Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mis classes, mi casa, y las comidas

31 enero

Buenos dias!

Yesterday was quite a long day.  We got up early to take the 8 am charter bus to Xela.  Got a ride to the bus station from Alberto, who had also picked us up at the airport.  The bus ride was long (about 3.5 hours) but pretty comfortable except that there were no bathrooms.  Despite deliberately water-restricting, both Mariah and I had to pee by midway through the trip. Luckily, the bus stopped in a mid-sized town with a sanitario, which is basically a ceramic hole in the ground that costs 3 quetzales. It does include paper towels.

We arrived in Xela around noon and immediately took a cab to Celas Maya.  The school is really neat - it's basically a big open courtyard surrounded by tables and some extra rooms where students have their one-on-one lessons. I'll try to include a picture tomorrow. We got a whirlwind orientation to the school and then were quickly scooped up by my host mother, Elida.

We met Elida's 4-year-old son, Ricky, who is very funny.  I told him el puede ser mi profesor en la casa. Elida will be a good teacher too - she speaks slowly and corrects kindly.

We figured out who belonged with who and she got me set up in my room while she took Mariah across the street to her host family.  Our home is lovely.  The kitchen and a small sitting area are adjacent to the garage on the first floor and the main floor of the home has the family's rooms and bathroom.  My room is actually on the roof and is connected to Michelle's room (Cara's roommate).  She's only here until Sunday but it's been great having her to orient me a little more.  Also, we can have conversations through the partition between our rooms.

That came in handy early this morning, when I heard a couple rounds of fireworks versus some sort of vehicle noise versus gunshots.  I doubted it was the latter but Michelle confirmed through the wooden wall that it was definitely just fireworks, which is very common.

I had my first lesson already yesterday afternoon with Monica, my teacher.  She is truly wonderful - very patient but persistent in speaking almost only Spanish.  I think I learned as much in 5 hours as I did in 2 semesters of medical Spanish at UNC.  We reviewed all the basics and she said repeatedly "no te preocupes" when I did silly things like say Guatemala was in South America.  She is also quite pregnant and is due in early April so we spent awhile talking about her pregnancy and plans for her delivery.  (Mostly I listened and once in awhile inserted a "Si, es normal" or a pearl that I could muster in Spanish like, "Cuando tu eres embarazada, tienes mas sangre en el cuerpo."  I feel fairly pathetic but I'm glad I had the small amount of background that I did.  I will work with her in the afternoons at least through Friday but I might switch teachers next week so I can have my lessons in the morning.  The school organizes various activities in the afternoons, like small hikes, tours, cooking lessons, etc and the afternoon lessons preclude us from going.

Michelle and I had dinner with Elida, Ricky, and her daughter Alejandra, who is 14.  Alejandra is pretty quiet but Ricky rode around in the living room on a new bicicleta with training wheels while we ate and asked repeatedly to eat the chocolates from the Southern Season gift basket I brought.  The food in general is very carb heavy - spaghetti, tamales, bread, rice, potatos - and I think I'm going to give up on being a vegetarian while I'm here, at least in our home.  I had some meat patties yesterday that tasted good but I have no idea what the meat was.  I decided it was better I don't ask and try everything as long as my GI tract is ok with it.

After dinner, Michelle and I went to an Indian restaurant for another student's birthday.  It was nice to meet some of the other students, most of whom were from UVA med.  We actually had unintentionally segregated into a medical and non-medical side of the table.  On our side it was me, about 5 UVA MS4s, and one 4th year med-peds resident from Vanderbilt.  The other side was much more interesting - a computer engineer, crisis line worker/musician from Portland, one of the teachers from Celas Maya, and a couple others.

Mariah and I have this morning to do some work and errands so our plan is to work at the school, go to the market to get notebooks, snacks, and tuition money, and go for a run.  There's actually a yoga studio nearby as well that I'm going to check out tomorrow!


1 comment:

  1. Wife- If you move to Philly, it will help you very quickly learn to distinguish fireworks from gun fire, particularly if you spend some time around Temple.

    Another plus to ranking Philly first??? Definitely.