Life in Lanquin
Martin and I have been at El Muro for 13 days.
In exchange for a room and two meals a day, I work in the pub and hostal. The work is very easy and usually only takes up my morning and evenings, leaving most of the day for me to do whatever I want. El Muro desperately needs help organizing their records, so I find myself making Excel spreadsheets in Spanish. Just so you know, an IF formula won’t work in a Spanish version of Excel…SI does. My vocabulary is expanding!
El Muro is in the heart of Lanquin, which is a remote village.
I miss living in a big city where more than cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers are available to eat. What I would do for some almond milk or whole wheat bread!
I’m still struggling to eat healthfully. The first few days, I was quite depressed about the quality and variety of food here. I came up with a plan to make an effort to cook my lunches and that seemed to be working fine, until Sunday when I was sick all day.
Albina cooks my breakfasts and dinners, and at first I thought she didn’t like me. She scowled at me and complained that she didn’t understand what I was saying, which was so demoralizing. However, I needed to interact with her every time a guest ordered food, so I had to do something. I practiced saying orders, and now she and I have a great rapport. The other day she randomly gave me a hug and a kiss. Now if I could only communicate to her that chicken bullion is not vegetarian…
Making new friends every day is the best part of this job.
One American/Canadian couple taught at an international school in the Philippines that sounded really fun. Another Irish woman gave me a contact of her friend in Berlin who was looking for business communication teachers. She actually ended up staying at the hostal for five days, and I still miss her company. Many travelers have been talking about Bolivia, so much so that I think we need to add that country to our list (and maybe reduce our time in Columbia).
I’ve learned that while I love talking with people, I also need a significant amount of alone time every day. I think this is why I love being in a kitchen or in an office. I like being behind the scenes creating a delicious or more organized experience for someone else.
My Spanish is coming along – one word at a time.
The locals like to come into the pub and try to teach me Catch-ee, the local Maya language spoken. (I have no idea how to spell Catch-ee, but that is how it is pronounced.) Let me tell you, trying to learn an indigenous language through Spanish makes my head spin. But it is really fun to see how the faces of the locals brighten when I manage to repeat the Catch-ee phrase correctly.
The reason why tourists come to Lanquin is to go to Semuc Champey, which is kind of like a national park. El Muro coordinates a full-day adventure tour that is physically demanding and includes swimming in the water caves, jumping off bridges, and basking in the beauty that is Semuc Champey. I haven’t gone yet, but Martin went yesterday and took some beautiful photos.
The owner of El Muro is Guatemalan but lived in the U.S. for 20 years and just moved back to Guatemala in 2010. As a result, he and his family enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving! I love getting a bunch of people together for a delicious meal. The plan now is for me to go to Coban (a difficult 2.5 hour drive) on Wednesday night, cook the side dishes at his house on Thursday, and bring the food back to El Muro in Lanquin on Thursday afternoon. I’m quite nervous about the ride to Coban and back because it requires I take some motion sickness medicine and even then, the ride is uncomfortable.
Life in Guatemala is definitely not easy. Yesterday I tried to buy some paperclips, and he wanted 25 quetzals for one. That’s $3.30 USD! For ONE paperclip! I did not buy it. I will use tape instead.
Such is life in Guatemala.