Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hi mom, I´m home!

This is the view out my front door looking down 8A Avenida. There are two internet cafes, lots of tiendas, cervecerias, and a boatload of other businesses. Cabinet makers, a funeral director, a place to have a suit made(for the funeral, I suppose), an ice cream shop, and all within a 5 minute walk from here.

My family in Guatemala is headed by Doña Esmerelda, 4´8¨of boundless energy and encouragement. (Did I mention that for the first time in my life I´m well above average height!My nephews would be giants here.)

Did your mom make you a nice hot breakfast before school? Mine does. She also cares for her grandson Carlos, Carlito to his grandma, three young Guatemaltecos who are attending college here, and a girl who goes to secretarial school. Seven mouths get fed three times a day and she cleans, launders clothes, and all the other domestic chores it takes to keep a houseful going.

The house has an open courtyard in the back and originally I had a very cute but very chilly room off the courtyard next to the room shared by the three amigos attending college. El baño
is also off the courtyard which is full of plants, a clothes line, and two desks for homework. Yesterday Doña E. moved me to a much larger interior room which is a whole lot warmer. I no longer cringe at the thought of swinging my feet out and onto the concrete floor in the morning.

Doña Esmerelda gives me a hug and a peck on the cheek when I leave for school and I think she´s probably asking me in spanish if I have my mittens. Life is hard for an old gringo in Guatemala.

The water heater is an electrified shower head (take that Consumer Protection Agency). If you reduce the flow to a gentle rain it´s almost hot (the learning curve was very chilly, imagine a 45 degree shower room with water only slightly warmer). Doña E. has a very modern washing machine, a microwave, a good gas range, and cable TV in almost every room including mine.

My Guatemalteco brothers are bright, good looking, interesting kids who work hard and eat like ponies. They´re glad to help me with my espanol and I try to return the favor with their english studies. Doña E. also takes time from her busy schedule to join me at the table and visit about the days activities.

This is, without question, the friendliest city I´ve ever been in. And it's not just mi familia, even the taxistas and bus drivers, who pilot discarded US school buses on streets that were built for horses and carriages, don´t seem to get upset at life's constant aggravations.

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