In many ways, my new living situation is quite the contrast to my last one. In Sumpango I lived with single family in a walled compound. Here, I am living with 10 people crossing three generations in one of four buildings facing the same patio (and one cottage off to the side where I will end up eventually). We are surrounded by corn fields, but no fence.
In the house where I live now there are five of us (two boys, their parents, and yours truly). Hendrick is 7 and Elkin is 2½, both are extremely energetic and predisposed to love me based on their previous Volunteer experiences. Ela (their mother and my counterpart) is in her early 30s and is always on the run. She works afternoons during the school year as an administrative assistant of some kind and also volunteers her time to coordinate the women’s group that I’ve been assigned to work with. Benancio (Ela’s husband) is taking classes in Xela at night working toward his law degree.
In the house just uphill there are three: Fernando, a cousin to the kids in my house, and his parents Catarina and Oscar. Oscar is here just two weekends out of the month since he works in the capital.
The grandparents (Don Juan and Doña Ana) and Aunt Isabel (sister to Benancio) sleep in the house just downhill. During the day Isabel is at work out of town, Ana is at the uphill house with Cata, and Juan is up at the cottage where he has an office.
The fourth building sits empty, though it just finished construction. The electrical system was completed during November, and last weekend we had a massive party (hundreds of invitees… 400 tamales) to break it in. Expect a post on tamale making down the line.
I will actually live the bulk of my two years about 25 yards away in a cottage that was once where the grandparents lived (and where Juan has his office now). I’ve been waiting on moving up there to put on a fresh coat of paint (done) and because I’m buying some household items (furniture, kitchen stuff) off another volunteer who wasn’t willing to sell until December. I managed to get my hands on my furniture yesterday and will be sprucing the place up to move in fully very soon. It’s essentially going to be a studio apartment for me, with one large room for my use and a latrine and pila outside.
There are so many personalities I’m only beginning to get a handle on the dynamics, but I’ll surely treat you to some family member profiles as time wears on.