Lesson 1: Never go anywhere without a rainjacket.
The rainy season here in Guatemala is from May to November and in that time it rains quite frequently. The rain here is pretty sneaky and can appear out of nowhere to soak you completely. Also, the streets here in Antigua don´t have a drainage system so it´s best to wear sandals. I always thought I loved the rain, but there is a little too much rain here for my liking. However, I guess, if it weren´t for all of this lluvia (rain) there wouldn´t be so much delicious fruit to eat. I eat piña (pineapple), sandia (watermelon), and papaya pretty much every day and it´s amazing!
Lesson 2: Go to bed early, becuase you won´t be able to sleep in.
The roosters here don´t really have a sense of the appropriate time to crow. Sometimes they crow at 2 in the morning, and if the roosters aren´t crowing, someone is probably setting off fireworks. I´m all for fireworks, but not when they´re set off at 6 in the morning. In my town there is also a truck that drives up and down the street advertising gas starting at 5:30 am. The truck has a recorded advertisement and the first few times I heard it I thought it was saying "Geeeeeeeeeet Uuuuuuup!" but what it´s actually saying is "Zeeeeeeeta Gaaaaaaaas!!!!" The roosters, the fireworks, and the Z Gas truck are bad, but the worst is when Raul, the family parrot, repeats the Z Gas advertisement. Raul enjoys repeating just about anything that might annoy the rest of the family. Needless to say, sleeping in is not an option.
Lesson 3: Mango is more than just a fruit.
Yes, mango is a delicious fruit and it´s in season from May to August here in Guatemala. However, the word "Mango" is also used to describe an attractive man. For example, if a group of girls is walking down the street and one of them sees a good looking guy, she might say, "¡Que Mango!" or if he´s very attractive she might say, "¡Que Mangazo!" I hear girls saying this quite often, and when I finally asked what it was, I burst out laughing.
Lesson 4: It doesn´t matter how conservatively you dress...
Men will holler at you like you´re dressed for a scandalous night out on the town.
Maybe it´s because I´m a gringa, but I´ve never had so much male attention in my life. I usually wear floor-length skirts and conservative shirts, yet that doesn´t seem to deter men from yelling (what I assume are pick up lines) at me. At first I was terrified, but now I just find it hilarious. The other day, while walking in the market, one many yelled at Kate and I that we were good-looking pastors (or something like that). Haha.
Lesson 5: Make jokes.
When I first moved in with my host family, I found it difficult to interact with them and I felt very out of place, however, when I started making jokes, they really loostened up around me. I make jokes that I´m sure sound like they were made up by a 7 year old, yet they laugh as though I´ve just said the most hilarious thing they´ve ever heard. One night there was a funny looking bug in the kitchen. It was bouncing off the wall in time with the marimba music on the radio. I pointed to the bug and joked that it was dancing to the music. My host dad thought it was so funny; I thought he was going to fall out of his chair. I think he really appreciated that I was making an effort with my Spanish, and the bug really did look like he was dancing. :)
Lesson 6: Don´t pet Chuchos.
Chuchos (street dogs) are pretty much everywhere and most of them are cute. I have a hard time not petting dogs, but after I got fleas, I decided to abstain from petting the Chuchos. Fleas tend to bite you around your waistband and your wrists and ankles. Flea bites are REALLY really itchy. Don´t pet the Chuchos.