02 November 2010

this is long, but worth it, I promise.

So if you ever find yourself living with a host family, a word of advice: ALWAYS go when they invite you somewhere, even if you have no idea what/where it is. The first time, this took me to a nurse´s beauty pageant at a hospital. This Sunday, it took me to the ¨coast¨ (I never saw the ocean...??) to visit a sick grandma. How did we get there, you ask? In a pickup truck. How many people went, you ask? Oh, 19. Read on, world, read on.

So we woke up at 4am to prepare for our journey... which meant cooking breakfast and packing snacks, and just generally perparing the troops. We were to leave at ¨5 en punto¨ (actually rolled out at 6:30), after about 20 mins of laoding people and things into the back of the pick up. Now, as I said-- 19 people went-- Let me break it down for you. 2 in the front of the pick up (driver and grandma), 12 adults and 5 kids in the back. Talk about intimate. So let´s also keep in mind that the sun has barely risen, so it´s COLD, I mean COLD, especially with all of the wind. So we are sitting on an old mattress, all bundled together in the back with many blankets and stuff, prepared for our 5hr ride. Yes, 5 hours.

Seeing as we live in the mountains, as we descend to the coast, it gets warmer and warmer (and the sun gets higher and higher), so every hour or so, a layer of blankets/jackets/etc gets stripped from the group. This portion also included 2 instances of people getting sick over the side of the truck. At around 9, we stopped for our lunch break, which included a mass migration up a hill to all go to the bathroom roadside. haha.

At around 11, it was getting really hot, which meant we were getting close, and were off the highway and instead on cobblestone roads and ... oops. Flat tire. Nope, no AAA in the middle-of-nowhere, Guatemala. And oh, sorry- spare tire didn´t fit in the car, either. So. There we are, on the side of the road at a coffee plantation in who-knows-where. Juli´s not panicking, nope not at all.

So the men (2) of the group took control, borrowed a car-jack and removed the bad tire... What now?? Well they went back down the hill to the pueblo to get the tire fixed. Let me be honest here, I had my doubts that there would be someone to fix it, that they´d have the money to fix it, and basically that we would ever make it out alive... Oh Juli of little faith. About an hour (and numerous tantrums from the kids) later, the men returned with a patched tire!! Praise the Lord! Off we went to grandmother´s house again!

We arrived at about 1 to a very very rural (poor) community. Everyone kind of re-introduced themselves to the VERY frail and old grandmother (their dad´s mom) and the aunts, and we waited around until lunch. Delicious lunch... too bad it only took half the time as our trip to arrive...

So, around 4 it started drizzling, so we figured we had better get to going. (Not before I, the gringa, was called in to appraise an antique sewing machine the family some how had...????).

So, we took the tarp out from under the mattress we were sitting on (just in case), and loaded back into the pickup. After driving again for about 30 mins, it starts POURING, so we clumsily put the tarp over top of us... Good. After about 15 mins, it is quite clammy under the tarp, but luckily, it´s stopped raining, so we take the tarp off. This happens a few more times throughout the return journey. Each with varying levels of actual rain-protection.

So we´re making our way home with little-to-no problems (aside from rain), and eventually it gets dark... but we keep going, obviously. BEAUTIFUL stars! At one point we passed an overturned pickup that must have JUST crashed (!!) We stopped to see if we could help (apparently we could not--they were drunk), called the firemen, and continued on our way.

By some miracle of God, we arrived home --all members of the party in 1 piece, more or less-- at around 8pm. WHAT a long day, but SO so worth it. When I´m not battling off fleas or parasites, life here is really quite grand!

So the lesson here: Always say ¨yes¨ to your host family... And also, many things that are extremely illegal in the US are very legal here.

bendiciones, juli

PS: the ¨Chacos¨ here (it was freeezing when we left, so I opted for shoes) are in the middle of nowhere at Finca Trinidad where we got our flat tire.)


  1. yo tambien. can´t wait to see you and hear parts of this story from ¨Gladys¨ hahahaha

  2. Hey Juli!!! Sounds like quite the trip! Just caught up and read all your posts :) It's so good to hear about your life there and I'm so glad that things are going well! I'm sure you'll have ups and downs there (just like in Chile--and anywhere really) but it sounds like a great adventure and it's great that you're settling in well :)
    Cuidate! Y no te olvides de todos los chilenismos, aun si no entienden "cachai?" en guatemala :P

  3. Hi Juli,

    I absolutely loved this post! It brought back fond memories of a similar trip I took with my host family in the back of a pick-up eight years ago. As for the sewing machine, perhaps you could start a Guatemalan edition of Antiques Road Show?

    Andrew Berg

  4. Hi Juli,
    I'm enjoying reading your blog 5 months late or something. I CRACKED up when I read this post. For several reasons. I don't have a host family, so I'm not gonna lie, I was a little jealous. But I also cracked up because I can imagine that story happening in Senegal, except for three things. 1. We don't have rain 9 months of the year. 2. There are no hills. and 3. I don't think there are firemen either.
    keep it up! Jesus will sustain you and it sounds like is teaching you lots too.
    Laura Gates