So I have been in Guatemala for a week and a half or so right now. As I said in my last post I went straight to bed the first night that I was here however the second night turned out to be much more interesting. So it was St Patricks day or at least the day to celebrate it here in Guatemala and I figured that I should go out and see what Xela had to offer in the way of night life. Some of the other folks staying in the hostel that I was in were heading to a little bar to start the night and invited me to go along. There we met a couple of their Guatemalan friends. We had a couple of beers there before heading up to the disco upstairs. It was quite interesting. Lots of music although no dancing for me. The place also had a ping pong and pool table. I played ping pong a bit against the owner of the bar downstairs who had gotten bored and come up to play. He was pretty good but I managed to beat him once. Then my new Guatemalan friends said that we should go and check out this other party that was being held by a organization that is sort of a clearing house for volunteer activities in Guatemala and specifically Xela. So we headed over there where the music was still blasting. We walked in to a Talib Kweli song so I figured it must be an ok place. The party was still raving at 4 or so when I decided to head home. All in all a good first night out in Xela.
That Monday I started Spanish school at Proyecto Linguistico Quetzaltenango (see right for the website). It is a really good school from the word on the street. The teachers are paid a little more here so there is some competition to get in. I could tell right away that it was a little more professional than the school that I had been going to in Nicaragua. It also has a very left leaning political bent to it. Many of the teachers were involved in the Guerrilla movement. Just yesterday there was a talk by one of the teachers who had been one of the main voices on the underground Guerrilla radio. It was really interesting. They have a lot of activities, conferences on different subjects, documentaries and trips to nearby places. Definitely enough to fill up the week. I think that it will take me a bit to get into some rhythm of things.
I am also living with a family. They are really nice. There is a mother and two sons one of whom has a wife and 7 month old baby all of whom live in the house. Then there is one other son who comes over a lot but lives somewhere else. Just today I held the baby for the first time. It was fun. He seems to like me because even when he is whining a little when he looks at me he gets a big grin on his face.
This past weekend we took a trip to the top of the tallest volcano in Central America. It is 4200 meters tall or so. It was really nice we started out early Saturday morning and hiked most of the day until we were about an hour from the top. Then we stopped and made camp. We had to carry all our own food and water but the school provided tents. We made a fire and I got to try my hand at cutting up large branches with a machete. It is pretty difficult and we were definitely not as good as the locals but we did manage to get some chopped. I never knew that Central America could be so cold. I mean Xela is cold at night or when the sun is not around. It probably gets down into the 40s or so but on top of this volcano with the wind it got below freezing and even with all of the warm clothes that I have here plus my sleeping bag it was damn cold. Of course in the morning when we noticed that our tent only had mesh walls that probably figured into the problem. We got up on Sunday at four in the morning to hike the rest of the way to the top. There we watched the sun rise over the mountains of Guatemala. It was pretty amazing and after I got warm I felt that it was worth it however even the beauty of the sunrise was hard dampened a little because of the freezing wind. But I survived and the hike down was pretty easy.
Now it is on with week two. Here at this school we switch teachers every week in order to get a different style of teaching and learn different accents. I think that it is a good method. I have liked the two teachers that I have had so far. This weekend there is a trip to the beach which I think I will go on. Then the local soccer team is going to play so I think that some students will try and go to that.