It's pretty hard to believe that i've been here for over a month and a half already. That's pretty much just cruising. Everything from Spanish School to welding gates in this update. You don't want to miss it.
In A Nutshell…
Since I arrived in Guatemala City a few days before I needed to start Spanish school, I stayed at Juan Carlos’s house for two nights. Juan Carlos is a 28 year old, Spanish speaking guy who attends the mission church in the city. He is a good friend of Stephan, and Stephan thought it would be good for my Spanish-learning experience if I’d stay in his house for a while. It was perhaps a little awkward at first, since he didn’t speak English and my Spanish is limited, but we were still able to have somewhat of a conversation. I told him about our apple business at home, and he seemed quite interested. He pulled up Google earth on his phone and I showed where my house and the apple farm are in Canada. I told him that Canada’s a good place to live but he thought that it would be “muy frío.” The second evening Juan Carlos, his brother, and I played dominos. The rules were fairly similar to the way we play “chicken foot” in Canada. I enjoyed my time at Juan Carlos’s house and I hope I get to hang out with him again some time.
The Sunday night before I started Spanish school I stayed at the mission. On Monday morning, three other Spanish students and I got up early to catch the chicken bus to Antigua. I had never been on a chicken bus before in my life, but I had heard stories about them being rather full at times. Galen, one of the students going with me, told me that Monday mornings are the worst for busses being full. I had also heard stories about luggage and personal items disappearing while riding the chicken bus. I had a decent sized suitcase and a backpack along with me. The odds of me having a pleasant chicken bus ride to Antigua were not in my favour. We boarded the bus to find that there were already three people sitting in most of the seats, which really isn’t too bad for a chicken bus. Anything more than four is just downright uncomfortable. I found a spot to stand near the middle of the bus. I put my belongings on the racks close to where I was standing, thinking that as long as I was beside them, they wouldn’t go anywhere. What I didn’t realize was how many more people were going to get on the bus yet. I ended up having to sit on a seat near the back of the bus with to other Guatemalan guys who appeared to be fast asleep. I was now kind of far away from my belongings and a little worried that they might get stolen. As more and more people boarded the bus, it got harder and harder to keep an eye on my stuff. Eventually, I gave up keeping an eye on my stuff because I figured I’d rather arrive in Antigua and notice it was gone than watch someone coolly leave the bus with and not be able to move due to the density of the people around me. Plus, I figured if God can get the Israelites across the Red Sea, getting my stuff safely to Antigua should be no problem. I then felt a little silly for using such bad logic. Then I started wondering if the guys beside me where thinking similar thoughts. Probably not, since they were still fast asleep. In the end, God did choose to get my stuff safely to Antigua, and I was very thankful. One chicken bus ride under my belt.
I very much enjoyed my week in Antigua. I had school every day from one to six, so I had the whole morning to do whatever I wanted. I also got to stay in a native Guatemalan home. When I heard that I was staying in a native Guatemalan home I was picturing a thatched-roof, meals-cooked-over-an-open-fire, one-room-hut deal. Not quite. There was a nice big living room, my own room to sleep in, amazing Guatemalan meals three times a day, and even Wi-Fi. Plus, it was a only a block away from the school. During the morning, when I wasn’t doing my homework, I usually was wandering around the city of Antigua. I went to markets and parks and pretended I was a tourist, practicing my Spanish as I went. I’m still not very good at bartering, but I’m sure the vendors love me.
|my room for a week in Antigua|
|a beautiful building in Antigua|
|me being a tourist in Antigua|
|the entrance to the Spanish school in Angigua|
I really liked the school part of my day as well. It was one-on-one style teaching. Elario, my teacher, did really well with making the learning fun but also teaching me lots of things. I was amazed how quickly five hours would fly by each day. Every once in a while, Elario told me a joke. I’d post a few of them on here, but they’re only funny in Spanish. After the week was up, it felt like I had learned a lot, but I still have so much to learn. Learning a new language is not easy.
On Friday morning I bussed back to Guatemala City to do some migration stuff. I had been planning to get everything done in time to go back to Antigua for school in the afternoon. However, we kind of got a late start and things took longer than we had planned. I had to cancel my class for Friday. I was a little disappointed about that but what can you do, right? “Welcome to Guatemala” as they say. On the bright side, I believe that my papers are in process for migration and I am done making random trips to the city to get that done. That night three others from El Chal and I night-bussed it back to Peten.
The next Monday I painted the tin on the east end of the main school building. Well, I painted most of the tin. At one end of the tin there was a bees nest full of bees that “do not sting” according to Stephan. I wasn’t quite sure that I believed him, and since I have a fear of bees to begin with, I started with the other side of the tin. When I was about finished, I had to move my ladder right beside the bees to paint the last section. Very soon after, I discovered that the bees that “do not sting” according to Stephan do sting. Thankfully, I only got one sting before I got out of there and vowed not to finish painting the tin until the bees that “do not sting” were dead. I figure if this particular type of bees “does not sting” it should be fairly simple to get rid of them. And apparently, I am somewhat allergic to bee stings because the sting spread over most of my forearm, and I had to take Benadryl to make it go away.
Besides painting the tin, I also updated the official school wall. Who needs a sign when you have a wall?
|don't make fun of the tree… it's the tree of life|
This past week I also started teaching English in grades four and five. Okay, so I didn’t really “teach”… but I did sit in the classes. I even did a few things at the front of the classroom like leading songs, holding flash cards of English words, and playing a game with them that required them to change a verb from present tense to past tense. Eventually, I hope to teach the classes all by myself.
On Thursday, Stephan and I started making a gate for the new school entrance. It will replace the substitute gate that’s there now which consists of wood and green tin. The great thing about the new gate is that when it’s finished, it’s going to look like a million bucks… from both sides. But since I’m doing a lot of the welding on it, I’ll be happy with 750 000.
Top 5 Highlights...
>>Being a tourist in Antigua. I just really enjoyed seeing buildings, shops, markets, and street vendors. One street vendor in particular followed me almost two blocks trying to sell me some weird flute instrument. The price of his item dropped rapidly as we walked, but I really didn’t want a flute right then.
|plate of nachos at a restaurant in Antigua. Yeah, I like a few nachos with my toppings|
>>Pancakes with Ontario maple syrup. One morning while I was at Juan Carlos’s house, we had pancakes with authentic Ontario maple syrup. I couldn’t believe it when he pulled that off the shelf! I asked him how he got it and he said from Douglas when he was in Canada. Those pancakes were amazing, I tell you what! The only way the experience could have been better was if it would have been “Ian Roth’s Maple Syrup.”
>>Following Stephan around. One Tuesday, I followed Stephan around almost all day long. He is a busy guy.
>>The night bus ride back to El Chal. I don’t know why, but I slept better on that night bus ride than I have other nights in a bed. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that a bus ride from Guatemala City to El Chal takes about seven minutes.
>>Walking around Wal-Mart with Craig. I went with Craig to meet some people at Wal-Mart, and since we couldn’t find the people right away, we wandered around the store for a while. At one point, we came upon a bin of 4L bottles of soap that had a big random speaker in front of it playing obnoxious, loud Spanish music. Craig said to me, “Doesn’t that just make you want to buy soap?”
Top 5 Quotes...
“What you looking?” – an almost English-speaking vendor at the market
“Hasta la vista, baby.” – Elario (in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice)
“If you ever need a Guatemalan to laugh, just get me to speak Spanish to them for awhile.” – Galen (after saying “mucho gusto” rather than “muchas gracias” when leaving the table)
“Make it say ‘yes’.” – Stephan
“Do you like popcorn? Yes, I like popcorn.” – Lucio (his latest English phrase)
Barba (BAHR ba) – it means “beard”
Memory tool: just remember that the word originates from the brand of shaving cream known as “Barbasol.” Or was it the other way around?
>>The bees that “do not sting” might actually sting.
>>When something or someone is being annoying, you just throw stones at them.
>>If you mess up while playing volleyball, it’s always the other guy’s fault.
>>When somebody sneezes, you say “salud” which means “health.”
>>You can get a glass bottle of Coke for only 3Q.
More to Add…
Just in case it seems to you that I came to Guatemala just to have fun (my blogs may lead you to think this) you should know this: I did not come to Guatemala just to have fun. I do have fun most of the time, but also God is teaching me lots of things and I’m learning a lot already. One of these times, I will do an update about what I’m learning. Thanks for praying!