Sunday, 23 June 2013

Poco a Poco

This blog post is mainly about my trip to Puerto Barrios with the fifth and sixth grades. There are also a few other things of course.

In A Nutshell…

On Thursday, (June 13th) fifth and sixth grades, along with some of the teachers and myself, piled into a school bus and headed for Puerto Barrios, a port on the Atlantic coast about four hours from El Chal. This was the first time that I’d gone on an excursion with a class (other than two years ago on our class trip when our bus broke down and we climbed Pacaya, but that’s a totally different story) so I didn’t really know what to expect. Not a whole lot of exciting stuff happened on the trip there. The students were pretty excited and they made a bit of noise, but it wasn’t unbearable or anything. At one point, we stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and to buy stuff. I bought a snickers bar. Douglas informed me that these stops always take a really long time, and he was right. Nearly a half hour passed before we were on the road again. We then drove through some rain and the darkness and lack of windshield wipers made it very difficult to see. I was glad that I was not driving. I was glad that we had two of the best bus drivers in the world, Stephan and Alejandro. Alejandro drove the bus for us when the Countryside group was here in April, and it was good to have him back.

Alejandro is back!

We stopped at a mall in Puerto Barrios for supper. I was in charge of four grade six boys for the weekend. Hubener, Gabriel, Erwin, Gilser and I had to pick a restaurant to eat supper. I wanted to eat at McDonalds, but because all of them wanted Pollo Campero, and I didn’t feel like explaining to them the concept of veto power in Spanish, we ate at Pollo Campero. I think I may be becoming a bit of a pushover, but my burger at Pollo Campero was really good. I even made the comment while we were eating, “Wow, this is really good! Who wanted to eat at McDonalds?”

The world's best bus drivers!

 That night we slept at a school. The grade six boys, Douglas, Jacob, and I slept in a classroom that had a really hard floor. On the bright side, it also had air conditioning. Before we went to sleep, Douglas told us to set our alarms for 5:00 so that we’d have lots of time to get ready before leaving at 6:00. I fell asleep sometime between 10:00 and 11:00, and woke up around 3:00 to Wilson trying to steal my blanket because he was cold. I found this to be a little bit problematic since I was kind of cold as well. I don’t know how much I slept after that, but I do know that by 4:17 the light was on, and every single grade six boy was getting dressed and packing up his bed. “What’s going on? I thought we were getting up at five?” I sleepily asked Douglas. “Well,” he replied, “they can’t sleep because they’re too excited.” So I got up. While I was brushing my teeth, all of the boys and Douglas decided to go for a walk. When I was done brushing my teeth and wondering where everybody was, Douglas called me. “Go out the front door, look at the gas station, turn right, walk and walk and walk, and then you will find us.” I did exactly what he said to do, and sure enough, I found them. We walked out to a pier where a container ship was being unloaded. We watched truck after truck come to receive a “Dole” container. I was quite amazed with how many containers a ship can carry. We learned later that the largest container ship every built can carry up to 15 000 containers! The one we watched wasn’t quite that big though.

our sleeping quarters

the grade six class with their teacher… and wilson, who needed to take yet another picture of the ship

 The rest of the morning and part of the afternoon we spent doing some educational stuff. We sat in on a couple of informational talks about how importing/exporting works. I may have had to fight sleep a little bit in those. We also got to see a port where people were unloading four or five container ships at one time. We were even lucky enough to get a tugboat ride to see all the container ships from the bay. Later in the afternoon we went to a river to swim. The water was pretty cold but definitely refreshing. Then, after supper we played soccer on a field with synthetic grass. I think that the soccer match was a highlight for most of the boys… including me. After the game, we headed back to the school to sleep again. That night, the boys were tired enough that I wasn’t disturbed until about 5:15.
the whole group on a tugboat

view of a ship from the bay

Gabriel and I at an awesome ocean-view restaurant

the fake grass...

On Saturday morning, we left for El Chal at 6:00. After travelling for awhile, eating breakfast, and then more travelling, we arrived back in El Chal at noon. After lunch, I took a fairly lengthy nap. Later that afternoon, we poured the cement countertops for the new kitchen at the school.

This past week we had the “Día del Padre” celebration at the school. That consisted of a supper, some activities, and soccer matches. The activities were everything from seeing who could pound the nails in the fastest to racing with elephant feet (teams of four people on two wooden planks) to wheelbarrow racing. It was all quite entertaining. I even got to play for a little bit in the fathers vs. teachers soccer match. While we played, a couple of the basico boys took their turn announcing. They were pretty good at it. It was great to see many of the kids from the school with their dads, but it’s also sad how many kids in this down don’t have a dad or don’t know who their dad is.

One day this past week I took Benj to the airstrip in Poptun, a town about a 50-minute drive from El Chal. On the way, we got stopped by a random police check. Benj told me later that they way I pulled over made them suspicious and that’s why they made us get out of the vehicle. I just had a legalized photocopy of my passport with me instead of my actual passport, but after a long time of looking at my stuff, they finally let us go. One police check in Guatemala under my belt.

Just today I had to give a “lectura” in Spanish. It actually went surprisingly well, I thought… better than I expected. I think I’m finally learning this language… “poco a poco.”

Top 5 Highlights…

>>Finishing the gate. After a really really long time, the gate is finally finished an in place. It’s a pretty good feeling.

I really was going to take a picture of this awesome gate in the daytime… but I forgot. Next time. 

>>Fathers Day supper at Stephan’s. I got a VIP invitation to join Stephan and Brenda and family for a Fathers Day supper. That was some good chicken, and overall a great evening.
>>The class trip with grades five and six. I enjoyed the excursion as a whole. I was definitely glad that I went!
>>Hawaiian pizza for supper. None of Neil’s family had ever had Hawaiian pizza before, and they thought that pineapple on pizza sounded like bad news. However, I must have convinced Lucinda that it was good because she made some using a recipe that she googled. Everyone liked it!
>>Eating a snickers bar. It Guatemala, you don’t get to eat a snickers bar every day, so you have to make good use of the opportunities you have.

Top 5 Quotes…

“Stephan called the expert in to do this work! …but the expert didn’t show up so that’s why I’m here.” – Aron

“That’s what we needed… a hammer drill that actually hammers!” – Neil

“Never argue with the grammar freak.” – Waneda (apparently I’m the “grammar freak” around here)

“Okay, fine. I admit it. You’re wrong.” – Craig

“Congratulations, you can speak very good Spanish.” – Douglas (that made me feel pretty good)

Spanish Vocabulary…

Bulla (BOO yah) – it means “noise”

Memory tool: It’s impossible for me to say “Boo ya!” without making or thinking about noise. I think it’s Vector’s fault.

Fun Facts…

In Guatemala…
>>It’s rude for two people to be talking when there’s person in-between

>>The land is really beautiful… especially in rainy season when everything is green

>>Sometimes geckos are in the wrong place at the wrong time. We found a flat dead gecko that got squished by a closing door. The geckos and I are all tied up at one

>>Lizards sometimes get in the house

>>There is Coca Cola and Super Cola and Coca Cola is definitely better

More to Add 

This week I head to the city yet again for revival institute this time. I'm going to be teaching a children's class each day so we'll see how that goes. Twenty-six days until my family comes to visit me!

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