Monday, July 30, 2007

New (International) Teacher Blog!

Today I met some girls at my hotel in Coban. We went on a tour of the local coffee farm and then walked around the city together. We had a lot in common as I found out she is teaching at an international school in Guatemala City. When we went to the internet cafe together I found out she also has a blog about her experiences teaching and traveling in Guatemala. She just got here this summer and will be teaching for two years. I'll definitely be reading her blog and living vicariously though her until I go abroad too. Check her out!

I can't make a link at the moment as the keyboard is American but it works like a Spanish one.

Market Day

Before coming to Guatemala there were two things that I wanted to see--a coffee farm and all of the beautiful textiles and crafts. Thursday I went to the market at Chicicastenango which is known for its twice weekly market. Since I got here I have bought so many things just because I was attracted to the color or pattern (and I'm usually not a big souvenir shopper). Luckily at the big market I was able to abstain from buying too much and just took some pictures instead.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sweet Relief

There´s nothing like the relief of finding a place to stay when traveling. Especially when traveling alone. Just twenty minutes of wandering around alone can make you feel desperate and wonder why you are even in this strange place to being with. You sort of hope that someone would see your lost look and point you in the direction of a place to stay. But then someone does and you are weary and don´t want to seem desperate and take just anything, so you say no and keep walking (all the while wondering if you should have at least taken a look).

And then finally you come across a place and it´s perfect. You set down your heavy pack and emerge from the hotel and suddenly this new town looks much more charming and you can imagine all of the things to do and see and eat and life is good again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bike Trip

Today I took a bike trip through the surrounding area of Antigua. We rode through corn fields and even saw some coffee growing in the shade. The tour guide said that it was an intermediate ride which I didn´t think would be too hard because he also said that people had complained that the "easy" ride was way too easy but this was definitely challenging. We rode though a lot of paths that were very muddy since it is the rainy season. Many of the paths were what he called "single track" meaning they were very narrow and the pedals of the bike barely fit in certain areas. By the end of the ride I was covered in mud. We saw several Guatemalans woking the fields and carring the corn on their backs or with the help of donkeys.

At one point the chain on my bike broke and the guides had to fix it.

The landscape was gorgeous--very green and lush. All week I have been looking up at the mountains and volcanos surrounding Antigua and today I finally got to see it up close.

(I would post more photos but the computer is working very slowly!)

Last Day in Antigua

After a week in Antigua I am getting ready to move on tomorrow morning.

This afternoon I had my last Spanish class. Twenty hours in the last week! My Spanish has definitely improved. We did kind of rush through everything but since it was a refresher it was OK. So now I can speak in the present, past, imperfect and future tenses (well, in theory anyway). I will need to review a lot during my trip but this is a great start and much more than I would have been able to do on my own. I think another really beneficial thing about the class was having one on one time with the teacher. Not only because I was able to practice speaking a lot but because I was able to really study the things that I thought were useful to me.

It almost feels weird to be getting on with my travels now. In just a week I´ve grown really comfortable with the school and living in the guest house (it´s really like a family). I could definitely imagine coming back here to study Spanish for several weeks in Antigua. I am kind of excited to get to the real traveling now. I'll be on the move every few days and hopefully meeting lots of new people.

Next stop . . . Lago di Atitlan.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Since I have been in Guatemala I have seen so many children here. I look at their faces and think that any one of them could be a student in my class. It makes me think about what it must be like to suddenly turn up in Brooklyn and start attending a new school in a strange place. Of course I have considered this before but being here makes it so much more real.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Spanish Classes in Antigua

So I sort of decided on a whim to take a week-long Spanish class at the beginning of my trip to Guatemala. At first I wasn´t sure if it would be a waste of my travel time or if it would be beneficial to helping me communicate for the rest of my trip. I figured that Antigua was a place that I would want to spend a little time anyway so it couldn´t hurt to spend some of my time there learning Spanish. And so far it is proving to be very useful.

I´m what you would call a false beginner in Spanish. I´m not completely starting from scratch (I had three years of high school Spanish) but I do need to start learning it again from the beginning. Because of my knowledge of Italian and the Spanish that I have stored deep in the depths of my brain, I am going fairly quickly through the material. Most of the verbs are similar to Italian so I can recognize the immediately. I just need to study them so that I can retrieve them on my own when I need them. Things like phrasing and sentence structure is either similar to Italian or feels natural from having previously stidied Spanish.

For the last two years I have taught kids who speak Spanish as their first language and I have never spoken to either them or their parents in Spanish. I wouldn´t have known how to form a sentence other than Yo soy la maestra de ESL. Now, for the past three days I have been talking with my Spanish teacher (we have one on one classes) at length about my family, life in Arizona, Italy, etc. By no means is any of this grammatically correct but I am starting to be able to speak. Honestly I doubt I ever spoke this much in my high school Spanish class and that was after having learned all of the verb tenses and conjugations (I´m just now starting to refresh on the past tense in Spanish).

All of this makes me realize that I am not that far off from being conversational in Spanish. And it kind of makes me excited to learn. Spanish was never something that I wanted to study. In high school I had expected to take Italian only to find out that it wasn´t offered. So I spent three years in learning it but never really caring about being able to speak it. Once I started learning Italian it was even further on the back burner because all I cared about was speaking Italian and not ´messing it up.´ Even since then I have taken French and Arabic, wanting to learn those before coming back to Spanish. Now it seems that with a summer living in Latin America and focusing on learning Spanish I could be fairly decent in Spanish. Definitely something to consider although I am still pretty set on the idea of teaching in an international school in Egypt so that I can learn Arabic sometime in the near future.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Count Down to Guatemala

Only nine days until I leave for Guatemala! I've just about got everything I need for my trip now (still lacking the rain gear, but I'll get to that). So in my last week and a half here I want to do all of the fun NYC summer stuff that I'll be missing out on when I'm on my trip. Movies under the Brooklyn Bridge, concerts at the Bandshell in Prospect Park, River to River festival, the floating pool by Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Coney Island (I haven't been yet and it's my last chance). So much to do and only ten days.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Hate Losing Comments!

I started adding labels to my posts a few weeks ago but they weren't showing up on the actual blog, just on the part where I type. Today I figured out how to get them on the blog but it means losing all of the previous comments from the last two years. That makes me a little sad. Why can't the halo scan comments transfer over? But I guess if I'm going to make the change it's better to do it sooner rather than later.