Going with the flow

Each day is an adventure here. We step out of the house with no clear plan each morning, except to teach at 3pm. And things come to us. People always used to say to me that life should just flow. And it never really did. Until now.

Yesterday was a good example. Our first stop was to Estiven’s auntie’s house – plants creeping out of old coca cola bottles stuffed with earth, clothes tangled up in a corner, outside sink dripping onto a kitten head. A little girl with moon eyes, shy smile. The aunt called her brother Alexander in San Jose, our new landlord. And yes, we can have the little green house next to the football pitch, opposite a bar that pumps out tinny tunes all day. The house with windows you can see into, with a big garden out the back strewn with leaves and fallen mangoes. And two bare concrete rooms, full of potential, ripe for colourful hammocks to hang.

So it is organised, to go today to collect the keys and buy the essentials for our new home – a hose pipe to fill our sink and dampen the dust, some material to make curtains, some sheets, some hammocks, a stove, some sandpaper for little Derrien to smooth his surf board. And someone’s friend will drive us there and wait while we buy our things and bring us home. And someone’s uncle will make us a table from the palms he is about to cut down. And we can borrow mattresses from the tents at the surf camp. People look out for us. We are giving a lot for free. But our lives are pretty much self sustaining as we begin to spend less and trade more.

Then we went to buy some fish from the river where the boats bob. And people hanging there for 3 hours, waiting for it to arrive. We swam instead, to cool off, laughing with the boat drivers. And there we met Eddie and Joel, who showed us how to mend their fishing nets with nylon and gave us mangoes and I have organised to teach them English, 15 guys who work the lanchas (boats), in exchange for free boat transport into town (and maybe some free fish). I start on Thursday, at 6pm, with the names of all the Guatemalan fish in English.

And from there, we bumped into Janet, who wants to start a little artesania kiosk with jewellery made from coconut shells. And she cuts hair and paints nails in the open, looking out onto the river, with a beautician’s chair donated by 2 Americans who she had met. So she painted our nails with a palm tree and sea and her boys came home from school, all of them our students, and they gave us mangoes and bowls of water to wash our hands while our nails dried. And we have organised to meet the Mayor again on Sunday, Carla, Janet and I, to ask him about the jewellery equipment he owns and if we can use it to run workshops from our new house.

And school, well, each lesson has different students but there is a trickle of regulars, all feisty, fun, easily distracted 11-16yr old boys. And we played snap with weather cards and pretended to be in a fruit and veg shop and people cling onto the metal bars of the windows looking in from outside, too shy to come in. Yesterday, they wanted to learn the words to ‘Where is the love’ and talk about their upcoming football trip to Esquintla. They are understanding more each day, some of them hungry to learn. Most of their pronunciation is appalling.

The owner of the surf camp is at a surfing competition in El Salvador and so we are co-in charge in his absence. So we greeted some new guys – blonde Dutch twins and an awkward American and we went – a big posse, with our local surfer friends and Pati the hot girl in town, to the other surf hostel where we were all thrown in the swimming pool and we drank sangria. And that was just another day in El Paredon. Every day, Carla and I turn to each other and grin and hug and say ‘I love our life!’ It is truly brilliant.

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