June 21, 2010

Mi Vida en Xela ( Quetzaltenango )

Quetzaltenango (the place of the quetzal), Guatemala is more commonly called Xela ("Shayla") by the locals, which is a Mayan name for place below 10 peaks. Here is how I spend my days.

6:30am--Wake up, do any lingering homework, review Spanish flashcards from the day before. Or sometimes I read a little bit.
6:45am--Shower. The showers here are heated by an electrical contraption attached to the showerhead, so the less water pressure you use, the more time the water has to heat up, the hotter the water. This of course means that the warmer your shower, the thinner the stream of water. A literal "shower" (as opposed to a trickle) is always cold.
7am--Breakfast. Almost always this is a bowl of corn flakes with warm milk and 2 pancakes. I told them we usually use cold milk on our cereal, but they said, "We use warm milk here because it´s cold". Like 65 degrees. I´ve gotten used to it.
7:45am--Walk to school. It´s only 3 blocks away!
8am--Study with Luis. He always starts the day by asking me what I did the day before and what I plan to do this afternoon, to get me to practice using my past and future tenses. He is always correcting my articles. Los/El/Las/La...whatever, you know what I mean. He´s a very patient, interesting man, who always knows whether I need to take a break, whether I need practice speaking or writing, or reading. He´s always a step ahead. It´s really a wonderful learning situation.
10:30am--Pausa. We take a break for te, pan y galletas (tea, bread & cookies). It´s nice to catch up with other students during the break. The other students here are totally awesome. Everyone is doing something awesome with their lives: socially, environmentally, justice-wise, communications-wise... They are all inspiring.
11am--More study.
1pm--Lunchtime! I walk home and have lunch. So my house is a boarding house. I´m the only foreigner there, but there are somewhere between 10 and 15 people living there.
  1. There´s Doña Patty who runs everything and has the best sense of humor.
  2. Her husband Romero who just came back from working in the States (I think)
  3. Their youngest son Mynor who just celebrated his 9th b´day while I was here.
  4. Their older son, Cesar who is in his 20s
  5. Cesar´s wife Sophia who is pregnant and helps around the house
  6. Cesar and Sophia´s 6 yr old son Rayan.
  7. Me
  8. Beatriz, an 18 yr old boarder who is going to law school at the nearby university, who talks really really fast and a lot and gets teased for only keeping boyfriends for a few days at a time.
  9. David, a boarder who is virtually silent
  10. Mahlisa, a boarder who I´ve only seen a few times.
  11. A mustached man who I´ve only seen once.
  12. A boarder who is virtually silent, whose name I forget.
  13. Another boarder who is virtually silent, whose name I also forget.
  14. others??? entirely possible.
Merced is the maid at my house. She works on weekdays to help prepare lunches and dinner. She wears traje tipica (Guatemalan costume), as do very many of the women in Xela and surrounding areas. That means a colorful woven skirt, an embroidered huipil (blouse) that is very colorful, and an apron on top of it all. Many women also braid satin into their hair, or wear their hair wrapped around their heads in special woven ribbons. Anyway, I always enjoy seeing Merced at lunchtimes. Lunchtime also means watching terrible soap operas ("Filled with Love" or "Ranch of Love" or something) or Judge Judy type shows ("Caso Cerrado"). Which is surprisingly good for practicing my listening skills, though very silly.

Afternoon--There is usually something planned with the school most afternoons. This is usually a little excursion to a nearby town with something interesting to offer. Like a natural hot spring, a colorful church or "saint", a special artisanal occupation, market, etc. They also offer documentaries, a movie on Wed nights, several lectures per week. Most of them have to do with the political or social injustice situations in Guatemala, Central and South America, and the world. It´s really wonderful to have this sort of information it so accessible, personal (they bring eyewitness speakers in regularly), and specific. I am learning lots. Lots and lots.

Evening--I have been enjoying regular yoga classes at The Yoga House several times per week. Each class is Q15 ($2.40) or a month´s access for Q100 ($16). There are 4 classes per day and 2 per day on weekends, so I can pretty much go whenever I want. Super rad. It feels very decadent and I have to convince myself regularly that it is okay to "indulge" in this right now. I took Cesar from my house to yoga class the other day, dress pants and all. It was his first time and he was into it. He talked a long time about his experience to the other curious members of the household when he came back.

7pm--Dinnertime! Most meals are eggs, beans, and tamales (or tortillas). Doña Patty is a really good cook and because she cooks for so many people, there are always random other people eating with us, taking advantage of her good cooking. That´s another reason I don´t know EXACTLY how many people actually live at my house. It gets confusing. Foodwise, we also have spaghetti, soups, squashes, or other Guatemalan faire (usually rice, beans, tortillas, chicken with some sort of sauce. Since I´m vegetarian they give me the sauce over potatoes). My favorite treat so far was a rellenito. It´s mooshed plantain wrapped around smooshed black beans and milk, deepfried lightly and sprinkled with sugar. OMG, so good.
Dinner is when I talk to my family the most.

After dinner, I usually just go to my room and read or do homework. I´m usually falling asleep by 10 or so. Sometimes I go to join other students for a meal, but I´m not out past dark most nights.

[looks like I can´t upload photos. Dang. Well, I´ll update with photos later. There are plenty on Facebook in the meantime.]

1 comment:

Cari said...

I'm so jealous. this sounds fun anfd fascinating!