What will I miss about Guatemala? Not much-A whole lot. How ready am I to live in the states again? Very-Not at all. You may have guessed it, I’m a mixed bag of emotions about my departure from Guatemala. I will miss the slower lifestyle. I love how in Xela I can walk from my gym at one end of town to my house at the other end in twenty minutes. I hate how on a rainy day the streets fill like rivers and cars swerve to splash through the puddles just so they can make sure I absolutely do not make it home dry. Even though the cars splash me, I still enjoy Guatemala and it has become my home.
Here is my top 10 things I will miss about Guatemala:
- My students constantly trying to make me repeat after them in Spanish. “Mister, burros dice que . . . ?” If you repeat something quickly enough I guess I’ll say what.
- The ayudantes (the driver’s assistants who take all of the payments on the chicken-bus or microbus) constantly trying to help me on and off the minibus, as if after three years I still didn’t know my way around Xela.
- The risk of buying cheap movies on the street that the vendor promises are in English. Will it be in English? I hope it wasn’t filmed in the theater. What? It’s in Russian? At least they’ll exchange the movie for another one if it doesn’t work.*
- The constant attention from the shoe shine boys in parque central. No, I don’t want my shoes shined, can’t you see I am a gringo and I wear sandals all of the time?
- Taking my pre-kinder students out to the basketball court to play with the hula hoops and the boys fighting over the more manly colored hoops. “Yo quiero azul!!” Or how one very little boy always wanted the small “ula ula” because, as he said, “Yo soy muy chicito!” It’s hard to take these boys seriously when they’re trying to claim to be manly and really little all at the same time.
- The lack of safety rules in Guatemala. “Oh you want to go and roast a marsh-mellow on that lava flow? Absolutely, and I’ll take your picture!”
- Playing Wii ping-pong with my friends and co-workers until late in the night. (Only on nights we had power.)
- Playing Zombie tag with my Kindergarten class out on the basketball court at the Inter-American School. They love trying to eat each other’s brains. And their pronunciation of “Must Eat Brain” always made me smile. Just say, “mustefrain” and chase your friends around like a zombie and you can play Zombie tag too.
- Listening to it rain. The cars may swerve to hit the puddles so they can splash me and other walkers, but the sound of rain drops hitting the rooftops is mesmerizing.
- My students. Hiking with them up La Muela. Challenging them to become better writers, students, and people. Having them challenge me to be the best I can be. They made my time in Guatemala truly an adventure.
Not mentioned in this list. The many dance parties. And how my students love my crazy dance moves. All I want is for them to learn to let go a little and have fun no matter what.
A few things I will not miss.
- Being over charged on a microbus, not to mention over stuffed, (I’ve been packed in one of those 15 passenger vans along with 35 other people). Yes, I am a white North-American, but that doesn’t mean I have to pay more than everyone else. It’s 1.25 Q for a microbus ride anywhere in town, just incase you’re interested. I learned to always pay with exact change.
- Trash, trash, trash everywhere. The mentalities of “oh we have someone to clean that up for us,” or “this plastic is biodegradable, right?” are really hurting Guatemala’s natural beauty. I might start a relief cause “Dumpsters for Guatemala.”
- The slow and often inconsistent internet. Man, I would love to check out that video of Justin Bieber, but unfortunately my internet isn’t fast enough. I guess I’ll just have to miss it. (read with a hint of sarcasm.)
- Never knowing when the lights will come back on. It’s been out all night for the past two days. I’m glad I hadn’t really wanted to Skype with my family back home.
- How difficult it is to fly out of Guatemala. Weather is always a problem here. I’ve been delayed because of snow storms (yes, these storms were in the US), volcano eruptions, tropical storms (Agatha!!!!), and random thunderstorms. Not to mention the fact that when you live in Xela you always have to drive to Guate the day before your flight, which makes everything a little more drawn out.