Laundry Weather

We’re gearing up for the rainy season here, but before it starts, the dry season is really giving its all to make things dry. This means HOT sun all day long most every day. Great laundry weather!

Unfortunately, while this much sun is nice for drying towels and jeans, it’s kinda melty human weather. Apparently it’s not even 30º, but let me tell you, with the tin roof, it’s nearly unbearable! Practically an oven in here.

That being said, I know that very soon, we’ll be getting torrential downpours all evening and night. That will be nice, though the damp brings its own problems like mold and leaks in the roof that never appear until it’s REALLY pouring. Each season has it’s pros and cons, so I’ll just try to enjoy them all.

Weird Things You Get Used to as an Expat

I was looking at a friend’s photos on Facebook the other day and admiring her bookshelves and it occurred to me that this is one of the things I’m now used to. It’s weird to see overstuffed bookcases around here (though I have a few myself, of course). Other things that you get used to as an expat around here:

Guatemalan guard

Image via xoque - Flickr CC

Guards with guns. The first time I rounded a corner in Antigua and ran into a guard carrying a shotgun, it scared me almost to death. Now? I don’t even notice them for the most part.

Eating with tortillas. I’ll be honest, when I first arrived in this country, I really didn’t like tortillas. Eventually, I got used to them. The funniest thing though, is learning to eat with a tortilla in place of utensils. One year, my sister came to visit and we ate with the in-laws.

“Everyone eats with their hands . . . I’m the only one using a fork!” Yup, welcome to Guatemala. Who needs to dirty forks and spoons when you can just scoop up your beans with a tortilla?

Bombas. Firecrackers are set off nearly every day here, particularly around holidays and birthdays. For some bizarre reason, birthday bombas are set off very early in the morning, like four am sometimes! Early on, these always woke me, but now I can sleep right through them.

Constant shake-ups. Earthquakes happen a lot around here, which is apparently a good thing, since it means the pressure is relieved. Amazingly, it’s possible to get used to the windows rattling and the floor undulating beneath your feet!

stores in Guatemala

Image via Kate and Alonso - Flickr CC

 Shopping over the counter. While there are some shops that have shelves where you can go and pick things off the shelf, the vast majority of stationary stores, convenience stores, etc. keep everything behind the counter, often with metal bars for security separating you from the clerk.

This presents a problem for the non-Spanish speaking tourists. You not only have to know which store to go to in order to find what you need, you also have to know what it’s called in Spanish! Depending on the clerk, they may or may not be tolerant of your muddled vocabulary and hand gestures trying to describe what you need.

After all these years, I’m now accustomed to ordering what I need, but I do still miss the ability to scan the shelves of a craft shop and drool over products.

 Kissing cheeks. I’m a bit of an introvert, so hugs and kisses don’t come naturally to me, but here, cheek kissing is a very common greeting and farewell. I can’t say I’m 100% on it all the time, sometimes I’m not sure if I should kiss or shake hands, but it doesn’t really phase me anymore when someone leans in.

Lack of personal space. North Americans value their personal bubble and we tend to have respect for each other’s personal space. Latinos . . . don’t seem to have the same sense of space. In the first few years, I found it alarming to have people stand so close to me, or sit right next to me on a bench. I wondered what they wanted or if something was wrong. Now? While I still like my personal bubble, it’s not a big deal when someone moves into it . . . or several someones.

These are just a few of the things that I once found awkward or uncomfortable but now treat as normal. What have you gotten used to as an expat?


Learning to Cook Chapin

When Irving and I first started living together, we had some food issues. I made things like spaghetti and meatballs, carrots and peas and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He was used to eating rice, beans and eggs, with the occasional piece of chicken or beef. He had a pretty strong aversion to most vegetables and NEVER wanted to try anything new.

That being said, he would eat anything I put in front of him, as long as he didn’t know what it was beforehand. I learned to start making dinner and not answering his “What is it?” questions. He would eat it and discovered that he liked a number of new foods.

As anyone who has lived in a foreign country can tell you, though, sometimes you just want food from home. So Irving would visit his mom to eat and this often meant he had a second lunch around 4 and our dinner was at 5. Needless to say, that annoyed me a lot back in the day. ;)

Over time, though, I learned to cook chapin (Guatemalan) food. It wasn’t always easy. It took me nearly 7 years to get the hang of rice, for example. But I have managed to nail a few things! Here’s the breakfast I made Irving yesterday:

Fried plantains, refried black beans and eggs with chirmol on top. There were sausages, too, but they didn’t make it into the breakfast. He was thrilled!

Over the years, we’ve learned to adapt, as all couples do. These day, my food is a mix of Guatemalan and Canadian, with a little Chinese thrown in sometimes. I can prepare the basics in Guatemalan cuisine . . . tamales, frijoles revueltos, picado de rabano, pepian and tortillas (though my slapping technique is still lacking), but Irving has also come to enjoy more Canadian foods, like oatmeal that isn’t gruel consistency and has fruit in it, stuffed potatoes, brown bread and even tuna fish salad. He still won’t touch egg salad sandwiches though!

Oh Look, More Oil Classes!

Are you tired of hearing about essential oils yet? Last post for a while, I promise.

I’ve got another 101 class starting tomorrow for those who want to learn more about essential oils and family health. If you missed the first one, you’ll want to get in on this one! Click the image to sign up.

Also, if you’re more interested in the business opportunity side of things, I’m offering a business class starting tomorrow, as well. NO obligation to join up, but you can learn a bit more about the doTERRA business and how to make money with the oils. Click the image to sign up.

Both classes begin tomorrow and run for 4 days. See you there!

35 is Halfway to 70

I turned 35 on the 12th. It was a quiet day. No sister here to bake a cake and all that this year, but the boys were up late making me gifts the night before. In the morning, they presented me with their creations. :) Dorian wrote me a comic book and Dante drew me several pictures. It was very sweet and they both made me laugh with their goofy humor. Dominic regaled me with kisses, since he’d been sent to bed on time the night before.

Irving bought me some wine and smoked Gouda to enjoy while we watched Arrow that evening, so that was nice. Plus, a friend stopped by to wish me Happy Birthday in person.

Overall, it was a pretty good day. The downsides were grumpy kids and tantrums from Dominic, as one might expect as a mother! No breakfast in bed, but that Gouda was delicious!

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 89

Overheard: “It’s a hug-apocalypse!”
Me: “Thank you for not waking me up this morning.”
Dorian: “You’re welcome. It was easy since we were sleeping, too.”
Dante: “I’m tired. I didn’t slept well last night.”
Me: “Sleep.”
Dante: “Oh man! When I say ‘sleep,’ you say ‘slept.’ When I say ‘slept,’ you say ‘sleep!’”
Dominic: watching me make dinner “Mama, are you a chef?”
The boys were singing Poker Face.
Dorian: “I told you this was Lady Gaga, Dante. She’s the one with the crazy hair.”
Dominic: “Please take off my shoe. I have to freak out.”
Me: “You’re going to freak out if I take your shoe off?”
Dominic: “Take it off, please. I have to freak out about Paw Patrol.”
Dominic got his first bee sting.
Dominic: in between screaming “That bee doesn’t LIKE me! That bee HURT me!”
Dante: “Mama, why do you look so awful this morning? Your eyes are weird.”
Dante: “I know what I’m going to do for a job when I grow up. I’m going to be a doctor. And Dominic can work with me, because he wants to be a doctor, too.”
Me: “That sounds good.”
Dante: “Yeah, I was thinking about a policeman or a soldier, but I could get killed. But then I’d be a ghost, which would be cool . . . but I’ll stick with being a doctor. Actually, I’ll have two jobs, a doctor job and a band job.”
Dominic: “Mama, I want cheese.”
Me: “That’s not really a proper breakfast.”
Dominic: “I want a cheese sandwich, please.”
Gave him the sandwich. He opened it up, picked the cheese out and left the bread.
Dorian was very pale one morning.
Me: “You look really pale today! We’ve got to get some iron into you, you look sick.”
Dorian: “Oh, I thought I was just turning into a white person.”
And one that is from my big kid. ;)
Irving: “We should watch that movie with the raptor.”
Me: “The new Jurassic Park movie?”
Irving: “No, Left Behind.”
Me: laughing “Oh, you mean RAPTURE.”
Irving: “It looks like raptor. This is why I don’t speak English!”