We all had a very hard time realizing that Christmas was actually coming this year. After spending the past seven years in very cold climates, it was so strange to still be wearing short and t-shirts and using our swimming pool in December. It definitely did not feel like Christmas, but Christmas did indeed come!
Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) is more significant here than Christmas Day. We were unexpectedly treated to dinner two times that evening! Once by a new resident to our compound and then later by our compound guardian who arrived with his wife and fresh tamales, ponche (a homemade fruit punch) and beautiful gifts for our kids. It was incredibly humbling to be the recipients of their thoughtful generosity.
We had forgotten that Christmas is a time for many, many, many fireworks – the most being at midnight on Christmas Eve.
Doing “normal” Christmas activities — and then a not-so-normal activity, swimming!
We got to celebrate in the evening with our friends, the Deeds and some other new friends. It was a special time of fellowship, thanksgiving and singing.
And then a walk home together under the Christmas lights…
Everyday as we walk into town for our Spanish class, my eyes can hardly take in all the beautiful things around me — from the gorgeous volcanos and mountains, to the colorful buildings, to the abundance of amazing flowers, and of course the completely incredible people. I feel such love for this place and these people.
We have been in Guatemala over a month now and overall we are all doing well with the many changes from life in the U.S.
I’ll admit that I love that we have been without power on a somewhat regular basis. We’ve also been without water or had dark brown liquid coming out of the tap. We are glad for our kids to get to experience in a very, very small way what so many people in the world encounter on a daily basis. They are also getting used to finding ants cruising around on their plates of food and I love that now they just squish them and continue eating.
The most difficult change for us to get used to is that we are required to wear masks outside at all times except within our own home compound. This is a big change for us. It is compounded by the fact that we walk on very noisy streets for a minimum of an hour a day. Between the street noise and the masks it is really hard to hear each other and is especially frustrating for Mabel. That being said, we know we are pretty lucky that this is the biggest “challenge” we are encountering.
A few other changes —
Navigating “sidewalks” with the kids has been a bit different.
We notice that nearly every home is surrounded by fencing or a wall with razor or barbed wire and a sturdy gate.
Teaching the kids how to wash clothes by hand at the pila (Guatemalan outdoor sink/wash station).
All toilets come with a small trash can next to them as NO paper can go into the toilet. This definitely takes some retraining.
Trying out lots of new produce (& a watermelon popcicle!)
Finding anything from vinegar to olives to strawberry jam in a bag! And getting used to eating deliciously fresh, handmade tortillas daily along with trying all kinds of street food (churros in this case!).
There has been no end to the beautiful lake and volcano views, nor to Luke’s swimming and we are definitely getting used to the fabulous weather!