Thursday, October 18, 2012

Test Anxieties and the End of the World as We Know It

One would think that there oughta be a law against giving senior citizens examinations. I mean, there are memory issues, there are hearing issues, and there are certainly intelligence issues.  Like I left a lot of my brain cells on the tables of various hangouts 30 and 40 years ago, and writing a test is not really fair, if one is retired..
Well, I figure that it will help my teacher, Irma, if I write the test, as it may help her with her employer.  We had another conversation about the pay rates of teachers in Guatamala: it turns out that her daughter is a 20 year teacher, and I think she is dealing with adolescents, so I get the idea that it is a public school certainly, and probably what I would call a junior high.  Get this: Irmas' daughter has to deal with 820 students per semester. Of those 820 students they are divided into 5 different grades, and within each of those 5 grades there are 4 to 5 different levels.  I take the explanation to mean that their grading system somehow has about 20 levels within one grade group.  Irma's daughter has 70 kids in her classes, that's right 70!!  Can you imagine 70 adolescents in one room, trying to teach them a particular concept in Art, or History, or Science??  Because Irma's daughter is a 20 year teacher, and is on the third level of a 6 leveled salary scale, she receives the magnificent sum of $3000.00 quezeles per month.  Remember that a quezele is currently running at 7 cents American.  While you do the math, be grateful that you did not have a math class with 69 classmates, and that your teacher had half a chance to teach you how to multiply....sigh, double sigh...

So it would appear that I am not getting away from schools, exams, and books yet.  It is very important to me that I have a good basis in Spanish, and I am glad that I have chosen to learn this way, in a one-on one situation with a very thorough instructor.  Our field trip the other day, to get Blondy's oil changed and to order some new glasses were examples of the kinds of flexibility that this school and the teachers have with the students.  The exam tomorrow is optional, as I said.  I should be studying irregular verbs and trying to figure what the hell the "present indicative" means, but I have found that writing the blog is a self-defense mechanism against my head exploding with a mess of rules, verb endings and concepts that I don't have a clue about.  It will be interesting to do the exam and receive some feedback.  Apparently Irma feels that I can cope on the street, but she is the kind of teacher who has clear ideas about what needs to be learned and when a concept is mastered. In my case, it is clear that there is no mastery in this maestro, and I am sure that I will continue to provide a chuckle or two for the rest of Central and South America when I get back on Blondy.


The schools' schedule allows for a 30 minute break half way through the morning.  I tend to wander in the garden and allow the mornings' work to filter through to the lower (upper?) depths of the old brain.
 This map illustrates the many different dialects of the Mayan language which currently exist in Guatemala, in addition to Spanish as the dominant language..



 Today I learned that this flower is a "Bird of Paradise" flower.  It sure looks like a bird at times...



After class, I tend to get myself lost in the city, and then start observing what is around me.  Today I was on a mission to find the Moto Cafe. I had read on ADV Rider.com that there was a gathering place for local and ex pat riders, and I set out to find the cafe and meet some of the folks...



I found the cafe, and spent some time talking to Chris, who has been here for three years, and to David, who has been in Antigua for 12 years.  They have a moto touring company, and they are running Hondas as rental units.



The Guatemalen Motorcycle Adventure Company has a website, I think, and I am sure that Chris and Dave would appreciate some hits...

After my conversation with them, I headed out, and promptly got good and lost. (El Volcan was under clouds), so I had a good few hours wandering about the city, with the odd adventure to buy a new lock for one of my panniers that I seem to have lost, as well as another notebook to fill up with irregular Spanish verbs.  There are a lot of tourists in Antigua, and of course much of the economy is geared at getting some of those dollars out of their pockets.




Somebody has an HD in Antigua..

 I am so impressed with those Suzuki DR400's of the ToughMiles.com crew that I am going to seriously look at these guys when I get older and can wrestle Blondy around...
I ended up in some ruins which are part of the city itself.  These are old colonial buildings which have withstood about 5 serious earthquakes in Antigua.  It is easy to see that 4 foot walls have helped them stay upright during some very serious sismos in the area.  In 1976, many people died in Antigua during an earthquake..






 El Gato is Willy's brother from another Mother. I think his name is Scrawny or Itchy...


 Note the overdeveloped tongue...








 The walls are about 4 feet thick, and seem to have withstood most of the recent earthquakes.  I understand that walls made of adobe crumble in the dust, often taking out people with them.  It appears that block structures with steel reinforcing is beginning to take hold with the new walls that are being constructed.  Overall, there is not a lot of construction, and I wonder what will happen if a very large Sismo decides to center in this beautiful city..


 Not all that a four foot wall is cracked up to be..

I have no idea what kind of flowers will be coming out of these guys, but the colours are astounding.





 Well, I wandered around town and stalled studying for as long as it was light out.
I think I need a little help with the test tomorrow..oh yes, and by the way, for those of you who were thinking that I was going to be swept up in the great Mayan holocaust of December 21st, when the world as we know it was supposed to end, I have some bad news for you, depending upon your point of view.
Archaeologists have recently reported that they have discovered new evidence that the world will not end on December 21st, and in fact the Mayans figure that it will be around for another 7000 years.    That will at least give me time to learn some more verbs.....