Posts Tagged ‘Spanish School’

Antigua – Review

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

We are outta here!  Yep, left Antigua and Guatemala. I was a bit disappointed but also looking forward to our next adventure. W/ has us on a trip to Peru.

Since leaving Guatemala I can talk about the good and the bad. The good was quite a bit, good friends, good beer, good food, good restaurants, and a good Spanish School.

The bad; and it’s not much, was the small vehicles we had to travel in, a few of the restaurants that we didn’t believe played fair, 3 Roosters, Volcanic dust, and my iron stomach was tenderized while here, but due to politics we were having to leave before we’re really, really, really, fluent in Spanish. (I say politics because even if one has income a foreigner can’t remain in Guatemala for an indefinite period of time and two when we bought the tickets for our flight they wouldn’t sell a one way, we had to choose a date and a return flight).

We ate at two restaurants that clipped us a bit (one was Fusion and the other, Sabe Rico – the worst). At Fusion IB and Becca ordered some wine by the glass and Fusion didn’t have the wine listed on the menu so without advising anyone they took it upon themselves and poured the more expensive wine. Now truth be said,  I’m guessing either of them would have said “OK”, but no one likes to be blind sided and we / they were.  The other restaurant;  Sabe Rico delivered “uncorked” wine to the table and didn’t provide anyone a taste test.  Thinking this was the wine the “girls” ordered I kindly poured. It wasn’t the wine ordered and they wouldn’t do anything about the “switch” they quietly pulled on us. We paid the bill and left.

The smallish vehicles I’ve written about – so enough said. The Roosters too. But; the volcanic dust, it  is over most everything and for the most part of our stay there, at the end of the day the bottoms of our feet were the color of lava. No mater how much the floors were cleaned or when, our feet changed color ever day.  And remember, we’re cruisers, we like bare feet and clean decks.  This was, to say the least, a bit irritating.

Since I left the boat in mid November I’ve been sick now 4 times. Four months; 4 times under the weather. Three times in Guatemala. I don’t know if it’s the food or because I was  living with more people or the water I drank. We tried to always drink bottled water and I can’t say bottled water helped much – but I wasn’t going to stop. It could be the “jet” setting around, could be in how some food is prepared, could be in the closer proximity to other people; I don’t know, but those times being sick were not part of my planned adventure.  To put it in perspective; in the last two years on the boat I was sick once; and that was when I went to Panama City.

Leaving San Jose El Viejo was bitter sweet. However; we need to practice our new language skills more, we need to let the words we know ferment in our brains, we needed a break from the formal study. We both miss our teachers; W/ had gotten quite close to Erika, they exchanged some gifts on the final day; and I thoroughly enjoyed working / learning from Isabel. Her laugh is infectious,  and with me she was patient and a little pushy  all at the same time. My day started with talk for about an hour or so (all in Spanish but sometimes I had to ask for the correct word or look it up) and during that time she would then identify an area I needed a great deal more work on. Then we corrected  my assignments and depending on the day we discussed my numerous and other times rare

Mi Maestra Isabel

Mi Maestra Isabel

errors. After a break we would talk for another hour with Isabel patiently waiting for and forcing me to use the words I know. At times she would let loose with this infectious laugh because of the stories we each told and I’m sure too because of some of the ways I used in structuring my spanish voacabulary. About 5 minutes before the end of the morning she would  ask if I wanted to do any homework. I was there after all to learn Spanish so I would always acquiesce to some..more….homework. She was kind in that what she assigned me  I usually could complete in under 3 hours.

So we left Antigua after learning much about the people, enjoyed teasing our palate with an abundance of different food combinations, suffered with some bugs we could never see, and have a 1,000 or so more words in Spanish that we can use. Of course putting them together in the correct order will always seem to be a challenge. If the winds of our life provide any justice we’ll again return to Antigua and spend some more time learning the poetic language of Spanish.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

What a Ride

Monday, March 18th, 2013

We’re in Antigua, Guatemala. Attending Spanish School. Doing something now I never would have imagined while in HS. Never.

After our first week of Spanish school we had a one day weekend that Becca and IB figured we should spend hiking up the active volcano Pacaya. So up early

Taking a Breath

Taking a Breath

in the am; 6 ish, and on a bus to the base camp an hour away. There we rented a hiking stick for W/ and we started up the side of the Volcano. In Guatemala there doesn’t appear to be any knowledge of switch backs; where a road or trail winds up the side of a mountain with less of an incline but a longer path. So we mostly walked straight up the side. W/ who was recovering from a nasty cold decided to take a taxi and ride a horse. I then became the bearer of the hiking stick. What goes around comes around.

We made it to the top most point we were allowed to travel to as the rim of the caldera was said to be too unstable. I actually crawled into a lava tube and found it to be exceedingly warm and rather odiferous. W/ roasted some

Snug as a Bug

Snug as a Bug

marshmallows at a vent and climbing and descending we slid up and down the loose volcanic rock covering the landscape. We were lucky or should I say we were lucky Becca had planned the adventure so well. We left early hoping that the air would be dryer and clear providing us with some great views. Traveling down the Volcano was much easier and I wasn’t left with a racing heart and lungs that wouldn’t hold enough air.

W/ Sliding - Running down Volcano Pacaya

W/ Sliding - Running down Volcano Pacaya

The week prior to our exhausting hike we visited a Mayan Pueblo and listened in Spanish to the creating of a wedding blanket that has multiple uses, how Mayans court the opposite sex, and steps leading up to a mock ceremony itself with Becca standing in as a brides maid.

The following week we had two tours, one where we visited a coffee plantation and the other to two churches where sawdust rugs are created to showcase the meaning of Easter.

The plantation was informative with both English and Spanish spoken. Our teachers all came with us to assist in our understanding and practice of Spanish. Julio has been good to me and I sincerely hope I’m on the right track. I’m not sure one can be on the wrong track but after this weekend I’m feeling like I’m a man without a vocabulary. I’m amazed at the amount of work that goes into making coffee and two particulars stand out: 1) each plant produces only 1 lb of finished coffee per year and 2) the workers here receive  $20 / day for picking the 200 lbs of beans.  Not a life for me.

Carpet made of Sawdust

Carpet made of Sawdust

The festival dust carpets are another thing entirely. This month-long event is nothing but unique an is listed in various places as one of the great festivals of the world to see.  and our apartment / house / casa, is  20 meters from one of the main routes. I leave it to places like Wiki to provide the details. I left out our front door yesterday and upon exiting wasn’t able to move more then a meter or so;  we were so packed with people hoping to get a peak at the 60 or so men carrying a float weighing upwards of 6,000 lbs.

Beyond the school and the events, beyond the activities in the area we are teased daily with great eateries. In the two weeks we’ve been here we’ve only been to two restaurants twice. We met Wayne at San Jose el Viejo Spanish School and since he’d been here 7 times over the last few years we abused this new friendship by conscripting him in accompanying us to various establishments  he felt were worth it. And worth it they were. So while we’d been enjoying his company and his recommendations while he was here we’ve still a list of a few more to visit since his departure. …not everyone we meet is on their million day weekend.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long