Greetings from Felipe Carrillo Puerto! Sorry for the lateness of this first post; I’ve been enjoying life in Mexico so much that I haven’t even taken my computer out until now!
First of all, my host family, the Pat Cocam family, has been extraordinarily welcoming, kind, and helpful. We live in a house on the outskirts of town, right next to the jungle. Just next to the house is a store which everyone from the family, even the small children, helps to operate. At night, we hang out, share some snacks, and watch television around a fire in a small shack behind the store. As an only child coming from a rather small family, sharing a home with so many people has been quite an exciting adjustment. My host father, Señor Pat Cocam, is a policeman, and my host mother, Señora Pat Cocam, helps out around the house and store. I also have four siblings: two brothers, Javier (15) and Jnorman (4), and two sisters, Yadira (17) and Sandra (9). We’ve already done so much together, whether it be going to the local pool, riding the moped to the grocery store across town, adventuring into the jungle just outside of our house, or watching Disney movies in Spanish. At this point, we are communicating mostly in Spanish, largely because I do not know enough Mayan to initiate a detailed conversation yet. Only Javier speaks English, but I’m trying to resort to that as little as possible. My family always makes an effort to help me out with both Spanish and Maya, no matter how many times I have to say “Que?” “Como se dice ___ en español?” or “Yo no comprendo.” It’s exciting as ever to have siblings and a large family, and, even though it is not easy to communicate, I feel as if I understand all of them very well already, after only three days.
Every day, I bike 15 minutes across town to the Na’atik Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas for my five-hour Mayan lesson. Mayan, although extremely difficult, is very fun to learn. Not to mention, my teacher, x-Linda, does not speak English, so I have to think in Spanish, of which my knowledge is at best mediocre, and Mayan at the same time. From a linguistic standpoint, Mayan is very different from anything I have ever encountered before and therefore highly interesting. For example, there are different ways to conjugate a verb in the present tense depending if the verb takes an object or not. “I’m studying” is translated “Teene’ taan in xook,” but “I’m studying Mayan” is translated “Teene’ taan in xookiik ma’aya t’aan.” Also, numbers differ depending on whether they are modifying humans or inanimate objects. “One dog” is “jun túul peek’,” but “one house” is “jun p’eel naj.” As you can see in the examples I’ve given, the pronunciation is very difficult for English speakers too. However, x-Linda always finds ways to spice up the tedious verb conjugations, complicated pronouns, and extremely foreign vocabulary of the Mayan language. Today, for example, we made a cube with different colors and question words on each side to learn (you guessed it!) colors and question words. When she rolled the cube, I would have to say the color or ask a question using the word on the face which showed. Nevertheless, the challenge is extremely satisfying, and I’m really looking forward to diving into further depth these next few weeks.
Lastly, the food has been excellent. Although not what is typically regarded as “Mexican food,” I have thoroughly enjoyed every last meal, whether it be “kaax yeetel arroz” (chicken with rice), or “baak’ yeetel buul beyxan waj” (beef with beans and tortilla). Tonight, I’m going to a taqueria with the staff from Na’atik. I hope to order in Maya!
Here are some photos from the last few days:
My next update will be on Sunday night. Thanks for reading!