Lake Atitlan
chicken bus

Santiago Atitlan
Independence Day
language school

a new year
Semana Santa
las Americas
Machu Picchu
year 2
Santiago Sacatepequez
lake weekend
UK in winter
Caye Caulker
El Salvador
year 3
Carnival Trinidad
Rio Dulce
Semuc Champey
journey's end



Guatemala Journal



31 julio
I'm happy to say
that the new teacher orientation the school has planned for us includes some sightseeing. Our first recreational visit was Antigua, an old well preserved Spanish colonial city. It was at one time the capital of Guatemala, the full name is Antigua Guatemala (old Guatemala). It's now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country, you may have heard of it as the place people go to take intensive Spanish classes. There are endless charming shops in old buildings lining cobble streets, and open air markets of textiles and other crafts. Friendly but relentless street vendors approach you everywhere, some are women with brightly colored blankets piled on their heads. Two young girls by the restaurant we first visited were very insistent, I didn't have change so they caught me again on the way out. I bargained with them for a small woven change purse. After agreeing on a lesser price, I said I would pay them what they originally asked if they let me take their picture. It was definitely my favorite photo of the day, you can see how happy they were about the deal.

After Antigua we visited two small nearby villages. Many of the villages specialize in different types of crafts or other products. On the way to Antigua, we drove through one town where wicker furniture was displayed along the roadside and another where stone statues and yard ornaments abounded. The first town we stopped at specialized in wooden fruit, bowls and other items - we went into Sherry's (director of the school) favorite wooden apple factory and saw an older man sanding a tray carved with floral patterns. Continuing into the next room, it was obvious this was the room where they all lived, five people - a woman holding a baby smiled as we passed by. The next room was the small showroom packed with brightly painted and polished wooden fruit and other interesting pieces at very cheap prices. The young man taking our money was most probably the father of the baby. We all bought something.

The second stop was to a town square with a huge yellow church, stark inside compared to the others in Antigua, and open air market. There were lots of sweets for sale, some covered with cellophane to keep the bees away, but many had bees swarming and trapped inside the covering as well. Painted roosters greeted us, a stone fountain, women cooking tortillas, young girls selling fruit.

Tuesday morning I moved out of the hotel and into my apartment. I'm home! The school is supplying a queen size bed. I bought a few pieces of furniture from an outgoing teacher - tipica (dark carved wood, the indigenous style) table and 4 chairs, a tipica side table, a computer desk. The computer desk was designed by the outgoing technology teacher and is all wrong - the wide part under the table where you sit doesn't line up with the wide part of the desk (the part without shelves), and it obviously was cut up after making because the shelves were too long, but it works well enough for my little laptop. Waited for hours for the bed to be delivered, luckily I had a pineapple to keep me from starving, purchased from a street vendor dressed like a clown juggling fruit in the middle of traffic.

Dinner Tuesday night at a Guatemalan restaurant. The structure was a large thatched hut open to the outside. At the entrance you walked over what looked like a brightly colored sand painting covered with glass. These artistic constructions are made along the streets on Semana Santa (Easter week) in many villages, then the processional walks over them so after all that work they are short lived. The waiters were covered in beautiful patterned clothes from head to toe. I had a delicately seasoned chicken stew and shared a bottle of red Chilean wine.

Wednesday night went with a couple of new teacher friends to a restaurant that served an unusual combination of sushi and Mexican dishes. We decided to order a hearts of palm salad for an appetizer mostly because it was translated on the menu as "calm hearts". After fajitas and sake, I had them put the remains of my dinner in a to go box which sat on the table while we ordered coffee and a flan dessert to share. A boy came in with roses and asked if we would like to buy some. We all said "no, gracias" and continued talking. He pointed to my leftovers box and asked in Spanish if I was going to eat that. I looked at him more closely and realized he must be hungry. I traded the box for a rose and he left grinning.


Photography | Classes | About me | Home