Thursday, February 05, 2009

Antigua Out of the nest and into "El Mundo de Turista"

The other day I wrote a piece on the contrast and irony here in Guatemala. I love exploring what is going on inside of my mind and sharing it though my writing. Truth be known, I love writing and I do it mainly for myself. I feel this fit's into my "travels" but in reality it doesn't. So I have created a "sister blog" as a place for posting these writings.

I call it "The Deeper Side"

For some time now I have been practicing the art of "not looking like a lost and bewildered tourist." On previous trips I learned that if you wear flip flops, a t-shirt and shorts, you may as well hang a sign around your neck saying TOURISTO! This trip I decided that even the hat I brought was, how do I say this, "a little it too "gringo-ish" (Even though it was a Peruvian hat. So I bought a used baseball cap. I have been practicing a few new tricks this week in Antigua.

One trick is what I call "purposeful walking" the other is "The Latino Pause"

I know that appearing like a tourist is not the worst thing in the world, but I prefer to keep the spotlight off of myself as much as possible. When I'm walking, I keep moving, I don{t pause at each intersection to gawk up and down the street. Truth is most of the time, I have no idea where I'm going, I do know where I've been, so I can always walk around the block and head back. I may be dazed and confused, but I know where I'm going, at least it appears that way. I know you are on the edge of your seat. What the hell is the "Latin American Pause" you say. Somebody wrote a song about it before I was born: "Standing on the Corner, Watching All the Girls Go By" I'm thinking that sounds sexist, and it probably is, but truth is Machismo rules here in Latin America. I would like to write more on that dilemma, something like "Women of the World UNITE!! It's your turn to run the world!!" (Look for it at the deeper side)
At last, I am actually going to write about life in Antigua (for me). But First, a word of caution! There may e a few readers offended by the "bare bosoms" in the photo below. In justification, it{s just another major irony I observed here.Antigua probably has more churches per sq. mile than anyplace I have been. Most of them very old, some of them in ruins, all of them very staunchly conservative Christian.Yet for Antigua's center piece, smack dab in the middle of the town square they have four bare breasted women gushing forth with the elixir of life. (my metaphor) That kind of contrast just has to make you laugh!!

From Antigua Picts

Pictured above (top first) Englisia Merced, one of the nicely restored Catholic churches. A quiet street outside the center of town. A coffee plant, Next, one of the ladies in La Plaza Mejor. I took a tour of a coffee finka (farm and processing plant) next is a group of tourists from Pennilvania (There were quite a few Amish people here).

Mi Semana in Antigua esta Muy Bueno!!

I attended school 4 hours in the morning, included in the package was 5 days of classes, and 7 nights with a host family, (3 meals a day included except Sunday) It was so inexpensive I am embarrassed to tell you. ( $170 total $190 if you wanted a private bathroom.) My teacher suited me pretty well, although there were a few times I needed to correct her on one contridiction or another. I told the director in an e-mail before I signed up that I had learning disabilities and required special needs. I said "my mind is old". Funny thing, I actually said "mi mende is lejos" My mind is long (I meant viejos).
My teacher, Gloria, was very patient and we worked together at a pace that was comfortable for me.

Pictured at the left, the courtyard of the house I stayed in.
The Inglisia Merced (near the place I stayed)
Below Joris and his Grandpapa
Last picture is little Brigitte trying to drink away the dissapointment that I am leaving. Just kidding the bottle was empty.

My routine for the week
(Funny, I haven't had a routine for so long, it was nice to "have a groove to get into.)
Up around seven and breakfast with the clan. (There were four other students from Korea, We were forced to talk in beginners Spanish, they knew no English nor I Korean)
School from 8:00 12:00
12:00 to 1:00 one hour of "purposefull walking"
Lunch at 1:00
The rest of the day was pretty much a random combination of "the walk" find a cafe or two and study, "the Latino Pause", internet, play some music or find some kids who want to play with the Angel Sticks, read, and etc.
Don't forget, Dinner is at 7:00.
From Antigua Picts

I never did figure out why, but Ana, our hostess, had about ten or twelve other people for dinner each night. All girls, about high school age. The girls were gone on the weekend, so my guess is that she was running a boarding house. (I'm being a bit sarcastic at my own expense. I was getting room and board also.)

No big highlights for the week, all and all, a pleasant mellow time in Antigua.
On Saturday I got to hang out with Brigittes family again. Her dad is in town now (for six weeks I think) He's a really nice guy, He's my age, a retired truck driver living in Holland. I look forward to spending more time with him. Sunday we all had dinner together in Antigua, (at that moment Brigitte's family consisted of ten of us) (As I said before, the number fluctuates daily)

Monday begins another week (actually over at the time of this writing, I guese we will just call this the "Latin America Time Lag" The way things are going, I may be home before Ifinish the section on the Playa and Lago Atitalon.
We will see.
From Antigua Picts

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