First impressions

1 09 2009

I am here!

The flight down was totally uneventful.  For which I am grateful!  It may not make as good reading as the trip home from Bolivia, but I hope you can do without that.

I arrived in Guatemala City around … I don’t know when.  It was after dark.  I navigated migración without even needing to use Spanish; it is quite streamlined.  They must be more used to Americans than in Bolivia.  Lee and Sharon recognized me from the waiting area before I even passed the door, I think.  They loaded me up, and then we went to eat at … drum roll … Burger King. 

Anyway.  After that they informed me that the church with which my missionary friends from Bolivia are affiliated has a place in Guatemala City where we were spending the night.  It was really large; I don’t know how they have a place that large inside of the city.  The missionary couple has a house attached to a church; there is a little (3-room) house where Lee and Sharon stayed, and they put me in another small house where an older couple used to live.  “My” house was furnished with the exact sort of things that my great-aunt inherited from her mother.  It seemed to me to bespeak a sort of permanent home-sickness.

I needed shampoo & conditioner, since I hadn’t wanted to pack it.  I know I packed toothpaste – that I bought in Bolivia, no less – but it turned invisible or something.   The missionaries needed stuff as well, so they took me by a supermarket, basically a translated Walmart.  I bought my toothpaste, the good old Cólgate (hang yourself) brand.  Anyway, that’s what I think of when I see it … I always wonder what native Spanish speakers think.  I think I would have changed that brand name if I were the publicist.

Afterwards, they headed over to the fast-food section of the store to eat.  They suggested the local version of KFC.  I commented that there weren’t any “typical foods” there.  They thought that Taco Bell was pretty typical, wasn’t it? OK ………………

Suddenly they had a change of heart and suggested we try out a restaurant Maria had recommended.  I was quite all right with that idea.  It was right nearby, and they gave us their lunch special, which Lee said cost about the same as the fast food.  We were all three enthralled with it.  I had sopa de tortilla, filete de res, and legumbres de vapor (I think Lee called them that).  That is tortilla soup (much better than it sounds – tomato base with melted cheese and squares of fried tortillas), and a very thin, perfectly fried steak, with steamed vegetables, also perfect.  Between the first and second course, the waiter brought out a small table with all sorts of salsa ingredients on it, and a mortar and pestle.  He wanted to know what we would like in the salsa, but even Lee and Sharon were too dumbstruck to have many suggestions.  So he smiled a little to himself and made one up which was delicious.  I think we were the only non-native folks in the restaurant.

We had about a two-hour drive to Jalapa after that.  I saw a lot of beautiful, mountainous country.  This is more the wet season here, and I was in Bolivia in the dry season, so this may be comparing apples to oranges.  But these hills were green, and in Bolivia they are either quite brown with a few pine trees, or simply volcanic rock.  Other differences … Here the men are mostly shorter than me, seems like, which is weird, and they are (I mean people in general are) extremely friendly.  I’ll do like Marcelo and attribute it to the climate, because it’s pretty warm here.  Not too bothersome; I would guess in the 80s.

So I’m settled in here – well, I guess so – and already have had my first hug from a second-grader that Maria and I met while walking a couple of blocks.  We drove by the plaza … but I confess I’m not exactly sure where it is from here.  If I have time, I’d like to find it tomorrow.  I’m supposed to mostly observe tomorrow.  It is a testing day.  Of course, even for kindergarteners, that means they’ll sit quietly at their desks and write the answers to questions, apparently.

And I have had maybe three short opportunities to actually speak Spanish.  Oh, something amused me this evening.  Lee was going to introduce me to a little boy who stopped by.  He wanted to know what my Spanish name was.  I said, “Amy,” and that a lot of people pronounced it “Aimi.”  That did not satisfy him at all.  He ransacked his brain for a minute and said, “Amelia!”  That did not satisfy me at all, and I said that even my Spanish teacher hadn’t been able to do anything with my name; I simply go by Amy and most people say “Aimi.”  That didn’t satisfy him at all, and he wanted to know what my middle name was; I said “Lea,” and I think he was for having that go as “Le-a” (like Leah).  He said that it was important to start out right; he had started out as Lee, and people still call him that ….  I know perfectly well that “Le-a” is never going to catch my attention in a stream of Spanish, and I said that I just go by Amy and most people say “Aimi”…… so I am going by Amy now. 

Talk to you later!

I did add a couple of photos to Flickr, which you may find by scrolling down till you find a link somewhere.

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5 responses

3 09 2009
Sharon-Marie

So very good to hear from you Amy! The photos are great – you have a very pretty smile.

Love & Blessings,
Sharon-Marie

3 09 2009
AmyR

That’s funny! Thank you!

3 09 2009
Jerry Smartt

Dear Aimi,
Thank you for your first commentary that will be (I am sure) the first of many enthralling letters from you.
By-the-by, your Spanish name would be “Amata”. I rather like it; it is very close to “amada”, which is what you are.
Un abrazo,
JSmartt

3 09 2009
AmyR

To me, it has always seemed a little too close to introduce myself to some boys that way …… 😆 You never used it in class, but I thought I remembered you saying it once. I met a woman with a Mexican ID card who was called Aime. But I rather think it wasn’t a traditional name.

Thanks for your interest.

4 09 2009
Randy

What a great new adventure. I recall my spanish name is Randolfo…..its been a lot of years since that name was assigned to me in high school. I’ve read both of you September posts…..looks like you have a whole new experience to deal with. Best wishes……… Good luck on the curriculum issue.

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