We had been living in Guatemala for about 6 months when I made my first friend.
Her name was Erika. I was outside of Fe Viva one day with my dog, waiting for my mom and sister to come home from shopping when I saw her sitting there. I was, and still am quite a shy person, so the fact that I approached her to talk to her shocked me and my family.
I asked in my broken Spanish what her name was, she told me her's and then I told her mine. I held up my dog proudly in her face and said : Mi pewo.
(Dog is spelled Perro, but since I couldn't pronounce my R's I said it pewo. Luckily later I discovered the word chucho for dog, and have been using that ever since.)
She smiled shyly at me and nodded, obviously not caring at all for my 'pewo', so I quickly shoved Sally into her arms and ran inside the compound to bring her my other pet, my darling tarantula. As you can imagine she was even more thrilled about my spider then about my dog. Especially since Guatemalan's think tarantulas are poisonous.
It began to rain and I quickly got my umbrella and held it over us. So there we were, two little girls sitting in the rain, with completely different backgrounds, a different life, with completely different languages, destined to be best friends.
After that first day Erika and I played every single day together, we would go to her house and play kitchen, (Because her mom let us make little fires, and my mom wouldn't.) then we would go to my house and play barbies. Erica was my true Spanish teacher, almost all of the Spanish I know is because of her, I would point at something, and she would tell me what it was, or sometimes I would just pick words up from being at her house all day.
Erica's family was my family, and I was their's.
When ever I would go to Erica's house, a complete sense of joy would come over me. There was hardly ever sadness there, even though the 7 of them lived in a small ,two roomed ,mud house, even though sometimes they didn't have enough to eat. They were grateful for everything that they had, and they taught me so much.
I remember the first time I ever had to go to the bathroom at Erica's house. I told her and she led me to a small room made out of a tarp, and inside there was a small hole in the ground. I stared at it for a few seconds then asked how to use it. She quickly explained and I squatted down and went, then I asked for toilet paper, she told me I didn't need toilet paper because all I did was pee, and so I told her I was Canadian and needed toilet paper even when I pee, so she brought me some crumpled news paper for toilet paper, it was so unbelievably uncomfortable to wipe with, but it did the job.
My mother always told me to take a bottle of purified water when I went to their house, because they would just drink water out of the well. But one day when I went I had forgotten my water bottle and was extremely thirsty. I told Erika I had to go home because I needed to drink water, but everyone told me to stay and just drink their water. I didn't know what to do, my mother had never explained to me what would happen if I drank water from their well, would I puke? Would I die in a split second? Would I turn into some weird mutant animal that would have to be killed or I would destroy the world? I glanced at the smiling faces around me as Erika handed me a cup of water, and I figured that the only thing that would happen is my skin would get a little bit darker, because Erika's family had dark skin and they always drank out of the well, so that was what was going to happen to me. I quickly gulped the water down and smiled saying "It tastes just like normal water!"
The people around me began to laugh and nod saying that they had been telling me that the whole time. Obviously my skin did not change colour, which disappointed me somewhat.