Saturday, July 30, 2011

La Primera Noche (The First Evening)

My trip here was pleasantly uneventful. After breezing through customs, I found my driver Eddie who was holding up a sign with my name on it, and we zoomed through the chaotic and confusing streets of Guate. After passing many election advertisements, people on motorcycles, sidewalk stores, and food vendors on sometimes very long, steep and somewhat winding streets, the scenery changed to narrow cobblestone streets, and a slower, gentler pace, marking our arrival in Antigua. Eddie dropped me off at my host family’s house where I met Maria (a college-aged daughter of the owners) who showed me to my room, gave me a key (which it turns out doesn’t work), gave me an excellent full-sized meal for lunch, and then escorted me to my Spanish school (CSA).
Next I embarked on 5 hours of one-on-one Spanish instruction with a wonderful lady whose name I will have to tell you tomorrow. It also turns out that today is a very big and important holiday that is specific to Antigua (La Festival de Antigua), so there was a small procession of a couple high school marching bands and a huge group of about 30 men carrying a statue-bearing religious float on their shoulders that all went right by the school windows, so we watched a bit. My brain got a bit mushy, but already I am learning much in Spanish and about many aspects of the Guatemalan culture.
My classes go from 1:00 to 6:00 pm, so meals are squished up to both ends of class, with lunch at 12:30 and dinner at 6:00. I walked the 4 or 5 blocks back to my house and the other 9 people who are staying here were already well into dinner, which is a lighter, but still quite a sufficient meal. We had good conversation (in English – we talked a bit in Spanish at lunch). Finally I folded, came back to my room and organized a bit.
Interesting sight today: A family of four all riding on one motorcycle down a bumpy Antigua road, with no helmets, and all looking amazingly comfortable!

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