Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, Oct. 16, 2009

I have been home for about a week. I arrived late Saturday night (11:30 pm) from my trip to Guatemala. The bus ride from San Pedro to Guatemala City included a 2-1/2 hour "lay over" in Antigua. A very nice town with lots to see, but way too many tourists for me. There are hundreds, if not more, Americans living full time in Antigua and it shows, not to mention all of the tourists, American and European. I did get a chance to get out and walk some of the town (and use some Spanish). I went to a grocery store and bought some tea to bring home with me, Jamaica Tea and Apple & Cinnamon Tea. Then the over crowded, one hour bus ride to Guatemala City. My last night was spent at "Hostel Los Volcans" in Guatemala City. It was a little expensive, $25 per night, but came with breakfast and a shuttle to the airport in the morning. The "2 hours early" at the airport in Guatemala City was nothing compared to the 3-1/2 hour wait at Atlanta International... The plane was loaded with "missionaries" returning home after a week of work (house building mostly). I thought it would be nice to sleep in my own bed, but found it hard to sleep, but only that first night. The transition to home life was easy, it was all of the "catch up" that took so long, work, email, work, etc.. Our 15th wedding anniversary was yesterday, Oct. 15th plus I had a short doctors visit Wednesday afternoon and an all day in bed Thursday from an outpatient procedure (nothing major on either account). We did get to go out for our anniversary dinner. It was nice to spend some alone time with my wonderful wife and as a bonus, Outback Steakhouse didn't screw anything up. I have been so busy with life that I have not a had a chance to update my blog, so here is a little for you. I will get around to writing a "reflections" post but it will have to wait a little longer. PS, I finally figured out how to the "panoramic" setting and could still only get half of the lake in it... I just posted the picture of myself in the same place as Felix Gonzales to show how small these wonderful people are. Note the placement of the fence and yellow flowers in the back ground.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009

Today will be my last afternoon at the school. This will by last update from the school. I may be able to get one more in at the hotel tomorrow evening or the airport on Saturday, plus I will post a "after thoughts" when I get home.
At 5:15 is "conversation club" until 6. Then it is salsa lessons one last time. My bags are packed and ready to go. Tomorrow will be a short class because of the "graduation" for the students leaving and little local food as well. I will try to get as much information as possible before I have to quit.
This is the family that I have spent the last week with. Felix is a school teacher and Fransisca owns a "tienda" (corner store). The 2 older girls Judith & Rebecca help with the store and the youngest Fransisca (also) is still in school, although school here is about to let for their summer break. Felix is the tallest, but hardly reaches my chest. I don't think he is 5' tall and rest is shorter than him. These heights are common in Guatemala, very short.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 afterthoughts

It dawned on me last night that I am almost done here. I will pack all of my stuff tomorrow evening, so I am ready to go Friday morning. I will bring my luggage to school with me Friday morning because I leave straight from school to the shuttle bus for Guatemala City. I will stay one night there in a hostel and they will shuttle me to the airport Saturday morning for my flight home.
The other thing that just occurred to me is; I have not seen a single microwave... When I think about it, there are other things as well that I have not seen; big screen TV's, full size cars, trucks, or SUV's, and no "wanna be thugs" hanging around on street corners. There are very few refrigerators here and even fewer freezers. Most people have a stove (propane) but use their traditional wood fired stove for cooking.
Also, when you walk through the streets of San Pedro, you here "clap clap clap", take a few more steps and here it again, but from somewhere else. You might have to walk a block or maybe a few steps, but always here it. I finally figured it out; they make all of the tortillas by hand and clapping is the final flattening out of the tortilla...

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 updated

Breakfast was ok; it was the same thing as supper 2 nights ago, a piece of chicken breast, rice, & red sauce. Yes, for breakfast. Lunch was boiled whole (small & peeled) potatoes, carrots, quisquil (pronounced whiskil, a type of hard squash), and home made guacamole. Supper last night was a mushy tamale from a street vendor and small bag of chips (local variety), nothing to get excited about, but it was movie night and the movie ran late.
The photo of the older woman is just that, a woman walking up the hill I was waling down. The picture was taken as she passed by me. I would guess her at about 65, 4'6", and less than 90 pounds. Carrying cooking fire wood on her, they carry everything on their head here. Last week I saw an older fellow pick up eight cement blocks (tied together) on his back (with a strap around his forehead) and carry them around the side a house and up a flight of stairs. They truly know the meaning of hard.
And of course, more flowers for my beautiful wife.

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

Third time is the charm. After 2 other attempts, I finally got pictures of my teacher and his wife, Clemente & Elizabeth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009

Nothing new to report. I have found that I really like "Jamaica Tea". It is made with the dried flower of the Haibiscus plant. You can buy it already in the tea bag made by lipton and that is good, but not as near as good as the real deal. The 2 "intern" student/teachers, they get to hang around all day and practice their English and learn teaching techniques in exchange for a little manual labor around the place. They are Luis & Lucy, both are 18 and this is their "further education".
They have been running around taking pictures with my camera, and here they are.

Breakfast was "liquado de fresa & pan dulce". "Liquado de fresa" is fresh strawberrys blended with water into a sort of smoothie and "pan dulce" is a cross between a roll and donut (but not fried). It was a lot better than yesterdays breakfast, but nothing compared to the other family. Lunch today was about a third of piece of a chicken breast, rice, and a tomato sauce. It was alright until I added ground up hot pepper (when they say pepper they mean pepper), that helped with adding more flavor. I told them I would not be home for "cena" (supper) because of the movie tonight. Tonight is "Conversation Club" until 6 then it is a movie "Las Cruces". Yeah, I don't have to have beans for supper...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, Oct 5, 2009

No internet access on Sunday. I changed families on Saturday. The new family, Felix & Fransisca Gonzales live much closer to the school, buteh accomodations are not as good. I now have to share a bathroom and the food is no where near as good. Granted I have only had one breakfast (corn flakes) and one lunch (broccoli dipped in pancake batter and fried and a little tomato sauce on the side). I look forward to supper tonight, if it sucks too, I will start to eat out... The pictures are of my view, my bedroom, the guatemalteco bathroom (too short for me), the regular bathroom and the entrance to the bathroom.
Class is still good. I think I am having Spanish overload. I keep forgetting things I just learned (5 minutes ago). I think the secret is to learn a little, use it for a while, then return to learn a little more, etc. Only 4 more class days.

A Beautiful Bouquet for my Beautiful Wife

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009

I got to sleep in this morning, I woke up at 6:35... I was up, dressed, and out of the house by 7. I did not pack enough cargo shorts, so I was off to the "paca" to try to find a pair. The "paca" is a pick-up truck that comes to town every Wednesday and Saturday to sell used clothes from the U.S. They sell every thing for Q5, purses, jackets, pants, shirts, infants, chicldren, women, men, etc. They are intended for the poor people, but a couple of savvy business people figured out they can buy items for Q5 and sell them in their store for Q15 to Q50.
The people (mostly women) are like wild dogs on a bone, don'y get in their way they will bite... After being pushed, pulled, and shoved around by a bunch of 4'6" women, I called it quits without finding anything.
Next was breakfast, a banana smoothie and a homemade apple danish for Q23 (a little less than $3) and waited for yoga class. Q30 ($3.75) for one and a half hour yoga class with one instructor and only four students. The photos are of the yoga studio and both entrances.
Next is horse back riding, I think or maybe a swim, who knows???

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

School, as usual, was great. I know 2 words very well; error (obviously error) and otra vez (again). Those are the 2 I hear about every other sentance...
The teachers & administrative staff at San Pedro Spanish School are great. If ask about something, it becomes their life ambition to help you with it. I really like my host family and their house, but it is so far away. When I asked if I could switch, I had three different "all over it". When I asked the shuttle to the airport on Saturday morning, I got a similar response. Selvin, the fellow who seems to run everything, sat down with me to figure out which shuttle, when & where, and arranged everything for me. Now THAT is service.
The pictures are of a couple of plants that grow around the school. They are like weeds here, but house plants at home.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, updated

The contrast is amazing. Beautiful country side and overcrowded little town, there are some rich people, and many poor people. To continue the contrast, lots of trash and lots of flowers. For the most part people seem to be happy and friendly. The only crime comes from the tourists who either won't, can't, or don't leave. They say if you leave something expensive lying around, it will walk off, but no one breaks in and steals. And there is no violent crime at all.