As soon as we got off the plane, got our luggage, and went through customs and met up with Candy (wife and mom of our host family and VP of Global Community Works), we were immediately thrown into the third world mindset of being flexible no matter what may happen. Candy and Zach, an employee of GCW, had just made a huge grocery run to a bulk foods store where they loaded up his pick up with food for us for the 6 weeks. Zach’s truck seats 5 and including Abigail we had 6 people that needed to get back to Monjas, the small town we’re living in (30 minutes from Jalapa, 2 hours from Guatemala City). Gabor was on his way with another car to help transport people and possibly luggage but the car he was driving broke down in the middle of the highway and he was stuck…unable to come help. So we had to wait around while Candy and Zach made several phone calls to friends and mechanics and such and kind of hang around while they would figure out what to do/what could be done/what the best possible solution would be. Meanwhile, Gabor and Candy’s sons were in the States, no able to get a flight out! It was a stressful time for them, but it just meant we got to dive right into being understanding, flexible, and willing to go with the flow.
Candy had some friends that were able to come get her and I think Gabor…and then Zach, Tim, Abigail, Zach’s dog, and Enrique all squeezed into the small-ish cab in his truck, headed for Monjas for the night where we could finally rest and start to get settled. As we started out onto the road, Zach described the driving in Guatemala City like four major cities in the U.S….all combined into one! He listed off Dallas, NYC, and a couple of others. Needless to say, it was a little intimidating! The roads around here are paved in most areas, but still there are full of speed bumps, pot holes, chicken buses (brightly painted school buses that are used for public transit and go extremely fast.), tuk tuks (3 wheeled taxis), motorcycle delivery guys, and mini buses (public transit, also)…all of which are trying to get to their destinations very quickly and are not afraid to cut you off or pass you on a 2 lane road that has lots of curves.It was pretty scary! I found myself realizing just how different mindsets in a developing nation can be as soon as you throw your own child into the mix. Moms in America – be thankful for smooth roads, car seats with 5 point harnesses, and people who consistently obey traffic lights and signals.
The drive was really very interesting. A few blocks away from the airport you see some familiar restaurants like McDonald’s and big grocery stores in an obviously wealthy area of town…but then just a couple more blocks down the road you’ll find a very poor neighborhood. That’s not actually very different from the States, I suppose…It just really caught my attention.
The scenery here is so very beautiful. We could see the mountains and volcanoes from the plane when we were landing along with the tree covered hills. We are at about 3-4,000 feet altitude here in Monjas. We have a mango tree in the backyard here at the house, which is so awesome. 🙂 Mangos, pineapples, and oranges are in season right now…And they are all so delicious.
Man, I am long winded on these blogs! I apologize for that! I will try to get to the point faster so the blogs are so lenghty!
We finally drove up to the house about 4:15pm and Zach showed us our rooms and drew our attention to very important things, one of the most important being: Don’t drink the water — Don’t even brush your teeth with it. We use bottled water or filtered water for all our water needs. The house is really very nice. there are tile floors, 6-7? bedrooms I think, an office, pretty good sized kitchen and dining room, and a couple of living areas. We are upstairs, where there are 5 or 6 bedrooms and a bathroom or two. Our room has a twin sized bed for Abigail and a full sized bed for us. It’s such a nice set up…Especially for what it could be!
After we got settled…which basically means putting our suitcases in our room :)…We had some down time and then guys got to play some xbox, Abigail watched part of Wreck it, Ralph! and I got to post that we were here and safe.
Zach took us out to dinner at a really yummy restaurant called Carolina’s. The minute I stepped out of the airplane I wished I had brushed up more on my Spanish, but I also know that immersion is one of the best (and maybe hardest) ways to learn to speak it. I say that to say I opened up the menu at the restaurant and felt totally lost! I could pick out several words here and there…so I knew what I would be ordering, I just didn’t know how to order it…but I’m sure by the time we fly back I’ll be able to. 🙂 Anyway – this place was so very yummy. I ordered a hawanya pizza to share with Abigail that had fresh pineapples, ham, and onion. It was one of the best pizzas I have had! Tim had a burrito as big as his plate and devoured it in record time! We also ordered some fruit smoothies that were really good too. All in all, an excellent first restaurant experience in Guatemala!
We got back to the house, relaxed a while, and then I gave Abigail her first “bath” which ended up being used with just a cup and it was so very cold….Silly Momma didn’t think about the water heater connected to the shower…so the faucet water is always cold and you only get warm water when you shower…Now I know! I hated that she had to scream and cry for the 5 minutes that was washing her hair though. 😦 She is sleeping well in her new environment and new bed. 🙂
We pass out water filters to the community tomorrow and finally get to have some orientation time with Gabor and Candy as they are arriving home tonight after a tiring couple of days trying to get everyone back in the country!