Monday, June 29, 2009

6 days to go...

With only a few more days left in Guatemala, I am left with a symphony of feelings. I am sad to be leaving soon, but happy to be returning to the States, to my family, to my wonderful girlfriend, and strangely enough, my oft-neglected guitar. I have been surrounded by music this whole time; most recently, Andrew's violin brightens the corners of our house, or at least when I get him to play something upbeat.

We lost power for about 20 hours between last night and yesterday. Thankfully, the majority of that time was spent sleeping and later working with Diego. Still, it was a little unnerving considering the amount of food we have in our refrigerator. I am happy to report that not much was lost, except for a few wanton leftovers that needed to be pitched anyway.

Tomorrow, we get a free day. Schools resume on Wednesday, and I will have a precious 3 days to spend with the children, enjoying their company and their very rapid, comprehensive Spanish. I hope they don't forget me too quickly. I am not much for little kids; I find them loud and difficult to understand--doubly so in rapid Spanish. But even with the school closings, I have spent enough time with them to learn all their names, and some of the nuances of their personalities. I just wish that this school was in the states, where I could go back and visit often.

Well, that's all for now. It's getting dark and I need to head back home where Andrew and I will do dishes. But, honestly, I don't miss the dishwasher! Much.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


There is a hotel directly behind our house, called Hotel Aaculaax (pronounced ah-coo-lash). Dense bushes stretch around our house and up into Aaculaax's bungalows. The hotel also has a small open-air restaraunt right behind our hotel, and the bushes stretch out very close to the tables.

Now, these bushes attract a very large, loud, and rather brash species of hummingbird (or colibrí). I have never before heard a hummingbird chirp, and I have certainly never had two of them fly so close to my face that I could feel the wind blowing off of their frantically beating wings. Seriously, these birds are insane. The wildlife around here seems pretty used to people. One day I saw 5 lizards as I walked to the school. Awesome.

Erek and Maurene are off tomorrow. I'm looking foward to showing Andrew around; I also just hope he survives the 4 hour bus ride!

More than anything, I want a hamburger. They serve them here at Blind Lemon's, but we have yet to dine here. I think I might hold off, and make that first hamburger in the states all the more savory.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two weeks in

Quick post today. I'm very tired.

I took some pictures today, and I will try to upload them this weekend. They are all of the school, and are quite fantastic if I do say so myself. The kids are photogenic to say the least.

It has rained every day for the last 5 days, but once it clears up I will be taking pictures of our house and the view from it.

Diego returned today in great form. He read plenty of what we asked, and though he has been sick, it seems that his downtime has not affected his ability to grasp rather complex musical concepts.

I will blog tomorrow, promise!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So I don´t have pictures.

Like the title says, I don't have pictures today, simply because I haven't taken my camera with me anywhere! We have been a little busy. I will try to upload soon, I promise.

Yesterday, Diego was ill and we were unable to have a lesson. Hopefully he'll be doing better tomorrow. Nikolas, his brother, is the gardener at the school. He seemed hopeful that Diego will be able to return on Thursday. We'll all hope that.

Let's talk about the water here. You can't drink it, okay? It is apparently a bacterial and parasitic cesspool, even brushing your teeth with it could result in days spent out of commission, or worse, in Guatemala City.

Okay, so that's a bit over-the-top, and that last bit about Guatemala City was probably below the belt. But the point remains, you get off the plane here, and they basically start telling you right away not to drink the water. So you have to buy big five gallon jugs of water to drink and brush your teeth with it.

Houses also have tremendous tanks, into which the city pumps mountain water. Again, not drinkable, but If these tanks are not raised up, there will be no water pressure. I'm talking a trickle. At Escuela Caracol, they have a water tank that is ground level with the building itself. I don't know why the need pressure, since they don't have showers, but I suppose it helps fill up the toilets faster.

Anyway, we began construction on a column for the water tank today. It will probably be several meters high, and the foundation, the hole for which we began digging today, will be about a meter into the ground alone. Tomorrow I anticipate hauling bags of cement for at least an hour, which I know from past experience to be back-breaking.

It's all in the name of making Caracol a slightly better place. And you can see the kids benefit from them. Their Spanish is loud and exuberant. They are a joy to be around; I watched them run away from Erek as he hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of pebbles to where we were working (to be used in the construction tomorrow).

That's all for now. I am going to go for a run and then maybe I will consider a nap.

¡Hasta Luego!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

We're still (maybe) on schedule!

What a long, sometimes frustrating, and wholly exhausting week!

Our arrival in Guatemala has been fraught with water outages, insect bites, and the occasional (well, really one) scorpion appearance. But the overall assessment is that we are safe and having an excellent time despite these minor speed bumps.

We started school on Wednesday, by which I mean the kids started school on Wednesday and we worked in the garden. Thursday gave us our first lesson with Diego, a local musician who has been hired by the school to teach the kids solid music theory, hopefully within a year. He is young--probably about 20--and very bright; our primary difficulties stem from the language barrier. His native tounge is Kaqchikel, a local Mayan dialect entirely different from Spanish. Fortunately, he is also mostly fluent in Spanish, and knows a good deal of English. In fact, we underestimated his grasp of English, and he surprised us when, at our first meeting and after 20 minutes of laborious Spanish, Maurene asked him in English, ''Should we be having this conversation in English?'' and without missing a beat (and not without a chuckle) he said, ''Yes.''

The weekend provides more of a respit than I had anticipated. I imagined sitting around, lazing away the day, but instead I was productive at my own pace, and enjoyed some time to myself. We ate leftovers for lunch, since we don't work at the school on weekends and Maria, the woman who cooks us dinner, only comes Monday-Friday.

I have gotten a lot of reading done, and have begun to worry that I don't have enough books! Maybe I will email Andrew and ask him to pick up one or two, say the next in the Hitchhiker's ''trilogy'' or something like that.

On my next post, I will try to post a picture or two, assuming I can take some and actually upload them.

¡Hasta luego!

----Edit---- Guatemala just caught the Swine Flu scare, and they may have to close down the schools for a couple of weeks, which would impede us only in that we would have to find a new place to get lunch! But, hence the name of the post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The beginning

I´ve been here five days. There, we got that awkwardness out of the way. The cafe I am sitting in is called Blind Lemon´s, owned by an older gentleman from North Carolina who makes no attempt to speak his Spanish with an accent other than ''Southern.'' He plucks out tremendous blues riffs on a faded but beautiful acoustic guitar, and his elderly dog (Lab, probably) slumbers next to the six computers nestled along the wall. The connection is slow but it serves its purpose.

The cafe is a ten minute, severely uphill walk from the three story house we are living in. Our main problems with the trip have stemmed from various things in the house simply ''not working,'' much to our dismay. Everything else is incredible. We have met all kinds of people in this Guatemalan Mecca of sorts, ranging from the indigenous (speaking a local language which I will look up and put in my next post), the Guatemalans (who speak Spanish, mostly), and the rest of us foreigners who butcher both languages regularly. Everyone speaks Spanish, and to get around without it, while possible, is not the ideal situation.

The food, we have found, is incredible. Because there are so many expatriots from Europe and North America, we get a variety of local and foreign foodstuffs at very local (read: cheap) prices. I had curried chicken at a local restaraunt called Paco Real, which is run by an incredibly amiable older British gentleman with fascinating stories to tell and a real investment in the community.

I have had a dozen other experiences already, but for fear of using up the last of my 18 minutes, I will end this post here with a couple of notes. Check back here regularly and I will update at least once every 2 days.

Two things:

--The internet here costs money, so I will only be able to post but so often. It´s cheap but I can´t spend a lot of time on it.
--I´m using a Spanish-language keyboard, which has apostrophes and colons in strange places. Therefore, please excuse strange punctuation errors. Chalk it up to culture shock

¡Hasta luego!