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Published: December 8th 2007
A quiet start to the second half of our Spanish studies with Lara having a cough, followed by a minor earthquake which Al managed to miss completely. We went to school for the week as usual but skipped most of the after school activities as we´d done them all before.
The weekend was spent in San Pedro on the shores of Lago de Atitlan
, with an Irish/German couple Ed and Yvonne (check out their blog Around the world in 2 years
) where we got up to all sorts of mischief (read: set off a lot of fireworks), in between lying in a hammock or having an afternoon nap. We left for San Pedro straight after our lessons on Friday and all set to get on a direct bus to San Pedro de la Laguna near San Marcos. After checking that our chicken bus was heading to San Pedro, near San Marcos we got on and spent 1/2 an hour happily bumping along until the conductor came to collect our money. We were then told that we were heading to the wrong San Pedro near the wrong San Marcos which was really quite hilarious. The entire back of the bus discussed our options in detail
and it was agreed that we would need to return to Xela to get a bus to San Pedro de la Laguna. We got off the bus in the middle of nowhere and flagged down a chicken bus and in half an hour we were back in Xela.
There were no buses heading directly to San Pedro at that time of the day so we hopped on a bus to Panajachel, confirming exactly which Panajachel (there is only one) and arriving there at 8 o´clock at night. As it was too late to get a boat across the lake to San Pedro we stayed the night in Panajachel, otherwise known as Gringotenango
(Place of the Foreigners) due to its reputation as a tourist haunt. We had some dinner followed by the extreme luxury of watching TV which was the first time since arriving in the country.
The next morning we got a ferry across the lake to San Pedro where we met Ed and Yvonne for brunch. We spent a very relaxing weekend - lying in hammocks, eating a lot and setting off fireworks which we bought from a 7yr old girl who was giving us all kinds
Lago de Atitlan
of tips. It is a very cheap and exciting way to spend time and makes you extremely popular with the local kids. We watched movies, went to some interesting bars and even had a traditional English roast dinner!
After spending a lovely weekend on the lake, we were sad to be heading back to the cold as the altitude in Xela is much higher than Lago de Atitlan but we needed to continue our studies and all our bags were still there so we had no choice. On our return to Xela neither of us were well, and Lara went to see a doctor - who said she had amoebas and a throat infection, and it turned out that Al had amoebas as well (yes Mums, we have been very careful with what we´ve been eating and drinking - unfortunately they seem to be a part of life in Guatemala, as it is completely normal for Guatemalans to suffer from the same kind of thing).
We have been studying with the same teachers for the 6 weeks. Al´s teacher is Selvin, a uni student studying business admin. And Lara´s is Veronica, she works in finance when she is
Can you see the face in the mountain?
not teaching and has a very cute four year old daughter.
The highlights of our last few weeks in Xela were the Children´s Christmas party and the Festival of Guadalupe. Juan Sisay School sponsors 70 children in order to allow them to go to school. They pay for their school fees and all additional requirements. They have a party every three months, and this time it was the Christmas party. All the teachers and students put on plays and there were piñatas and presents. The children loved it and it was great to see where some of our money was going, and the excitement that they got from the party.
Another highlight was the arrival of Michelle and Simon, who we went to uni with in Sydney, and turned up at Juan Sisay one Monday afternoon after having gotten married in Port Macquarie 8 days beforehand! It was really lovely to spend some time with them and show them around Xela. We went with them, and a whole lot of other students to the Festival of Guadelupe (a Mexican virgin) in the nearby town of San Cristobal. The tradition in San Cristobal is for men to paint themselves
as devils and terrorise the crowds. The men wear some underwear and paint themselves all over. They then run around and rub the paint on the people watching. We had all bought cheap second hand clothes for the occasion and had a great time! None of us could figure out what the painted devils had to do with the Virgen de Guadalupe
, but we weren't complaining!
After so many adventures we had really settled in to life in Xela, with our lovely host family and teachers. And we are sad to be leaving Xela and the classroom after 6 weeks but are looking forward to a real holiday. We´ll be off to Honduras in a few days and will continue the blog whenever we get the chance!
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