My Journey Through Central America travel blog

Ross (left) and my most family in Guatemala

Lago Atitlan from the coast of San Pedro La Laguna

Lago Atitlan from the coast of San Pedro La Laguna 2

Lago Atitlan and Cerro de Oro from the coast of San Pedro...

Volcano Santiago

Tecnicolor toilets!

Day 254: April 11, 2005 San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Monday morning I got up at 6am and studied for a little bit before I left for my first class. The classes were one-on-one and I had the same teacher for both the morning and afternoon sessions. We started off by talking to find out where I was with my conversation skills and later I took a test to find out where we should begin my grammar lessons. While we were talking my teacher asked me if I had studied in El Salvador previously and I told her that although I have lived there for over eight months I have yet to study there formally. She then paid me the best compliment that I have gotten in regards to my Spanish skills; she said she thought that I had studied in El Salvador because I speak live a Salvadoran and not like an American! I was very happy to hear that. After the morning class session I spent about an hour walking around town. San Pedro la Laguna is a nice small town about the size of Armenia and it is set on the shore of the beautiful lake of Lago Atitlán. I had lunch shortly after returning to the house and then studied for a short while before going back down the hill to my afternoon class. After class I went with two other students to a small museum right next to the school that had a small display on the local Mayan Culture. The museum caretaker told us all about the exhibits and gave all of us a good understanding of the local history and culture. After the museum I returned to the house for dinner and to studying a bit before I again spent some time walking around the town.

Day 255: April 12, 2005 San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

I was up at 6am Tuesday morning to get some studying in before I had to go to class. I dropped my laundry off on the way to class. After class I went back over to the museum for a Mayan astrology reading that the caretaker had told us about the day before. Astrology readings are usually not the types of things I would go out of my way to have done, much less pay for them, but it sounded interesting and for a few dollars and a free T-shirt I figured it couldn't be a total loss. The reading was interesting but it did not change my opinion on them. My Mayan symbol in Keej and that means that I am a strong person and a good defender of others. I have good health, am a good spiritual leader, have the desire to complete social activities, am strong, intelligent, responsible, positive, and triumphant. I now have a T-shirt to prove all of that, so there will be no arguing. After my reading I went back to the house for lunch to study a little before my afternoon class. Towards the end of my afternoon class I started feeling really sick and ended up leaving ten minutes early to go back to the house. After the nice up hill walk in the strong sun I felt ten times worse and went to the bathroom and got sick as soon as I arrived at the house. After getting sick a few times I felt much better so I decided to head back down to the school for the evenings activity which was a movie about a woman's experience during the civil war. It was an incredible story about a woman who grew up in Guatemala but after she was orphaned was taken to the US. She lived there for many years, the whole time keeping her incredibly story to herself. One day she told her sister-in-law what she could remember and the sister-in-law then began to search the internet for more information. She soon found some of the woman's family alive and well in Guatemala and actually looking for her. The movie covers her journeys back to see her family and to find out what really happened to her parents. It was an incredible movie that really gave you an idea of how the indigenous community was discriminated during the thirty-six year long civil war in Guatemala (by the way, most of the atrocities were committed with US made weapons that we had given to the government, as is the case around the world). Despite fighting off a strong feeling of nausea the whole time I really did enjoy the movie, but as soon as it was over I pretty much ran up to the house where I again got sick. By about 7:30pm I had gotten sick a number of times and felt a little better. I decided to go to bed and rest up for the next day of classes.

Day 256: April 13, 2005 San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Wednesday morning I woke up at 6:30am after a nice and restful 11-hour night. I felt much better and decided to have breakfast before heading down to class. Because I had been pretty sick the day before and had not eaten lunch or dinner, my host mom, Rosalina, fixed me oatmeal. I then took a nice warm shower and studied a bit before heading down to my first class of the day. After class I walked around the town again before heading up to the house for lunch. We began my afternoon class an hour earlier than normal, at 1pm, because the museum was showing a movie about the history of the town at 4pm that I wanted to see. We began the afternoon class by listening to a few CD's and my teacher asked me to explain what the singers were singing about. It was actually really easy because all but one of the songs that she played I knew so after hearing the first few notes I could tell her what the whole song was about. Nevertheless it was fun and I even showed her a few of the new dance moves that I have learned since coming here. So after finishing up classes at 4pm I headed over to the museum for the short movie that was actually pretty lame. After the movie I took a little break by walking around town before heading back to the school to do the little bit of homework that Mayra, my teacher, had given me. After dinner Ross wanted to take a photo of the family as he was planning on leaving the next day. So I took one of him and the family and then got out my camera to take one of the five of us. After the photo session Ross and I headed out to check out the nightlife of San Pedro La Laguna. We met up with a couple of other students from the school and had a few beers. After the first place we stopped at closed, we headed to a place next door that was playing deep-house music. Now if you had asked me before this trip was what deep-house music was I would have had no clue, but now I can tell you that it is some of the worst music I have ever heard in my life. Deep-house was popular in the states about five or six years ago, during the big ecstasy craze, and has since lost its popularity with Americans. However it continues to be popular with Europeans today and because Ross and I were with a Swedish and a Dutch person, and they both wanted to go, we decided to suck it up and go with them. The "party" was set up on the roof of this café and had a DJ and a bottle of the cheapest vodka made in Guatemala that they were selling to those who wanted some. After talking for while our new European friends decided that they wanted to dance and Ross and I gracefully declined. So they went and danced and we went to have a seat and take in the sights. We spent the next hour or so just watching the interesting mix of people dancing on the roof of this weird café. The large majority of the small crowd was a representation of the hippies that have made San Pedro their home. There were also a number of language school students and even a few locals. Almost all of them were dancing in way that convinced Ross and I that they were on some sort of drug. We decided to call it a night around midnight and headed back up to the house.

Day 257: April 14, 2005 San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

I was up the next day at 6:30am to shower, have breakfast, and study a little before my AM class. I again dropped off my laundry on the way to class but this time at a different place, as one of my white shirts came back with an orange tint to it at the other place. I went back to the house after class and studied for a while before having lunch and heading off to an internet café before returning to the school for my afternoon class. After class I picked up my laundry and quickly dropped it off at the house before returning to the school for a lecture that a local resident was giving on his experience during the war. He also had an incredible story about how he was in school at the time the war started and soon after graduating was said to be involved in a rebel guerrilla group and therefore was captured and tortured by the government soldiers. It was amazing to me how heartless and thoughtless the soldiers seemed to be. Acting in such a way that you don't think any human in their right mind could (by the way, the US trained a large majority of Guatemala's troops in many facets of war, including torture. What good allies we are). After the talk Ross and I went back to the house for dinner before again going out, this time with another student named Chris, a young guy from London. We meet at the same place as the night before for a couple beers and then moved over to people watch at the Bohemia (the same café as the night before). The three of us quickly tired of that and went down one floor to a table where we started talking about our travels. It was a good group because Chris was on his way to El Salvador and I have been there for quite a while and Ross spent a couple weeks surfing there, we were able to give him some good tips. Chris spent a few months in Belize doing much of the same thing that I am doing here so he was able to give me some good tips about Belize. Chris and Ross were passing along their last words of wisdom about Belize when an obviously very drugged up person pulled himself over the side of the wall onto the patio where we were. Now we were on the second story of this building and besides an electrical pole there was no way that he could have climbed up. After we convinced him to stop swinging over our table from one of the exposed rafters we asked him how he got up and he explained that he had climbed up the electrical pole and then pulled himself over the ledge of the wall. Drugs are amazing things. Despite being out of his mind, he was incredibly friendly and was soon asking us about what we were doing in San Pedro and where we were from. He started with Chris and for one reason or another Chris decided to have a little fun with him. Chris explained that we were all medical students studying in El Salvador but were in San Pedro on a brief sabbatical. Chris gave us the sign to go along with him and so when it was my turn I continued the story explaining that I was a UCLA graduate working on a cancer research project in El Salvador (if your going to use your imagination you might as well go all the way right?). Our new friend then turned to Ross who explained that he too was from UCLA and was assisting me in the "ground-breaking" research that I was doing. We continued the story for over an hour and it soon got so ridiculous that the three of us had a hard time keeping straight faces. At one point I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom just to laugh for a minute so that I wouldn't blow our cover. The whole time our new Austrian friend was in amazement that we were so young, Ross being the oldest at about 24, and doing such incredible medical research and kept thanking us for contributing such great things to the medical world. After maybe an hour and a half or so our drugged out friend decided to go back upstairs and dance and left us, the three doctors, to discuss business. As soon as he was around the corner the three of us busted up laughing. After a little while longer we decided to call it a night and headed back up to our temporary houses. It was a very funny night that I don't think I will forget for a while.

Day 258: April 15, 2005 San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Friday morning I was up at 6am to have breakfast and study before my morning class. Before I left Ross took off on his way to Cancun, Mexico so we wished each other a pleasant trip and he headed off to catch the bus. After class I again returned to the house for lunch and to study a bit. Before I went back to the school for my afternoon session I went down to the beach to take some photos. I then went to my last class session and received my report card, after taking a final test. I was very pleased with my report card, something that has not happened in years, many years, as my teacher put down that I have no major problems with my Spanish and that I did an excellent job in class throughout the week (aren't you proud mom?). After class I took my last walk around town before returning to the house where we had tamales for dinner. After dinner I signed the guest book that the family keeps of all of the travellers/students that pass through their house and then I went to my room to study for a little while before packing up my things and retiring for the night.

Day 259: April 16, 2005 San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 to take the 6am boat across the lake to the town of Panajachel. The sunrise over the lake was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. The sun was so low in the sky that it looked like it was sitting on top of one of the many volcanic mountains that hold the lake together. The sun let out one ray of sunshine that reflected on the water right to our boat. It seemed to follow us for the entire half and hour journey across the lake like it was lighting our path in the early morning darkness. I apologize but I didn't take a picture of the sunrise for all of you. For one my camera was at the bottom of my bag and I didn't want my dirty laundry flying around the boat, or out of it, as I took the picture. I also didn't think a picture would do the sight justice, but most importantly, I didn't want to take my own eyes off of it, afraid that I would miss something or forget what it looked like. We arrived in Panajachel at about 6:30am and I picked up some breakfast snacks on my way to the bus stop. I hopped on the bus a few minutes later and settled down for the three-hour ride into Guatemala city. While on the bus a traveller who I recognized from the language school came up to me and asked me if I was going back to El Salvador. During the week someone had mentioned to him that I live there and he was happy to see me on the same bus so that he could ask me some questions. He and his travel partner, who I assume was his girlfriend, did not speak hardly any Spanish, having only studied for a week or two, so I hopped a taxi with them to the bus station to El Salvador and helped them get their tickets. Once on the bus to El Salvador I helped them plan their itinerary for the week they planned to stay in El Salvador. They got off the bus in Santa Ana while I continued to the junction with the highway to Armenia at El Poliedro. There I hopped a bus into Armenia where I went to Antonio's house and meet up with him before heading in Buenos Aires.

Day 260: April 17, 2005 Buenos Aires, El Salvador

Sunday morning I was up at 5:30 to help Antonio's brother Ricardo cut out a hole in my wall and in the wall of Marina and Juan's house to install the window's that Antonio and I had bought the previous weekend. We had both 3x3 foot holes done within an hour and then put the wood in place to frame the window. At that point I broke off to get showered and dress to go out with Karen. I headed out to Armenia shortly afterwards and stopped by the hardware store before going by the church to pick up Karen. We hopped the bus to San Salvador and got off at one of the first San Salvador stops before changing buses to go to one of the many large shopping malls that have been built in the past few years. We first went and had lunch, at Quizno's actually, and then went walked around the mall for a little bit before heading to the movie theatre to see Will Smith's newest movie Hitch, it was a pretty funny movie. After the movie we walked around for a little while longer before catching a bus back to Buenos Aires.

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