When I arrived in Guatemala City, I went straight to the orphanage where my sister works. They have about 250 kids there, but Molly normally works with the bebes; kids six and under. I was excited to meet them, both because they look adorable in Molly's photos and because their level of Spanish proficiency would be closest to mine.
For my first day, I wore an authentic Guatemalan shirt that Molly had bought in Antigua. It has a picture of a smiling clown on the front, and is labeled "Payasos" (Clowns, en ingles). The huérfanos really liked the shirt, which let me show off my conversational skills.
Me: Hola, Ana. Yo soy el hermano de Molly.
Ana: (points at shirt) Payasos.
Me: ¡Sí! ¡Payasos! ¡Muy bien! ¡Payasos!
Me: Sí. ¡Muy bien!
Me: ¡Soy el hermano de Molly!
Ana: (walks away)
I had prepared for certain vocabulary words that were sure to come up. I don't believe "¡Yo tengo tu nariz!" (Got your nose!) is a game in Guatemala, but the concept translates. They laugh, reassured, when they realize that their nariz is still there, and I laugh, reassured, when I realize that I can lie to children as a second language. The photo shows an orphan named Maribel "escalando la montaña", or climbing up the mountain.
It wasn't until my last day in Guatemala that I learned that "Payasos" is a brand of cigarettes in Guatemala. My shirt featured Guatemala's version of Joe Camel; a cute cartoon mascot who appeals to young people. I spent all day giving out hugs and high-fives to any orphan who said "Payasos" to me, and telling impressionable children that Payasos were very good. All of these adorable children who went crazy for the shirt are going to grow up to be chain smokers, and it's all my fault.
I just hope they don't try to take each other's noses.