So, we found ourselves in Guatemala; no car; and no cares. Well, we didn’t really know a bit of spanish, but….what can you do? The day was Thanksgiving. We decided that we should find place to stay then start looking into language schools. Xela, the town that we where in has a booming language school industry. I would highly recommend attending if you’re in the area; there are others scattered throughout the region, but Xela seems to be the place where good prices, and lack of tourism hit a sweet spot.
We spent Thursday looking at language schools; finding, and checking into the Black Cat hostel, and trying to find a good place for a thanksgiving dinner. The dinner we found wasn’t our typical tofurkey and veggies, but it definately did the trick. We had a quiet evening, followed by a night of craziness at a couple of the local disco’s. The night ended with us hearing a Guatemalan dude explaining that he was the milk and our companion was the cafe – and that they should drink together. It didn’t work so well. Lesson learned: Guatemalen men know how to dance.
That weekend we ended up having the opportunity to visit an indigenous coffee farm. We spent the night at this co-op and were able to see how the people lived. When we first showed up we where given fresh fruit. We spent the next 24 hours learning about coffee, seeing the lives of the rural Guatemalen indigenous people and enjoying life.
The houses are concrete structures that typically only enclose the bedrooms and and perhaps a kitchen. Most of the time, people are outdoors. This particular farm raised organic coffee, that was sent to the U.S. All of the farmers were indigenous women who where displaced to Mexico during the Guatemalen civil war; only recently were they able to return to their homes.
The next three weeks where spent studying Spanish at Kie Balam language school. Thanks to Palmenia for all the patience and instruction. She did a great job. We did so much during this time that it’s hard for me to recall all of it. Highlights include:
Going to the San Francisco Market, the largest public market in Central America.
Going to Fuentes Georginas hot springs with Nick, Laura, and Dan.
Watching the sun rise from the highest point in central america, Volcan Tojumulco.
Visiting Zunil for a festival, and a meeting with San Simon – the evil saint.
There where so many more things that we did, too many to mention. However, I think that what I found most interesting was learning about Guatemalan/Mayan culture and getting to know the people. I learned how similiar, culturally, we are to the rest of the people in the americas.