Special: Les Histoires de nos Maisons Temporaires

Host Families:

Olivia and I stayed with a family of four in a household of six— there was another woman (and her daughter?) living with us who served as an Au Pair of sorts. Our mother, Teresa, worked at the family tortillaria and made traditional Mayan shirts. Our father, Arturo, worked a mystery job that required a laptop and various papers spread out across the table. Our eight year old brother, Joshua, spent a busy day at the elementary school before coming home to watch dubbed Spider-Man cartoons in his Star Wars pajamas. Finally, Hans; Hans was our baby brother, somewhere between the ages of freshly born and walking. He spent his days crying until one of us rushed in with the Despacito music video, which made him dance.     

Ada and Olivia


Meron and I lived together with a family of four people, our host mom, Raquel, who works selling weaving and artisanal goods, our host great-grandmother, Micaela, our host great-grandfather Pedro, who usually wasn’t around, and our host sister who is 13, Karol. We also had our cat Blanca and her two kittens Neko and Dimet who Meron and I named while we were there which mean cat in Japanese and Amharic.

Chiyo and Meron


We lived in a really nice and big house with many people around the age of thirty. Our host dad was named Pedro and our host mom was named Juana. There were four children, but only three of them still lived there. Remin lived there with his wife, Blanca, and their two dogs Caillou and Loki. The other brother was Jose was not around too much but usually made an effort to have lunch with us. The final sibling that lived there was Candy who usually helped her mother with the cooking. She had almost every meal with us and was very kind and talkative. There was difficulty with communication but they always attempted to make a connection despite the language barrier. They were very helpful and allowed us to deepen our understanding of the language and culture.

Grey and Sylvia

We stayed with a family of six people, and often had many other family members come over for the festivities at the time such as the celebrations for San Pedro, the city next to San Juan, and for San Juan itself. Our host father was named Raul and so was his youngest son who was fourteen. Maria was our host mother and shared the same name with her oldest daughter who was twelve. Our host mother made all of our delicious meals that included lots of beans and handmade tortillas that we got to learn how to make. Deborah was the youngest daughter who was nine. They had one pet chicken who came and went as it pleased with her baby chicks, however we checked every morning to make sure it was still there. We played many games with our host siblings after school and helped them with their English homework.  We are very appreciative of the amount of time and energy our host family has spent emerging us into their culture and language. We will miss them very much and will always think of them when thinking about San Juan.

Sage and Ciela

The dog’s name was Luna. She was gray and brown with a few scars on her face. Domestic dogs play a different role in Guatemala than they do in the U.S. Luna protected the chickens, on nights where dog gangs roamed violently she stood guard at the entrance to our alley, Luna was only our family’s dog in that she was a given table scraps, a collar, and the occasional shelter from the storm. But Luna remained loyal to the family. She returned to the small house every night, sleeping on the concrete floor outside the two rooms that made it a home. Domingo and his wife Rosa treated us like family. We did all we could to help around the house but you could see in their faces the work they both did every day. Domingo worked as a farmer, harvesting coffee, maize, and beans. Rosa spent most of her day in the house, cooking and cleaning for her three children and for the two gringos she was hosting. Every member of that family was grateful for what they had; they each worked every day to maintain the lifestyle for themselves and those they loved. When I shook hands with Domingo on our final day, knowing that I was on my way to a hostel and him to the fields, I looked in his eyes with nothing but respect, respect for a man who works every day without question because he knows it’s what he must do. And respect for a man who hosted us, fed us, and took care of us with pride knowing that he had worked hard enough to be able to.

Justin & Jesse

Reed and I lived in a fairly small home, with just our host mom and brother. We had a dog, three cats and a turtle, although the turtle’s water was crazy gross. Most of the time, we were out and about exploring, but when we were home, we would eat and get to know each other. Our brother was a teacher at the school we were working at so it was pretty cool getting to see him some more. He worked in the government for a while, so his English was decent. We sat down with him for a while, and helped him out with sentences and vocabulary. The food was very consistent. We had eggs and beans everyday which was bearable for me as I was used to eating eggs and beans at home all the time. Reed, on the other hand, was struggling to down the food after the third day. We went out and played with the kids at the school, and played basketball at the town center. Samantha and I also went to the festival and got to play on the trampoline tower for a bit, although it would’ve been struck down in the States because it wasn’t the most structurally sound. We arrived on the last day of the town’s festival so there were a lot of fireworks going off and games, it was like a mini fair. Everyone was extremely friendly, and I will definitely miss San Juan.

Luis and Reed

Samantha and I lived with a family of four. Our host father’s name is Clemente who is a police officer and our host mother’s name is Flory and she works with the government.  We lived in a really nice house and our room was the children’s room, which they had to give up for us. The two daughters, Florecita and Marlin, both really enjoyed playing basketball, and we played a couple times with them. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a family. We spent a lot of time with the family besides eating; they once took us out to a concert. Samantha and I had the pleasure of celebrating Florecita’s 9th birthday, Luis and Reed were there too because their family was close with ours.  I would always complain about spiders so they gave me the nickname “Spiderman”. Overall, it was an amazing experience. My Spanish really improved thanks to the family and Samantha. I will really miss San Juan and hope to visit soon.

Filsan and Samantha


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