Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Faith - Parts One and Two

I'm posting what I have so far since it's the last internet time I'll have until Wednesday afternoon. The school offers internet connection but I'm doing most of the writing in my room.

Faith : “ Not Knowing and Still Going”

Sunday night 7 pm. I have a feeling I’ll be getting to bed pretty early here. For the next three weeks I will be living just about as primitive as you can get. The bathroom and shower are across the courtyard about 75 feet from where I sleep at night. There’s no heat or air-conditioning in the room and one single light bulb that couldn’t be over 60 watts. There’s no closet and one electric outlet. No internet, no phone, no TV. And there’s barely enough light to read by. So, when the sun goes down, I probably will, too.

First I have to explain that Beaven and I asked for separate rooms at our host family’s house. He’s all “early to bed and early to rise” while I prefer going to bed much later and having some time alone at the end of the day. This works out OK in a five-room house with three TVs and four computers but I couldn’t face sharing one room with him for three weeks in Spartan accommodations. And it turned out to be a wise choice because the rooms here are about six feet by eight feet with one ancient old- fashioned double bed and about 3 square feet of floor space. Each one of us practically takes up about three square feet of floor space alone. We’ve both fluffed out quite a bit since we married 40 years ago.

We are spending the entire day together the rest of the time so it’s not like we’re going to miss each other. After all these years we know three feet of floor space with one small bed and different hours would probably lead to something we might spend a lot of time in prison over.

So here I am in my tiny room and he’s next door in his tiny room and I think we will survive. Maybe not even just survive but thrive. Because we’ve learned a whole lot in the last two days. For one thing, we’ve learned how little it takes to make us happy. And once you get that figured out life becomes a piece of cake.

I’m listening to it rain and cocooning. And I’m loving it. It’s seven o’clock at night and I have nothing else in the whole world to do. This should be interesting.

We may lose a bit of weight here. The school is about three blocks away—down and then up a steep hill with cobblestone streets. Everything we’ll need is within walking distance but we will have to walk to get it. We were so busy today with travel I think we only had one meal and a couple of snacks.

The place we’re staying is really a compound. If you’re like I am, the first thought that comes to mind when I think “compound” is the Kennedy family in Nantucket. Erase that thought. Replace it with a massive wooden door that opens only with a lock. There’s a concrete driveway through the big door with enough room to park the family car. Beyond this is a square area with doors on the perimeter and an open courtyard in the middle. This arrangement is the norm here. When you walk down the street all you see is walls and a door here and there. There is no way to tell what the house looks like beyond the front wall and I’ll bet people can live next door to each other and never know anything about what each other’s house looks like.

Inside the courtyard, there are about 4 or 5 rooms in a row with locks on the doors. This is where the students stay in their scholarly little cells. As near as I can figure it, we’re the only students here right now. Berta Oroxm is the matriarch of a family that occupies the rest of the building with its many doors leading inside and above to the second floor. Berta and her husband appear to be maybe slightly older than we are. I understand she has a daughter who is a doctor and has two teenagers. We haven’t met them yet but we have seen the two cats and one shaggy haired little dog.

Berta herself is just adorable. She’s short and round with the beautifully weathered dark brown face I’ve come to love. She wears the traditional thick skirt and huipil, a traditional blouse. But it’s her hair that is the most magnificent. She has long braids, on one each side, but with a beautiful blue ribbon entwined in each braid. Somehow the ribbon also follows her neckline between the braids. I’ve never seen anything like it and would love to get a picture of her to show you.

Monday night- Faith Part Two:

After one day of school I am totally brain dead. Nobody told me it would be this hard. I walked out in faith and stepped into a very big hole. Spanish by immersion means nobody speaks to you in English. Ever. Well, maybe if you look extremely pitiful, but rarely.

Class was from 8 a.m. to around lunch time (Almuerzo) then after lunch I went with a group of fellow students on one of the planned activities to help reinforce our Spanish. Did I mention Beaven and I are the only people over 30 in this school? He stayed back in the room to rest. We went on one of the city busses, also known as a Chicken Bus, to a small Mayan village called Zunil. I have no idea where it is because I couldn’t find my map when I was packing. Anyway, I managed to get myself into a very complicated situation at a Mayan cooperative—don’t ask, it’s a long and boring story. Let me just say I bought a jacket. Some little Mayan lady is going to make it especially for me. I hope. I now have to figure out how to go pick it up and you don’t have enough time, patience or love for me to hear the whole whiney story. Let me just say if you ever see me wear a red jacket in a woven Mayan design, you’d better tell me how great I look.

Oh, and I have HOMEWORK. Which I have to go do now so I will close. This is the UN-fun part of having faith in the unknown. Sometimes when it becomes known it’s hard.

Oh, but PS: Beaven and I spent a half an hour sitting outside watching lightning in the distance over the mountains and listening to the family in the kitchen. That part was easy and fun.

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