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Long overdue Updates

Written on: Monday August 10th, 2009

A journal entry from: El Salvador, San Salvador

So much has happened in the past few weeks!

Two weeks ago, I moved into a house with two of my friends. It's two levels with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths and a cute backyard area. Its perfect for the three of us. I was really sad to leave my host family, but I just couldn't afford to live with them anymore. The things that I miss the most are my host mom's cooking and sharing stories with my host parents every night before bed. I'm going to try and visit them some time this week if I can.

Last week was San Salvador's vacation week and so I had the week off from work! I spent about 9 days in Guatemala starting with Antigua. It's a colonial city that was really pretty, but very 'touristy' and expensive. It's the kind of place that you can see in an afternoon and then be on your way (at least that's how I felt about it). In Antigua, we made friends with two men from Colombia who we had seen on the bus from San Salvador to Guatemala, and they decided to come with us to our next destination. And so, from Antigua we took a series of buses to a beautiful lake called Atitlan. We took a boat over to the Island of Santa Cruz and we stayed at a hotel called La Iguana Perdida. This was probably the most bizarre experience that I've had here in Central America. The moment that I stepped in through the door, I felt like I had been transported to the United States. The hotel itself was run by Americans and all of the guests were native English speakers. The only Guatemalan people who I saw were working in the kitchen. I was completely surrounded by tourists. This is something that I struggle with because I myself am a North American 'tourist', but I didn't come to Central America to isolate myself from the local culture/population. We were the only ones who were speaking Spanish because our Colombian friends didn't speak English. It was so strange because I usually need people to translate for me if I don't understand what someone's saying to me, but I was the one translating for them in a Spanish speaking country. It was so weird.

We spent the next day in Panajachel, the main town along Lago Atitlan. It had one of the largest outdoor markets that I had ever seen before. Walking through it was kind of overwhelming, but it was really cool. From Panajachel we took several buses to Quetzaltenango (or Xela) which I am told is one of the second most important cities in Guatemala. It's at a very high altitude so we were not prepared for the cold temperature. The most interesting thing that we did at Xela was visit a hot springs just outside of the city. Las fuentes Georginas was atop a volcano and I could not believe how hot it was. I couldn't stay in the water for more than five or ten minutes before I felt like I was going to melt into the springs. It was so beautiful and peaceful up there.

From Xela we traveled to Monterrico, which was blistering hot all the time. We stayed at a very small hotel right on the beach for only 50 Quetzales (or about 6 USD) per night. We spent three days there soaking up the sun, and trying to find the courage to go into the water. The waves were so unpredicatable and rough but that didn't stop us from trying haha. I wish that I could have stayed at the beach for another few days but alas its back to work for me!

I'll post some pictures of my vacation week soon. I brought my camera with me but left my memory card at home so I'll have to wait to steal some pictures from my friend.For now here are some pictures that I've been meaning to post for a while.