Monday, October 27, 2014

Chajil Siwan

Sunday I went to Totonicop├ín, another department of Guatemala and visited Chajil Siwan.  I was glad to see green spaces, lots of trees, and be away from the city.  A guide accompanied my group along the trail.  He seemed rather knowledgable, but spoke only Spanish, so I didn't get everything. 
It was quite a change from Xela, but well worth getting up before six o'clock in the morning and riding in a microbus with 15 other people and one dog.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Swiss Family Robinson

I have plenty of time to read here, which is one of the reasons that I picked up The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Swys  at the used book store (this edition is almost 500 pages).  A teacher who used to work at the same school as me read an abridged version to his class each year, then showed the Disney version of the movie.  The story is about a family from Switzerland who is shipwrecked and needs to survive on an uninhabited island.  The family includes both a mother, a father and their four sons.
     This book made me think about how dependent I am on others for both my needs and wants.  I can cook, clean, and sew.  But I would not be able to build a decent shelter, cook over a fire, or know how to make something from nature into clothing.  For all our advantages there are to our modern civilization, it seems like  we are less knowledgable about skills that make it possible to take care of ourselves.
     If I taught older elementary or middle school students, I would consider reading it aloud to my class.

a new doll

Last week one of the activities at school was a visit to a place where a small group of people make dolls.  The dolls are made of recycled materials and their clothing reflect typical Mayan dress.  (Mayans are the indigenous people of Guatemala and parts of Mexico.)  It was interesting to see people at work making the dolls, as well as the large variety of dolls.  I see many women dressed in typical Mayan clothing, and the colors and designs reflect what town or village the women are from.  This doll is dressed in clothing representative of the designs the people from Quetzaltenango wear.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

language school

I finished my sixth week of language school.  Most of the time I feel like I am learning a lot.  The picture to the right shows where I spend my mornings.  Classes are one on one, so I get to learn at my pace.  The focus of my lessons has been on grammar (especially all the different forms of verbs) and conversation.  Class is Monday through Friday, and I am at school for five hours.  There is a break mid-morning.  There are daily assignments, usually a combination of reading, writing, and grammar practice.  I enjoy the homework
Some afternoons and Saturday mornings there are activities.  The first week I got to know the city a bit and visited another town nearby.  Other activities have been hikes in the mountains or a visit to a tourist site.  One Saturday I went to some hot springs.  This week I went biking in the mountains. My favorite activities have been the opportunities to get out of the city to enjoy nature.
While studying, I am staying with a local family.  I have a place to stay and all my meals are provided.  I do not have to think about grocery shopping, cooking, or washing dishes, though I am beginning to miss all three.
If you ever visit Central America for an extended period of time, I would suggest beginning your stay with a couple of weeks at a language school.  It will give you an opportunity to learn more Spanish, get adjusted to a new place, and interact with local people.