Spanish School, Part 1: Coban, Guatemala

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 29, 2008

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Friday, August 31, 2007

I have never seen a country so green as Guatemala.  Not in the sense of cleaness, but the green vegitation. 

We arrived in Coban, Guatemala early Friday afternoon.  We left Huehuetenango early Friday morning (24th) the bus traveled first through Guatemala City and we transfered to another bus line to go north to Coban.  Bus ride to Guatemala City took about 6 hrs and then the final bus to Coban an additional 4 hrs.  The both of us have not quite felt 100% since we got to Mexico so we thought that we should do a week of spanish lessons with homestay.  I had heard good things of homestays especially of getting over travellers stomach and the additional spanish would go a long way.  It did really help.

We took it pretty easy the first weekend we were there, we signed up for a spanish school and also got a guide to go to the Biotopo Quetzal (cloud forest in the area).  Unfortunately we were not that healthy to go on the cloud forest trip.  We hired our guide and were supposed to leave on sunday, but, I came down with a pretty bad cold (involved fever and chills).  So we moved it to next weekend.  Both of us are really looking forward to the trip.  One of the things in the forest is a bird called a Quetzal (same as Guat currency) it a green bird that is supposed to be very beautiful and has a 1m long tail feather (the bird is only the size of someoneīs hand).  I guess a cloud forest is also supposed to resemble a japanese garden, plants/flowers growing on everthing so it should be pretty fricking awesome.  So the weekend passed and we started our spanish lesson on Monday.

My spanish teacher is crazy!!!!!F-ing crazy.  We went to the school and the first day was pretty normal.  She checked how much I knew and then built on that.  I did not bring a pen or paper which was really stupid on my part, but, I thought that she might give me one...she didnīt, but she did yell at me!  The day ended pretty well and then we were picked up by our host family.  I did not feel awesome that day, so when they put a full plate of food in front of me I did not even think I would eat anything.  I do not know what this woman put in her food but it seemed to cure my stomach instanly!!!!  Pretty great.  The next day in spanish my teacher starts yelling at me and telling me that I need to study what she writes down and I need to write everthing down. I did not realize this because while she is teaching me she is writing on loose paper, but, you would think that I could keep them to look at at night..  Nope, apparately this is her īblack boardī and she is not willing to part with it.   The next few days were a little rough, I felt pretty stupid after being yelled at and I also had some instances where I wanted to jab her in the eye with my finger.  Anyways 1 more day and then that is it. 

The homestay is pretty awesome, we have our own room the food is good and the routine is really helping.  We are at a bit of a boarding house - This family is quite well off in relation to most Guatemalanīs and has a very big home near the central market that they rent rooms in.  The lower level has an open terrace in the middle of the yard (like a square) with a large kitchen and some rooms (the familyīs rooms) around it.  Upstairs is where our room and the other renterīs rooms are and they are in a large square around the central terrace as well.  Our room is quiet and clean which is nice.  They have about 8 renterīs and the family itself is about 9 people (parents, kids, cousins, grandparents...).  They have some great kids, 2 daughterīs (14 and about 3 years old) and a son (10 years old).  We spend most of our time talking with them as they are very patient with us and have lots of free time too!! The boy, Hugo, is chess champion of Guat and the daughter, Cynthia, is beauty queen of Coban!! Hugo showed us his pet pig that they are fattening up for Christmas dinner.  They also have a turkey roaming the yard that will meet itīs doom this Sunday (we wonīt be around for it...too bad!), a couple of parrots (donīt think these will be eaten...) and so on.  Very lively place!! They liked all of our photoīs from home (family, mountains, etc) and showed us some from their family too - really nice.  Nice talking to them and also improving our Spanish!

Yesterday we did a  curtural excursion with our teachers which was not the greatest.  We were supposed to go to a indegenous paper making plant, but, the plant closed down sometime ago so we only go to see the paper products in stores.  We then went to a Mayan mueseum that was pretty neat but nothing special from what we have seen.  So at then end of the trip we are dropping off the other spanish teacher (crazy mine is driving) and we are backing up, suddently Sarah sees a concrete post about 15cm from this ladys truck, so she starts yellling and she stops.  The spanish teacher yells at and tells Sarah that she should have yelled ALTO or Stop or what ever.  We dont hit the post, but, I obviously Sarah wasnīt driving, this crazy woman was driving and she should have seen a big freaking concrete post..!  Other than that she is alright, except she reminds me of Yoda when she speaks english....."Do spanish or do not... there is no try".

We checked out this really cool Mayan muesuem in town.  It had a schwack of different things - miniture clay moulds, this tablet with 160 hyroglyphs, quetzal feather, bowls, remains of people and some tools of war.  All around pretty neat.  I wanted to buy this hollow clay figurine from the place (cast from an original mold, 1000 years old) but didnt have the cash.  Once I talked to my mom that night she had said that a clay jaguar I had sent back ($10 CDN) had the legs and head smashed off at US customs.  They prob. thought I was sending drugs back.  So that said I wont buy that clay thingy at the mueseum....shitty

Today we checked out the Finca Santa Margarita.  It is a coffee plantation in Coban.  It was founded in 1888 by this German (Dieseldorff).  Pretty neat we saw how the plants grow, when to harvest the coffee fruit, what the do with the meaty shell (fertilizer, jam, kahlua) and then the roasting and bagging of the coffee.  Pretty big setup they have and it was really well done.  They also have banana plant, guavas that we can eat off the trees, chili peppers (muy caliente!!), and peppermint trees.  After they gave us some coffee to drink.  Obviously we bought some coffee and also these chocolate covered coffee they are great.........we did so much today- so fun!-  and also finished off the bag. 

I think on Saturday we will go to the Cloud forest and then leave Coban on Sunday.  Before leaving Coban we might check out this coffee plantaion/factory and buy some smoking cheap coffee.  We will probabally leave for a place called Semuc Champey which is 2 hrs north of Coban.  Prob. spend about 3 days here.  Heard from the locals it is the shit.  5 or so different pools draining to each other and some caves to explore and also do some swimming.  The locals rave about this place, like it is the most beautiful place on earth.  We will inform you all if it is.
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