“Dulces!” The old man looks up at our truck as we pull near him on the curvey and trash filled mountain road. “Sweets! Dulces!” We call, stretching our hands, filled with candy, out of the windows. His face breaks into a million brown wrinkles. His teeth flash, rotting and stained. His smile is so joyful, it makes me break into laughter. Happiness welling up inside of me like a artesian well. He runs toward the car, sandals flopping to his uneven gait. “Gracias!” he calls as we pull away. A little while later we come upon a soccer field. It is shrouded in clouds and the rainforest in fast approaching the sidelines. “Dulces!” we call as we pull near. From out of the mist run the players, their faces exuberant. “Over here! Over here!” they call rushing to retrieve the treats that we are throwing. I have never seen grown men act so enthusiastic over candy before. Their radiant smiles will forever remind me of the power of giving. It is late by the time that we reach San Pedro La Laguna. The bumpy, curvy mountain roads have taken a toll on me so I fall easily into a deep slumber. The next morning I wake up to the sounds of clanging dishes and rapid Spanish. I roll out of bed and go to explore my new home away from home.
I am living with a traditional Guatemalan family which means that everyone lives right next to each other. Up the hill is the grandmother, across the street is aunty, behind the house is sister; everyone floats from one house to another eating wherever they find themselves at meal time. I can not properly describe my living space without explaining the bathroom sink area, for starters the toilet does not have a seat. No Seat! How am I supposed to sit without a seat?! I have found that caution is needed when trying to attempt this feat. The sink is a big cement cistern with two side counters for washing. Water is dipped out of the cistern and then poured over whatever needs to be washed; hands, food, teeth, clothes. It makes me feel very adventurous.
As I am sitting on my bed planning out the next days English lessons I happen to glance out the door. I see the mother of the house walking through the living room with a whole, feathered, but luckily dead rooster. Ahh! I look again, yup, it is a rooster! Later on we have chicken soup with a feather floating on top. Welcome to Guatemala!
My first introductions at the school are to the teachers at Morning Prayer. Now it is time to face the children.
“Hola Chicos!” I call out to the sea of small faces. “Hola Seño Rebecca!” They reply in
unison. Their little arms encircle me in a forest of hugs. Their smiles are contagious and I all I can do is hug them back. They are so loveable and snuggly. Everywhere I walk I am met with a hug and a warm smile. I am nervous about the first classes, but all goes smoothly and now I have to set to the task of remembering fifty plus names such as Yesica, Juan Axel and Adolfo. Their adorable personalities are going to make my stay down here so much fun. I smile as I walk the dirt path from school back to my house. The smell of smoke, refuse and rain fills my nose and the warm colors of the sun setting over the volcano lights my path. I cannot believe that I have actually made it this far; I am in Guatemala!