Julie's Trip South travel blog

So, i think i just had one of my favorite experiences in guatemala...i am studying at the mountain school and decided to come into the nearest town (20 minute ride from school) to buy some snacks and email, so i caught a pickup truck on the main road...cost 2.50 quetzales (like 30 cents)...the truck had metal bars in the back so you stood in the back and held the bars...i was in the back with 5 or 6 other guatemalans, fruit and vegetables baled in back with us too...so we rode down this amazing mountain road to the town, going probably 50 mph or so, wind rushing past my hair (trying to ignore the bugs and dirt sticking to my face) with the most beautiful scenery! It was kinda scary cuz there was a bus in front of us (yes, the pimped out u.s. school bus, used for public transport here) and the driver of the bus and the driver of the pickup kept trying to pass each other becuz whoever was first on the road got to pick up more people (and thus make more money) so passing on s curves on mountian roads gets your pulse up, but we arrived fine. Glorious day...stopped raining for a bit so sun shining brightly (maybe my clothes that i washed 2 days ago will finally dry now!) So here i am in the puelbo, im definately the only foreigner here and it is cool...total rural guatemalan town. Love it!

The mountain school is amazing...its main agenda is to provide assistance to the local community of Fatima...Fatima is a settlement of 15 families or so who were thrown off the coffee finca where they worked without pay and settled here...the school provides scholarships for school (they have to pay for school above 6th grade) and provides income for the families (we eat all meals with a local family and they get a bit of money for that) and provides educational and recreational opportunities for the youth. I talked to the director of the mountain school about setting up a fund to pay for a girl to go to school as long as she wanted (the daughter in the family i eat with)...through high school or college or whatever, but the director said that they dont do individual scholarships because it puts too much pressure on the kid to succeed...they currently give out like 80 scholarships to school to a group of kids and if one kid drops out or doesnt make it, it is sad but not like the kid was on a pedestal that he falls from, whereas if i funded one kid exclusively it would put a lot of pressure on the kid to succeed, and coming from this area where noone has ever gone to college, it is a lot of pressure and the 2 kids they have tried it with have crumbled under the pressure. I know its kinda selfish of me, but i want to get to know the kid that i am going to fund and have the reward of having a personal relationship with them instead of contributing to a general fund...ill have to keep looking for a way to set this up. Youd think it would be easy to help since I have the right sentiment in my heart, but it takes more than just good intentions.

So we sleep and study at the school...study in palm thatched huts outside, sleep in bunk beds. Last night we had a cooking class and learned how to make papusas...fried tortillas with cheese or pork skin in them, topped with lettuce and salsa...yum. The food i eat with my family is very simple but good...this morning corn flakes with hot milk, last night rice and beans for dinner...the family is very poor, but happy. The son is the first one in the town graduating from high school this year (with a scholarship from the mountain school) and they are so proud. They dont have water or electricity, dont celebrate birthdays (too expensive)..they talk to me while we are eating so i like it, but man my spanish sucks. Lots of people have told me what a big problem alcoholism is here in guatemala, this family included. While im in town im going to buy them fruit since they cant afford it.

The setting of the school is beautiful...chicken coops, fish ponds, really so rural. I didnt think id like it here cuz i consider myself a "city" chick, but it is so nice. Lots of time to think and read. Next week i go back to xela to study for a week, then i dont know what...some days i just want to come home and some days i think travelling more would be fun...i guess some days are harder than others. Its so strange...so many people tell me that i am so strong and that im an inspiration or amazing, but i dont feel strong...most of the time i feel like crying, but then i think that i dont have much of a choice but to keep on going, so i just keep travelling and doing what i have to do. Acutally, my friend janessa pointed out to me the other day that every day i do have the choice to go home or to stay and she said she was proud of me for staying, so i guess shes right and i do have a choice. Anyways, i spend nights crying over matt...i miss him so much. Man, this is so hard. But then i think, if i go home ill just spend lots of nights crying over him at home, and isnt it better to be crying in a cool foreign country than at home (question mark..cant figure it out on this keyboard). One big advantage to being at home though would be that at least i would have some shoulders to cry on rather than crying alone. Usually i save the tears til night time when im alone, but yesterday when i rode up to the mountain school i cried the whole ride up on the bus...i just couldnt stop! and the little girl next to me kept asking her mom what was wrong with the strange white woman. And age has given me the exquisite gift of having my eyes puff up like an alien after i cry, so im looking pretty hot these days! That and with the horribly dirty air here cloggin up my skin...what a sight!

Anyways, i so appreciate all the noted from you guys...lifts my spirits and gives me something to smile about.

Peace and love


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