As soon as I got to site, I changed my name.
There are a few reasons. First of all, no one seems able to pronounce “Andrew.” The middle combination of consonants is just too much. It takes me back to my summer delivering Chinese food in Fredericksburg when I came to respond to “Ang Yoo.”
I won’t put myself, these people, or my poor name through that for two years.
The closest Spanish approximate to my name is “Andrés.” That’s fine. I went by “Andrés” with my host family during training. But it doesn’t sound right to me. The emphasis is on the “Drés” syllable, which isn’t even a syllable that occurs in my English name.
So I go by Pedro.
The cadence is correct, and to me, it sounds much closer to “Andrew” than “Andrés” ever did.
But a central reason behind the change is that Andrew has shortcomings. Andrew is distracted by passing insects and singing birds. Andrew disrupts class with his comments. Andrew has days when he wants to stay inside drawing pictures. Andrew is ready for a meal and a nap.
But a community can count on Pedro. Pedro is a patient and responsible bicultural professional.

But my brilliant change didn’t exactly reduce confusion.
First of all, everyone I meet wants to know what my name is in English. So I explain that my name is “Andrew” which should be “Andrés,” but I go by “Pedro,” which is “Peter” in English.
To which they respond, “Andrés? Ah, Lix (prounounced leash).”
Because the added element I hadn’t counted on was that every Spanish name has a Q’ekchí version as well. Luckily I dodged the name Lix.
However, I did not dodge the name Lu’ which is the Q’ekchí version of Pedro.

I asked my friend Don Francisco how they get “Lu’” out of “Pedro.”
“What do you mean? ‘Pedro’ is ‘Lu’.'”
“Okay, look. My name is Andrew. In Spanish, it’s ‘Andrés.’ Your Spanish name is Francisco. In English, it would be ‘Francis.’ Do you see how they sound similar even though they are in different languages? But ‘Lu” doesn’t sound anything like ‘Pedro’ and ‘Lish’ doesn’t sound anything like ‘Andrés.’”
“Yes but ‘Pedro’ is ‘Lu’.'”

So the kids call me Lu’ and laugh about it because there’s something secretly hilarious about calling me Lu’. The adults call me Lu’ when they are speaking Q’ekchí and they don’t want me to know that they’re talking about me.
And sometimes a visitor to the cooperative will say, “Ah, Pedro. Peter.”
So by changing my name for the sake of simplicity, I have acquired half a dozen different names.
But for the most part they call me Don Pedro. Which suits me just fine.

7 Responses to “Lu´”

  1. jacob Says:

    I’ve had a similar problem with Jacob; over the last 3 years or so I’ve answered to Jacobo, YAYcob, Yacouba, Yacou, Jacques-ob, and, my favorite, Jackson, none of which I had much say in.

    also, how do you keep your shirt so white?!

  2. Joe Mama Says:

    OK, Don Pedro, does this mean that mail addressed to Andrés or Andrew wanders Central America? Because there’s some peanut butter coming your way, probably addressed to your gringo name.

  3. Jocelyn Says:

    Have you looked at a local translation of the Bible? Peter & Andrew are both biblical/saint’s names. It stands to reason that the priests who had early missions in the area and who translated the Bible into local tongues would have used local names to help the local people find relevance in the words. Just a thought.

  4. jackie s Says:


    lookin goooood.

    i just got your letter from the end of march. to what address shall i respond?

    take care.

  5. Anne-Sophie Says:

    whatever you name, I miss you deeply, I this moment. in every moment.

  6. Anne-Sophie Says:

    I of course meant to say whatever your name, I miss you deeply, I this moment. in every moment.

  7. Pete Says:

    This is weird, because I’ve been forcing everyone in America to call me Andrew.