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Published: January 24th 2012
The View from School.
Not a bad classroom! Our classes are outside in a lovely garden surrounded by trees and flowers.
Hola nuestros amigos!
In our previous entry, there were a few people who had questions about the lake level and why it was so high. This area has been experiencing higher than average temperatures and longer rainy seasons in the last few years, and as there is no outlet for the lake. It has continued to get deeper as the amount of rainfall is more than the rate of evaporation. Historically, the lake has been up to 70 metres shallower than today and there are some Mayan ruins on what were islands, now submerged under water. As this is Lake Atitlan - the ruins have been christened "Atitlantis".
We have spent a week at a Spanish school in Pana and have enjoyed every minute of it! Our Spanish has definitely improved. The school offers extra-curricular activities involving local Mayan cultures, foods, traditions and various trips to the villages around El Lago Atitlan. Our one-on-one teachers are wonderful and we have the pleasure of getting our lessons in an extremely green garden of banana plants, rhododendrons and dozens of flowering plants. The next door neighbour to our school owns a very talkative parrot. He/she constantly says "hola" - with a
In the Chichi markets.
little encouragement from Theresa at times.
One of our school trips took us to San Juan la Laguna across the lake. We learned about the Women´s cooperativa that maintains the practice of spinning natural cotton thread, using natural dyes and preserving ancient techniques of weaving. It was almost heart breaking knowing the prices they ask for when we discovered the many hours and weeks of work it takes to make one piece.
A funny interlude: Theresa got confused one evening when we were practicing Spanish at home...Instead of saying in Español: " I want to catch the bus..." it came out as " I want to bonk the bus..." haha!
On Sundays in Chichicastenango (an hour bus ride from Pana) there are hundreds of vendors from the surrounding hills who make their way to the very large market (mercado). Amongst the many vendors (booths and on foot), were the very poor people begging for money or trying to sell really tattied items for a few quetzales (Guatemalan currency). One elderly lady approached with her wears - looked like she had been carrying them for years - they gathered as much dust as her life experience. We told
In the markets of Chichi.
her we did not need anything and when she mentioned she needed to eat as part of her sales pitch (if you can call it that), so we decided to buy her a bite to eat from a kiosk in the market. We could have spent all day feeding people, but you have to stop somewhere. We stopped right after we bought a couple of orange juices for a little persistent girl trying hard to sell little dolls for 5 quetzales (less than a dollar).
Of course, Theresa bartered for some textiles and did pretty well! Dave bought a broken spatula for the kitchen for Q3 (CAD 0.40 ish) as he wanted to make fried eggs for breakfast...! The lady insisted he could have a new one for Q5, but Dave resisted as the broken one was OK for what he needed.
Back in Pana we have made a few good friends and found some nice places to get good cheese and breads. We are quasi-locals in Panajachel as we are greeted (occasionally) by name whilst we wander the streets. We get charged local rates for laundry, and we get smiles at the local markets as we return
Los mercados en Chichi.
to the same vendors time and time again to get fresh fruit everyday. Mangos, papaya, bananas, maracuyas, piñas, aguacates, sandia, coco, guisciles, grenadillas and other fruits that you will be familiar with. Our neighbours in our little cozy neighbourhood are two lovely ladies from the US who keep returning to Pana over the last couple of decades and they have been very helpful in giving us tips on what to see and do. (You know, the inside scoop!)
We have less than a week left of school, then....... where next? Donde proxima?
Hasta luego! D y T
P.S. One of Dave´s favourite Spanish expressions is, "Ella es mi media naranja." - "She's my significant other half." - Literally, "she's my half orange."
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