17 Aug


We’ve hit one week friends and let me tell ya, it’s been quite the transition. It all started with my 6:00am plane ride with Spirit Airlines out of BWI. This may come as a shock for some of you, but I very much left everything to the last minute before leaving for Guatemala (You? Ryan Slattery leave something to the last minute? Never!) I know, I'm just as surprised as you. In any case, I spent the better part of Thursday running around all of Maryland doing only what was essential such as dealing with car appraisals, visiting the old alma mater, finishing some final details for the room decor, and, oh yeah, packing to be away for the next 16 months. All of this is to say  I pulled an all nighter before heading off to the airport. Wasn't too hard since we had to leave at 3:30am so I mean how much sleep was I actually losing?

Now we're at the airport and so kindly greeted by the longest check-in line I've ever seen in my life. Honestly. You'd have thought a new iPhone had just been released the line was so long. I have to give a big shoutout to my dad for standing in other lines to hold a spot for me while I attempted to just CHECK-IN to the stupid flight and also to Monica for keeping me company during the whole ordeal. I definitely would have missed the flight otherwise. Look, I'm just gonna go ahead and say it; I'm not sure the low fares Spirit offers are really worth it, but I guess that's just me.

Thankfully, it was smooth sailing from there. I met a very interesting man on the flight from Fort Lauderdale to Guatemala City who told me he was known as the "Man with Seven Names" (He eloquently rattled off all 7 to me but honest to God I heard "Pedro" and the rest was gibberish) and he proceeded to tell me all about how he grew up in the city of Antigua (where I am coincidentally attending language school). He further explained that he was returning for a short time, primarily "so that that 'Beetch' doesn't win" the presidency. Not having any stock in the election, clearly, I just smiled and nodded, but gotta be honest, it sounded eerily like an election that happened not too long ago in the states...

Anyway, I arrived in Guatemala City where two reps from "La Union", my Spanish language school, picked me up an drove me to my host family. We pull up to a row of what would be considered town houses in the states, and mine was all the way at the end of the block right on the outskirts of Ciudad Vieja (the town that I am residing). I swear this family couldn't be nicer. With my own room, a host mother who cooks every meal for me, and none of them letting me help prepare meals or clean up after myself, yes, you're correct. I'm very spoiled here. That's all the preliminary stuff, necessary, but somewhat boring. I'm sure you're really interested to know what I've been doing this past week. Let me tell you!

Saturday, the missionaries and I took a trip down the neighboring town of San Lorenzo via a chicken bus. Yes, that's correct, a chicken bus. You know, the buses that transport people and chickens? Check out the photos in the gallery if you're not picturing this, but its basically a very shiny school bus in all different colors that serves as Guatemala's main public transportation. They're super cheap, too! It only cost us 2 Quetzales which is basically 26 cents in America. Crazy, right? Our main reason for going to this place was to participate in the fair they were having, however, we arrived too early and nothing was open yet. Cue the bells of the church ringing like crazy and we were soon informed that Mass was beginning. We had time to kill, so we followed the crowd into the church. Here's the catch, though. Normally when bells are ringing, one would expect that mass is LITERALLY about to begin, yes? Not in Guatemala. No, these were more like alarm clock bells saying "Hey, now might be a good time to start walking over to the church!" 30 minutes later, mass finally began. A huge procession of priests, altar boys, and lectors walk in. Strange. It's just an ordinary mass. Wrong again. Today was their Corpus Cristi procession for the Feast of San Lorenzo. Of course. I mean how could we have forgotten that. Now every Catholic knows that we often refer to the Mass as a celebration, so celebrate they did. Out of no where, blasts of fireworks were going off right outside the church. It's a feast day, after all, and at the moment of consecration, we need to have fireworks! I can't be certain if this was planned, but it got me thinking. Where are the fireworks for the American Catholic feast days?

The following day was a trip to Antigua. It was nice to get acquainted with the town that I will be spending most of my time learning Spanish. Our school is called La Union and to get there, we are picked up by one of the school officials at 7:30am at la gasolinera [gas station]. I work with an amazing teacher named Cesar. My teachers back home will be happy to hear that he's easy going and very patient with me since, as they already know, I can be a bit of a pain in the you know what when it comes to learning. The sessions are 1:1 and last approximately 4 hours from 8:00am to 12:00pm. It's alright but I've slowly discovered that I have the attention span of a squirrel. I don't know how anyone can stand being in class for more than an hour! We get a 30 minute break in the middle of the session and often the missionaries and I will use that time to walk down to the adoration chapel at La Iglesia de San Francisco to pray for a bit. After that, it's eating lunch (that my host mom made because, like I said, I'm spoiled) and then going down to some sort of café or bar to do homework and debrief. Then it's back home for cena [dinner] and shortly after, bedtime. It's weird, they actually go to sleep before midnight. I didn't know that was a thing but to be very frank, I find I'm pretty exhausted by the time 10:00pm roles around.

And there you have it. A typical day for me in Guatemala. I realize after going through my journal and writing about the day's happenings, there's a lot of stuff that occurs. It's incredible and all around crazy, and as much as I'd like to share it with you all, it would make for a very, very long blog post. Maybe you don't mind that, but I have a feeling you do. If not, just message or call me individually and, believe me, I will spill my guts to you! I can't help but gush about how cool this experience is! In the future, I'll be able to skip the preliminary things (and hopefully I'll do a better job of abbreviating the stories) so I can get right to the fun stuff!

So, brief recap. Getting here was a slight struggle, but we here. Host family is the bomb and I'm spoiled. Church in Guatemala is loads more exciting than in America (sorry, but it's true). School is, well, school is school, but I'm learning a lot, and that's all that matters. I'm amazed at the beauty of this place and I'm very much amazed with how much I've been able to spout out in Spanish in such a short time. I can't wait to discover what the rest of the 6 weeks has in store. One regret though that I must admit to you all: In my procrastination and haste to prepare for this journey, I failed to watch the season 2 finale of Derry Girls. Big oof.

Hasta luego!


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