A Little Love and a Little Crazy


This seems to be a recurring theme here, but Guatemalans go all out when it comes to celebrations. So really, I should’ve seen this coming, but Semana Santa took me by complete surprise. 


It was a total explosion of the senses. Everywhere I looked, my eyes were greeted with bright colors – in the alfombras made of dyed sawdust carpeting the streets, in the purple banners hanging from the tallest buildings, and in the life-sized replicas of Jesus and Mary being reverently paraded through it all. Not once in three days did I escape the aroma of frankincense and pine, nor did my ears go more than an hour without hearing a big brass marching band. My host family taught me how to make homemade pan mojado, the traditional Holy Week loaf of bread soaked in sweet fennel syrup. 

But the most meaningful part of the week was realizing that these festive details were all prayers. Hundreds of people lined the streets to watch the daily processions, sometimes holding candles, sometimes on their knees with beads in their hands, sometimes marching piously in the parade’s wake. When the festivities died down, I was left with ringing ears from all the sounds, a lingering cloud of incense in my sinuses, and a heart filled with reverence – both to Jesus for what he did for humanity, but also for the passionate intensity with which people honor his story in this corner of the world. Here’s a shameless plug for anyone interested in experiencing a Christian celebration in another culture: come visit next year during Holy Week. And for everyone else, come visit whenever your lil’ heart desires. 

In other recent news:

eileen in class.jpg
  • I killed a scorpion above my bed with a size 6 flip flop.

  • My friend told me I was baptized in sweet water because I think everything is funny. And, naturally, I thought that was funny.

  • Our cat Lola had babies AND THEN ATE THEM.

  • My students continue to both exhaust me and energize me with joy every day. Their four teachers inspire me with their patience, dedication, and love for these kiddos. 

  • I set a new record and went through a whopping 1.5 rolls of toilet paper in 2 hours after a regrettable meal of street-grilled carne asada. Current status: still tethered to the toilet. 

  • Doña Betty (my rock-star host mother) and I have spent so much time together lately that people started asking her where her “daughter-in-law” is from. 

  • Many people are fascinated with my eyes. A lot of kids believe me whenever I joke that the blue color gives me X-ray vision.

Welp, that is all, on my end. If you want to know more about life, and the fascinating people that inhabit it (some of whom we call impresarios!) - don’t forget to check out First Thing’s website and all the good work (and love) going on there.

I wish you a fit of laughter, a scoop of ice cream, and a teardrop or two every once in awhile to remind you you’re still living. Carry on!