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 before...at 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.