Back To School
Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
217Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
It was a 30 minute wait for a chicken bus in San Pedro. Way too long for an ex-Londoner. Some local Mayan woman convinced me to get on the back of a pick-up with her and a few other locals and head to Santa Clara, a neighbouring town. From there I needed to catch another collectivo (mini-van) to the motorway where I waited for one of the passing buses and jump on.
I was slightly concerned when the runner grabbed my backpack and took it to the back of the bus. Meanwhile I tried to jam myself into the front. I think there is a direct correlation between the speed the bus travels and the number of people on board. It's clear that tyres squealing while overtaking on a bend with runner-dude somewhere on the roof doing who knows what with some chickens and piles of wood is par for the course around these parts
So I reach the 2nd biggest city in Guate and then catch another collectivo into the middle of town, just in time to see JC cruise by being carried by some dudes in matching sequence hoodies. They even walked with a gentle rocking motion, maybe they did not want him to wake up. Interesting, but hey, it is almost Semana Santa (Holy Week). All in all the journey took about 4 hours and cost a wopping 40 Q, approx. 3.5 squid. I make my way to Sakribal Spanish school, the same school recommended by Lisa back in San Fran and am shortly collected by Mama, my host mom for the next 2 weeks.
Class starts at 8am and ends at 1pm. And so the rigid schedule commences! Breakfast at 7:30am. Lunch at 1.30pm. Supper at 7pm. Quite an adjustment from my normal routine-free life!
The first thing I learnt was that I am the only person in the school for those 2 weeks. That's a surprise! Guess it must be the slow season. My teacher, Caroline, was a local resident and pretty good. I was just a crappy student, no surprises then. I estimate that I only got about 65% of what I could have out of the course. Gonna have to do better next time!
I had been to Xela about 6 months before so I knew the lay of the land, or at least I thought I did. I suppose that's the difference between only being in a place for a few days and spending 2 weeks there. I definitely got a more comprehensive view of the city this time around, not that my impression of it improved that much at all. It's dusty and cold. I think I may be using this as an excuse for not studying that much.
Staying with the host family was interesting. I had my own room and internet access. During meal times we always ate together and I'd attempt to chat to the family. My little Spanish dictionary worked overtime! Socio-economically the family was similar to friends and fam during early years back in Cape Town. Occasionally I would go with them to visit their extended family - grandparents, aunts and uncles.
All in all this was an enjoyable experience and once again I was reminded that if you look past the more obvious differences people are very much the same, with similar concerns, hopes and aspirations.
Definitely same-same but different.
(meanwhile back in San Marcos...)