I've left the "paid carribbean vacation" and entered into the Mayan world. I don't even know where to begin with my adventures for the past 5 days. San Martin is a rural Mayan Mopan village just outside Belmopan... but even though it's walking distance from the capitol, it's about 7 worlds apart.
ok i think the easiest way to do this is break is down by days...so bear with me, this is gonna be one heck of a post!
We had early morning training on Thursday,with a few speeches by our training team: a stream of emotions and exitement filled the room! We couldn't wait to leave for our sites! After lunch it was like a mad house as everyone cleared out in a frantic and quick goodbye. It was madness! Matt, Dan, and I hopped into a car and were in San Martin in no time. Dan was dropped off first to his host family. As proper etiquette, we all got out to see his new home and meet the family. He is in a one room house, with a wall separating his "room" from the family. The family is parents and 7 kids under the age of 12! The next stop was Matt, which incidentally was across the street from Dan. He has a MESS of people in his house, I can't even account for all of them! But he has a really cool set-up and his own room WITH a lock! Finally, we headed to my site....which turned out to be directly behind Dan, so we are all SO close. (which was turned out to be so great!) The initial interaction was so AWKWARD! My host family is my host mom & dad: Mr. & Mrs. Sotz, 5 of their 8 kids live at home, and one of their grandchilren. Only Mrs. Sotz and her youngest son, Claudino, were at home when I first arrived. Mrs. Sotz speaks very little english, so it was very hard to communicate. I talked with Dino a lot, but it was so, SO weird! My house is a few rooms that are separate "houses." When you walk in the front yard, to the left is the room where Sofia, the oldest daughter who lives at home (age 32), Alana (the 9 year old granddaughter), and I sleep. My "room" inside the room is separated by a lace curtain, so basically I'm in the same room as them. haha There are 2 "beds" and a hammock, which is actually pretty good for most of the homes in the village. They share a dresser and we have a shard of glass as a mirror, but I have a mosquito net! The next house is the dining room/storage room. That's where we eat. There is a small table that seats 3 and a tiny sink. (we DO have running water!) On the right in the front yard is the shower....yes, I have a shower! I really got the good stuff b/c the other guys bucket bathe! haha My shower is, of course, cold water and it's awkward that it's in the front yard and everyone can see you when you shower. Even MORE awkward is that the shower is made out of palm leaves.... yes, you heard right: palm leaves that are braided together. It looks really cool, like out of Swiss Family Robinson, but is definitely see-through. Hello Central America!
If you continue through the dining house you will walk right into the guys' rooms, which is probably the coolest place in our home. Right now Mr. & Mrs Sotz are sleeping with the 4 boys, who are 16 Claudino "dino"), 19 (Asunzion "choni"), 23 (Bernardo "nardo"), & 25 Fernando "nando"), because I stole their bed for the next 5 weeks. But the room has 2 hammocks in the common area and then there are 2 rooms with beds. And, a new addition as of this weekend is a tv and play station 2 that Asunzion just bought! they have 2 games and its a novelty among most of the guys/boys in the village! Quite the hotspot!
Mrs. Sotz also has a "kitchen" out to the back left which is a room where she makes all her big pots of beans and tortillas. And finally, the best part.........the latrines out back. We have 2 latrines. One that has an open door that I have not and will never use...hahaha.... and then one that is just a wooden box with a wooden block above ground and a whole lot of crap- literally- below ground! Ahh.... real life.
Phew, that's just the introduction of my new home! So back to my first day. Luckily, Claudino talked to me until everyone else got home, so it was not as bad. I did have one conversation with Mrs Sotz and in her very little amount of English she told me about the people across the street, (who she is related to because everybody is related someway or another), anyway she told me that their father died 2 years ago because he was pulled off a bus and sliced in the stomach with a machete and his guts pulled out!!! OMG, welcome to San Martin! I was scared....
Once evening hit, Mr Sotz came home and and the guys dropped in and out, but mostly ignored me that first day. It is kinda funny because Mr Sotz does NOT speak english at all and he basically just pretends I'm not there, which I think is more cultural of the men than rude, BUT he does CONSTANTLY burp and fart ridiculously loud the entire day. And nobody even flinches! I guess that's what happens when you eat beans for every meal! One of the funniest things during the first day is when Nardo put on the radio and the Black Eyed Pease "I've got a feeling" song came on in Spanish! I felt like I was at home.... but also so nooooot!
As the night progressed, my host mom and Alana gave me a Mopan language lesson, which was intense and so hard! They tried to teach me as many words as possible and I was so confused! I also helped my host mom with lunch and dinner....yes, I cooked! We made homemade corn tortillas and also chicken, rice, beans and "salad" full of fresh veggies. Mrs Sotz is an AMAZING cook...her food is so great! (Even though I am definitely sick of rice and beans, she still makes great food!) That was pretty much the first day.... I thought, "ehh, this isn't too bad...I can totally do this!" But alas, I faced my first real challenge of my adventure thus far: the latrine. Not only did I face the latrine for the first time, but I didn't even have to pee until dusk, so it was a dark latrine!! It is a SCARY experience! And the stench is probably the worst part! OMG a porter pottie is like heaven after you experience this!! haha Then, of course, I had to pee AGAIN later that night! So I grabbed a flashlight and headed to the ever so smelly box they call a bathroom. I held my breath and headed in met by flies and cockroaches, ugh! So gross! But the topping on the cake was a HUGE spider that was right below the wood squatting area that just looked like it was ready to attack my behind as I headed for the squat..... I couldn't do it! I ran out of the bathroom and acted casual as I went back into the kitchen. I was trying my very best to hold it.... but I knew it had to come out..... I sucked it up and told Alana that I just couldn't go in, I was terrified of the spider! She came with me, yes the 9 year old girl, and took me back to the latrine, grabbed a pole, and killed the spider and waited for me to do my business. Boy, I felt like an American girl..... But yuck! What a first day/night!!!!! I headed into bed and prayed that I was going to be able to survive this place.....
Ahhh....I thought I would get through more, but it looks like the rest of the adventures will be put on hold til the next time I can get into town.