Through the ICA language school, we arranged to take three weeks of intensive Spanish language classes and stay with a local family in Xelaju. We met our new ‘family’ last Sunday night, and got to know them better over a dinner of steaming mugs of hot chocolate and sweet Guatemalan bread. Shirly and Sergio Castillo have been hosting students from ICA for several months, and they know to speak slowly and clearly so we can understand them. Their two very sweet children, Oscar and Alfonso, are 5 and 6 years old and enjoy practicing their English with us. After talking with the Castillos for several hours, our brains were overloaded with Spanish so we went to bed early.
(views from our bedroom window)
ICA places its students with typical middle-class families, and it has been interesting to see the similarities and differences from life in the US. While they have cable and cell phones, the Castillo home is quite small and simply constructed around a small central courtyard. The family shares one bedroom, and spends much of its time in the adjacent living/dining room area. The bathrooms and sinks are located outside in the courtyard, and both clothes and dishes are washed in a cement sink. Our room is upstairs over our bathroom, and is a large simple room furnished only with a bed and dresser. The water and electricity is somewhat unreliable, and taking showers in the chilly morning has made for some chattering teeth. Sometimes in the middle of the night we are awakened by cats walking noisily on the tin roof, and in the mornings by a wobbly recording of music blasted from a nearby church.