Patriarchal—and other—changes

These kids…they’ll do anything to get out of class!  Of course, this time it really was a big deal.  I’m not sure of the specifics, but as I understand it, the Catholic priests in Guatemala get shuffled around every six or eight years—similar to how Catholic personnel changes work on the U.S., yes?  Anyway, the time came a couple of weeks ago, and in came Padre Fredy, who had been working for most of the last decade only an hour away in Santa Eulalia. 

See below for the pictures of the celebration: huipiles, blouses, headdresses, capixayes, and incense galore, it was truly a mass en masse.  In the basketball court.  Nice.  The pictures can get repetitive, but all should be equally enjoyable, if only for the incredible bursts of color that even a mostly-colorblind guy like me can enjoy: 

[] [Catholic Priest Shuffle] 

That evening we also enjoyed quite a spectacle—a very exclusive dance, to which we gringos were invited only because la Licenciada Eulalia is an important pedagogical member of the Catholic church here in San Mateo.  Quite a sight: a bunch of white folk who, at the beginning of every song (all of which were in tune, thanks to the excellent, Santa-Eulalia-based marimba band), were flooded by strangers and small children asking us to dance.  Makes one feel welcome! 

Other changes have also been in the works around here: critical mass was reached when Beth Neville and Chip (a videographer from NYC) arrived last month (they’ve since left).  This Packing of the Supreme Foundation, FDR-style (right?), was the last straw for me, and the final incident that finally made me realize that I need a whole lot more personal space than I thought.  I guess there really is a difference between living with one roommate, and living with seven… 

The upshot of all this was that I began a search for another place to live, which lasted a grand total of about 10 minutes.  It turns out that the family upstairs—Don Mateo (our landlord), Doña Ana, Andrés (the oldest child, in our primero class), María, and Eulalia—had an extra room available, which I immediately snatched up.  I may only be here for a while…but then again, if it works out well, I may stay for the rest of the year.  We’ll see.  But so far it’s been great—it’s tranquil at night, I can occasionally get a wireless signal through the floor in the kitchen (what a hard life!), the breakfast and lunch are ample, and the Chuj learning curve is significantly steeper!  The kids can be intense sometimes, but it’s an intensity that’s fundamentally different from the intensity of the tightly packed mini-America that has been giving my nerves problems for a while. 

As usual, the change in San Mateo continues at a breakneck pace—it’s something I’m not at all used to after eight years of incredibly stable and predictable school.  However, the experience will surely develop my heretofore limited ability to cope with quick (and sometimes major) adjustment.  Growing pains, man.


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