My teacher was Nabila. Nabila was pretty much an amazing teacher and not just because she was beautiful, young and laughed at my jokes. I think part of my issue with my last teacher was the lack of patience and the inherent machismo found in Latin American men dealing with woman.
She easily explained the problems I had with grammar in a way that did not make me frustrated. We spent the majority of the sessions talking about her ex, daughter and the challenge of being a single mother in Guatemala. I taught her all about DNA testing on the Maury show and why she should not like Alicia Keys. Our trips to make copies for my homework often turn into trips to find ice cream.
I think I got her in trouble one time-since we were gone an hour. The sessions flew by because we spent so much time talking about things that I was interested in, with someone who I would have a conversation with outside of school.
I also enjoyed the coffee/tea and cookies that were prepared for our break time by Jamie’s mom.
I am always surprised by how open people who just meet me are with me. Somehow it was decided that I will find her an American cowboy, she was inexplicably attracted to cowboy boots and cowboy hats. After she told me this I begin to notice the amount of people in Coban with the “Cowboy” look. Strange, but who am I to judge –I love Oprah. This Thursday was Father’s Day in Guatemala and since Nabila daughter was at a program at her school with her father which meant Nabila had a little extra time after school and she was feeling a little down we went out for drinks. We spent the majority of our time searching for wine for me, when we finally found some it was a bit expensive. It is kind of hard to be “down with the common man” only sipping wine and champagne. I decided to have my first beer ever…two beers were cheaper than one glass of wine. By the time I decided to drop some of my bougie ways, Nabila’s ex was ready to drop off her daughter. So Nabila’s daughter joined us, again my knowledge of the Jonas Brothers, High School Musical and Hannah Montana made me an instant hit with her daughter. Beer is not totally disgusting, but I do not think it is very ladylike. I will indulge solely in 3rd world countries.
The next day was Friday which was my last class with Nabila as my teacher. During class Nabila invited me to come to her house on Saturday. Nabila lived in Tactic, a very small town about 40 minutes outside of Coban. She gave me directions on what bus to take and how to find her house. The plan was me to meet her around 1:30, after I left the Rey Marcos Cave with Jamie in the morning.
Saturday was my last day in Coban. I woke up early to wash some of my clothes. After hearing that I had never hand washed clothes before, Yohana suggested I have her lady come and wash my clothes. I gladly agreed to this, but made sure I knew the lady name before relinquishing my clothes. To clarify, I have hand wash clothes before but in the United States completely different. The soap they use look like a bath bomb/fizzy thing, their whole method is completely foreign to me.
I left the house in order to meet Jamie and Amy (another student at the school from China/USA) for our trip to Rey Marcos. We took a bus to San Juan Chamelco
The van was packed full of Guatemalans and it smelled better then the tourist shuttles with 4 “travelers”.
When we return to the front of the park, we were told we had to wait about 30 minutes before we could tour the caves. By this time it was 11 am and Jamie since Jamie told me we would be back by 12:30-I was a little annoyed. An hour later we finally had begun our tour. I spent most of the time trying not to get dirty, as we climb through the muddy cave. I was relatively successful at this. At one point in the tour they make us hold hands and turn off all the lights- very eerie standing in cave in total darkness. The guys on the tour thought it would be a great ideal to put mud all over their bodies. I was very close to falling several time climbing out, because the walls were muddy and I didn’t want to touch them.
When we finally got back to Copan it was around 2pm and I still needed to make arrangement to get to Peten on the following day. After arriving at the travel agency and discovering the price was different from one I was quoted earlier. I begin hunting for this bus to Tactic, which no one on the street could help me with and Nabila’s map was not helping. I was finally on my way to Tactic at 3pm, my first time on a chicken bus alone. Nabila’s “easy” directions to find her house were far from easy. Searched for a phone and waited for her to come find me. Her father informed me that she was waiting for me all day. Nabila showed me her house before taking me to see the construction for her new house (Habitat for Humanity is building a house for her). She took me to lunch outside of Tactic at a really nice café, I had my second beer ever- she is such a bad influence (this one was light-more lady like). As we ate she casually mention she had to tutor someone at 5:30. It was 5pm, she mention I could wait for her at her house or go back to Coban.
As I thought about what I should do, her brother walks into the café. Apparently she had called him to entertain me as we waited. Her brother and I had a nice chat as we walked back to their house- just before the rain begun.
I chatted with Nabila’s brother, sister and father as I waited. Her 3 year old nephew who was acting very shy before was slowly coming around to me. Her daughter and her daughter’s friend ran in and out of their room to ask me questions about Disney World (I was instantly cool because I had been). When Nabila finally arrived back to her house it was raining very hard. She asked me what I wanted for dinner, I told her I was still full from dinner but she insisted. Although, she said she didn’t like to cook dinner was great. The first time I didn’t have eggs or black beans for dinner in a week. While she was cooking her daughter made a poster with her name and her best friend name/ ages, Nabila name and age and of Jesus Christ- with the caption “mejor amigos” (best friends). After dinner with her family, she suggested that I spend the night in Tactic. I was in no hurry to get on a chicken bus at 9 at night alone to go back to Copan. The only problem was I knew my family would be worry after trying to get their number from Jamie with no luck, I decided to stay the night. Early that night her nephew had ask me if I wanted to sleep in his bed that night (along with his mother and his mother friend), since that clearly was not an option I begin to wonder where I will sleep. Everyone was going to bed so I went into the room with Nabila and her daughter. After we all changed for bed and were watching “Parent trap”, the ridiculousness of sharing a bed with not only my Spanish teacher but her 7 year old daughter begin to run through my mind. How do I get myself in these situations? Luckily, Nabila decided it was a bit crazy for all us to sleep in the same bed and decided that I would sleep in her room while she and her daughter slept in her father’s room. Great!
I went to bed woke up around 5:50 am, got dressed and said good bye to Nabila. Her father walked me to the bus and I headed back to Coban. I still had to secure a bus to Flores. I was dreading the walk of shame, when you have to come the next morning wearing the same clothes you had on when you left. I did not want my family to think I was out having a wild night with some boy. Thankfully, they knew where I was, although Jamie had not responded to us he had relayed the message to the family. I grabbed my clothes (which was still wet from the rain) showered, ate breakfast and said my good bye.
Leaving Coban was sad; I really liked both the family I stayed with and my teacher. I think you can tell a lot about people by how they treat strangers. I am forever grateful for the hospitality that the show to this tall, goofy black American with no hair and horrible Spanish. I am sure I will see Coban again…
On to Peten.