MY WEEK LEARNING ESPAÑOL


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Published: January 4th 2009
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Saturday morning decided to go for a walk towards San Marcos about 3 hours away, this is the dangerous trail where youngsters rob tourists, there is 3 of us in a group, Valerie from Switzerland and Dean the Colorado dude who teaches martial arts back home so right there I already feel safe and he picked up a stick along the way to ward off bad people! The walk was quite enjoyable, up and down small hilss, you see corns planted on the hill and are now being harvested, Dean said never let anyone(locals)pass us for fear they might wait for us on the next bend where they can rob us, we were a bit paranoid as only yesterday a couple got robbed in the same trail, i brought my camera with me and no way will i surender it to machete weilding teenagers. While walking Valerie and I are talking in Spanish to practice. The scenery is quite prety, the lake very calm.

Ariving in San Marcos you already feel it is different from Santa Cruz, lots of hippie looking folks complete with rasta looks, but it seems this is more cooler place to stay, they have small paths
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LA IGUANA PERDIDA HOSTEL, SANTA CRUZ
everywhere, just follow a trail and get lost, not really, it is a small place after all. Dean showed us a nice area where you can sunbathe and swim in the lake, a little nook on the other side away from the boat dock. We had breakfast at this cool place, with fresh fruits, then went to internet and had a second lunch again at another restaurant where they grow their own veggies, self sustaining. Met Roseanne by accident, The Dutch girl that stayed in La Iguana days before, we exchanged emails and said our byes and we took the next boat to Sta. Cruz. Tonight is cross dressing night at the La Iguana, you get half price for booze if you dress up, I intended to put some dress on but Dean leaft me after puting his atire and I havent a clue how to put mine on so I went as is. The barbecue was good. Girls at the bar offered to dress me up but I declined.

Met a couple from Alaska, Allan and Jenny, had a very good conversation with them and decided we will hike to Solola tomorow. There was a performance after dinner, the guy owner whose name escaped me played some funny songs, quite enjoyed the comedic performance then off to bed for me.
Next day we started about 915am and started heading up tpwards the town of Santa Cruz uphill. It was quite steep switchback roads from then on for about an hour, we were not in a rush, we took time and took photos as well, the scenery is great, you see the lake and the two volcanoes.Some locals passed us, we are always alert making sure we dont get robbed or anything. The road is carved from the side of the mountain and some parts have been paved but still need a lot of work, we were the only tourists walking the trail, once we got up the very top approx. 7000 feet, the road flattens a bit, also at the top is garbage heaps being burned and smelled terribly, we ran to the other side.

Walking some more we saw the city of Solola from afar we thought another hour but ook us 2 good hours to reach it passing villages cultivating veggies like potatoes, onions, greens, they carved from the hills veggie patches making use of
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DEAN(US) AND VALERIE(SUI)
rocks and dirtt, quite ingenious. The locals were friendly and pointed us to the right direction, a very long way. We are starving by now and was relieved to finally make it o Solola, we went straight to the market and had sttreet food for lunch. The food is quite good and cheap, then we walked around the market and bought mochilas and fruits, I, bought a papaya while the couple bought piña and melon. Then we decided to walk down to Panajachel, we passed through the plaza where the chicken buses awiats, you see old US school buses still not adorned, this will eventually be decorated and painted and turned to a local chicken bus. The walk was quite long mostly going downhill and was tough on my legs, took us 2 plus hours to get there what a relief! Took us abour 5 hours to walk and 14 miles covered, quite an accomplishment! Took the boat back to Santa Cruz.

Had a quick shower and gorged on my papaya. Allan was quite amused to find out later that i managed to finish the papaya in one sitting. We met over dinner a Spanish couple and talked to
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LOCALS HARVESTING CORN ON THE HILL
us in Spanish the whole time, I had a hard time keeping up while Allan and Jenny seems to be able to, they had a week of Spanish school ahead of me so.. Chilled at the bar after dinner, chatted with my roomies from Florida, medical students stravelling only in Guate for a month. Went to bed early.

Today is my first official spanish lesson with Victoria, we went through the regulara verbs and constructing a sentence, i was a bit slow today and been yawning a lot, a little frustrated that i get confused with conjugations, and idiomatic phrases, after the session took a break and just listened to my mp3 player for a bit then did my homework then had a quick nap. it was very windy today and chilly, dinner time lights came out and have to struggle over dinner with candle light, sat with my roomies Chris and Amin, 2 American guys travelling for a month, they seem nice. Turned in to bed after dessert, read the Spanish lessons and watched Mind of mencia on my storage device. The dudes from America keeps going in and out of the room throughout the night had trouble sleeping because of that also the wind is fierce, things falling on our roof from the adjacent tree. Early morning the boys again woke me up they were a bit drunk and not caring, cant wait for them to check out the next day!

The lesson in Spanish was a bit easier today, learned the reflexive verbs, how to use them, more idioms, and phrases etc. My homework from last time requires me to write sentences using the regular verbs we studied, my teacher giggled when I read one of the sentences" Yo te amo con todo mi corazon" asked where did i learn it, they dont usually say it that way here apparently. And yes i have to reiterate it was only a sentencefor homework not a literal statement from me!!She is cute though...Dean was teasing me about that before he left yesterday. After the lesson took the boat to Panajachel to try and see if i can have my pair of shoes fixed. Found a zapatero and costs me barely $2. Hopefully it lasts awhile. Bought a belt as well, my old one just gave. Went back to Sta Cruz and chilled for a bit, had my
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DEAN AND VALERIE ON THE TRAIL(ROAD)
dinner of chicken from Pana because i forget to sign up for dinner at the hostel. Went to bed early again, not much people at the hostel, avocado fruits falling on the roof of our dorm room as the wind picks up again. My new roomie are all dudes, the one on my top bunk keeps moving about last night, I get waken up every time grr...

Spanish lesson again on the eve of New Year tomorrow, being feriado(holiday) no classes so may need to go to Pana to meet with my maestra for lessons or otherwise just have 2 sessions on friday my last day.
I leave for Saturday for Antigua so really needed to complet my lessons. I still makes lots of grammatical erors but am geting beter at it now and a little bit more comfortable with the language. At least am able to use it when shopping or asking for transport times etc... New Year dinner at La Iguana was superb, BBQ and stuff, chatted with 2 American girls here to research on their PhDs, Dave the owner again performed for us, he has got a real good voice and the funny songs tickled everyone again. Few drinks during happy hour and that is it for me, needs to be sober for tomorow's Spanish lessons. Sat next to a young dude from Toronto working as an interne in Mexico, one of his best mates is Filipino Canadian, we promised to keep in touch and maybe we meet up in Asia later this year. At midnight fireworks lit up the sky, San Pedro and Santiago, towns across the lake started the fireworks extravaganza, we have not much to show off here in La Iguana but still had a great time, off to bed at 1am, well ,chatted in the dorm for a bit with Vinny, a cool dude from Colorado, a bit crazy but fun to hang out with.

Early morning, the Florida girls came home very early in the am, and few hours later had to get up to hopefully get a lancha to panajachel where Victoria my teacher will wait for me, but I asked the lanchero at the embarcadero, in Spanish and he said service is not normal because it is holiday, no boat runs and I was the only one there at 8am so i left and went back to the
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VIEW OF LAKE FROM THE BOAT DOCK
dorm. Vinny was teasing me once he got up, thinking i was too lazy to go to Pana, but really i tried. Hopefully my teacher was not waiting for me there.
Had a very lazy morning, after brunch Vinny and I played cards with our Aussie roommies for 2 hours, 2 boys and a girl, playing shithead preoccupied most of our day, then said our goodbyes to the Aussie, they left for Pana. In the evening it was a bit quiet, not much people here, we had a chat with 2 American girls who went to Cuba recently, Vinny and I looked at each other in amazement, these girls have the balls to go there and we wont even try it. Their 2 weeks there seems very exciting, they love Cuba but the way of life there is totally different from our reality, there seems to be a Cuban style apartheid, where tourist facilities and amenities are separate from the locals and they reported being conned by locals so many times, probably because foreigners are their only source of extra income, but somehow they felt safe travelling about.

The next morning, met with Victoria my maestra and she told me she waited for 2 hours at the dock in Pana for me, i profusely apologized and explain that I tried. This is my last Spanish lesson and we reviewed most that i learned, it helped that Vinny, Eugenio and other people who speak Spanish taught me some tricks to conjugating verbs and short cuts to past and future tenses, this will supplement my Spanish, and now I just need to talk to locals a lot to get some practice, my maestra said I learn prety quickly, in just one week my conversational Spanish is beter than her other students who take it for months, maybe because of my Pinoy background.

Got up early morning to settle my bill, took a while as Thomas and iwere a bit confused on how to compute my bill correctly trying to deduct the Spanish lesson package. Wascoughing most of the night so did not sleep so well but am ready to move on to Antigua, took the boat to panajachel and booked a tourist transport to Antigua, leaving at 930am, had a quick breakfast then got picked up by the van for Antigua, a good 2 hours, all passenegers were Americans, not
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DEAN ME AND VALERIE AT LUNCH TIME
in the mood to being social so put my mp3player on, arriving in Antigua the kind American family helped me and the driver figure out where my hostel is so i can be dropped off in the correct street, found it with no problem and checked in at this nice hostel called EL Hostal, a few blocks from Parque Central.




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SAN MARCOS

SWIMMING AREA
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ALLAN AND JENNY ON A STEEP HIKE


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