonderful conversation.

At midnight everyone went around to give hugs and kisses saying “Feliz año!”  Then one of my host mom’s granddaughters brought me to the roof where we could see fireworks going off in every direction.  These were nice fireworks that I’ve only seen in shows put on by the city or township back at home.  It was really neat just to spin around slowly and see fireworks everywhere.

I slept pretty well last night and woke up to a rooster crowing (I’m pretty sure).  After having a nice breakfast of tomales , pan dulce (sweet bread), and coffee, I spent some time journaling and then headed to mass with the family.  I’m not very familiar with the Catholic tradition and I really enjoyed seeing the church and the congregation worship.  The priest talked about how crazy it is that Jesus came to us as a needy baby.  It was a good message on the paradox of the Almighty in total vulnerability.

That afternoon I had started getting a little antsy about exploring Antigua with the parks and ruins and interesting streets.  However, I didn’t want to go on my own as getting lost was both not a good idea and a habit of mine.  Luckily I was able to meet up with a guy who is a student at the same language school and also will be a volunteer at the same orphanage.  We spent the rest of the afternoon together.  He showed me around to central park, pretty churches, and old ruins.  There are a lot of ruins in Antigua.  They are mostly of old cathedrals that the Spaniards built in the 16th and 17th century.  It was a beautiful day to walk around.  The sun was bright and warm and I think the temperature was around 70.  I kept forgetting it was January.  Before heading back we stopped by the super market to pick up a few things. 

It was a really great day with my host family and exploring the city.  Tomorrow I’ll start my first day of class!  I hear the teachers are really great and the activities sound really fun.  My hope is to blog every week-ish so you’ll hear all about it next time!   

4 comentarios:

  1. This sounds like an amazing adventure and I look forward to reading about it! Have a wonderful time!
    ~Your VST :)