Sunday, March 19, 2006

Touchdown, and a familiar face...

I landed in Guatemala City Thursday morning at 5:30. It was a full flight, full of screaming babies, and Iwas on the aisle - so not much sleep for me! I had been told to go to the informatin desk "you can't miss it" but it was not where it was supposed to be! I finally found it but the woman there didn't have a phone. She did have a cell phone and after awhile was able to figure it out so she could call my hotel. They arrived at the airport within minutes and it was a quick drive over.

All these months I´ve thought I hopefully understood enough Spanish to get by. It's because my roommate is kind enough to speak slow, use hand gestures, and repeat things over and over. It's not the same thing down here! I came into the little hotel and had no clue what the woman was talking about! Finally I guessed she wanted me to wait for my room to be ready. When it was I wanted to ask about breakfast. Another disaster in understanding! I was able to ask what time it was and say 'breakfast.' =) I was able to ask for breakfast at 7:30 then I went to see if I could get any sleep.

When I came out at 7:30 there was no breakfast, and wouldn´t be for another 45 minutes. I think she didn´t understand me after all. Oh well. Luckily by then someone who spoke a littleEnglish showed up and I could finally understand things. What have I gotten myself in to!?

After breakfast I wanted to try to find a market. They directed me to the museum down the road and said there was a market nearby. Never found the market, but I got an education in roads around here...The roads are crazy!

There are people hanging out of trucks and cars everywhere zooming down the roads. No seatbelts here. The buses are huge, red, and old. Huge clouds of black smoke are usually billowing out the back, and crowds of people are crammed inside. There are often 2 or 3 men hanging out the front and back doors of the bus. The guidebook says they´re´trawling´ for more passengers, which is really what it looks like! There are no crosswalks, you just figure out what direction the traffic is flowing, wait for a gap, and run for it! There are some new cars, but there are some amazing contraptions as well. Cars that must have rolled down a mountain then been left in the rain for a year - and then surprise! they still run! And run with all the clanging and clunking and no-muffler-sound you might expect. There were a number of little stores on the side of the road selling soda, beer, and snacks. Some were closed off with iron bars and chain link. I guess you look through and ask for what you want and the person hands it to you through a gap in the fence. On my way back to the hotel I came around a corner and ran into an old familiar face - the black-hatted Quaker man smiling at me from a sign over a store. The 3 volcanos I saw on my walk were cool too. =)

Just a little while till I jump on a bus for Chiquimula!

(Sorry! I wrote this on Thursday but could not log in - everything was in German for some reason too!)


Mom said...

And so it begins... Don't feel bad Aimee - I studied German for 6 months - every day- and thought I could do quite well when I went to Germany - and the moment I landed, I was overwhelmed - they spoke so fast! And all i could remember to say was Look! there is a Japanese Car! - which doesn't help a lot when you are trying to ask which way to the bathroom. I guess this is what the immersion is all about. I know I did better picking up Greek - I just pointed and asked what the greek word was for something. Maybe you should try that. (except not Greek, but spanish). I hope you are doing ok. We miss you and our prayers are with you.


Jessica said...

You're alive! Me too! Yeah!

Our new housemate is the shiz. I got a little concerned when Matt asked me if we've had any chats on politics. Well, not to worry Buchholz, the fact that she brought Jon Stewart's "America" out for the coffee table should explain it all. Other great things: 1) Huge Lost fan
2) She has a great DVD collection, which includes Crash
Bad news: soo not a size 10 foot.

Man, how I love Latin culture...the cars...dodging traffic...the lack of punctuality. Don't doubt yourself. I'm sure you heard correctly about breakfast they just don't care if it's on time. Are you studying the phrase book?

Cosand said...

Aaaah... confusing cultures. Heh. Who knew ordering food was so dang hard? :) Let alone crossin' the street...

Anna Dunford said...

oops - forgot to mention what Guate itself was like didn't I - mind blowing or what... did you see street kids washing windows, selling chewing gum and doing acrobatics (not all at the same time I hasten to add!) in between all the cars as they are stuck at junctions - I mean they are wandering around huge busy roads where the idea of road safety is honk you horn, close your eyes and pray.... Just so you know - when a car flashes it's lights at you as it's overtaking/coming the other way it means 'get out of my way I'm coming through' NOT 'after you'! Please don't try driving there, oh and avoid getting the 'chicken buses' if you can - we want you home in one piece! If you think the traffic is crazy in Guate just wait until you're on the open road....

Don't worry about your Spanish too much tho' - I knew none at all when I arrived and managed to shop and not to starve =) It's amazing how fast you learn to read a menu!!!