Host Family and Homestay

On the first day of classes, I got sick. I’d followed all the instructions about the water and hadn’t eaten anything suspicious, but there isn’t much to do about Patzún’s 2.250m of elevation. It had been barely more than 24 hours after meeting the family I was staying with, but before I could do much my host Marta was at the pharmacy with me, making me chicken soup and checking up on me in my room. Before even getting to know me, the whole family was mobilized to make sure I was doing ok. Initially, I thought this attention was because I felt unwell, but after I while I noticed they were genuinely interested in making me feel at home.

Every night at dinner the whole family would ask questions about my day, they’d help me remember the Kaqchikel I learned in class and ask me to talk about life in Brazil. As time went on, dinner became one of the most important parts of my day. I quickly became good friends with my host family and they were always excited to share stories and ask questions. But it went beyond that too. They started picking up on the foods I liked and didn’t like, they took me to meet their extended family and even let me take part in their weekly routine, such as getting involved in making tamales to sell on the weekend. I felt like I was being made part of the household rather than a temporary attachment.

Now, with only one day left here, I can say that Marta and Joaquín, Jenny and Vanesa, Juan Carlos and Javier all made me feel so welcome in Patzún that it became more than just the town I did research in. The worries I had when I first received the address of my homestay and couldn’t find it on Google Maps (it really doesn’t work at all in Patzún) all melted away so quickly that they barely seemed to be warranted in the first place. Classes and projects and field trips took up a lot of our time over the last three weeks, but when I did have a break from it all, I could be sure I had friendly faces to talk to at home.