Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blondy Gets Oiled

Well, my experiment with Spanish as a foundation for the blog is a complete washout, as I am sure my many followers??have discovered.  My big friend Christopher has informed me in no uncertain terms that part of the deal was that there would not be any more homework, and learning Spanish certainly constitutes homework and study...sorry Chris, it won't happen again.

The long and the short of it is that the internet, as defined by Google and co., transcribed my brilliant oaracions in Spanish as soon as I published the post, much to my concern and frustration.  I was being selfish, in that thinking in English and speaking in Spanish is very confusing for old guys, and believe me, I am providing some laughs for my teacher.  Nevertheless, the process is going to be slow and repetitive.  I am already seeing the benefits of the little Spanish that I have managed to mangel so far: and clearly if one wishes to communicate with folks, it is important to at least give the impression that you are trying to speak to them on their terms.

I am settled into a second immersion family, and I have had three days of lessons at this new school in Antigua. My teacher is working at the school during the holidays, and she is a regular classroom teacher when the kids are back in school.  They are currently on a three month holiday now, so she is picking up extra money.  The following is for my teacher friends: she makes 10Q per hour for putting up with me and trying to knock some understanding of verbs, articles, nouns and tenses into my head.  For a days' work, that's 40 quezeles.  1 quezele is currently around 7 cents American.  Figure it out...  When she is working in her classroom, she has 70 kids in each of her classes.  That is not a misprint, the number is 70...... There is no pension for the teachers, and she must retire when she is 70.   She is my sisters' age, which I won't publish over the interweb because I know that she follows this blog, but I can tell you that my sister has been retired from 40 years of teaching for a few years now.  Figure it out.... and thank your union for negotiating anything for you.

One of my housemates is a young priest from Indiana, and the other housemate is a woman from Portland.  The owner of the house makes sure that the conversations at lunch and dinner are active and lively.  I have learned a lot about Catholicism as we banter about, and I must say that some of my rants and ravings over the years about religion probably needed some education and toleration long least I am still learning.  I also will be the first to admit that close calls with Guatamalen busses have further convinced me that I do in fact have a guardian angel, and whether she be Catholic or not, my ass has been saved a number of times, and I am certainly never going to deny the existence of a Higher Power driving my kharma.

I wish that I could transport all of my friends and family down here.  The Guatemala that I have seen is so lively, so colourful, and so vibrant that I know everyone would find something very endearing about the country.  I know that I have only spend time in two different communities, but the sense that life is good, that one can have a healthy and enjoyable existence is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.  I still see the poverty, the homeless, and the potential for corruption but I do not feel fear or anxiety.

I read somewhere that it is hard for travellers to get out of Guatemala: they fall in love with the cities, the villages, and the culture.  I can see how this can happen, and I understand why people would want to spend their time in places like San Juan de Attilan or Antigua.  At this point, however, I am relatively focussed on gaining as much Spanish as possible, and making sure that this time in the city is put to use in terms of replenishing supplies and reevaluating my state of affairs, so to speak.

Today, for example, my teacher and I went for a walk,and she helped me negotiate an oil change for Blondy, as well as ordering a new set of glasses to replace the two pairs that I stepped on and lost.  For her, it was a chance to get out of the classroom, which, by the way, is a beautifully gardened enclosure, and for me a chance to work on my Spanish with live support.  I am looking forward to having glasses which are built according to my prepscription. I will try and look after them better than the last pair which ended up underneath the wheels of a truck outside Loretto, I think.

The Spanish Language school in Antigua is set inside the site of an old colonial structure, and in fact the northern wall of the enclosure is made up of this huge wall.
 The first morning that I attended classes, we had an earthquake, which they call a Sismo down here.  You could see the fear in people's eyes, and all of the locals were looking at the adjoining wall with fear.  In 1976 there was an earthquake in Antigua which killed many people, and of course the memories of that  disaster are fresh in locals minds.

 The school has a wonderful garden, and many different fruit trees are part of the surroundings..

 Forgive me for me naivte, but I did not know that avocados grew on trees.  The huge trees at the back of the area are covered in avocados, which are huge as well. Apparently they will be ripe in about a month..

 The building is the remains of an old colnial structure, which has obviously withstood some earthquakes..

Have I mentioned the wonderful colours ???

Pinky is the resident guard dog in the house.  She thinks that she wants to ride with me to Tierra del Fuego, but I don't think her Mom will let her.  She is bike-size, however...

Apparently most of the bikes, which appear to be mostly 125 cc, are made in China. I have seen Hondas, Suzukis, and Yamahas as well.

 With the help of my maestra, I found a shop where Blondy could get an oil change.  While I could do it myself, I still have not figured out what to do with the oil, and it was a bit of a run around to get good synthetic oil as well.  I left Blondy in the good hands of Oscar Junior, and Oscar Senior and wandered about town.

Although we had some issues about ensuring that we had adequate oil, Blondy is cleaner and shinier than she has been since last  Summer.  She is all oiled up and ready for another 5000 kilometers, which should put me close to Colombia, where I will be looking for tires as well.