Life In El Paredón

>Written By Lindsay, Latitudes Year ’20 Guatemala

Living in El Paredón, Guatemala is akin to constantly being on vacation, I am surrounded by palm trees, it takes me 3 minutes to walk to the beach, and the weather is hot and tropical.

A day in my life begins with an early start at 8:30 am (early for me at least because I am a teenager and used to waking up after 11am), brushing my teeth in the pila, which is a type of sink commonly used in Guatemala, and then greeting my host mom Aura who is usually making breakfast for the family. Aura is basically my mom here and I always enjoy talking to her, no matter how many times she tries to cop my flip-flops from me because I have padded flip-flops, and she does not. We have since come to an agreement that I will leave my flip-flops here for her when I leave to go back to the United States, I think this deal is pretty fair, considering how much she cares for me. After eating breakfast with Aura, she wishes me luck and a happy day, and then I leave for work.

I start work at 9:30am and depending on what the gringos sign up for, I will do a turtle tour, a cooking class, or a mangrove tour. My job is to translate what our local guides are saying about the tours. My favorite tours to do are the cooking class and turtle tour. The cooking classes are the hardest to translate for me personally because the women who do them, my host mom Aura and a local restaurant owner Sandra, speak impossibly fast Spanish and mutter. During the cooking classes we make empanadas and tortillas, at the beginning I was extremely bad at making the tortillas and Aura and Sandra would roast me and make fun of them, since then, I have become somewhat of a self-proclaimed professional, with my tortillas vaguely resembling a circle and actually staying stuck together. My other favorite tour to translate is the turtle tour, where we take a boat out to the river to sit and watch turtles coming up for air. If they come close enough you can see them really clearly when they pop their heads out of the water and hear them huff for air, it is one of the coolest things I have experienced.

These are my normal work days volunteering at La Choza Chula and when I am not working I am at the beach and watching the sunset with my amigos and depending on the day, getting absolutely mauled by the mosquitos which is not particularly fun. Every day in El Paredón brings new experiences, from getting called “gringa” in the streets by the little kids, seeing a neighbor cooking giant iguanas for dinner, or making bonds with the locals and new friends I have met from all over the world who have come to experience the beauty and peace of this small town for themselves.