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We be jammin'

Written on: Monday February 16th, 2009

A journal entry from: Guatemala, mi amor.

    This week was another mellow week.  Next week we'll be going to Lake Atitlan and I will have more to say, since we'll be doing some educational things and zip lining.   Much to my chagrin, we will not be taking the traditional field trip school bus, but we'll be taking a big ol' greyhound.
    Anyway, this week I had my first, and second last, Spanish literature exam.  My exam went as well as the following is comprehensible: "The word of the earth turned to flame by the sun almost set fire to the maize-leaf ears of the yellow rabbits in the sky, the yellow rabbits in the forest, the yellow rabbits in the water; but Gaspar was once again becoming earth that falls from where the earth falls, which is to say, sleep that finds no shade in which to dream in the soil of Ilom and the solar flame of the voice could do nothing,.." (professional English translation of Hombres de Maiz, "Gaspar Ilom" by Miguel Angel Asturias) So ya?no, the exam did not go well.  I haven't received my grade yet, but I am really dreaming and wishing for a pass.  
    Aside from the exam, I've had two classes; one was Poverty and Health and the other Geography. In both we discussed diarrhoea, human waste or sewage for a good portion of time during each class.  Among the students, we tend not to know too much about each other regarding our personal lives, but we do know quite a bit about each other's bowel movements.  Kid you not.  If someone is sick, everyone knows.  It's almost as casual an issue as talking about the weather.  
    This weekend was nice because I went out to a place called the Earth Lodge (www.earthlodgeguatemala.com) with my friend Verena and a German fellow who moved into my house.  He speaks a little English and a little Spanish so between those two, we are able to chat. Verena is also from Germany but goes to school in Saskatoon so they were able to chat in German as well.  The earth lodge was a nice place to visit.  It was just a place to chill out, be one with nature, and eat good food.  It was great to get away from the city and overall, the entire weekend cost me about 25 bucks.  The difference in money and pricing here is actually rather shocking.  That entire $25 weekend was one night in a dorm bed, a massively delicious dinner (with bbq chicken, bean salad, salady salad, garlic toast and potatoes), fruit, yogurt and granola for breakfast, a big cookie, tea, water, soda, happy hour drinks and guacamole made from the avocados grown in trees surrounding the lodge.  I haven't been thinking in Canadian dollar terms, but when I do, it's absolutely insane how inexpensive everything is here.  Apparently it is the same in Nicaragua.  Costa Rica will be the real killer because it will cost a minimum of $25 per night just for a bed, but I've fallen in love with staying with families so I think I'll try to keep doing that.  The places I'm looking at during my transition time between Guatemala and Nicaragua in Honduras look to be a little one the pricey side as well.  My travel buddy Rob sounds like he's up for anything, which is great because I'd love to go snorkelling or scuba diving along the way.  Luckily I can choose how much time I spend in Honduras and Costa Rica so I can keep costs down if at the end of my trip I'm lacking the fundage.  
    If you want to know about some neat Guatemalan attractions, google: Semuc Champey, Tikal, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan, Volcano Pacaya, Rio Dulce, Livingston, Coban and Monterrico.  Honestly, if you just look at the pictures that should be sufficient ☺ The fyi for Lake Atitlan and Tikal are both interesting if you feel like reading.
    Sitting here planning, dreaming and remembering has made me feel really lucky to be here and I really hope that you all get a chance to do something like this someday.  It's really wonderful and I wouldn't change a thing for a minute. Not to end on a negative note after that, but I'd really like to warn you all.  I know many of you are seasoned travellers and don't need to hear this, but my roommate just got her wallet stolen and in her wallet were important documents like all her health cards and info, birth certificate, credit cards, debit cards and some cash.  It's a royal pain in the ass to get all that back when you're not close to home.  Definitely don't carry any of that with you day to day.  It's just not worth it.  I never go out with my credit card unless I'm going to use it then take it back home right away.  My ID and health cards don't leave my room, and I never walk around with more cash than I'm going to need. I have a zipper pocket in the front of my bag, but after a dude tried opening the pocket in Peru, I just stuff the zipper pull inside and haven't had any problems since.  Definitely though, don't put your wallet in an easy to access zipper pocket in the front of your bag. She just left a store, put it in the front of her bag and someone who saw her do it waited until she was distracted, opened her bag and was gone.  In Canada it is still probably not a super good idea to do things like that, but definitely in places like these where its crazy common, it's just a good idea to be extra cautious.  When using a bank machine, if anyone (including a security guard) comes up to you and says you can't use that machine anymore or distracts you or whatever after you've put in your personal info, cancel your transaction asap and make sure you get a receipt.  Another fellow got hundreds stolen from his bank account that way.  When walking through a market, watch your bag or don't take one.  There were two girls who got their purses slashed (on different occasions).  Nothing was taken, but it was just really sad about my one friend's bag because it was beautiful (it still is beautiful? it has been revived and has received stitches).  I would LOVE to go to the market, fill my bag with marbles and if someone slashes the bottom all the marbles would fall on the ground.  I don't know why, but that sounds like it would be hilarious.  It's all petty crime and can be easily avoided so definitely be careful!  That goes for resort tourists too!  

Hope everyone's doing well with midterms, winter blues, and work stresses.  I hope all my favourite Aussies are taking care out there as well!  



From George Barnhart on Feb 16th, 2009

Wow. no wonder you are finding the Spanish lit a little tough! maybe the final will be an easier go. Can't wait to see the EarthLodge pics.