Wednesday, November 28, 2007

vino tinto y remolachas

Well, I have left Xela and I am back in San Marcos, taking part of the Moon Course at Las Pyramides which includes a lot of meditating, and for me a lot of napping. I´ve been exploring the more spiritual side of traveling and it is developing into an interesting process, one that is a bit strange to write about on this blog. But enough has happened since turkey day that I can entertain you with stories other than how I spent this morning detoxifying my system through breath.
I was in fact sick on thanksgiving, which combined with a lunch of remolachas developed into a late evening/early morning re-visitation of the fateful night of pink puke. Some will know of the story I speak, others will be glad not to know. Anyhow my Guate-family as well as my new french roommate were glad that I was somewhat recovered in the morning.
I met Sasha in the morning for a field trip to Mercado Minerva, one of Xela´s large markets. We walked there getting distracted along the way by two fantastic panaderias, Xelapan, as well as the Menninite run Bakeshop. I don´t know what it is about central america, but they know how to work the harina. Anyhow, once Sasha has sufficiently worked himself into a carb coma we took off to the market.
Minerva sprawls out onto the streets, it is loud, bustling and as every Guatemaltecca likes to remind us, peligroso. You can buy anything there, well within reason I suppose. I procured myself a market basket, and Sasha managed to discover a white bandanna in the piles of ropa Americana. It was a tough place to hang with the remnants of G.I. distress, raw meat and flies is not usually the most appetizing way to readjust to life after what I had experienced the previous night.
Friday afternoon I taught two english classes with Alexis from Tolouse to some very rowdy kids. We gave up on the first graders entirely and spent the hour reading them books like ¨go dog go¨and being crawled on. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Saturday was spent gathering ourselves up and taking off on the chicken bus to Pana. How to describe our night of the full moon in Pana might take pages. I befriended street artists while waiting for Patricia to check her email. We started drinking liters of gallo on the sidewalk and speaking in spanish to the motley crew of vendors, then transitioned to dancing to live spanish reggae, and drinking clos straight from the box. The night ended with a bonfire on the shores of Atìtlan. It was very hippy-traveler-bohemian.
So that is where I must leave you... evening meditation calls.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

gracias para aliens!

Well it is dia de gracias as it were . Just got back from a a shocking first encounter with the local take on American Malls. And I am pretty sure my body is having a second encounter with central american gastrointestinal aliens. But I wanted to say Happy Turkey day. Guatemala is a funny place to spend this holiday celebrating what turned out to be the decismation of entire cultures and the like. But it was an excuse to make stuffing, another story all to itself. It will come later. Pace!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

¿que pasa en Xela?

Just got done with a bit of free yoga. Meaning that it costs nothing, not that it is some crazy wild guatemalan version of yoga. Things are so so busy, I´ve been biking up mountains to teach art, re-learning english (so I can teach it), watching movies about soccer playing prostitutes, all while attempting to learn a new language. The good news is that now I can speak in the present past and future, very slowly, but its getting better all the same.
On tuesday a group of us biked up to a little school in Candelaria to teach. During the pausa I played soccer with the little girls and I am pretty sure I have three new best friends. The bike ride out to the school is wild, you set off on the dusty roads of Xela, wind out onto the paved highway, and then take off into the maize fields. The school is located up the first part of Candelaria, an extinct volcanoe. The ride is tough, but the kids make it more than worth it, and the ride home is all down hill, thank god.
Tonight there is Andean music at the Che bar so I am going to dinner with the guate-fam and then head over there. I´m off, this girl´s got homework baby.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

it´s an adventure, not a vacation.

crazy tilapan perro
el centro de Tilapa
along the ride home
la lechuga del nahual

Well it is already tuesday, the week is flying by, but the weekend was such an adventure that it deserves a bit of an entry. Some of my friends from school were heading to Tilapa on the Pacific coast of Guate, and being that Xela is freezing it seemed like a great idea. I think all of us imagined clean white sand, teal waters, etc. The reality was a little different but incredibly entertaining. After spending most of saturday morning negotiating two chicken buses to Tilapa we found ourselves dumped in the middle of a tiny dusty town at two in the afternoon. All the residents witness to this seemed quite amused by the appearance of five gringos on their doorsteps. Our first interaction was a kid yelling, ¨gringo, take my picture,¨ as we walked to find somewhere to eat lunch. We ate local sea food, laughed at the bow legged squinty eyed dogs, and rehydrated with gallos. After cervesas and ceviche we felt ready to take on the task of procuring a place to sleep. Luckily only half a block from the empty place where we at lunch was an equally empty hotel. We dumped our stuff in the two rooms and headed to the beach.
From the end of town you walked across a rickety boardwalk suspended above the mangrove mud and pigs eating the garbage that had washed up there. Then we discovered that getting to the beach required a ride in a launcha something the guidebook had failed to mention. Never the less we found ourselves a lovely boat driver Lilliana who was our personal launcha driver for the rest of the weekend. Once at the beach we braved the rip tide and splashed about for a while, finally retiring to our towels for Guatemalan sangria and rum. At some point we agreed that it was best to think of this not as a vacation, but more as an adventure.
The night was spent playing cards, eating guate tacos, drinking gallo, and meeting the local kids. During one of our many card games a huge bug dive bombed our table. HUGE I tell you, I mean we´re talking tamale sized. The doña calmly removed it from our table and dumped it in the garbage. Loco.
Sunday we went for a launcha ride to see the mangroves with Lilliana, and then ate breakfast on the beach. As we were finishing our frijoles y tortillas an entire Evangelical congregation showed up and posted themselves at the next palapa over. After a enjoying a couple of their hymns I took of with Sasha to build a sand castle. Being that we were the only gringos on the beach and building a sand castle we attracted quite a crowd. A theme that continued into the afternoon with collecting sea snails. The highlight of our time at the beach was witnessing the baptism of five of the members of the congregation. The whole group was standing in the sea, calf deep in water, singing with the band, while the preacher walked people out into the waves in his shirt and tie. Once waist deep the preacher would dunk his new convert and the band would start up with a new song. It was fascinating.
Getting back to Xela was another five hours on the chicken bus, including a three course meal procured solely from vendors that borded the bus. Good times.

Friday, November 9, 2007

teacher, teacher!

Some of the ninos at Manos de Color.
Well my first week of classes/volunteering has ended. My belly is full of post-nino choco banano {we have discovered chocolate heals all wounds} and my hands are covered in oil paint clear indications that it has been a busy week.
I had my first experiences with the ninos this week when I attempted to teach art in Spanish. It was wild! Teaching when you speak Spanish at best like a two year old is a challenge, but the kids eventually got the point and got down to business. I was blown away by how hard some of the kids worked, I'm used to kids needing ten pieces of paper a class. Here it took kids close to an hour to fill up a half sheet of paper. The art was really inspiring, so different from what I am used to. The first day they drew their favorite place in Xela, the results were amazing. As good as the art was I will admit that the best part of teaching is at the end of class when a the kids come and kiss you on the cheek, a Guatemalan tradition.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

¿espeaka espanish?

So I am back in school, learning the ways from my main man, Juan Ramone. Good thing too, because being limited to the present tense was wearing on me. The past tense is great because now I can tell stories all I want, and apparently Juan-ra (as his friends call him) and I are match made in heaven because he loves to talk too.
You can check out more recent photos at the link below.
Facebook is the easiest thing to load them onto:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

lakes, kites, vino!

So, photos y´all!
They are as follow...
Little miss Gem standing in front of a huge día de los muertos kite. Dock looking out on Atítlan, woman carrying balls at the kite festival.

Things are good here, I´m now in Xela after a whirlwind week of kite festivaling, diving, and yoga. The kite festival has something to do with welcoming the spirits back to earth on día de los muertos. We couldn´t get a great description from anyone, but it was an amazing experience. I met some ¨locals¨ from ¨the lake¨ who invited me to go see the kites in Santiago. We took a three hour ride in a shuttle from Panajatchel to a town outside of Santiago. The festival was held in a dusty field filled with Guatemaltecas and the occasional gringo. Groups had constructed the kites on frames of bamboo entirely of glue and tissue paper. The largest had to be about sixty feet tall and all were designed around different themes. For expample in the picture the one I am standing in front of is about preserving maya traditions. Around three in the afternoon they started launching them into the sky with varying results. I only saw the Gallo beer kite stay in the air for more than a minute. The next closest attempt disengrated after three minutes in the air, leaving only the bamboo frame to come crashing back to earth. We left the festival early so as not to miss the last launcha back to Santa Cruz, but the ride home was almost as entertaining, watching all the niños fly kites across the guatemalan landscape and laughing at my driver.
The next day, post yoga, I went for a dive in lake Atítlan which was murky but successful, even though I still haven´t figured out boyancy in fresh water. It was cool to do a fresh water dive and at altitude none the less, plus the whole experience was a whopping $25 dollars. My budget can live with that.
Yesterday I took the chicken bus to Xela with Todd a friend I made in Santa Cruz. We arrived in the early afternoon and spent most of the daylight hours hiking around the city looking for spanish schools and places to stay. After two and half hours of hiking with our packs we ended up staying at the first place we looked at. Classic. The good thing was we got a sense of the city´s layout and knew we were getting a good deal on our room.
In our walking we found out that Xelaju, the local soccer team was playing that night. So last night was spent freezing our asses off at the local estadium. The whole thing was really entertaining, my vocabulary of spanish swear words has increased exponentially, and I am far more familiar with different central american fireworks. Xela won 2 to 1 with a penalty kick, it was awesome. The only sad part was that this weekend, being election weekend, no alcohol can be served. So Todd and I have plans to return to a wet game and check out the scene then. Should be cool.
Today the highlight has been drinking contraband wine out of a coffee cup at lunch. Wild times.
I start language school in the morning, wish me luck.