December 28, 2011
Dear Friends and family,
I know you just got a log, but as I said, I have a lot to say and I also wish to avoid homework so here I am again.
I wanted to tell you about where we live and the best way is to show you. Let’s start with our bedroom. Here is Rob in our one comfortable chair with our bed. You can see the door to the step up bathroom.
Our bathroom on the boat has a little more room than this one but it works just fine. There is no hot water on demand but the shower head has and electric heater that heats the water instantly when it is turned on. It is fine, but not a hot shower, just warm. There is an open area to the outside that allows for ventilation but also lets all the cold air in. They don’t have bugs and lizards here like we do in Florida so there are many rooms that are usually wide open to the outside.
This picture is the view we have looking out of our door. It is about 3 steps up to our room and there is a small patio with a bench which we use to get better internet access, especially for skyping. The windows behind the bench lead in to the other student room which is about twice as big and has two single beds. We will get new students on Friday and our room will be filled on the Monday after we leave.
From our patio, we go down these stairs. You can see that the upstairs goes on from our room. The laundry facility and maids room are there. Toward the back is a flat area whey they hang clothes to dry and you can also go on top of the roof. You can see the driveway and the other rooms come off of there. There is a big gate for driving the cars through and a door in the gate for people on foot. Though there is no garden, there are lots of plants everywhere so you get a garden feel.
The kitchen is not large but adequate. In Guatemalan style of cooking the oven is rarely used and in fact, though it is a nice one, I can see through the door it is being used for storage. Electrical costs as well as tanks of cooking gas is expensive here. Much of the cooking is done on top of the stove and more quickly. Baked items are inexpensive at the bakery and staples like tortillas are often ordered from particular vendors who may deliver them to the house. There are small bakeries all over so it is not a long walk to go get fresh bread every day.
You can see Rob behind the swinging doors leading from the kitchen to the dining room. There are two maids here who work for the family. They eat what the family eats but in the kitchen. I think in part this is because with the students, the table is usually pretty full. Though the maids are treated well, there is a distinction between them and the rest of the family but not in a demeaning way. All the rooms have an inside connecting door but also a door to the driveway outside.
Mashed black beans, and white bread are staples for at least two meals and some times three. At lunch today, we had mashed potatoes, rice, white bread and tortillas. A lot of carbs. We also had a steak with mushroom gravy. Carmen made a tomato, onion and radish salad. It didn’t sound good to me but was really delicious. Lots of carbs and beans but a lot of good things with it! We have fruit and some vegetable every day but I eat unusally large amounts of fresh produce and will be glad to have it again when I am doing the meals. Though fresh produce seems plentiful and inexcepsive, it doesn’t seem to be a big part of the Guatemalan diet.
The house continues back from the kitchen with the two little girls’ room and bathroom. From there it goes back on the main floor but I have not been in the family private rooms. There must be at least a room for the son, the Mom and the daughter and I think there is a TV there so probably a family room as well. It is a large house for sure. Carmen’s brother lives next door with several family members and from the second floor we can look over the wall to their driveway in to part of their house.
My teacher and I were talking about dealing with natural or man made problems. She said she couldn’t live with a threat of a hurricane. This from a person who lives near 3 active volcanoes, is in an earthquake prone city and lives behind walls for security. We laughed and I explained the saying, “Better the Devil you know!”
We feel fortunate that we are located conveniently and have comfortable accommodations, good and plentiful food and a great family who shares it all with us.
We have some great activities coming up and I already have more to share, so you will hear from me again soon.
Sue and Rob