Let me start with the most important updates from this week: First, I used the upstairs bathroom in the Yoga House for the first time, and it was glorious. I will let the photo do my explaining for me.
Category Archives: Guatemala
I should write a real post about Semana Santa in Antigua, but I’ve already let two weeks go by and it feels like a lot of work. Besides, I was there two years ago, so you can just read that post. Instead I will upload a few photos and say, Spring Break! Jasmine in town! Antigua, the Disneyland of Guatemala! Lots of carpets and processionals for Jesus! Lounging in the sun! Rainy afternoons! Climbing an active volcano! Street food galore! Our soundtrack! Enjoy.
Feliz Wajxaqib’ B’atz’! Happy New Year! Last Tuesday was the start of another year in the Mayan Sacred Calendar, what some say will be the beginning of the end. We had a big party at my school to celebrate, where each class made a traditional altar to give thanks. I loved seeing all the little girls in their Mayan dress, proud and eager to teach me about their heritage. Aside from learning about the patterns in the traditional textiles, and the numbers/ a few words in K’iche, the majority of what I learned was about Mayan spirituality.
This week I started taking Spanish classes in the afternoon with my new favorite Guatemalteca, Mileni. She is actually the coolest, and I am happy that I can pay her to be my friend. According to Mileni, Guatemalan winter is right around the corner, which means sheets of rain in Xela, for weeks at a time. I got a little preview of the upcoming months on Saturday, and I was not very happy about it. I spent most of the day inside, staring out the window while listening to Silvio Rodriguez and pouting, which in retrospect was probably a much needed respite, since last week was pretty exhausting.
Xela is divided into 12 ‘zonas’, although as far as I can tell most people only hang out in the first three. I continue spending a lot of time in Zona 3, an area that last trip I only visited a handful of times. I really like it, it feels much less touristy, gives me more opportunities to practice Spanish, and is a lot cheaper as well. I even take the microbuses every day, like a real chapina.
In school news, we are currently in the midst of a lice epidemic. Piojos, we meet again. Other than that, all continues to go well. This week the students had exams, so only half were at school on any given day, which made for a nice test run for the library. I still have not tired of helping the kids check out books. Their faces literally light up when they find the one they want, and then they will actually skip with glee out of the library, clutching their new books to their chests. Gets me every time.
If you’re interested, I am now also maintaining a more professional blog through Omprakash about my volunteering, which can you see here: http://omprakash.org/volunteer_profile/p/3874/view/stories.
After a unexpectedly eventful bus ride, I finally made it all in one piece back to Xela. About an hour into what was supposed to be a four hour bus ride, we had a breakdown. Nearly two hours later, the bus finally started running again, and the driver decided it would be a good idea to make up time by going 80mph on a one lane mountain road. An older Mayan woman I’d been seated next to on the airplane also happened to be on the same bus, and we made sad faces at each other, while her five family members seated around her puked into grocery bags for the remainder of the journey.
My mother claims that she knows I’m actually leaving the country once she hears me playing Cat Stevens. At the risk of being predictable, this time around my packing music has been all Whitney Houston. All Whitney, all the time. She gets me. The only thing I’ve ever wanted, really, is to dance with somebody who loves me.
Where did the past two months of my life go? Suddenly it is time for my to leave Xela, and I can hardly believe I have already spent 8 weeks here. Two months is a strange amount of time to spend in a place… it’s enough time to feel comfortable and grow attached to the people in your daily life, but at the same time, I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface. I loved my time here 10,000 times more than I ever imagined that I would… I met people that inspired me, I saw some amazing things, and I proved to myself that I can survive traveling on my own. As far as Spanish goes, I still speak like I am slow, I consistently use por and para/ser and estar incorrectly, I’m hopeless with noun genders, and el subjuntivo is not my friend, but, I know that I’ve learned a lot, and I feel confident that I will be able to get around during my upcoming three months in Ecuador. While my future is uncertain, I feel excited and ready for whatever is coming. Vamos a ver… y hasta luego Xela.
This weekend, like a good little tourist, I went to Antigua to see the processions for Semana Santa. Before I say more, please note what is happening with the statues in the picture of the fountain above. Amazing. Anyways, I had no idea that Semana Santa was such a big deal in Guatemala, in Xela all the schools were closed, and most businesses took a holiday as well. When I was walking to school on Thursday morning it was like an atomic bomb had gone off, there were no cars, no people, no open tiendas… for the first time ever even the beer factory had closed its gates.
This weekend in Xela was a good one. Probably the highlight was getting to live my dream of breaking open one of the fabulous piñatas that I wrote about in my last entry. One of the maestros invited my friend Laerke and I to her son’s first birthday party, and it was quite the fiesta. They had probably around 50 guests, an endless stream of games for the kids, four (!) different piñatas, and really delicious food. Laerke and I felt like super gringas, we were definitely the awkward interlopers watching everything unfold, but it was really fun. Side note, today I was walking past one of the many piñata stores, and I actually went in and poked around a bit, and some of them are as tall as I am. How awesome would it be to be a five year old and break open a piñata more than twice your size? And so my fascination continues….