Antigua & Escuela Espanol #2 - Friday, March 14, 2003

Our first week of spanish school is over and we can actually communicate and understand, although our verb conjugation leaves something to be desired. The more we use it the better we´ll be for the rest of our travels from Guatemala up into the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Our typical consists of 3 meals with our host family, 4 hours of spanish classes with our teacher Rosa Maria, and some wandering around Antigua. We were lucky that our Bristish friends Will & Arabella were in Antigua for a number of days so it was fun to hang out with some familiar faces and not speak spanish.

We chose to live with a family to get full immersion with the language. It has proven to be a wise choice as it has forced us to really use the language to communicate with the family members. They know only words and no sentences in english, so it has been a challenge at times to get understand each other. Our accomodations were a simple room with two beds and a bathroom. The Guatemalan people are pretty short, so we had to take the mattresses off the bedframes and put them on the floor so Dave could stretch out. The food has also challenged us because the typical Guatemala cuisine is very simple with lots of beans and rice to complement the light use of meats in their diets (mainly due to cost). The portions aren´t very big either, so we have had to supplement our diets with a few pizza´s and yes, we know it´s sad - McDonalds & Burger King.

Our family provides us with constant entertainment. Between the crazy 5 month old cat, to the kids and relatives that were always visiting the Casa we have kept busy. The host mother and daughter were very interested in our life in the US and our travel plans. We´ll be sending them update on our travels via e-mail. We even offered to cook a couple of times so we could vary the diet. One night we had a stir-fry with cherry jello for desert, and for breakfast we made fried eggs with bagels.

Our first Friday night with the family had us heading to a church outside of town (about a 20 minute walk) for some sort of a gathering to show off a statue of Jesus, etc. It was absolutely jam packed with locals and very few gringos. We weren´t quite sure of the significance of this event as we couldn´t understand our families explanation. Either way it was an interesting experience.

Our time in Antigua has been interesting. This old Spanish Colonial city has many historic buildings some of which are still standing after the many severe earthquakes that have hammered this area over time. It was pretty cool walking around town photographing old buildings and doors. Many times you would see a plaque saying the building was built in the 1600´s. Aside from the interesting old buildings, we have enjoyed just walking around the cobblestone streets and seeing movies. They have these great little movie cafes where you can get a meal and watch a video in a small room. Usually, there were only 3-4 people total and sometimes it was just the two of us which allowed us to pick our movie of choice. The rooms were complete with stereo sound and comfy chairs like you find in your grandparents basement. It was good fun seeing some movies and eating a dinner (to supplement our families food) or snack for about $5-7 US dollars.

At one of the cafes the owner was a very small and very flamboyantly gay Guatemalan man who reminded us of Chris Kattans´character Mango from Saturday Night Live. When ever the movie was about to start, he put one hand on his hip, stick it out and then ring a little bell and say "the movies on, let´s go". We had a blast talking to this guy who started the Cinema Cafe craze in Antigua.

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