Monday, August 18, 2008
First Day in La Paz
Today is my first day in Mexico. I am becoming familiar with feelings that I never knew existed. The cast and I left Breckenridge at four o'clock AM and arrived in La Paz early yesterday evening. Our drive through town was quite incredible. The street we drove on paralleled the beach and the boardwalk which was teeming with life, yet the streets were filled with water because it had just rained. I have been to Mexico before, but never in my life have I seen what I saw yesterday. I had never seen an ocean so blue. La Paz is gorgeous and the food is wonderful. Shortly after leaving the city limits, our buses stopped at a nearby resort. We were able to have an hour-long meeting before our host families came to pick us up.
Minutes after meeting my host mother, Ofelia, I realized that my life for the next week was going to be very different than it had ever been before. I felt as if I was handicapped or wearing a glass helmet that prevented me from orally or audibly communicating with another person. Ofalia does not speak a word of English. Shortly after getting into her station wagon, I began the hardest conversation I have ever had. Our drive to her house was 35 minutes long. After three minutes I began hating Up With People and wondering why anyone would put me in this situation. I had a million things I wanted to tell her and to thank her, but all I knew how to say was "hello" and " peanuts". I was given a piece of paper with several lines of Spanish translations and my host family’s address. I began to panic because I started trying to use hand gestures. She started to believe that I was trying to help her guide the car. I began to get very worried because I thought that I had caused her to dislike me, but then I remembered that the word God in Spanish is Jesucristo. So I pointed at the church as we passed it and said “Jesucristo”. She smiled and for the first time in 25 minutes we were able to make a connection with one another. She then told me that she was Catholic. She thinks that I am Catholic because I have no way to tell her that I am Methodist.
When we reached her home I was able to meet her grandson Samuel. He is 15 and can speak a small amount of English. If he had never though of Google translator I would have never made it though the night. Ofelia's apartment is very nice. My room has two windows that over look La Paz! There are no screens in Ofelia's windows, but it is ok because bugs do not fly to the lights in the apartment. Many people in La Paz know of Viva La Gente (Up With People), so my host family is happy to have my in their home. I am blessed to have a Mexican Mama.
The roaches in Mexico are this big