We are currently planning on spending 4 full weeks in San Pedro to become fluent Spanish speakers 🙂
Our scenery will not be changing too much, so I plan on doing posts on specific topics. We’re learning a lot about the food, it’s also a topic we practice a whole lot with our host family and when trying to purchase food at the market.
Here is the lovely family we stayed with 2 weeks ago. Natanael, Maria, and their two children, Pedro and Cecilia. This homestay was arranged through our school. Staying with our family includes 3 meals a day, except Sundays, and is slightly cheaper than staying at the local hostel.
This past week and for the next 2 weeks we will be with Vila, Julio, and their two sons- Selvin and Juan. There is also an Oregonian family, Sharon, Dave, and their daughter Gianna that we met here. They are spending some time abroad to learn Spanish and immerse their daughter in another culture! The view out of our bedroom window and the rooftop is absolutely stunning…perhaps you’ve seen our Instagram post 🙂 Yesterday was Vila’s 33rd birthday. We did it properly-lots of decorations and we cooked a pasta primavera dinner! We also learned that women do not drink in Guatemalan culture, very taboo, but Vila was very happy we got her some wine!
Something I am starting to process this week, is the third-worldness of our experience. I am VERY grateful for where we come from and for all the abundance we have, but its also very overwhelming when you are suddenly faced with the reality of daily human struggle. We arrived in San Pedro on a very rainy day, it would be hard to like any place with rain like that. Immediately I noticed all the grime in the streets and all the houses that seem to be thrown together. Being here for 2 weeks has let me see and understand this town better.
Also, today I think I had a break through as we were going on a tour of ancient Mayan history with our homestay dad, Julio… The sun was shining and reflecting the bright colors off the houses, the street was void of tuk tuks and traffic noises. I had a feeling of peace and satisfaction come over me. I finally saw a beauty to San Pedro: tranquility, kindness from the “!Buenos Dias!” exchanges between people, and the joy that comes with a Saturday morning. Suddenly out of nowhere, a motorcycle whizzed by and (since I keep my eyes glued to the cobblestone these days) I notice a big pile of poop and managed to miss it in the nick of time. I was quickly brought back to reality.
I realized that I want to experience this country in a way that I will enjoy. However, that’s not what it’s about. It’s raw out here. I will find the tamales stands and the exotic fruits I so badly want, but Guatemala also wants me to experience the reality of having to wash your clothes in the beautiful lake or get pushed into a giant puddle to avoid a tuk tuk screaming down the hill. It wants me to know that there are beautiful moments here, but that I can’t just make them appear. It’s not possible to isolate yourself here like we do in the States. Here you are going to experience whatever it is that is happening, sorry no choices about it.
The markets are absolutely amazing. The food and produce is everything we consider “exotic” in the states. Mountains of papayas (10Q-15Q = $2 per papaya), coffee, limes, oranges, pomegranates, bananas, avocadoes (3Q= $0.38 per large avocado)
The sights this week have included the town of San Marco (there are 9 towns around the lake…all pretty far from one another) and climbing up to Maya Nariz “the Mayan nose” peak on Sunday.
Just today (Saturday) we got to learn more about the local Mayan history. When the Spanish invaded the Lake Atitlan area, the Mayans were clever enough to see them coming and set traps such as beehives on their path. The Mayans fled their homes, staying in caves in the area. Eventually, they were able to resettle and they created a succession of three different towns, which are all still occupied today. The last town is currently the center of San Pedro.