When I arrived at the CECI office in Guatemala, the coordinators gave me a lot of things: flyers about Guatemala, documents, lots of information, forms to complete and a great friend. I felt it that way; Tanya was my instant friends since we first meet. During the first lunch we had together, she asked me: you are not a vegetarian, I hope? And yes, I am, so the disappointment was evident in her voice, but of course, we laughed about it, as we have done since every time we find a difference in our tastes. We don’t have the same fashion style either, she is an accomplished accountant in CECI, and I don’t dress formal at all. But I kept giving her gifts that are in my taste, earrings made of recycled materials, handmade bags, until I finally understood she will never use them, but she accepted politely.

She has the best sense of humor ever, that’s one of the reasons I like her so much, we can laugh about the craziest of things, and also tell each other all our secrets, and keep laughing. With Tanya we shared parties, meetings, dinners…we talk or write every day when we are not in the same town, and we keep up to date with all the news.

In July she invited me to her house in the San Marcos Department to celebrate her birthday. There, I meet my Guatemalan family for the first time: her lovely mother, two sisters, a brother and their families. So, now, I have nine nephews (I still have to meet a sister and her baby, hope it will be soon), and four dogs.

Those days were a lot of fun. I had to insist to have a place in the kitchen area with the sisters. Because I was considered a guest, they didn’t want me to help, but that’s not how I wanted it. After insisting, I could wash dishes, help in the cleaning and even cook some vegetarian food (they liked it, but it was very strange for them to eat without meat).

They told me that in a Nature Reserve only twenty minutes away by bus, we could see the magnificent quetzals, the national bird. They accepted to come with me. Very early we left, at five in the morning I woke them all. We walked, but we could not find them. When we were leaving, the ranger told us to come back again, he will show us the birds. I said: why not tomorrow! And they all agreed. But the following morning, they were less happy to be woken at five again. They came anyways; even our friend that arrived in the middle of the night was awoken by a strange girl asking her to come to see the quetzals. This time we saw a beautiful female in the forest. They were happy to see her, and happier to know that the next day they could sleep in peace!

The youngest of the family are the best behaved boy and girl that I have ever met! Where can you find young children sitting with me to see the bird guide and begging to be awoken to go to the reserve? They are great! They never fight, complain, or even ask for anything. And they follow all rules, and do everything they are asked in an instant! Tanya says that all members of the family participate in the raising of the children and give them good values.

Now the network is increasing, I am making friends with some of the classmates of the older nephews, Tanya´s friends, neighbors and more. We even rescue a spider monkey together in her town!

I look forward to spend Christmas and New Year with them, and to keep feeling part of this great example of a loving family.

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My Guatemalan Family