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Erica's Travel Adventures

Arrival in Guatemala City!

GUATEMALA | Friday, 4 January 2013 | Views [668] | Comments [2]

Hola, from Guatemala City!  I have been in Guatemala for almost 2 weeks now, and so far it has been incredible!  After waking up at 3:00 AM, spending a layover in Houston chatting with a very friendly Guatemalan family, I finally arrived in Guatemala City around 2:30 PM.  It took me an hour to get through customs and get my luggage and when I finally made it downstairs I was confused when I saw nobody waiting inside the airport to greet incoming travelers.  When I looked out the glass windows of the airport I saw a massive crowd of people holding signs and waiting for their friends and family.  Walking out of the comfort of the airpot was overwhelming as I looked around hoping to see Daniela and Ariela Farchi, two girls I met at Camp Mountain Chai this summer who invited me to stay with them after speaking to me for only a few hours.  I had never even seen a picture of their parents, Oshi and David, so I hoped the girls had shown their parents what I look like, at least.  After only about a minute, Ariela found me and she and Oshi made their way through the crowd to help me with my bags.  They were so warm and welcoming, and  I was relieved to be done traveling and exhausted from my early morning flight.  As we drove through the city to their home, Ari pointed out various malls, friends housing developments, and the volcanoes surrounding the city.  I learned that the girls attend an American school, which is how they know English so well.  I also learned that most people live in gated communities with 15 foot, solid gates and around the clock security.  Living outside of these communities leaves homes very vulnerable to theft.


Once we got to the Farchi's house I was greeted by their two maids, Betty and Mari.  Betty is a sweet, small old woman who has worked for the Farchis since the girls were little.  Mari is probably in her late 20's and has the features of an indigenous Guatemalan.  She also is very kind and very willing to help.  Betty spoke to me in Spanish, of which I understood nothing past "hello."  Daniela was waiting upstairs for me because within the last month she had torn the ligaments and tendons in her foot and was on crutches.  I also met their father, David.  Everyone welcomed me with a big hug and a kiss, as if I was already a part of their family and they had known me forever.  It was amazing to feel so welcome and comfortable.  


That evening Dani, Ari, David, and I went to the salon so the girls could get pedicures and waxed before we left for our trip in a few days. I saw with them while they got their pedicures, but I had just had my nails done and didn't want one myself.  The rapid, constant Spanish was more overwhelming than I had imagined, and I couldn’t pick up anything of the conversations.  I found myself regretting not minoring in Spanish in college, but at least the Farchis all spoke English and could help me. 


After the salon we went back to the house to have dinner.  In this country, beans are a staple at every meal.  It’s a good thing I like frijoles and tortillas or I would starve!  Over the next few days I learned that I don’t like plantains or papaya (also staples) and that I am obsessed with a jam they have made from guava.  I’m not so into all of the exotic fruits, but I still have a lot more to try. 


The next day Dani, Ari, Oshi and I met Oshi’s sister Julie, her mom (Abue- short for Abuela), Julie’s 4 year old twins David and Yael, and her 2 year old son Ariel.  Her husband Moty was flying in a couple of days later.  At the mall I tried green mango with chile powder and lemon juice (lovely to try but nothing I’ll make a habit of).  The kids played in a play area while Ari showed me around some of the Guatemalan stores.  The Farchis buy most of their clothes in the states because it is much cheaper, but the store we went into was priced similarly to Forever 21 or H&M.  After walking around the mall, the girls wanted me to try Pollo Campero for lunch.  It’s basically a Guatemalan KFC, but it tastes better (still very fried).  After lunch we went back to the house to relax and get ready for Shabbat dinner.  I don’t think people started to arrive until 9:00 PM for dinner.  There were a few other families, but the incredible thing about the Jewish community here is that they are all like one big, extended family.  The kids of all ages hang out together and take care of one another and all of the adults are everyone’s parents.  It is such a nice community full of very generous and warm people.  Like any other Shabbat dinner, there was way too much delicious food with chicken, fish, and lots of sides.  Everybody in the community knows English, which is nice, but the majority of conversation is, of course, held in Spanish.  Everyone was very helpful in translating and allowing me to feel a part of various conversations.  Around 10:30 we left to pick Cara up from the airport.  Cara was my camper for 2 summers and is who introduced me to the Farchis, and without her I would never have had this opportunity.  She got to know them because to younger girls, Pepis and Michelle, had come to camp two summers ago and were very homesick.  Cara sat with them and spoke to them in Spanish, which everyone was grateful for.  The girls LOVE Cara and were so excited to be able to see her again! 


Because it took me an hour to get through customs, we figured it would take Cara just as long, but naturally it took her all of 20 minutes.  She was without a phone waiting for us outside in the massive crowd of people.  I spotted her right away and called out to her.  She was borrowing someone’s phone, trying to get a hold of us, and the man charged her 10 quetzales (about 1 American dollar).  She was very relieved to see us, needless to say.  I was glad to have a familiar face and another native English speaker.  Cara’s Spanish is very good and she helped me translate and learn more Spanish.  Michelle and Pepis were so excited to see Cara that they spent the night with us at the Farchis.  Exhausted from her flight, Cara had a late dinner, spent some time with her camper fan club, and we went to bed. 


Saturday morning we woke up and got ready to meet Oshi’s family again, this time at an outdoor mall.  Cara and I both wore thin long sleeve shirts, jeans, and flip flops.  Oshi told us to bring warmer clothes, but all of the younger girls persuaded us that Oshi exaggerates and that we would be fine in what we were wearing.  That was the last time Cara and I didn’t take Oshi’s advice; we froze!  David took us to an ATM so we could get some quetzales.  I asked him if I could give him any money towards the trip and his reply was “I believe in English you say, no fucking way.”  He would not let me pay a cent.  We all ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and had some amazing chocolate desserts.  Then we took the  little kids to play where they did a trampoline where they were strapped into a harness and bungee cords and jumped really high into the air.  Yael went into a massive hamster ball in a pool and tried to roll around.  While the kids played, Ari, Cara, Michelle, and I went ziplining (they call it canopy here).  Dani couldn’t go because of her foot and Pepis was not into the heights.  We had a blast!  It was incredible to be right next to a mall and feel as though we were in the middle of a jungle!  There was a river and a small waterfall.  Ari and Michelle kept getting stuck in the middle because they didn’t weigh enough to make it across the bigger ziplines.  One of the workers spoke to me in broken English and I spoke to him in broken Spanish; it’s amazing what you can communicate when you are forced to!  What we thought was a 5-minute adventure ended up taking an hour.  By the time we finished our feet and hands were numb.  Michelle’s parents picked her up at the canopy and we dropped Pepis off at her house.  Then we all went home and got into warm pajamas and made grilled cheese sandwiches over the fireplace.  I tried a delicious hot, sweet, rice drink (one of my other favorites).  Ari and Dani packed bags because we were leaving for our vacation early the next morning.  That day was so much fun!  I could hardly wait to experience more with this amazing family!      



I vote for you ! your have an art for monologue qnd describe interesting strory, you know ?


  ptch Jan 4, 2013 4:22 AM


i vote for you too!! even if i dont know what im voting for :D i hope you win.

  :) Jan 4, 2013 12:10 PM

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