Today (hoy) is Friday! People are making plans for the weekend, getting excited about not working (unless you work in a restaurant, in which case friday and saturday are your main work days and I know your struggle), and taking some time from their busy work schedule to read a blog or two. 😉
Here in Guatemala, Friday is 2 for 1 pizza day at Pollo Campero (we call it the “Chicken” for short and “Telepizza” is what they call their pizza) and this taught us a fun lesson about traditions of the Guatemalan people. Let me explain:
Back in the summer of 2013 when we were living Puerto Barrios with the family, we wanted make it a tradition to have a pizza party every Friday. Pizza and soda for the kids (all 3 of them) with a side of gin and tonics for the adults! (It was a celebration after all)
After a long work week, friday rolls around and we ordered the pizza. Now maybe your asking why this work week was longer than normal? My friend and I had just recovered from being sick with a stomach bug, but the family took our place in the sickness cycle. Since we were feeling better, we wanted to treat the family and start the tradition.
We explained to the mother what we wanted to order as our Spanish wasn’t that great yet and had it delivered. Two grande pizzas arrived with some treats and soda, and we dug in. By we, I mean my friend and I. The family didn’t even touch the food.
Now I am concerned at this point. “Do I do something wrong? Why aren’t they eating?” I pondered. I ate a little more and thought, “Oh no, what if they are still sick and don’t have an appetite? This is horrible! We are just gorging and they are miserable!”
So I stopped eating for a moment and motioned for them to start eating. They said “Gracias” and continued to wait. I asked “¿Están enfermo?” and they said “Yes”. At this point I was apologizing a bunch and they just look confused. I sat down to finish my meal.
Soon after finishing, I grabbed a piece of dessert pizza and sat down. My friend grabbed a second helping. Then the most amazing thing happened.
Like a herd of wild buffalo, the family demolished the rest of the food. I literally blinked and the rest of the food was gone – soda, dessert, pizza – the whole works. I started to figure out what had happened.
The family wasn’t too sick to eat (they were starving in fact); they were waiting for us to finish eating before they ate. Since we had paid for the meal, they were showing their generosity and respect.
I felt much better after seeing them eat and I learned something about their culture. Traditions like this happen all around the world and until we see it first hand, we never truly understand the differences that make us all so unique.