Spanish word of the day:
tocaya [to-cah’-yo, yah]
1. Having the same name, namesake.
*disclaimer: this was written last night, but I had to wait until I had wifi access to post it.
Well. I made it, friends. Two flights, a mild panic attack through turbulence, and one broken suitcase later, here I am. You’d think that after 22 years of flying, I would surely get past the nerves that creep in around 30,000 feet. Nope – the 9-year-old sitting across from me made frantic eye contact when we hit the first patch of turbulence, and I’m fairly certain his face was a far less panicked one than that of my own. The second flight was a 737 – much bigger and a much smoother ride, my raging imagination is always thankful for a larger plane. I was able to get some shuteye and next thing I knew we were 20 minutes away from landing. (Fun fact: the flight attendant asked if I wanted a picture with the pilots when I handed her my log book…is that a sign I’m getting to old to log my flights? Probably.) The descent into Guatemala City is always a bit bumpy, but the view is always breathtaking. The mountains, the lakes, the volcanoes – you see it all.
So this morning I didn’t wake up to light beaming through my blinds from the reflection of stark white snow (because it’s 68 degrees here – sorry Missourians), or fluffy kitten paws climbing across my face, but rather to the smell of garlic and onions sprinkled throughout frijoles on the stove. If you weren’t aware, I could LITERALLY eat black beans for every meal and be 100% content with life. That’s not normal – I know. But y’all should consider it. Protein, am I right? Anyway, Guatemala does breakfast right and I don’t mind it one bit.
After breakfast came the venture to Antigua…okay not so much a venture, as to a 30-minute car ride. But, have you ever been a passenger in a car on Latin American roads? If not, imagine driving down i70 without a speed limit and those bananas from Mario Kart are getting thrown at you, but they are actually other cars. Essentially, I stand by my usage of the word venture. As we approached the small town, I could feel the lump in my throat start to form. You know the feeling when you’ve been planning something for months and know in your mind it’s going to happen…but not until 5 minutes before does the rest of your body realize it? Yep. Random country, foreign language, host family, and 25 hours of Spanish classes per week – no turning back now!
We arrived at my school, Christian Spanish Academy, only to find out my host family was expecting me on Tuesday and wasn’t home…or something along those lines. (But really, what is my life if not a culmination of situations like this?) The school was incredibly helpful and had another family set up for me within minutes.
My my friends’ dreams of me falling in love with 23-year-old-host-brother-Patrick were crushed before the opportunity was even an option. Sorry y’all. Regardless, I was given a home and coincidentally, my host sister’s name is Paola. *while it is strange to no longer be the only “Paola” within a 3-state region, it’s also nice to pronounce your given name without hearing “Oh. Like Kansas?” as a response. There are two other men staying at the Romero household – Gary and Brian. Gary is an absolute hoot. He’s an older man from Louisiana and he likes to talk almost as much as I do. Who knew that was possible? Brian is a middle-aged man reared in Chicago, spent much of his life in California, but has lived in China for the past 13 years. He leaves Antigua on Wednesday and I asked if he’s going back home to China. He told me he is stopping in Mississippi for his father’s surgery, and might head to China after that – maybe Indonesia, though. He’s been itching to go there again, yes you read that right, AGAIN. Must be nice, Brian. He’s apparently a network engineer and works with fiber optic rings…? I don’t know. Just give me another job that isn’t that, but still allows me to hang out in random countries for weeks on end and still have money to live. Brian is a nice guy though; he gave me a mini tour of Antigua and bought me a smoothie. Also – he’s paying our host mom under the table for wifi access. I need to hop on that as soon as he’s out of here.
Not much excitement happened after the smoothie (it was a darn good smoothie though)– just got myself lost among the grid of identical streets, put my room together, and had some delicious leek/celery/zucchini soup for dinner.
Classes start tomorrow and 7 a.m. is never a happy time for me, so I should probably close this bad boy down. I hear gunshots as I’m typing this. Or firecrackers…we will say they are firecrackers because there’s no way it’s more than a mile away from me. I hope y’all are able to bear with the misuse of commas and awkward sentence structure in the name of documenting my life because it might not get any better.