Thursday, October 28, 2010

Itchy Feet!

Daryll writes:

We are still attending school and finish off on Monday and hope to leave early Tuesday morning to Lago Atitlan for 2 nights and then on to Antigua.  Even though the last few days have been tough studying Spanish, I know a lot more now than when I first arrived at the school.  I may not be able to hold a grammatically correct conversation, however I can string words together to get my point across and understand a lot more than I can speak.  With time, I hope to expand my vocabulary so that I can communicate better.  Going to school is intense as we have 1-on-1 instruction so there is no such thing as sitting at the back of the class and messing around, as I would have done when I was back in school.  My Maestra (teacher) tests me every morning on the vocabulario and verbos (vocabulary and verbs) that we studied the previous day.

Angela and her Maestra Dora
We have now been in Xela for 12 days and it is the longest that we have been in one place for and are rearing to get going again.  The time we have spent here though has given us the opportunity to see some of the sights, the cementario being the highlight.  The original cemetery was almost at the centre of town and was moved around a 100 years ago.  It’s site now is about a 20 minute walk from the centre of town and located with Volcan Santa Maria as it’s backdrop.  There is a distinct class system here.  If a family has money, they can pay for a site closer to the entrance of the cemetery and many of these plots are purchased by families to hold the entire family once they die.  The poor on the other hand get the very back of the cemetery and in my opinion, have the best sites as these are located on a hill overlooking the city; not that they are looking for a view.  Something that I found very interesting is that the family of the deceased has to take care of the site on an ongoing basis i.e. weed and cut the grass around the grave.  If there isn’t a family member to do this and if the grave site becomes over-run, the city will step in, remove the body, dispose of the remains in a mass grave and re-use the site.

Volcan Santa Maria in the distance
Another interesting point about Guatemala I thought I would share are the shower heads.  Not everyone has hot water or water in that case and those that do, have an electrical shower head that heats the water before it comes out.  You really don't want to be touching anything whilst taking a shower as I'm not sure how safe these are.

Hotel Andina, Xela
When we originally purchased our travel maps and planned out a route, we had just placed dots on the places we wanted to visit on our maps and left the exact route planning to when we arrived in the country as things change here so quickly that one day a major highway could be open and the next day, it be blocked by a landslide.  So with our free time over the last weekend, we mapped out the next week and a bit that we will spend in Guatemala.  On Tuesday, we are off to Panajachel on Lago Atitlan for 2 nights and then off to Antigua for at least 3 nights where we hope to hike up Volcan Pacaya, one of the active volcanoes in the area.  Then it is off to the northern part of Guatemala to Tikal and one of the largest Mayan ruins in the area before we cross into Honduras.

New pictures uploaded to the Guatemala photo album.
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  1. All sounds great! Wish I was there. Those shower heads will be lots of places as you head south - kinda scary, but never heard of anyone getting killed or even shocked.

    My kids and wife and I went to Tikal 10 years ago from Belize by private car to the border with Guatemala and then by van with military escort (bandits and revolutionarios - mostly ex-military with military weapons - were active at the time) from border to the ruins. Fabulous! Howler Monkies sound just like lions!

    I'm busy with planning for Africa....

  2. Tom, How is the Africa planning coming along. Any tips for us?