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 las americas

16 mayo
Driving around as my first school year draws to a close, I realize how familiar the Guatemalan sights have become. People stepping out of buses and running across the street dodging cars, gardeners chopping hedges with machetes, a man in a business suit riding to work in the back of an old pickup truck, small women carrying large bundles wrapped in colorful woven blankets on their heads, guards with huge guns in parking lots and stores, high metal fences and barbed wire lining the residential streets. Vendors at every major street corner swarm the cars holding up their wares: bags of fruit, fragrant flowers, newspapers, cell phone holders, statues of saints, all to be purchased during a red light from your car window. When I stop for gas I am brought back to the 50's - gas pumped, tires checked and windows washed by uniformed attendants, no need to get out of the car. Whether coming in to work or meeting friends for dinner, the Guatemalan greeting is a warm hug and kiss on the cheek.

Sundays the streets are closed in one direction along Avenida las Americas, and many Guatemaltecans, especially families, come out and walk. Kites fly, horse and cart rides carrying little ones trot by, boys ride up and over ramps showing off on their skill on stunt bikes and skateboards. I walked for a few hours along the street and parkway that goes down the center of the wide boulevard enjoying the delicious morning, inspecting the many statues from various Latin American countries, a stop to watch a Tai Chi class in the park and buy a fresh pina licuado (pineapple smoothie) from a street merchant proud to show off his mastery of English.

The rainy season began like clockwork on the first of May, rumbling thunder then intense intermittent afternoon downpours, clearing up as quickly as they began, often to return later or during the night. Unlike the east coast in the states where I grew up, the sky clears blue with puffy clouds between showers, no lingering gray skies here. I carefully planned my walk in the morning to beat the rain. Within five minutes after I got back to my place, with a greeting to the guard - "la lluvia viene!" (the rain is coming!) - the heavy rain started, perfect timing.

The event of the last few weeks was Sherry's (school director) 60 year birthday celebration. A decade party - we were to dress up or bring something from our favorite decade. Expecting the party to be mostly filled with 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s garb, I dressed in the favorite decade of my life, this one (now is always my favorite time). Skimpy tank top and low black jeans like the teenagers at school, I drew a tattoo up one arm, had an ear cuff, black finger and toenail polish, and sprayed purple paint in my hair. Pam dressed as a 50s beatnik, which suited her to a "t". Dancing till late into the night, I took the opportunity to learn from two sensuous Latin dancers, Anabella and Blanca, Guatemalan Spanish teachers, new steps and movements.

This school year has been a challenging one, my first teaching K-12 in any country. I've recreated the technology curriculum for middle and high school and will refine it further yet. Next year will be a year of fine tuning. In addition to the demands of the job, I've taken two graduate level courses - a writing course first semester and an ESL (English as Second Language) class the second, taught an after school class for middle schoolers once a week first semester, attended two technology in education conferences in different countries and traveled at every opportunity. But one of the great rewards about being a teacher is the ample vacation time - I'm looking forward to the summer break less than a month away!

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