Quetzaltelango, Guatemala, el seis de deciembre, 2016
I have decided to stay for 2 weeks. My teacher is wonderful! Finally, I've got someone who understands that the way to teach a language is not through translation. Magdelina draws pictures or uses synonyms to explain what she's teaching me. It is great!
Xela is a big city-
nestled into a valley and surrounded by volcanoes- dead volcanoes! There is a lot of pollution from the old, poorly cared for cars and chicken buses. Cars park on both sides of the street and yesterday, a car travelling down the street couldn't make it through but tried anyway. Crunch. He just backed up and tried again until he got through! And a chicken bus was trying to go under the Chocoyos Bridge but luckily his helper got out to make sure before he decapotated himself. They had to get the 5 or so cars behind them to back up out of the way while he reversed and went a different route.
When the sun is shining, it's very warm and lovely but it starts cooling off about 4 pm and clouding over until about 9 the next morning. The people in my home wear down filled coats and sweaters all the time and they say it gets worse in January and February. There is NO furnace or any other way to heat the cement block homes and it doesn't help that some of the windows are 4 inch slats that don't close or that the garage/yard area is open to the world and the doors are not kept shut into the house!
Crazy! Today after lunch I was enjoying the sun when I heard very sad music. I opened the door to the street and a funeral procession was going by. People are usually buried within 24 hours of death. The moment someone dies, they are transported to the funeral home where family and friends spend the next 24 hours visiting, eating and drinking. The body is not kept in cold storage or embalmed but dressed and in the coffin for the guests who come and go throughout the night. In the morning, there may be a service in a church or at the funeral home, then the coffin is either carried or transported via hearse, mini van or in the back of a truck as the people walk behind all the way to the cemetery. The second procession I saw was down a very busy street. Cars were backed up for miles and there was a large crowd following along. It costs about $350 for a 'regular' funeral - a coffin, a room for guests, lunch, drinks (coffee and tea), transportation to the church and cemetery. Most people have a funeral plan where they pay so much/month, however if family members end up dying out of order, the money is used for the first dead. If people have to come from far away and embalming is required, naturally the costs increase. Here, death seems to be more of an accepted part of life.
While out walking this afternoon, I found another gym with 3 treadmills, lots of free weights and many classes offered for $8.81/week. I'm going to start going tomorrow!