By Bailey Brockman
Hola chicos and chicas!
We are officially one month into our adventures of second semester! Being in a foreign country for this period of time has resulted in various stages of adjusting to culture, a few unwanted stomach bugs (don’t worry moms, I assure you we are being careful and getting looked after), and a whole lot of memories!
We had a full weekend of two volcano hikes and individually meeting with our visitors J. and Andrea. Following that we eagerly dove into our third week of Spanish classes in hopes of miraculously becoming fluent, and eliminating the somewhat awkward encounters that a language barrier brings when immersed in a foreign culture.
Monday started the many festivities this week held; the most obvious being the day of love, or as we know it, Valentine’s Day. We were challenged by our leaders to take some time and possibly a little PMG budget to spread some love. To all of our delight, 3 of our boys decided to surprise everyone on Tuesday morning before class with individually wrapped bouquets of flowers, a smile and simple message of “we love you” as an early Valentine’s Day gift.
This was only the beginning of a week of celebrations. Not only did Tuesday mark the day before Valentine’s Day, but it was also Carnival day (a tradition in South and Central America, celebrating the beginning of Lent); and to top it off, my host mom’s birthday.
The vibe one gets when it comes to celebrations in Guatemala is “go big or go home,” with a whole lot of confetti and fireworks. To say the least, this week brought a lot of “happy days” filled with hugs, gifts, school carnivals, and more confetti – leaving my host family no other option than to have a party! My new cousin Tana and I (our host moms are sisters) had the incredible opportunity to be part of a birthday party “done right” where we preceded to smash confetti-filled eggs (pica-pica) over each other’s heads for a hour. In addition, the group of us teaching English as our independent service project was able to witness the high school’s extravagant carnival.
To our surprise, the celebrations didn’t end there. Wednesday (Valentine’s Day) was Ash Wednesday and the day that the Antigua soccer team beat Guatemala City 3 to 2, which our whole group also had the amazing opportunity see. Showing up in green to support our closest city, Antigua, we were welcomed without a question to the full stands of crazy fans.
Fun fact: The Antigua team is know as Panzas Verdes which translates to Green Bellies. This name originates solely from the fact that they eat too many avocados, which explains why their mascot is an avocado with a face on it.
After this very full week of learning, celebrations, and cultural activities, we were more than ready for the weekend where half of the group headed to Lanquin for an adventurous, relaxing weekend and the other half to Santiago Lago Atitlan.
Ultimately, coming out of this week, I have learnt how to celebrate Guatemalan style, that glitter never really comes out of your hair, and that we as an Outtatown group have been so graciously welcomed into this country’s culture. Regardless of my rudimentary Spanish and the fact that I’m basically a stranger, my host family continues to treat me like part of the family. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such amazing people on this journey and for the experiences and adventures had and yet to come.
Until next time!