Studying Spanish in the Mountains

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Monday, February 3, 2003

 At around 2400 metres Quetzaltenango, a.k.a. Xela, temperatures fluctuate between 0C and 23C daily. Buildings are not heated, so dressing warmly for dinner is a good idea, heavy blankets on the bed, a must. The man that owns the house where we are staying wears a jacket all the time. I think he must sleep in it. I'm the only person in town, at least that I've noticed, who wears short pants. 

After three days of Spanish school, I can conjugate many, many verbs and I've acquired an extensive vocabulary. All of this information however, is locked somewhere in the back of my pea-brain, I hope waiting to escape. I still can't make a meaningful sentence. In spite of this I'm very optimistic.

Yesterday we went to the hot springs, Fuentes Georginas - healing volcanic springs that brought great therapeutic relief to a tortured Spanish word filled mind.

At the bottom of the mountain just at the edge of the town where we waited for a bus, we watched a woman and her two very small children, walk to the middle of a bridge, then dump pails of garbage into the river.

The Maya people, especially the women dress in the most beautiful hand-made garments I have ever seen. The colours and intricate patterns can just blow you away. The way they deal with their refuse here is a whole other story.

We are staying with a really nice Maya family about a five minute walk from school. Sometimes they let the chickens in the house to play with the children. You need to watch your step on the way to the dinner table. We have a large room with a solid bed and en-suite bathroom. Unfortunately, we don't always have water and less often is it hot. The family does serve us three tasty meals every day and they are extremely friendly. They also go out of their way to help us with our Spanish studies.

Wherever we travel in Guatemala, it's by chicken-bus. They're old North American school buses with old being the key word. During any given trip they make many stops, for Lord knows what reason. When they do go, they go fast as hell, down these very scary mountain roads. If they would just spend a little more time moving forward, they wouldn't have to do it so fast.
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