Today was a 12 hour day. I left the house at 6:15 in the morning and arrived at 6:15 at night. I then proceeded to help make a dinner of “tayuyos” which are tortillas with beans in the middle. They were so delicious; a little dry, but tasty nonetheless. I get better and better at making tortillas every time I try. Today I didn’t even drop one on the floor. The dropped masa, or tortilla batter, goes to the chickens so I just say “que suerte para los pollos” (“lucky chickens“) every time I drop one, usually two or three each time, and everybody laughs.

Today in class we had a guy come and talk to us. About what? I don’t think anybody in the room could answer that question after listening to him talk for two hours. I don’t think even he knew what he was talking about, he just liked to hear the sound of his own voice. Somebody would ask a question, but instead of answering it he would use that topic to launch into a different anecdote or travel to a different part of the world. I didn’t like him. But I’m practicing my patience.

I was evaluated (we all were really) last Thursday by our Spanish teacher Eduardo. He actually had nearly all good things to say about me. He said I was dedicated and organized and that it’s obvious how hard I’m trying to fit in here and be helpful. The only thing I really need to work on is my patience. He said sometimes I’m a little forceful in the group and that I basically needed to chill out a little because even if I understood what he was saying, others might not. I was a little frustrated when I asked for an example and all he could give me was a hypothetical situation and not a real example of a time that I did this. I understand what he means now, though. It’s typical in Guatemala to need to say things many, many, many times in order for it to stick in other people’s minds. I do not need this. However, Eduardo is used to having to repeat himself many, many, many times and before I understood this custom I took it as an insult to my intelligence. I kept saying “entiendo, entiendo, sí, sí, vaya” (“I understand, I understand, yes, yes, okay”) every time he said something because I didn’t want him to repeat it so many times. It’s boring and it’s a waste of time. But now I know better, that it’s just how he is because that’s how everybody here is. And I’m working on my patience.

It’s hard to work on one’s patience when you have to sit for two hours and listen to someone talk when all you want to do is argue with them. That’s how I felt today. But I didn’t ask not a one question; I knew that if I asked a question he would not answer it completely which would only make me more frustrated, and would make me look like the bad guy in front of my peers by taking up so much time to clarify. When I listen to someone give a talk, I nitpick. I take the literal meaning of the words said and analyze them to make sure they’re logical. If the speaker gives an example or uses an analogy that doesn’t quite fit right or has some holes or flawed logic, it makes me question the validity of the entire spiel. This is how I felt listening to this guy. He used awkward analogies and definitely had some gaping holes in his logic. I zoned out and chatted with the people sitting around me about how unintelligent this guy was. I don’t even want to recap what he said because he was all over the place without making any sense. I’m glad it’s over. And I’m glad I didn’t try to pick an argument with him. I’m glad that I realized it was not worth it, mostly because this is not the type of guy who’s going to change his mind, nor do I care enough about him to want to change it. He thinks as he likes and is not prepared to change that based on the opinion of some stranger.

I only hope I am not, nor will ever turn out to be, one of those people who is not open to changing their beliefs based on new input. If I ever become this way, I would hope somebody would slap me. Thank you.

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