Saturday, April 2, 2011

This thing called integration...

So how much can I really fit in in a village of Mayan people? This is the question that goes around in my head a lot. I have definitely made myself a home here that I enjoy and feel very comfortable in. As I wander around, most dogs no longer bark at me, only one baby still cries, and most everyone just waves, says "byebye Megan!" or invites me in to visit for a bit.

I mean I am learning to speak Q'eqchi and I understand pretty well; I can bake tortillas with the best of them; I can wash my clothes clean in the river; I can kill and clean a chicken or fish, etc, but really it really is not possible for me to ever completely blend in. No matter what I still look different, and have plenty of things that I believe, or parts of my personality that I won't change that are really different from those around me and honestly that is fine. That is part of the cultural exchange. I won't become a new person and forget what matters to me, but I will adapt what is adaptable and we can discuss the rest :)

There are some moments though that surprise me. My village is really small. I see a good portion of them everyday, and try to visit a majority of them at least once every couple weeks. So we have really kind of gotten used to each other, and with some of them I have formed some wonderful friendships. They are starting to realize that my two years are down to just half a year now. I get the normal questions of "will you remember us?", "why don't you marry so and so and stay here forever?", "will you ever come back and visit us?". The question that got me the other day, though, was, "what am I going to do when you aren't here to laugh with me? maybe I will just cry". I am not quite ready to deal with questions of goodbye, yet, though.

The funniest story I can think of about integration right now is what happened to me yesterday with my three year old buddy.

A three year old's take on my integration:

I was at the river yesterday with several ladies, and when I finished Nicelia (who is three years old) wanted to come home with me until her mom finished. I said yes, her mom was almost done. So we went back to my house and she helped me hang my clothes, and played with my puppy while I started baking tortillas for my lunch. This is the conversation we had:

I heard a car stop on the road and was baking so I didn't go look to see who it was
Me: anih ha'an? (who is that?)
Nicelia: saqeb' (white people)
Nicelia: ma nakatxiwak? (are you scared?)
Me: ink'a, ma nakatxiwak? (no, are you scared?)
Nicelia: heehe' (yes!)
Me: chank, la'in a saq (why? I am white)
Nicelia: ink'a! (no!)
Me: k'iru la'in? (what am I then?)
Nicelia: la'at, xMegan (you are Megan)