Quetzals, Tortillas, and 7th Graders….
In America there are price tags on every single item in a shopping center. Here in Guatemala you have to find a store worker and ask them how many Quetzal or “Cuantos Quetzales”. This past Thursday we had the opportunity to stop at Chichicastango on a market day. This is the biggest and oldest market in all of Guatemala and it occurs every Thursday. All of the streets were filled with vendors selling shoes, blankets, wepils, skirts, bags, knives, fruits, seeds, meat and anything else you can imagine. You would hear a vendor shouting “20 Q” which meant 20 Quetzal. It was very overwhelming, but a lot of fun when bargaining with the different vendors to lower the price. I imagine them thinking, “Those stupid gringos let me sell them this bag for 100 more Quetzals than it’s worth”. I of course ended up buying and spending way more money than I expected…yes I am the typical American girl. One little boy followed me for about 10 minutes all the way back to our restaurant trying to sell me some musical instruments; which of course I succumbed to his constant negotiating and bought them. “Cuantos Quetzales” has now become a daily phrase so far during my stay in Guatemala!
Pancakes for lunch??? Noo… Stacks and stacks of thick pancake like tortillas are served with all of our meals everyday. I’m not sure how I have survived without them while back home in the states. The other day we were given a tortilla making lesson and literally we tossed the dough ball back and forth in our hands and placed them on the stove and we had about 10-15 ready in less than 5 minutes. Why don’t we do this in Texas? They are so thick and delicious. Everyone keeps saying we will eventually get tired of the tortillas, but so far I am in tortilla heaven. I will never buy tortillas from HEB again… I now know what the taste of a true pancake tortilla is like and there isn’t any going back to the prepackaged kind.
Just picture yourself in the 7th grade again… Do you remember how hard it was to focus because of the cute boy next to you and the teacher who was trying to introduce the concept of letters and numbers as one subject? Now add in the fact that you can hear the class next door yelling and your desk is wooden and uncomfortable. We take so much for granted in the US especially when it comes to our education system. Every two or so years we are given the newest textbooks, the latest technology, and someone is always coming up with a new way to make our learning environment more enjoyable. Here in Chajul, the kids had so many distractions around them that I wondered how they even focused on the lecture. The middle school we visited today was also considered one of the best academic wise, but yet just observing the classroom for 30 minutes opened my eyes to so many differences from classrooms back home in Texas. These students had a lot of ambition and goals and with the distractions of their daily life I was very proud to see so many attending school. Life here in Chajul has really taught me to appreciate what I have back home especially when it comes to my opportunities in education.