By Barbara Veres
After living in Guatemala over a year in the Peace Corps, I have come to enjoy many things about Guatemala. Here is my Top 10 List:
#10. Being called bien gordita (nice and fat) is a compliment.
#9. It’s perfectly acceptable to own your own machete and walk around town with it hanging around your belt.
#8. Procrastinate much? No tenga pena! Showing up 30 minutes late to a meeting will just give you some points for culturally integrating – and save you from waiting around for 30 minutes.
#7. The first and most widely debated topic of any meeting is what the refacción (snack) will be. Can take up to 15 minutes (after waiting 30 minutes for the meeting to start). An additional 15 minutes to write everyone’s six names for them, then having them thumbprint you to prove the Q40 wasn’t embezzled.
#6. After getting asked where in the US you are from, 1 out of 2 Guatemalans will say they have either been there or currently have a relative in the same place.
#5. Two words: street food. Cheap, yet delicious. Stool test not included.
#4. After being here for a while, you sit impatiently waiting for tortillas while your food gets cold because you can’t eat without them.
#3. You thought the first time you stepped up on that shiny yellow school bus in kindergarten was going to be cool – little did you know you would be on that very same bus 18 years later, in a different country and totally pimped out blasting anything from Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” to Nigga’s “Te Amo Tanto” – AND have to pay your fare to a guy who is best described as the Indiana Jones of Guatemalan transport while the bus barrels down the Inter-American highway at top speeds, securing your luggage on top of the bus. (Whew!)
#2. Catching a ride in the back of a truck when the bus hasn’t come by for hours is just doing what you need to do – even if it’s with livestock.
And the No. 1 reason why Guatemala is awesome is…
#1. “Fíjese que…” can be used as an excuse for pretty much ANYTHING.