A Travellerspoint blog

Turning point

semi-overcast 50 °F
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I've been noticing that Rosa doesn't have that much patience for my limited Spanish. I don' blame her! Sometimes she either gives up or asks her daughter Luisa to translate. Luckily it seems that a couple of nights ago I hit a turning point with her. I think it all started when her son Paulo asked me if I can show him how to write his name in Arabic. All of the sudden all of them were huddled around me. They found it very fascinating. I wrote their names and the names of their puppies who happen to have Arabic names; Noor, Ghaliah, Farah and Turfah. That's when Rosa realized that my Spanish has improved compared to when I first arrived. She took great interest in talking to me at that point. Paulo on the other hand felt obligated to teach me something in return. He taught me what most people want to learn how to say in a different language, bad words! He would write them down, I read'em out loud and Rosa and Luisa cracked up. They even taught me the body language that goes with it. It was pretty funny. I was told not to use my new set of vocabulary on the chicken bus. I wonder why! Tu Madre!

Posted by nawaf 16:01 Archived in Guatemala Tagged educational Comments (4)

Hopeless but hungry

semi-overcast 58 °F
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I've never been much of a cook. I just don't think I have that gift (or maybe I choose not to). Nevertheless, I decided to go to a "How to make Mayan Tortillas" activity at the school. The decision became quite easy when I was assured that I get to eat what I (and others) make. We started with a bit of history about tortillas in Guatemala then we joined a group of Mayan women in making the tortillas. Well when I say make I mean flatten them into round pieces and put them on the fire. I couldn't even do that well! I'm hopeless! At least I got to eat the delicious guacamole and beans already prepared for us.

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Posted by nawaf 15:57 Archived in Guatemala Tagged food Comments (0)

Bad call!

overcast 57 °F
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This is the second time I see this. An internet cafe in a third world country. Someone Skyping their significant other while I check my email. Before you know it the person's voice dominates the room. A conversation that should have been private is now pretty public. Due to the circumstances of the backpacker/volunteer/student type of travel we seldom get the privacy we're used to. The poor fellow's conversations went something like the following:

Him: I'm gonna go now because this is not working
Her: Oh you don't wanna talk to me anymore?!
Him: I do but it's quite frustrating. I'm in some foreign country and this is the third time I call and you' too busy to talk. The first time you were with John, the second time you were out on the street and it was too loud to talk and now you're with some other friends and can't talk.
Her: why don't you email me?!
Him: it's not the same!
Her: I'm sorry but this is a really bad time to talk.
Him: well calling from here is not that easy. In any case i have to go now.
Her: Do you not love me?
Him: I do love you but this call is not working out
Her: I love you
Him: I love you too. <click> Bitch!

I don't think Skype goes click when you hang up but you get the point. This conversation is nothing new by any means but having it in front of everyone is quite embarrassing. Maybe they should create private internet booths!

Posted by nawaf 17:52 Archived in Guatemala Tagged round_the_world Comments (5)

Good boy. Sit!

overcast 58 °F
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I started Spanish class on Monday. The school is in the heart of Antigua. Rosa´s house is about a 20-min chicken bus ride and the school is about a 10-min walk from the bus station. The chicken bus ride is quite uncomfortable. My legs don´t fit in these buses. I guess they're spaced much closer than they should be. At least for me! Nevertheless the ride is quite entertaining! I managed to snap a picture of a chicken bus driving down the street. This is the street I walk on going to school every morning.

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The school itself is an a colonial building with a beautiful garden and a fountain in the middle. The courtyard is where all the students take classes. During lunch the students sit around the fountainm eat and plan the rest of their day.

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Rosa packs lunch for me every day. The first time I opened my lunch bag I thought she forgot to put the food in the tupperware but then I remembered that the meal is about the right size here! Yes that's my lunch before I even touched it!

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Last night I went to a free Salsa class. I listened to a fried's advice. The entrance to the studio was quite interesting. I walked into a shop that sells accessories and went to the back of the store. You go up the stairs in the back and you find yourself in a dance studio. As soon as I stepped in I realized that there was about 7 guys there and more than 20 girls in the class. At first the guys were pretty excited but we quickly realized that it meant there was no break for us. The girls rotated and danced with the guys one by one which meant there was a handful of girls standing around and resting. The room was so hot and there was one useless fan. It was quite the workout! I met a lovely Australian couple there and they loved the class too.

I took the Chicken bus back home. It was dark by then and I wasn't sure where I had to get off. We pass a gas station that I thought I recognized. Four blocks later I decided to get off and walk back to the station. Luckily it was the one where I shoudla gotten off. I made it home on my own for the first time and Rosa was quite impressed! After a quick shower, dinner and homework I went to bed thinking I'll get plenty of rest. Nope! Around 3 am the neighbors dog started barking and did not stop until I had to get out of bed 3 hours later!! Ugghhh! Hopefully I´ll get a better night of sleep tonight!

Posted by nawaf 14:15 Archived in Guatemala Tagged educational Comments (4)

Bienvenido Nawaf!

sunny 72 °F
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Juan from La Union School, where I´ll be studying Spanish for the next 3 weeks picked me up from the airport. We headed towards Ciudad Vieja where my host family is. The area right outside the airport was pretty developed. Wide streets, noisy horns, invading billboards everywhere and even a Mobile "On the Run"! Luckily 20 minutes into the drive those billboards disappeared and cars quited down and all of the sudden we were driving down a narrow curvy road cutting through luscious green mountains in the darkness of the night. A couple of minutes later we passed by Antigua. Juan pointed out the usual places; churches, plazas, municipalities, etc. Then he pointed out his top hotel recommendation to me. A $20 a night hotel right in the middle of the city but not too well known. Any takers?

We continued to head to Ciudad Vieja and we arrived in no time at Rosa's yellow house. Rosa was so warm greeting me into her home. It was late so I kindly asked them to turn in to sleep. She gave me a quick tour of her beautiful house with her 5 dogs and I don´t know how many birds and parrots! She then took me to my room which was just perfect. She actually went through the effort of decorating it for me! So cute!

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The next morning I woke up after a great night of sleep to the chirps of her birds. One of her parrots keep yelling waht sounds like "Hello!" all the time. Sometimes I get confused thinking Rosa is calling me! I took a shower turning on the "hot" watert like Rosa showed me. Turns out hot is an exaggeration. I guess she meant to say "not too cold"! I got ready and stepped out of my room, on the second floor, and I noticed the view of the volcano from her house. Breathtaking!

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I had a quick breakfast and Maria and I headed out to Antigua so I can by some essentials and get cash. We took the chicken bus. Chicken buses are repurposed school buses, the yellowones we have in the US, that are painted with crazy colors and religious decorations hanging everywhere inside the bus. The ride to town costs 2.5Qs ($0.30) and takes about 15 minutes. These buses are a staple in Guatemala, locals preferred mode of transportation. In Antigua, Rosa and I walked around town, went to a photo exhibit nd a couple of churches. The town is beautiful! I will definitely explore it more over the next few days.

Interruption: the power just went out in the entire country. Luckily the blog has an autosave feature! While the power was out Paulo, Rosa's sun and I went out to the street and talked. He told me about all the crazy foreigners that stayed in his house! He said some of them have serious issues and end up in jail here! Why would you ever put youself in these situations! Beats me!!!

We had dinner once power came back. The father is really funny. He can't remember my name. He keeps calling me Wamu and Paulo keeps correcting him! Luisa, Rosa's daughter, works as a biochemist at the Hospital. The four puppies here all have Arabic names! Ghalia, Noor, Turfah, and I forgot the fourth one! These puppies are insane! the keep licking my feet and jumping on me everytime I walk into the house! The also have a giant german shepard who for some reasons stays on the roof. He does not like it when I come home. He starts barking and pacing back and forth until I close my door!

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Posted by nawaf 19:21 Archived in Guatemala Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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