They say I have been here for 8 days, but already it feels like much long. For the last week everyday has been the same. I wake up at 6:30, take a shower with the water from a bucket on the side of the house, then come in to eat my breakfast while my abuela sits besides me watching me eat. She speaks and I pretend to understand, though in truth I barely make out a fraction of what she tells me. While I eat one of the Spanish teachers usually arrives and I amuse her with my painstaking attempt to converse with her in Spanish. At 8 o'clock my language class begins on a neighbor's porch. For four hours we learn this new language that will be my sole means of communicating for the next two years. It is a slow and difficult process and I leave everyday afraid that I will just never get it.
When I return home mi abuela has lunch waiting for me. Carmen's daughter might be there and there's usually a handful of children running about. I sit and talk with them until our conversations stretch my grasp of Spanish to the breaking point, that moment where I just want to walk away and stop trying, stop pushing my brain to grasp onto this language that it is not accustomed to. At one I go to my technical class in the junta communal and return gratefully to living in English again. For the last week we have been discussing all of the government mandated subjects of political correctness, dwelling on every detail of race, culture and gender, ensuring that every required word in the government script is touched upon. And then at five we are released. I return home to my supper and then have maybe two hours before the sun goes down and the town begins to drift to sleep.
It is a tight schedule and I know from my description of it everyday sounds like a monotonous repetition of the day before. But my real life exists in the margins of this schedule, in those moments outside of classes where I laugh, sing, dance and talk. The moment when my host sister shows me her husband's fighting cocks or when my niece pulls out a book about New York and asks me about the places and buildings shown in the photos. These are the moments that keep me going. The moments of community where people that a few days ago were total strangers treat me like a new and curious member of the family.