Sunday, September 9, 2012


It has been only 3 days since I have been in Guatemala, and I think that I have been called or heard the word gringo at least 10 times if not more.  As I walk down the streets with the group I can feel eyes staring at me and I'm sure people question why 16 Americans are in Antigua, Guatemala.  I'm don't feel offended, just exposed.  People on the streets watch every move I make and I feel as if I am in a zoo and put on display for the locals to check out.  This is the first time I have been in the minority of a group of people, and after 3 months, I'm sure that I will be able to relate to many minority groups who are in America feeling the same way I do.
The culture is different in Guatemala from America, and it is simply something I have to get used to.  The people aren't worried about time, and "hola" has become a common word in my vocabulary.  As I walk down the streets, I pass children selling blankets and jewelry on the streets, and in the central park Mayan women are weaving scarves and blankets to sell.  The atmosphere is one of genuine friendship and concern for family and friends; whereas back in the United States, the watch controls the lives of people and many wouldn't take the time to stop and talk to someone on the street if it meant being late for an appointment.  This laid back environment was difficult for me at first as I hate being late for anything and I always have to know what time it is, but looking back, I only looked at my watch 3 times today, which is a record low for me :)  I'm starting to like the environment in Antigua.  Even when I moved into my host families house, their saying is "Mi casa es su casa"  How many people in America would open their homes to complete strangers and serve them as guests for 3 months with no complaints?  I don't know many people who would.  My host mom and sisters decorated my room for me and gave me the best blankets and furniture in the house.  With the little they have, they gave me the very best and this shows a lot about their humility and willingness to serve others.  This is the sign I saw when I first walked into my room :)

Not only is the culture different from the United States, but the view is as well.  Living in Michigan, I'm used to farmland and maybe a couple rolling hills, but not much.  Flying into Guatemala, I see mountains, volcanoes, and oceans!  In Antigua alone, there are three volcanoes that surround the city and one of them is currently erupting, (which is really cool to see at night).  When I wake up, I can see volcano Agua in the distance and to the north of the city are two more volcanoes that just make the view spectacular!  Even the climate is different.  Every day the temperature is in the 70s with a rain shower in the afternoon, but it makes for a tropical feel.  Every house has courtyards in the center as if half the house was built outside.  It's normal for a house to only have a roof over the main rooms with wide open courtyards and spaces for plants.  It's very pretty!!  Below is one of the most photographic spots in Antigua.  It is the main arch used by nuns in Antigua with volcano Agua in the background.  This just takes my breath away!

The people of Guatemala live a very simple life, but it's one of joy and love.  My host family has taken me in and mi madre treats me as one of her own daughters.  With what little some of these people have, they make up for in service and generosity.

No comments:

Post a Comment