It has got to be around a year ago that I decided that I was going to live in Guatemala, study Spanish, maybe do some volunteer work, and do a few other things like writing, playing my guitar, and hiking volcanos. I have never lived anywhere other than California, let alone another country. There were numerous reasons fueling this decision in me. That’s a story that currently has unfinished chapters. I plan to be gone 3 1/2 months.
So my sabbatical (isn’t that a great, important sounding name for it?) starts September 1, 2018 — and I’m leaving for Guatemala on September 6th. I admit that I do have a round trip ticket and plan to be back in late December. I am in the process of closing my psych practice – effective August 31st-subject to reopening at a later date. This has not been an easy process on so many levels. And it’s been very emotional.
So much to do. I’m only slightly overwhelmed as long as I don’t think about it. I’m excited, nervous, anticipatory, anxious, calm, scared, brave, worried, courageous, sad, happy. A pupu platter of feelings and emotions which I’ve eaten myself so it’s all laying heavily in the pit of my stomach like a gluttonous mass of fried Asian appetizers. Feels great going down, but then it lays there like a block of concrete!
The immersion language school in Antigua that I’ve enrolled in just sent me an updated confirmation. It’s getting more real. I’ll be living with a Guatemalan family but I won’t find out anything about them until a few days before I arrive. What will they be like? Will they like me? Will I need to hide that I’m Jewish (my mishasgas, not theirs) – or that I’m in a same-sex relationship (another closet to crawl back into?). I’ve got to turn off my projector that’s running overtime.
I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I am told I will eat the same meals that the family eats, presumably with them. Actually I hope we do. They’ll provide three meals a day, except on Sundays. I’ll do my own laundry. I’ll have my own room, and my own bathroom (an extra charge). They’re supposed to have Wifi (an extra charge). I have no specific dietary restrictions. But since they’ve asked, I’ve requested non-fried healthyish food. Lots of fresh veggies and fruits (and hoping they know to wash them in filtered water!) I prefer mostly chicken and fish. Will they think I’m high maintenance? (Do people in Guatemala even use the term “high maintenance?”) I imagine they must be thinking, Oh, he must be from California. He probably only eats kale and quinoa, and everything has to be organic, locally sourced, sustainable, free range, gluten free and non-GMO. Does everything need to be served on small plates?
I just took an assessment test to help the school determine what type of learner I am. I have no idea how that went or what that even means. I hope I still know how to learn. The next task is a Spanish placement test to see what level I’m at. I initially tried the intermediate test (I guess I was overly optimistic) but I found I was mostly guessing. So they sent me the beginner’s test. I hope I’m at least an “advanced beginner” (my term, not theirs). We’ll see what happens. Más tarde.