Meet The Parents

 

I got an unexpected but very pleasant surprise when my dad called me last saturday night. “I have someone here that wants to talk to you,” he told me from his house in Jersey City, New Jersey. He handed the phone over, and to my amazement I was greeted by Katarina, the mother of one of the teachers I work with here in the Guatemalan highlands. I was so shocked at first by the connection between these two previously seperate parts of my life, it took me a few moments to understand what was going on and piece together how it had happened.

 

About a month ago I was talking with Lucia, one of the elementary school teachers I work with, and her mother Katarina. Lucia mentioned that her father was living in the U.S., and her mother Katarina had obtained a tourist visa and was going to visit her husband in a few weeks. While they weren't exactly sure what city in New Jersey he lived in, Katarina recognized the name Jersey City when I told her that's where my dad lived. I told Katarina that my dad would be happy to meet her and her husband while she was visiting the states, and wrote down his phone number and address. I honestly didn't expect them to call. I thought they may feel uncomfortable calling a complete stranger in a foreign country.

 

I was mistaken. When they coordinated the visit over the phone (fortunately Lucia's father, Juan, speaks English after 4 years living in the U.S.), my dad specifically didn't tell me beforehand in order to make it a surprise, which it certainly was. The day afterwords, my dad told me more about the visit. When Juan and Katarina arrived at his door, he knew they were the right people because Katarina was dressed in her traditional Guatemalan traje. They ate BLTs and drank soda. They chatted about work, family, their lives in Guatemala and the United States, with Juan serving as a translator between Katarina and my dad. They asked to see pictures of me, and took pictures with my dad and of the house. While they had taken a bus the 10 miles or so to get there, my dad drove them home afterwords.

 

I hope to meet Juan next year when I'm back in the U.S. next year and ask him to show me the Guatemalan restaurants in the area. I told my dad about the 3 different parts of the Peace Corps mission, and how his hosting people from my site for dinner at his house had so perfectly fulfilled both the second and third goals. While this experience doesn't deal directly with my work here in Guatemala, it really meant a lot to me that after living in Guatemala for over a year and a half I was able to share a small part of my life and my family back home with people from here in my site.



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.