We’ve officially spent one week with our Guatemalan host families! This past week was full of new experiences, overcoming challenges, navigating a language barrier, and working hard in class and at home to learn Spanish. Monday was our first day of Spanish school. We all met before class and shared about our exciting first nights with our homestays. We had a great first day where we learned some of the basics such as numbers, directions, and how to introduce ourselves. Throughout the morning we each had a short interview to see how much Spanish we already knew so that we could be split into class groups for the next day. We ended the morning with pin the tail on the donkey and a piñata! The next day we were split into groups of 4, each with an amazing teacher who will teach us Spanish in the weeks to come.
In the afternoons on Monday and Tuesday we were given a tour of both San Juan del Obispo and of Antigua. In San Juan we visited a chocolate maker where they taught us how their chocolate was made and let us taste the many different flavours they offer. Next we visited the Museo del Nispero, named for a popular fruit in Guatemala, and there we tasted some of their nispero products, including jam and honey. Afterwards we went to the firework factory where they showed us the popular bull-shaped firework structure that is meant for someone to hold above their head and run around as the fireworks go off. We learned that many Catholic Guatemalans use fireworks to celebrate different saints throughout the year.
In Antigua we walked through the market, visited a fancy hotel, saw some of the many beautiful churches, strolled through Parque Central, and learned more about the history of the former capital city of Guatemala. Antigua is such a beautiful city, rich with culture and history, and overflowing with life and colour!
Friday afternoon we had the privilege of having a salsa dancing lesson! Many of us were unsure of what to make of it at first but we all ended up having a great time. Most of the time was spent laughing while tripping over each other’s feet, but towards the end we mostly got the hang of it. It may not have looked like it but I would say we’re Dancing with the Stars ready.
On Thursday evening we all came together for our weekly worship. We sang and had time to reflect on the business of the past few days through journalling, drawing, praying, or sitting in silence. Although getting back into the Outtatown swing of things is exciting, it can be overwhelming at times. It was nice to create space to breathe and refocus. We were all thankful for the time spent together as a community, as living apart is taking some getting used to. Knowing that there are others who are going through the same things you are and who are there to support you makes all the difference.
Our host families have really welcomed us with open arms and loving hearts and we are so thankful for them. Although communication can be tough at times, we have felt very cared for this week. It’s amazing to have this opportunity to be able to live in this new culture, to try new food, and to be able to practice speaking Spanish every day. There’s still so much to see, learn, and do and we’re excited for what the coming weeks hold! We’re off to a great start and can’t wait for what’s yet to come!
Annika and Kara