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Eating alone

I live alone. Well when I am not in Florida with my parents. I like it. I have never been much of a roommate type person. People in my personal space tend to annoy me and of course I don’t like to wear clothes a lot. So living alone suits me fine and I feel like I am a pretty independent person. However, over the last year or so I have discovered something about myself- I hate eating solo. Hate it. I like cooking for others, hate putting forth the effort to cook if it’s only me. This is crazy coming from a girl who spent most major holidays eating in her room rather than eating with her family. I often skip meals or eat extra light since it’s only me. I find myself offering to pay for people food so I can have company. I tend to gain weight when I am home in Florida and lose weight when I am in AZ or someplace living/eating alone. My disdain for eating alone is precisely the reason I loved my time in Tactic so much. I never ate alone. Nabila’s parent’s house was a 4 min walk from her house. Her sister, Amanda lived within shouting distance. I would wake up in the morning- chill in Nabila’s house, read and listen to music. She would be at work and her daughter at school so I got my “personal” time. Then either walk to Nabila’s parents or sister house for breakfast. By lunchtime Anatye, Nabila’s daughter would be home from school and we would all eat lunch together. Some days I went to Coban and had lunch with Nabila while she was at work. I usually ate dinner at her parents’ house with the whole family. We would all walk back to our respective houses at the end of the night. I never had to eat a meal alone, which made me very happy. I spent the rest of my time on “excursions” with various members of her family, everyone wanted some “Tab time”. I went to a restaurant name Lo Ranch with her father, where the owner got camera happy with my camera and took about 40 photos of me “modeling”.

Then we hiked up to see the view at this man who house was in the hills above the restaurant.

I hiked to see the church on the hill with Nabila’s brother new wife Lili (7mths pregnant), Anayte (7)and David (3).  Anayte and David taught me how to pray to Jesus who was on a cross in the middle of the church with a really bad wig surrounded by flowers in a glass container. He had a little box for money behind him. They showed me how to give him the money and the Catholic way to make the cross after you pray.I suggest staying home and praying, a hour hike uphill is ridiculous. I am sure God understands.

I went shopping in Coban with Nabila, Amanda, Anayti and Amanda’s friend Nellie. I went walking around the stadium at 6:30 am with Nabila’s mother, Carmella and Amanda. They ran, I walked. It was a beautiful morning though. 

I also had a chance to visit the family I stayed with in Coban last year.

Oh and of course I spent too much time playing with David, Anayti and Christian, who thought I was the best playmate ever. I really enjoyed how close the family was. Since Nabila worked and Amanda did not, Amanda would clean up Nabila’s house and do her laundry for her. There was always some adult checking Anayti’s homework after school or picking her up from school. I couldn’t imagine cleaning my sister house for her, mostly because I don’t have a month to dedicate that process.

Everyone pretended to understand me and whatever language it was that I was speaking. I won’t disrespect the Spanish language and call what I was speaking Spanish. They really made me feel like I was part of their family. Just a bit taller and Black. Nabila’s mother told me I could come back anytime I wanted. I have my choice of houses to stay in. Hopefully, I can repay their hospitality when they come to the states.

Nabila walked me to the bus stop to head to Guatemala City. As we waited I felt something drop on my head, it had been raining a lot so I assume it was water and tried to brush it off. Nabila looked at me and asked what was in my hair. Turns out a bird took a crap on my head, which was now also on my hand. We clean my head and hand up the best we could with a combination of tissue, water and hand sanitizer, just in time to get picked up for the 4.5 hour bus ride. Once I arrived in Guatemala City I took a taxi to another bus station “Tica Bus” for my trip to El Salvador. We left at 1:30 ish and got to San Salvador at 7:30 pm. We spent about 2hrs doing immigration and getting our passport checked by Guatemalan and El Savadorian officials. Some people got their stuff searched; I guessed I did not look like a big enough threat to get harassed. I wrote letters as I waited. Remember, I still have the remnants of poop in my hair and I had been up since 5:30 am, I was tired and dirty when I arrived. It felt so good to see Carmen waving at me, ready with her car to pick me up.

Wait, who is Carmen? According to her profile she is a World Language teacher and a vegetarian. There were other things but that’s all that I remember. But most importantly according to her messages she was down to let me stay with her while I was in San Salvador. Couchsurfing is a website where travelers from all over the world can find people who open their homes to traveling strangers to crash for a couple of nights. When I first heard of this, I thought it was crazy and only for white people or people who wanted to get killed/robbed by strangers. It is actually pretty cool. A lot of the time you don’t sleep on people couches, it can be a floor or a private bedroom. I have my own room and bathroom at Carmen’s house. As well as access to her computer, kitchen or whatever else she has in her house. Oh did I mention this all for the free, it is supposed to offer some sort of cultural exchange. Last night she took me to dinner, I got some “authentic El Salvadoran” food- pupusa’s.Today, I went with her to work and will be exploring the city solo. Tonight I am going to a party with her and some of her friends. So far so good. I am not dead yet. And I am not eating alone.

~Just Tab

Randomly:  I have gotten quite used to “chicken buses” and being crammed in a mini-van with 50 people. I have also gotten quite used to people breastfeeding in front of me. I was totally ok with Yohana feeding her baby in front of me when I visited her in Coban. One night on the way back from Coban we were extra packed on this bus, a man’s crotch was 3.5 inches from my face. I could not even reach in my pocket to pay for the trip. To my right was a lady and her baby, the baby was fascinated with me- ok my earrings from the moment they sat down. The baby would grab my hand and try to reach for my earrings. The baby was probably about 5-7mths but I am not a good guesser when it comes to baby ages and it was a really big baby. The mother proceeded to take out a breast (of course the one closest to me) to feed the baby …I promise you I could literally smell the milk coming from this woman’s breast and the whole time her child yanked on my hand. Considering I never plan to have a creature come out of me, this is the closest I will ever be to breastfeeding a child. 

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One way.

My mother dropped me off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Sunday morning. We were running a bit late due to a couple last minute stops, but I was still on track to check-in. I had about 15 minutes until the90 minute cut off for international flights. As I approach the area to check-in a man approached me

Man: Where are you flying today?

Me: Guatemala.

Man: Oh ok, You are flying roundtrip to Guatamala?

Me: No, one-way.

Man: Do you live in Guatemala?

Me: No.

Man: Are you a US citizen.

Me: Yes.

Man: Guatemala does not allow non-residents to fly one-way to their country without proof of a departure.

Me: But I am leaving Guatemala, on a bus in like 5 days. I promise.

Man: You need a proof, a ticket. You can not fly on a one-way ticket with us today, mam. You need to buy another ticket with us or another airline.

At this point I was thinking the why did they allow me to buy a one way ticket, when I couldn’t fly on a one-way ticket. I was on the phone with the airline that morning, no one said anything about my one-way ticket. As the cut off time approached I figured I had to act fast. As the man pointed me in the direction to buy another ticket I called the airline to check the price, since there is no internet in this airport to check flights on other airlines. My plan was to buy my ticket home later. I have commitment issues and I did not want to commit to a date to come back. What if I ran out of money? Or was bored with traveling? Or wanted to spend more time in El Salvador or Honduras? Or I fell in love with a Honduran hunk and decided I was never coming back? I wanted the flexibility to leave when I wanted to. That is no longer a possibility- I must make it to Nicaragua by July 17th to fly home. Anyway lesson learn, you can’t buy one-way tickets internationally. They will think you are never going home or some sort of terrorist.

I landed in Guatemala City, Guatemala took a cab to the bus station and rode 5 hours to Tactic, Guatemala. Coincidently my 15min cab ride cost more than my 5 hour bus ticket. I am staying with Nabila, my former Spanish teacher who is no longer a Spanish teacher. When I arrived we went to someone’s baby shower. Where after I told Nabila I saw my husband (her brother Sebastion) she pointed me in the direction of Sebastien’s wife. Apparently, he met, married and impregnanted a woman named Lili in the last year. She was very nice as I explained to her I was his first wife and she was number two.

So far I have just been hanging out with Nabila’s family. Since Nabila works in Coban during the day I am usually with her parents, Lili, her nephew David and her daughter Anayti. Her mother was in Arizona last time I was here, so it was nice to finally see her. Her mother is trying to convince me to go walking with her at 6:30 in the morning. I think I prefer my sleep. I am spending a lot of time playing games, kids tend to remember the adults who play kids games. I am pretty sure they think I am 9. Anayti (Nabila’s daughter) really like the High School Musical Doll I brought her, the power of Disney works in every country. Oh and my Spanish kind of sucks. I am working on it. I understand about 60-70% of what they say. When I don’t understand I just nod my head and say “bueno” or “Si”.

I will be here until Saturday morning, then off to San Salvador, El Salvador.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Guatemala, Learning bout Tab!, summer, Travel

 

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Look back. Look forward. Spring & Summer ’11

Last Saturday I submitted my last paper of the first year of my doctoral program. The previous Thursday I was informed that I passed my qualifying exams and I was being “invited” back for a second year- Suffice to say I am a 2nd year PhD student. As lovely as that is to type, it does little for my dating life.

Let’s get into the recap of my life since January.

I have always hated bras. They are uncomfortable and restricting. I have gotten resized, change brands and they are still the most uncomfortable things ever. I constantly take them off the moment I can, sometime in class, at friends’ houses or my car. This leads to me finding them at very random places. Since I could never keep them on for long, I decided to stop wearing them this year. It has worked out pretty well. Of course, I wear bras to church, special occasions and to work out. Other than that I stay bra-free. I have to say it’s pretty liberating and since I have issues with buttoning up my shirt all the way I have been told it’s pretty hot as well. Most times people can’t tell unless I want them to, I have discovered button downs makes it pretty unnoticeable. At first it felt pretty awkward teaching a class or something minus a bra, now it has become pretty much the norm. However, it has yet to become the norm for my mother “Tab, you are still not wearing a bra?!?!?” I have also become increasingly aware of cold temperatures in rooms for obvious reasons. I am starting a movement, spend more braless. Get free. Of course, this might be easier for me because of again obvious reasons.

As of March I have been a vegan- no animal products at all. Why? It’s a combination of a couple things- The influence of my vegan friend Nitty, Oprah doing a show on vegans, needing something to give up for Lent and a personal challenge. So instead of doing it for 40-days, I decided to do it for 3 months. It’s been good, not as bad as my pork loving self would have thought. I have discovered the joys of Ethiopian food, reading food labels, and quinoa among other things. I am actually kind of sad to have it end in a couple of weeks. I have decided to be vegan during the school year because I think it makes me more energized.  Plus, I like feeling superior to carnivores…”Oh, I am vegan.” My parents wants to get down with the vegan train…I am turning everybody out. Come on, Atira. Do it!

Also since March I have started kickboxing class. Before this it’s been a couple years since I have worked out, mostly because it’s boring. Kickboxing has been the most intense and fun workout I have ever had. I normally stop working out when I feel sweat forming; now I leave kickboxing now drenched.  It also doesn’t hurt that my instructor Jordan is one of the sexiest white man I have ever seen.

Oh yeah, school. It’s challenging to say the least, but no complaints. I signed up for it. I really could not have made it through the semester without the musical styling of Nicki Minaj, Sugarland, Lupe Fiasco, Kirk Franklin and B. Slade. My long distant PhD buddies Don and Al. My AZ PhD buddy Asantewa and our Sunday study dates aka Black power summit sessions. Gchats with Tasha and Kali. Trinty UCC Sunday service webcast. My parents and my lil brother Jeremiah. Of, course Jesus the Christ. Randomly, Asantewa and I started going around campus, finding Black people and having them throw up the Black power sign. I also participated in the ASU undies run, which basically involved me running around campus in my underwear for charity.God loves a cheerful giver I hear.

I was blessed to see Bill T. Jones, Maya Angelou and Angela Davis speak this semester.


But that is old news, the Spring semester is over. We are on to the SUMMER, the most amazing time of the year.

  1. Read. A lot. I have some book reviews to write. 50 plays to read in preparation for my comprehensive exams. Theory to learn. Hopefully squeezing in pleasure reading.
  2. Writing. I have some conference papers to finish/write. But I have also started a letter writing campaign. Basically I am sending letters/ postcards to my friends, family and strangers- whoever gives me their address. The majority of the mail we receive are either bills or advertisement- trying to change that. If you want a letter send your address to my e-mail. I am bringing back snail mail, saving the Post Service…all in a day’s task.
  3. Travel. In June I will be leaving Florida to travel to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua for about a month. Coming back to Florida for a bit then heading back to Arizona. Doing some road trips to California. Also, flying to Chicago before school starts again. Which you will all be hearing about extensively…
  4. Love. Mostly life and family. Flirting with strangers and friends. Breaking hearts and all that jazz. Shout out to single mothers who love Tab.

And there you have it. A Spring recap and a Summer preview.

~Just Tab.

 

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Guess who is back?!?!

Well, I actually have been back for about 5 days. I had to take care of important business-my eyebrows and hair. After a month of wearing boots and looking “ruggedly”, I was excited to go back to my freshly pressed Polo’s and Sperry shoes- the preppy Americana look. Skirt and heels on Sunday were also a welcome change from the “outdoor” look I was rocking.

My last week in Guatemala was the most unscripted part of my journey- I was in 6 cities in about 6 days. I would tell you about but I need to leave something for the autobiography.  What I can tell you is what I am taking from my month in Guatemala. Do not worry I will not launch into a speech about how my life has been in-reversely changed and how I am such a different person. I am not that dramatic and it would probably be a lie.

In Guatemala I was peaceful, patient and open to new things. I discovered I REALLY like refried beans and tortillas. Who would have known? I waited 2-3 hours for buses with no complaints. However, those changes have not survived the plane ride home. While trying to get a new Blackberry on Saturday as my frustration with the sales associate rose, the old Tabitha quickly reemerged.

Patience was not something I took home with me, but patience is overrated.  What I hope to always remember is the kindness of others. With my home stays, particularly my family in Coban-they went above and beyond to insure that I was always comfortable and happy. Nabila- my Spanish teacher invited me back to Tactic to spend her birthday with her and her family. Again, doing everything in her power to make sure I was happy and comfortable. Her cousin allowed me to use her shower since the one at Nabila’s house did not have hot water. Even the kids were so great to me- this tall black girl in their house who spoke the worst Spanish ever. I am pretty sure that most American kids would ignore some strange person in their house who did not speak their language fluently. The day I was planning to leave Tactic to go back to Antigua-it was Dia de Banco or something ridiculous- which basically meant that the ATM’s were not working. I had enough for a bus ticket, but not much else. Nabila insisted on buying me a bus ticket so I would have money to eat while I was traveling. The amount of money she gave me was really insignificant in America- but was very significant for a single mother in Guatemala. I am used to encountering people who wouldn’t think of giving someone a dime even when they are very financially comfortable. Her act of kindness meant so much to me, this skinny, awkward, nerdy, “rough” looking black American girl- who she had only known for 2 weeks.

On my second trip to Antigua I meet 2 black Belizean men, who were so warm and genuine to me just because I was a fellow black traveler (ok the fact that I was walking around in tights probably helped out too). They cooked me dinner, wouldn’t allow me to help pay for the groceries or even wash the dishes and not once did they act inappropriate towards me.

Over and Over I encountered strangers who were more genuine and sincerely kind to me then the people who call themselves my friends will ever be. My aspiration is that I can pass the hospitality, kindness and that I experienced to those I encounter in my life. Seeing so much good in people so far from home motivates and challenges me to be better. The most important thing I gain in Guatemala is a friend through Nabila and I don’t use that term lightly. I rarely encounter people who do not make preconceptions about who I am based solely on my physicality- to find that was refreshing and beautiful.

Next stop for me is Atlanta, Georgia to witness the nuptials of good friend and possibly find a little trouble. 🙂

Then my fulltime focus will be on moving to Tempe, AZ.

 
 

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The Ruins of Tikal

If you are in Guatemala you have to visit the Tikal ruins in the Tikal National Park. It is like going to Florida and not seeing beaches- it is an icon of Guatemala. My original plan was to visit it this weekend after I was done with my Spanish classes, because of the change in my plans I went Wednesday. It is located in the Peten region of Guatemala 40 miles from Flores, where I went when I left San Jose.

Tikal is the site of one of the largest known Mesoamerican civilization. The park encompasses 220 sq miles and the ruins contain over 3000 structures many not yet excavated. The city was prominent from 400 BC – 900 AD, at its peak it had over 130,000 inhabitants. The Mayans were very sophisticated people who were very technological advance according to their calendar the world ends in 2012 (you know like the movie 2012). I wouldn’t hold my breath. Another movie Tikal was in was the first Star Wars, which is not a sappy love story thus I have not seen it.

I decided to do the early 4:30 AM tour to beat the crowds and some of the heat. Since I lost my phone I do not have a clock or alarm. So I woke up every hour or so and checked the time on my computer until. I waited outside in the dark in front of my hotel for about 45 minutes for the shuttle, which was of course late. I walked to the back of the bus and begun speaking to Piper and Kim- my friends for the day. I normally try avoid white people with cornrolls…

While waiting for my tour to start the people started talking about their mosquito’s bites and sun burns. One girl had huge red welts on her legs because of the bites. Another girl showed me pictures of her “water blisters” which apparently happens when you are in the water for a longtime and you also get sun burned. Her whole back was cracked and peeled- I told her it look like the slaves in Roots after master beat them. I really feel bad for white (and my light friends) people and what they have to go through just to be outside.

My group of 13 was guided by Boris.

As we made our way to the first set of Temples- we found a tarantula.

Of course all the (non black/me) people wanted to touch it.

The first complex we came to was the metropolis…like the downtown

The climb up to the top of these ruins were intense. 100-150 foot up in the air on a steep ladder.

But some might say the views were worth it.

You can see the other Temples poking out from the jungle.

It takes a ridiculous amount of money to restore these- 5million for 5%

I was dying of heat- it was 9 am. Those man had been working since 7 am.

It was no joke hiking through the jungle in 80% humidity.

These monkeys sounded like lions, they scream the whole time- they are called howling monkeys.

I was so done walking around at 11. The crowds were starting to come in and kit was HOT! I walked back with Boris to eat and wait for the 12:30 bus. While walking I think he was hitting on me as he told me about how white woman love him but he like dark girls. Ok, Boris. We also talked about Mayans. He made it very clear to me that he was not Mayan. I knew the other term for people in Guatemalan Latinads through one of talks with Nabila. They are basically Mestizos. I asked him what he thought of Mayans. He then responded that they were good people…before telling me that they were cultureless and had no respect for anything. It was so interesting to hear his thoughts about them after spending so much time with indigenous Mayan people. Especially when he makes his living showing Mayan ruins. To foreigners all Guatemalans are the same, just like all blacks are the same to whites. Of course, many of us believe there are huge differences within us economically (low/middle/upper class) and culturally (continental/ American/ Caribbean/etc). For some is always someone holding down a people/country and for many Latinads in Guatemalan those someone’s are Mayans. Boris clearly identifies more with the colonizers blood in him then with Mayans- whatever works for him. I enjoyed talking to Boris I learned a lot about him and his country I even know how much he makes a day. Side note his siblings have “Latino” names- he got his name from a Russian man who was his father’s best friend.

We finally made it back to Flores at 2:00. The city and my room were no cooler. I have been relatively cool throughout this journey in Guatemala. In Coban, I asked Yohana everyday “Donde esta mi amigo sol”, she assured me I would find the sun in Peten. The Peten region is so much hotter than what I could have imagined- and no AC.

The next stop is Rio Dulce/Livingston- The Caribbean Side.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2010 in Guatemala, Travel

 

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San Pedro (Lake Atiltlan)

My family

In San Pedro, I decided to do a home stay while taking my Spanish lessons, to aid in my “immersion” of the culture. I had heard some not so good stories, so I was a bit apprehensive. Thankfully, I loved the family I stayed with. Inez and her two twin daughters- Barbara and Isabel.

The girls are 11 years old and just really well raised. On a couple of occasion they invited me to their room to watch TV with them; we watched Hannah Montana (which is funny in any language), some plastic surgery makeover show and while watching music videos they helped me pick out boyfriends. The family was used to random foreigners staying in their house and was very patient while communicating with me. The grandparents, Inez’s sister and niece were always around but I couldn’t figure out where they slept; until the girls showed me the “other house” with an entrance from their room.

The food

I really enjoyed having Inez prepare three home cooked meals for me every day. My meals were served at 7:20. 12:30 and 6:30. The meals were simple but good. My favorite thing she made was the banana pancakes, they were amazing. My least favorite was  this guacamole and onion salad concoction. I ate everything she gave me, I was not going to be the rude American “I don’t eat this”. This being Central America, we ate tortillas with everything. For every meal her mother would make fresh tortillas out of maize on her concrete/wood burning stove.

When traveling alone mealtime can be somewhat lonesome, whenever I dine alone I bring a book for company. It was nice having a family to eat with and converse with doing meal time.

The house.

Inez lived in a 3- floor house at the top of a very steep hill. On the first floor was Inez’s sewing machines (she make blouses), her bed room and the bathroom.

On the second floor was the girl’s room and my room.

I like my room. I even had a key.

And I woke up to a nice view of a Volcano

On the third floor was the kitchen. The kitchen was not finished, it “open air”. No real stove, just a burner. There was a wood oven.  Very basic, very simple but it got the job done.

Oh and about San Pedro, they don’t have their own water supply. They get their water from the mountains through a pipe. Well, since the tropical storm the pipes have been acting up. They had just received water again right before I came.

In order to wash our hands, wash clothes, dishes whatever we had to get the water from this well thing next to the sink. In the “bathroom” was the shower (with an electric heater) and toilet. There was no door separating the bathroom from the rest of the house, just a curtain. Cool, no problem. I am in a village in Guatemala; I am not expecting the Taj-Mahl.

Wednesday morning I went to use the bathroom and discovered the toilet was not flushing- there was no water. So no shower that morning! I am glad I know how to use water to flush a toilet. Saturday after my hike I was so ready for a shower, when once again there was no water. I enjoyed the pleasures of bathing in cold water from a bucket.

The School

A major purpose of my visit to Guatemala is to practice my Spanish, although I took Spanish in high school and college I am far from proficient. My strength is in reading the language and my weakness is speaking Spanish. This is why I choose to stay with a family, rather than a hotel/hostel (and because travelers are dirty hippies).  In San Pedro I studied at Flor del Maiz, which consisted on daily 4 hour one-on-one tutoring sessions with my teacher Juan.

I liked Juan…enough. I don’t know if his teaching method was right for me. Again, since I had roughly 5 years of Spanish I did have some concept of the language, which made him think my level was higher than it was. He went way to fast on different verb tenses and kept confusing me. When I am frustrated I shut down, which is not good for learning. I never knew when he wanted me to repeat something. We normally got about 2 good hours in before I was ready to flee. I did enjoy the activities and the snack time at the school. I even tried a new food…

The Activities

Depending on the day the school hosted activities to aid in our comprehension of Spanish as well as our knowledge of the local culture.

On Monday I was taken on a tour of the town by Jose. The other student Stacey got lost coming to the school and did not come with us on the tour. As we walked around the town Jose shared with me about the town’s rapid growth in the last ten years. This was especially evident in the town’s cemetery (which he took me to) with the increasingly embellished manner in which they buried their dead. During the tour we stopped by the indigenous Mayan cultural center, where arrangements were made for me to volunteer/teach a lesson at the end of the week.

On Tuesday we watched a movie about the  36 year long Civil War that wrecked havoc on Guatemala and the Mayan way of life.

Wednesday we had a lecture on the history of Lake Atitlan. After the lecture, Stacey and I went down by the docks to do a little shopping. She was looking for a purse, while I was looking for ketchup. While in Antigua, I was complaining about how nasty this sweet Guatemala ketchup was when a man told me where I could find some in San Pedro. I was overjoyed to enjoy French fries with my beloved Heinz.

Later that evening Stacey and I meet up once again to take Salsa dancing lessons with Enrique (the coordinator of the school cousin).

I had to roll up my pants because they were wet from the rain and of course slip on some heels for Salsa! Oh, and I had  to rock the Jesus piece…

We learn some basic steps. I was focused on being the better dancer, I could not let some red head from Australia out shine me! Then we practice together.Since I was taller I was the guy, but Stacey kept trying to lead.

Then we both got a chance to dance with Enrique.The hour flew by.

Thursday we were suppose to climb The Mayan Nose, but it was reschedule till Saturday because of the rain.

Friday I went back to volunteer at the Mayan Cultural Center. Everyone was so nice. I help them prepared for the monthly birthday celebration, the staff was eager to practice their English with me. When the event started they kept leaving me alone with the children all 20 of them. Me. You know the girl who doesn’t really speak Spanish. So I kept asking them simple questions “What is your name” or “How old are you”. It all worked out. It was cool watching them play games from my childhood in Spanish, like “Hot potatoes” and “Duck Duck Goose”. I taught them the English words to some of the games. I was supposed to do a craft with them, but we ran out of time.

In a nutshell

San Pedro was a very close knit Mayan community. One day I decided to take a tuk-tuk home instead of walking in the rain; in San Pedro there are no real street names but all I had to do was say I am staying with Inez. “Oh, Inez who makes blouses and has twins?” Everyone knew each other. The people spoke Tzu’tujil, which was as evident as Spanish during my stay. Traditional dress and way of life was very apparent. While the Western influence was there, it was kept at a minimum. I love San Pedro, the people, the culture…I learn so much while I was there.

The randomness:

Walking to the school one afternoon, I stumble upon a funeral. They were blasting music from a truck while carrying the casket during the street.

On Friday/Saturday  there was a wake down the street from the house, I heard funeral music all night. Inez said she the man who died was her friend and she was too sad to cook Friday night…

Next stop: Coban!

(I left San Pedro June 13, I was just really late posting this)

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2010 in Guatemala, Travel

 

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Don’t lie

I try to live my life as truthful as possible. (I said try, there is still one semi-major truth I am working on.)  That means living authentically in public and in private. I cheated on a test once-freshman year Spanish final exam and although literally the whole class cheated as well, I still wish I didn’t cheat (I got a D in Spanish 1 anyway). I make sure I ring up all the items at the self-checkout. Even though I have friend who say the point of self checkout is to take things. With that being said- I lied. Not to a family member or a friend, but to the United States Government. I should probably not admit to this, but I am trying to get back on the road to living an authentic life.

Two years ago I applied for and received a United States passport. While living in Philadelphia I misplaced my Florida driver license and had the great idea to use my passport as ID so I could get into a club or 2. While out one night my passport fell from my back pocket never to be seen again. I reported the passport lost, I didn’t have the money to apply for another one at the time. Flash forward to April 2010, I finally went to get a new passport.  (I would have applied sooner but I had to get a new birth certificate since I lost my copy- See a pattern here?) I had another great idea when applying for my passport, use the leftover  passport pictures from 2008. The lady asked me were the pictures older than 6 months- my response “No” became a very costly and annoying lie. As I drove away from the Post Office, I thought “Dang, I should have gotten new picture, they are going to know they are the same pictures from before since they have access to you old passport”. I shook it off because hey what’s the worst that can happen.  Three weeks before my trip to Guatemala I received a letter from the Passport Agency, to notify me there was a problem with my pictures and to submit new pictures. Right away I went to Wal-Greens got new pictures and sent them to the appropriate agency.

The next two and half weeks I was in constant contact with the Passport, who after changing my application to expidiated assure me that there would be no problems with me receiving my passport in time.  The situation begin to look bleak when my passport was not complete the Friday before my trip, which happen to fall on a holiday weekend. Preventing me from speaking to anyone or have anyone work on my application until June 1st, the day before my trip. During this time Guatemala experienced both a tropical storm and a volcano eruption (Pacaya- a volcano that I WAS thinking of climbing.)  The news of the death and devastiation that some parts of the country expierenced, conbined with my passport issues made many of my friends and family believe it was a sign that I shouldn’t go. I am from Florida so tropical storm’s don’t scare me, however volcanoes and the ground opening up tend to make me nervous.

My concerns all change from would I have a passport to would the airport even be open. Fortunally none of the places I had plan to stay were really affected and the airport reopen at noon on Tuesday.  I spent all day Tuesday checking online and by phone for the status of my passport. I was told by a supervisor that the last Fedex pick up was at 5:50. At 5:30, the woman I talked to told me that my passport was not only not completed but she didn’t see anything in my file about expedited or next day delivery. At this point my was pretty much non-existant and I was going to accept that I would have to change my flight. The pretty pretty gurl spirits were down. At 7:00pm, I called again to see the chances it would be done the next day, when the woman who answered the phone told me that it was completed and did I have a paper and pencil to take down the Fedex tracking number. Hung up, Thanked my Creator and Savior, then called Fedex to have them hold the package for me at the desk in the morning. The man told there was no record of that tracking number in the system, about 50 min later I found out it was just not entered yet.

I finally received my passport at 8:40 am,  2 hours and 20 minutes before my flight. I rushed from Riveria Beach to the Fort Lauderdale airport with 1 hour 20 minutes to go before my plane departed. Once I landed, I was informed that my flight was the only plane from the US to land in Guatemala City Airport today, glad I choose Spirit Air who always choose money over safety.

My theme song for this month is “Don’t Lie” by the Black Eye Peas

 

I learn my lesson. I will not lie any more- or lose any more important documents.

 

 

 

Off to find an adventure…Just Tab!

*this entry should not be taken as an admission of any wrong doing to the US government, rather a  fictitious account of what could have been my experience.*
 
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Posted by on June 3, 2010 in Guatemala, Learning bout Tab!, Rants, Travel

 

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