Today was our first day in Guatemala. Already I feel a warm spot in my heart opening up to embrace this place! I must admit though, that I was finally able to name the fear that has been lurking behind all the excitement and euphoria of the last 12 days, and that fear is the fear of loneliness. It seemed like a very real possibility as I sat on the curb today while the other fellows walked around Antigua’s only supermarket looking for shampoo… I felt a barrier from the fact that I am a “gringo” and will never really be able to fit in & a barrier from the fact that the side of me I can and do express in English and to my American friends is not quite the same person who can be expressed here in Guatemala.
A little while later however, I found myself running around the city of Antigua with the fellows trying to find Luis a birthday present! It was quite the adventure, running into shops and conversing with the shopkeepers. It made me feel much better when they would listen attentively as I slowly but (I think) successfully explained that we were looking for a pair of neon swim trunks as a gag gift for our “boss.” They smiled and laughed and gave us directions if they had any ideas. Even a small local girl, maybe about 7 years old, who was extremely practiced at heckling tourists into buying her goods (”Good price! I made this by hand! Only one dollar! You don’t have to pay! Get him to pay! This helps me go to school! Come on, I won’t be here tomorrow and neither will you! It’s a good price!”) helped point us in the direction of a book store in which we bought Luis a card and a book by Paulo Coelho. The boys got a cake with candles (I won’t tell you how many because it was hard enough for US to find out how old Luis is turning!) and even a lighter (they had to pantomime lighting a cigarette– and I should add Michael is not the most talented of pantomimers…quite hilarious.)
Tomorrow we will be going to meet our homestay families. What I know right now is that my family has a stay at home mom, a father who is a farmer, 3 children, 2 birds, and 2 dogs (1 is a dalmation and 1 is a french poodle! just like my little pfeffernusse at home! oh my gosh!!) and they go to church every Sunday. Luis assures me that they will adopt me as their own from the get-go, and I’m sure that will help to ward off the big bad lonely.