Well I haven’t quite got two babies yet, but I thought if I don’t write now it will be months before I have chance to do anything with two boys under two! But I appear to have lost my ability to write so trying to keep this short ….
So much has happened in my life in these last two years that sometimes I get vertigo thinking about it. I feel as though emotionally I have been on quite a journey learning how to be a wife and a mother and how to live in the third world with all its paradoxes, pleasures, privileges and dangers. Rafa and I never had time just for us and I keep thinking we are doing everything backwards and one day we may have some time for ourselves!! But when I think about the crazy things we have already achieved together when we hardly knew each other – I feel very lucky. But I wouldn’t recommend getting to know your partner whilst having a baby, at times I thought where the hell am I and what the hell am I doing!! but I suppose everyone does. Having two cultures, two continents, two languages … it is a miracle really. Honestly Rafa, I really was a spontaneous party girl!
Now we are living in a beautiful and safe house in a condominium just outside Antigua, I have a good support group of mother friends and a wonderful partner and father to my children who has supported me through all my ups and downs while making a film on a tiny budget in the third world in a country with no film industry. And of course I have my wonderful little Paulo, but will save you all that ‘Hello Magazine’ motherhood rubbish. Here he is …..
The days of the film shoot were tough; I was alone a lot and had not made contact with all the Antigua Mums, so felt very lonely for days on end. I felt irrationally angry with Rafa for not being around and very far away from all the people who knew me best. Poor Rafa was struggling to be a good father and a good film director both in exceptional circumstances. In the middle of the night when we were both exhausted the communication breakdowns made everything seem worse. But we are suckers for punishment and now getting ready for another. I know I will have a very tough 6 months. Just getting out of the house will be difficult. But I am happy that the two boys will be so close in age, as they can support each other a lot through their strange Guatemalan-British life.
Paulo now goes to a playgroup for 2 hours in the morning and I just about have time to get home and have a shower and write a few emails before going to collect him. It is a messy house full of toys run by an ex-nanny Lisette. Most of the other children are bi-lingual, so it is a good place for Paulo to be. At the moment I imagine he must be thinking …everyone talks like this except Mummy who has her own funny language. But he loves it there and the people who run it really love their job and the children. Paulo is very sociable and independent and already quite well travelled having been to the UK twice, Amsterdam and Cuba. There is a playground in Antigua that was built by the Lutheran church, we go down there sometimes in the afternoon, Paulo has a fanclub of all the local kids, no other parents to be seen of course, and often a little baby left in the charge of a 7 year old girl, her mother is probably not that much older! Supervision can be a little fraught and I have to say …… woah easy sometimes …. as they try and cart him off to go down the really big slides!!
My group of international Mums include Fatima, a Guatemalan from the city who has a daughter 10 days older than Paulo, Heather a very laid back Californian married to a Guatemalan, who has a crazy 11 month boy Christopher, Afue, who is from the Ivory Coast who has a daughter with a Barcelonian, Katie, a British girl married to a Guatemalan who lives on a beautiful coffee Finca just outside Antigua. ( I take Paulo sometimes as he loves it – loads of dogs and horses). Liz, a kiwi, who’s husband runs fishing tours off the pacific coast, has a two year old and pregnant again. And various others that come along to our Thursday morning club. We meet up in people’s houses or playgrounds. Last week we went to another beautiful coffee finca that had a playground perched on top of a hill – very bad design – Paulo thought it was fantastic fun to roll down the hill at great speed and totally ignored the swings and slides. Imagine me 8half months pregnant running after him – up and down, up and down trying to stop him from breaking his neck.
In November Las Cruces premiered on three big screens in the main plaza in Guatemala city the first night of the film festival and was very well received by all. Some people were moved to tears and everybody told me that the film was very powerful and helped them understand some of the crazy things that happened in Guatemala in the 80’s. I, unfortunately was not able to see this showing as 10 minutes before the start of the screening Paulo woke up screaming, 5 days later we discovered he had a Hernia. So most of the evening I spent holding a screaming baby, trying politely to tell everyone that I really could not talk and trying to hide the vomit in my hair! I knew something serious was up and the following week when Rafa was hardly around due to the film festival, it was really tough, he was in such a lot of pain. Even though I mentioned that we had three hernia operations in my family it took a while for the diagnosis. The surgeon was at school with Rafa and graduated from medical school with his sister and was really great, left Paulo with two tiny scars (both hernias and his appendix) and we are really happy to know such a great surgeon in Guatemala – we now have his mobile number.
I feel lucky that I do not have to rush back to work after 6 months and have time to enjoy Paulo and also have a lot of help in the house – which is the norm here. We have a new maid Dona Judith who lives really close by. Her husband works on the gate of the condo as security and I have met all of her 4 children. They are a really good family and we are lucky to have found them. She is great with Paulo and he loves her. These last two months when I have been so big and pregnant, she has been a wonderful source of energy at play time as I cannot even get down to pick up his toys right now!! She comes every day until 5 and gets all my fruit and veg from the market for me, cleans the house, helps with Paulo and does lots of chopping in the kitchen! Everything Paulo eats is homemade as there are no organic baby foods here. Hard to believe how much I do and make, when I was an ‘M&S meal for one’ girl, now I have domestic skills that Delia would be proud of!
My Spanish is improving as I speak it all day with Dona Judith, but my verbs are still a mess and I feel a little embarrassed when some more sophisticated conversation is required as I am good at doing shopping lists and baby vocabulary but beyond that I start to struggle. Paulo is speaking his own language at the moment – doesn’t seem to bear any relation to Spanish or English!
This year Casa Comal is just as busy although no first feature film! Rafa has been asked by the Norwegian peace corp to join an advisory council for all their development projects and has already traveled to Kenya for the first meeting. The next meeting is just after Nicolas is due to arrive, and takes place in the Philippines. Rafa has already declined as he thinks it will be too stressful traveling all that way so close to the birth and the release of Las Cruces in the cinemas here. Casa Comal is one of the few cultural projects that runs off donations from foreign organizations; the others are education, human rights and marine biology (in the Philippines!).
They are moving the office next month and hoping to open a film school, another first for Guatemala. It will be a modest affair but hopefully the beginning of something good. At the moment Rafa sends two Guatemalans to his old film school in Cuba every year. This is the school founded by Garcia Marquez. Rafa is very involved still with the school. When we went to Cuba in May we went to visit. The yearly intake is small but it is a very well rated course and very intense. It is not for people who think it will be cool to go dancing in Cuba for a few years – it is very high-powered and comprehensive from what I could make out. We spent a couple of days there and met students from all over Latin America and the world.
We have had a few visitors these last few months. Dave a friend from London made it out last Christmas, Carlos, Rafa’s great friend from filmschool came to stay and shoot the film with him. Monica another friend came from Columbia to help with the edit. Some friends of friends from Hong Kong passed through. My mother and John are nearly on their way again to be here for Nicolas’ arrival in a couple of weeks. A couple of friends from BA are due to arrive on 10th February, around the same time as Nicolas. Now we have a big house with guestroom and 4 bathrooms (in the house not the guestroom!) ….. we are fully equipped for receiving guests but unfortunately most of my family and peers are rather busy having babies. So all my footloose and fancy free friends get yourselves over here …. I will need some adult conversation.
Las Cruces is due to come out in cinemas here in March. The latest copy has also been sent to a few film festivals in the hope of raising enough money to transfer it from digital to 35mm – a very expensive process which will cost almost as much as the whole production budget
Well, the volcanoes have been smoking a lot and Paulo experienced his first earth tremor today. I think he realised it was something special …. But he will get a shock when little brother arrives in a few days ….
That’s it , I am rather appalled at my lack of writing ability so will send this now before I bore the pants off you! IN fact finding it hard to string a sentence together generally at the moment in English or Spanish.
Keep in touch and send me some news if you have the time.
We are still thinking of having a wedding in Guatemala but probably when the boys are old enough for us to leave with Grandparents and try to have a honeymoon of some sort! I have a dream to go to Brazil before we head back to Europe …… we’ll see.