Monday, January 6, 2014

Meeting the Family!

I already reported up to about noon today because the 2 days run together (that’s what happens when you travel through the night), so the rest of this post will be all about my family.  Sandro and his two kids Juaquin and Gabriella met me at the ProWorld office.  Nico is the ProWorld person who sets these things up, so he introduced us.  They were all very nice, helping me carry my bags even when it was completely unnecessary.  He took me to their house where I’ll be staying.  It’s quite near the ProWorld office, and it’s in a very safe neighborhood complete with security guards, so I should be able to walk between them most of the time.  It isn’t a very big place for the number of people who are staying there, but it’s certainly enough.  They do have a nice tv and a few ipads, although there isn’t any internet.  That will be one of the biggest differences for me throughout this trip.  I have become accustomed to the world where every email and facebook message is available to me in seconds.  Now, I will actually have to plan my use of the internet and computer well so that I have time to do everything I need.  And I will never be interrupted by technology in the house.  You know how sometimes when the conversations stops and everyone is just sitting there not doing anything?  That’s usually when we pull our phones out and pretend we actually have something to respond to.  I don’t have that option here anymore.  Which is fine, it will force me to fully engage with these new people in my life. 

Enough about the house, let’s move on.  I’m actually very happy with the effectiveness of my Spanish preparation.  I can talk fairly freely with Sandro and Tania (his wife), along with all the other family members who have stopped by throughout the day.  Kids are a little harder to understand because their words aren’t annunciated as clearly, and they’re just learning like I am.  Overall, I’ve had to look up a few words in the dictionary but I have been able to communicate quite effectively. 

It’s a fun culture here, all the relatives are nearby and visit whenever they please.  I also gave the cheek-kisses to at least 3 people I just met today.  It’s a good thing I’m not one of the people who freaks out when their personal bubble is shrunk.  Those kiss-greetings are just the beginning.  I like a lot of things about how they interact with each other.  For example, if I were to walk into a room with 10 people, it would be customary for me to greet each one instead of just doing a general greeting for them all.  That kind of personal interaction is often lost in the time-oriented culture of the US.  I didn’t leave the house after I arrived, since I figured I’ll just take this transition one step at a time.  Playing marbles with Joaquin and attempting to understand Spanish tv was sufficient adventure today.  Tomorrow I hope to do some exploring, change my US money into soles, and get a cell phone.  I will be starting work at the clinic on Monday, so I’d like to have a little knowledge before I get started with that J

They were very appreciative of the gifts I brought them.  After my afternoon nap I brought out the 3 pictures of dad’s house and property, which really are quite cool.  Sandro’s dad once spent a lot of time in the United States, and apparently he talked about Michigan’s beauty a lot.  I fully intend to confirm his report, I’ve come to appreciate Michigan more and more over the past few years.  I also gave them some home-made caramel and peanut brittle, which was all it took to win over little Gabriella.  Lastly, I had a map of Michigan for them since I figured they would find that cool and exotic.  They did enjoy it, especially seeing where I live and the pictures of Michigan on the top of the map.

Oh, and the food.  Absolutely incredible.  I need to get all the names again because I forget them easily.  Lunch was chicken with potatoes, which I’m sure is quite typical but doesn’t stop it from being amazing.  Dinner was basically French fries with chicken mixed in plus rice on the side.  They also had some very cool, multilayered bread we ate.  And I got to have matte, which is kind of like tea, twice.  I really like that. 

Certainly a successful first day.  I can tell I’m going to enjoy my time here.  It is very different, but if I keep an open mind and keep making the conscious choice to engage and learn, I won’t be disappointed. 

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