If you told me three months ago a day like yesterday was possible, I would have said that’s crazy. If you would have asked me three months ago what a perfect day would be like in Antigua, I would have something along the lines of a day like yesterday, but never in my wildest dreams could have believed it was possible. Yesterday was the type of day one might read about in a tourism book touting the laurels of Antigua, learning Spanish, and traveling, the kind of description that inspires one to get up and go.
It started early with meditation and yoga, as every day has started for the past week plus. Breakfast was conducted with a lovely pair of young German students in the house of yet another host family (this is run by the mother of my first host family) with huevos revueltos, frijoles voleados, fresh watermelon juice and coffee. From 9A-1P I went to school and spoke, in Spanish, for almost 4 hours straight with my new Spanish teacher Genola (said Hen-o-la) and the craziest part about that is I actually understood most of what she said and she could understand me! For the past week I have been moping around because I couldn’t talk to anyone; I lacked the vocabulary to speak with any hint of intelligence and was very self-conscious that I would sounded stupid or uneducated. I would go out to cafes or to bars and just sit there smiling, wanting to speak with these lovely people around me in Spanish but not possessing the confidence or ability. I wanted to say to them – You know in America I am actually quite a talkative person? I talk all the time. Talk, talk, talk. And I am quite smart. I could produce circles around you, buddy. Alas, I didn’t say these things. Probably for the best if I would like to at some point make new friends here. But I can talk to Genola, and in my book that’s a victory. She even gave me homework. I am going to Spanish school and I have homework!
(My school is very concerned with my well-being)
Back at homestay numero dos, I ate a late lunch with a lovely Mennonite woman who is in Guatemala working as a Missionary and the owner of the house, Senora Hilda. The Mennonite was OK but I am still trying to figure out what to say to her as any of the early ice breakers – what movies do you watch, what music do you listen to, do you like to dance – are sort of out the window, but Senora Hilda is a hoot. We talked about food, which is of course all I ever want to talk about, while I scarfed down a pulled pork-like dish with peppers and onions, a guisado (stew) made with guicoy (a small, round zucchini-like squash) and tomatoes and of course, tortillas de maiz. She promised she would make me Fiambre, a classic Guatemalan dish prepared with over 50 ingredients and served on All Souls Day, November 1. She also promised she would take me on an outing to the market with her. I practically swooned. After lunch I made a quick trip into the heart of town for supplies and a visit to the post office, then back to la casa for a run and dinner with los alemanes and six (!!!) female Mennonite missionaries – apparently they travel in packs… then I did my homework like a good student.
It’s not the activities so much in themselves I love, but the experience as a whole. It’s the fact that every single day I am not only learning one new thing about 114, maybe more. It’s the fact that I don’t stare at a computer all day long answering emails but do homework, with a pencil, and that homework is then graded and discussed. It’s that I can sit down every single day and talk with someone new, people I have never encountered before in my life but are out in the world, same as me, navigating their way around this quaint little city and country and culture, feeling nervous and anxious and happy. I cannot imagine a better existence. I cannot imagine wanting to do anything ever again but eat breakfast with Germans and speak with Genola and jugar con mis amigos nuevos, los perros and go to bed every night, my body and mind full and tired, with the prospect of waking up again tomorrow and doing the same thing again. Muchos besos de Antigua!