The worst thing about being sick and away from home is that you don’t have your normal system of support and comfort, in my case my primary source of comfort is my mom.
The first few weeks in Guatemala in regard to my health were good, in all relativity to my health in general. Then about 2.5 weeks ago, roughly – not like I am counting, I started to get sick. For the first week I was completely determined that I was not sick, even though I totally was. I was prepared to keep pushing through, but finally after about a week the instructors advised/forced me to go to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Bronchitis by the first doctor, but a week later I was no better so we headed to Santiago for a second opinion – which came back as pneumonia. Super annoying to have to deal with that; however, I did get an awesome phlegm-filled chest x-ray as a keepsake.
When you are dealing with any sort of health issues, at least for me, all you want are the people in your life that provide you with comfort – needless to say I was really missing my mom and family. With that said, being sick gave me such an amazing pèrspective on the community and family dynamics that are present here in San Juan, and I have realized that those dynamics can be seen almost everywhere.
Since I have been sick my entire extended homestay family determined that I needed to wear a jacket at all times and drink as much tea as I possibly can. While that is extremely nice and felt great to have people caring for me, there have been times where it has been annoying:) Isn’t that family though? Caring so much that it really annoys people. Everyday while we have been in San Juan we have either spanish or group activities or even both so everyday I have had to walk through the family compound of 4 houses to leave, and everyday if I am not wearing a jacket I get 5 or 6 different people telling me to go back and get my jacket. I have yet to have a day where I escape without my jacket – even if it’s extremely hot!
The topic of drinking tea goes about the same way. If I didn’t have a full cup of tea in my hands, there would be one there very soon. I honestly think that in the past 2.5 weeks I have had more tea than probably in my entire life – I am not kidding. Now I am not complaining about the tea – it is all really good – rather the amount had me thinking of how much tea a human can actually consume without some weird side effects. I didn’t get any side effects so the amount must have to be higher than what I ended up drinking, but I´m not about to attempt to figure it out.
I would have to say that the most love and care I have felt since I have been with my family in San Juan has been from my homestay mom. A thing to note about her is that she is a great person, and she shows her love and affection through kind actions. This specific afternoon/evening I was resting in my bed with my eyes closed, not sleeping just resting. I heard someone come in and half-looked up to find her laying a blanket over me, turning off the lights, and shutting the door to my room. It was one of those experiences that is hard to describe, because the feeling that arose in that moment vastly outweighs the actual actions that occurred. The fact that this semi-stranger cared enough about me to take these extra steps to give me comfort enlisted a feeling of belonging, of warmth, of love, of home. All the things that my homestay mom has done for me while I have been sick has made me feel truly cared for; from giving me stuff to rub on my chest, to keeping my little brother quiet so I can sleep, to having me breathe in the steam of mango leaves under a towel – still unsure on that one:).
While obviously when sick I would prefer to have my mom and all the great care and love she brings with her, I am extremely appreciative of my homestay mom for all that she has done for me. I think it is amazing that most moms have the incredible ability to treat anyone who enters their house with the same love and care as their own.