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Gangster Sender

sunny 65 °F
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We arrive in Monterrico and we had no reservations and din't even know what to look for. We walk down the main street and head to the beach. We figured we can just find a hostel or hotel on the beach. While walking towards the beach I saw a gringa talking in English to this Guatemalan. Excellent. I run back to talk to them and turns out that Sender, the Guatemalan guy, works at the tourist information office so he recommended a couple of places for us. El Delphin, $5 a night, no AC, a padlock on the door, uncomfortable mattress, stained sheets, shared bathrooms BUT right on the beach with hammocks everywhere. Done and done! We put our things in the room and we set out to grab dinner.

Sender was talking to a couple of people at our hotel. Richard said "those people are dutch. I can tel from their accent". So he started talking to them and I chatted with Sender. He told us about the sea turtles and the mangrove sunset ride. Both sounded pretty exciting. He actually joined us for dinner that evening and we got to know him.

Sender's mom took him across the border to California on foot when he was 3 years old. She gets shot by gang members when he was 13 and he ended up on the street and became a gang member himself. Things got pretty bad for him and he was shot a couple of times. When he was 17 he decided to return to Guatemala. He came to Monterrico, starting working and eventually bought a small house in Monterrico. He loves meeting tourists and he loves living in Monterrico. What an interesting dude!

Posted by nawaf 16:48 Archived in Guatemala Tagged lodging Comments (0)

3 Chickens

semi-overcast 55 °F
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I moved on Friday like I mentioned but what I didn't tell you is that on Friday during my 10 o'clock break I went to the school garden borrowed Trish's map and was looking for a place to go to for the weekend. Richard saw me and told me he wanted to go away too. So in 20 minutes we planned a trip to Monterrico. Our shuttle was leaving at 2pm which gave me 2 hours after class to go to Vieja pack my stuff bring it to Delia's house, have lunch, meet up with Richard, go to the travel agency and get on the 2pm bus to Monterrico! Tight but doable!

We get to the agency at 1:50pm. Perfect! Not really! Turns out the bus leaves at 1pm every day. The agent is trying to convince us to take the early shuttle on Saturday at 8am but that means we get there at noon! Unacceptable! So guess what our next option is? Chicken buses. Yes! So we set out to the bus station and get on the first bus. Turns out we had to take 3 chicken buses to get there! Oh boy! We get off the first bus and run to the next one and we just kept doing this. Now everyone warned from taking chicken buses that far but it was fine. At some point locals would get on and just stare us the whole time. Richard is blond so he couldn't blend in even if he tried!

We eventually get to Avellana which is across the swamp from Monterrico. So how do we get across? get on a dinky boat across the mangroves. We got to enjoy the sunset while we are on a boat through the mangroves. Just wonderful! 3 chicken buses and a boat ride later we're in Monterrico just after sunset. Phew!

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Not only people make it across the mangroves!

Posted by nawaf 16:35 Archived in Guatemala Tagged transportation Comments (1)

Broken

semi-overcast 59 °F
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The daily chicken bus ride from and to Vieja was very inconvenient. I couldn't stay out in Antigua because it is too dangerous to come home alone late in the evening. So I decided to leave! I felt really bad leaving Rosa because she's been so nice to me. I didn't know how to tell her but I had to give her advance notice out of courtesy. I told her all my friends are in Antigua and I wanted to be closer to them so I can hang out with them in the evenings. To my surprise she was very understanding. So I moved into my new house on Friday! Well Delia's house which is also where Kris and Joe live!

Delia is very kind and looks broken and sad. One day over dinner we were talking and she was telling us about other students in the past. Then she told us about her husband. Apparently the sadness on her face is due to her husband passing away just last year. Her sister also passed away a few months before him! She teared up as she was telling us how difficult the past two years have been for her. Initially she didn't want to be around people or students but then she decided to continue to hos students. She said it helped her not to fall into depression! Her daughter comes by every now and then to help her with chores around the house. I hope she finds her peace soon!

Delis'a house looks similar to Rosa's but only one level instead of two. The house has Christian decorations everywhere. People around here tend to be religious. My room is great and my bed is more comfy. It does get frigid cold in the early mornings which makes it hard to get up. Good thing school is only a 10 min walk now!

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Posted by nawaf 16:03 Archived in Guatemala Tagged lodging Comments (2)

La niña

overcast 58 °F

This local woman hangs around the school and her daughter is the most adorable thing!

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Posted by nawaf 16:38 Archived in Guatemala Tagged photography Comments (0)

Mothers!!!

semi-overcast 54 °F
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I haven't lived at home in over a decade and now that I'm living with Rosa I feel like I'm a child! I refer to her as my house mother. I eat breakfast and dinner with her and she packs me lunch for school. When I leave she wishes me a good day and when I come home at night she asks me how my day was and what I learned in school. I'm definitely not used to that anymore but like everything else here it's good Spanish practice.

Last night I wanted to see my friend Kris play the guitar and sing at Cafe Rainbow in Antigua. He was going to play at 8pm. So I decided to go after I have dinner with Rosa in Vieja (20-min chicken bus ride). I told Rosa I'll be returning around 10-11pm and she was very curious as to how I was going to make it back. Chicken buses don't run very frequently at night and she says that taking a taxi by myself is way too dangerous. So she didn't let me leave until I promised her that I will return with a group otherwise she was going to send Paulo to pick me up. It's cute of her to worry about me. So out of respect I told her I'll return with a group.

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I ended up going with a group of friends living in Vieja and we decided to grab ice cream at some restaurant. The brownie and ice cream was good and there was live music and a fire show. On the drums there was this white guy who did not fit at all with the rest of the band. He even had a giant phone clipped on holster to his belt. It might as well been a blackberry!

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On the way in to Antigua Hannah was designated my acting bodyguard for the night! What Rosa didn't know is that I made it home alone in a taxi without my bodyguard. The taxi driver, Ricardo, that other students have gone with in the past was the one who took me home. That sounds like enough safety screening for me. Ricardo turned out to be very nice. I asked him to drop me off at the gas station which is 4 blocks away from the house and I was going to walk the rest. He refused. He insisted on dropping me off in front of my house. Pretty nice of him! Needless to say I made it home ok!

Posted by nawaf 16:29 Archived in Guatemala Tagged transportation Comments (0)

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