Monday, October 31, 2016

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, October 31, 2016

There are 4 Spanish students staying here with Odillia, Adolfo, Saira and Hector- 

  We each have our own bedroom-

And share a bathroom which is outside, through the kitchen-

We eat 3 meals/day with our hosts except Sunday is their day off-

There is room for a car and motorcycle in the front part of the casa-

The foyer is the 'garden'-

The backyard is bordered with a high cement wall covered in vine-

There is a nice terrace on the second floor-

which looks at Volcan Agua, unfortunately clouded over-

School starts at 8 am.  My teacher, Sheny Garcia-

is very good and extremely patient!  She's going to need a lot of patience working with me!  I heard a lot; took 8 pages of notes and will have homework every night.  

There are about 80 students at the Antiguena Spanish Academy, each with his/her own private teacher.  It costs $175 US/week for 20 hours of instruction, 7 nights accommodation and 6 days of meals.  

Tables are spread out in a large garden-

I am on a rooftop terrace.  We study from 8-10, then have a 30 minute coffee break when we can eat atol blanco salado- a savoury maize porridge.  I also added frijoles (beans) and chiles.  It cost 54 cents-

There are numerous tortilla stands around town-

recognizable by the 'slap slap' sound you hear before arriving.  

Halloween is celebrated by the children and foreigners. We saw a few people in costumes but today really begins a 3 day celebration culminating with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Today was tomb cleaning and decoration day-

The San Lazaro Cemetery serves the needs of all from tombs for the wealthy-

wall tombs for the middle class-

And places in the ground for the poor-

Guatemalans are predominantly Roman Catholics who do not believe in cremation so caskets are buried.  Here, you can see the available spots-

The mercado is a hub of activity-

featuring vegetables - 

squash and melons-


and fruit including jocote.  Jocote is small and orange and turns red when ripe.  The pulp is a bright yellow with a sweet, tangy, juicy flavor-

The butcher-

Chicken- yellow or white depending on diet-

and fabrics-

Antigua Guatemala's Main Plaza is very touristy and most streets are cobbled-

Reminders of the 1976 earthquake-

found inside a destroyed church.

Easter is the biggest celebration and the floats are ready-

Supper was tortillas de papas, sliced pepino and crema de hongos soup-

It has been an interesting day.  I've got so much to learn but everyone is super patient.  I've met another IB French teacher from Bretagne, France and a young man who has bicycled this far from Mexico City.  The weather is perfect too.  I don't feel brain drained like I thought I might, maybe because I can get buy with English.
Tomorrow I'm off to see the flying kites!  Looking forward to it!  Buenas noches!  

On the road again! October 30, 2016

I left Saskatoon this morning at 10:15 for Calgary, then on to Houston and arrived in Guatemala City at 9:15. Thanks to Jane and Nico-

who drove me into the airport.  I've had a fabulous 7 and a half months spending a lot of time with them and have loved every minute of it.  

I know Nico is going to be a lot different when I see him in April but with FaceTime, I'm not going to be completely out of the loop.

So things started out in a panic and just sort of carried on that way!  I visited with Jane and Nico until I thought it was time to go but ended up in a long security line and finally, 5 people from the X-ray machine, heard last call for my flight.  So I had to budge ahead and run.  Last person on the plane!  Pant, pant, heart pounding!  Arrived in Calgary to go through U.S. Customs, which is a good idea because Houston can be a real shit show!  Eventually, an Air Canada rep came through the lines, asking for people on my flight to move to the front.  Lucky me - I was "chosen" for additional security so after a light massage, I was on my way, this time to hear my name called and pronounced (pretty well too) and that the flight was fully boarded except for yours truly.  Sprint to gate #2!  Houston was uneventful, even had time for perhaps my last good Shiraz and sweet potatoe fries!  31 degrees here, happy for AC!  

Orlando, my driver from the Antiguena Academy in Antigua was waiting for me outside the Guatemala City airport.  Unfortunately it was dark, so I couldn't see much of Guatemala City but hope to get back to see the sights.  He drove like a maniac on dark, twisting, turning, up and down roads.  Headlights are very dim and we were doing all right until we hit a gigantic speed bump at quite a good clip!  He laughed and rubbed the top of my head! (I had a very stiff neck for about a week.  I think I had whiplash! And it wasn't like it was his first time on that road - dummy!  

Finally, at 11 pm,  we arrived at the home of my host family and I was shown to my bedroom.  

I'm exhausted and looking forward to a long sleep!

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