Early days in Guatemala

19 Dec 2007 8:16 pm

Lunes 17 Dec

There are a few methods of transit in Guatemala.

mas caro (expensive) – taxi
caro (minivan & less expensive but quick) – direct shuttle
normal (what the guatemalan take) – chicken bus

I was in a hurry to get from Antigua to Quetzaltenango (aka Xela) to study Spanish for this week, so I opted for the shuttle ($25, 4 hour trip). I had a brand new minivan all to myself. Eddy was my driver. Eddy lived in Florida for 10 years and has a 16 year old son there. He came home to visit about 6 years ago and now can’t get a visa back into the US.  He lives with his dad and works for a tour operator.

The road to Xela is under major repair. Air pollution is really intense. Guatemala air is on par with
Calcutta (in my estimation) and that is a city of 16 million people. All the old buses and cars (especially diesel) from the U.S. emmigrate to Guatemala and fill the air down here with black soot.

Eddy dropped me directly at Sakribal, my Spanish school. I met Olga, the director, and then Maria from my host family came to pick me up. Maria is a teacher at the school. She also boards students. Maria is divorciada and lives with her parents, two daughters and a woman named Rosita.  I’m not entirely sure of Rosita’s role, but she helps clean.

Maria´s mom, Sandra has a comedor (casual restaurant) right in their kitchen. There is no sign outside, but Men stop in around lunch and dinner time and get a home cooked meal for less than about $3.

There is also a student from Japan boarding at the house. His name is Hide, but we call him Fidel.

There is one bathroom and the shower does not have hot water. Oye!

Martes 18 Diciembre

My Spanish teacher at Sakribal is Patty. Patty lives with her mother, sister (pregnant) and brother in law. Patty had her doubts all along, but after living with her brother in law, Patty decided she doesn’t want to get married. In class, Patty and I focus on conversation. We basically sit and talk and laugh for 4 hours in Spanish, and then cram a lesson in before 2pm.  We talk about topics like young unwed mothers and the taboo of birth control in Guatemala. We talk about her family history. We talk about popular immigration strategies. For grammar, I´m studying the difference between por and para (two different forms of the word “for”) which are difficult for gringos to figure out.

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4 Responses to “Early days in Guatemala”

  1. Anthony (December 20th, 2007 at 1:23 pm)

    This is a fine start to what sounds like a fun stay. You’re learning a lot more that if lounged around Mom and Dad’s watching football and What Not to Wear.

    We’ll miss you. I’m glad you’ll enjoy this adventure. It’s a good thing you can write about it.

    Be safe.

  2. kevin (December 20th, 2007 at 11:52 pm)


  3. cara (December 21st, 2007 at 9:23 am)

    Wanted to wish you a happy holiday in Guatemala.
    I’m in Pittsburgh, but will be flying to Nicaragua in January and have a similar wanderlust, but it can be lonely around the holidays. Found out about your blog from your sister’s blog. Enjoy your travels!

  4. Beth (December 21st, 2007 at 1:06 pm)

    Hola Comapanera;
    Finalmente made my way to your blog…good info. Pienso que todos esta bien?
    You certainly are seeing real life in Guatemala between your host family and your teachers family. Is the pollution still so bad now that you are in Xela? I hope not!
    I am in West Virginia – cold and pretty – a bit of snow here and there.
    I will check your blog daily now that I have found it…no pressure or anything pero yo quiero mas!
    mucho gusto y via con dios
    Su Companera

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