Saturday, October 31, 2009

Last class day and dinner

Today was my last class. I always feel I have more to learn. There is never enough time..............

This is Gerson and the school mascot/ protector/night guard dog...........Nikki.

The afternoon school activity was to prepare pepian which is special Guatemalan meal. It was fun to prepare it with Elvia. The pot to the left is chicken. To the right, we are toasting tomatoes, chilies and different spices. When they were finished, they were placed in the blender and then strained. The pot to the left is rice with onion and carrot. The pot to the right is the chicken and the pepian continuing to cook.
When all of the students, teachers and people who help the school function arrived, we sat down for dinner. Hubo, Elvia and their two children also joined us. Hubo began by thanking each student by name for attending and having confidence in the school. He thanked each teacher stating that a school could not continue without teachers. He also thanked some of the guys who are working on marketing the school He thanked Elvia and his children for their support.

It was a great meal! Then some of the guys took turns playing the guitar and singing. We played around with the left-over tomatoes.......tossing them at those who we felt could not sing :):):)

It was a great end to the two weeks of study. Tomorrow we will visit Lake Chicabal.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday in Xela

Today was another good class. Gerson and I studied hard but also had some fun.

In the afternoon, I was able to meet a long-time friend of my friends, Jim and Mary. Jim is a pediatrician and Mary is a nurse who worked in a near-by clinic. Their friend is Claudia, who still lives here in Xela.

Claudia met me near the park and drove me to her home. I was not aware that Jim and Mary had lived next door to Claudia and her family. It is funny how you picture things in your mind and then later when you have a chance to learn more, it is so much different than you had imagined.

When Mary and Jim were here, cell phones were not very common nor were there many land lines. Claudia and her husband had a land line and rigged a line to Mary and Jim's home so they could ring a bell if Mary and Jim had a phone call.

This is Claudia in their home.

Later her husband. Mauricio, arrived so I was able to get a photo of both of them.

It was a good day and I was thankful I was able to meet Claudia and her husband. I had heard many things about them through the years so it was nice to make this contact. I hope to have the opportunity to visit them again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday in Xela and molding chocolate

Class went well and I am up to about 20 tenses. I am still not sure how I will use all of them but there are still a few to go and Gerson thinks I am doing onward we go!

This afternoon we had a school trip to a local chocolate store. It was not quite what I had expected but I really enjoyed it! We entered a room where they were grinding and mixing chocolate and sugar. It smelled very good. Let me say, there are no safety regulations or sanitation regulations here.

This is one of the guys that took chocolate powder and poured it into the machine. After it went through the machine three times it was then ready to be packed.

These were the other two ladies that were working.

Two ladies brought in their chocolate beans to be ground. These were fresh beans so as they came out of the machine, the chocolate was very moist. Did I tell you how good it smelled in here??

When the chocolate is ready, they pack it tightly into plastic bowls to form a mold. The final product of chocolate weighs 15 pounds. Someone buys the large form of chocolate, divides it and sells in smaller portions to homes or stores.

We bought some chocolate to take back to the school and play with.

This is the guy from France that has been participating in the trips after classes.

This is Elvia from the school.

This was Elvia's first form of chocolate.

OK, when we first started molding our chocolate, Elvia gave us instructions. She showed us how to use our palms as we warmed the chocolate so it could be molded. The chocolate was to be molded with love since the ladies cook in Guatemala with love. She said if we have love it would flow from hearts, to our fingers into our creation. She told us to use our this was my first heart.

The chocolate has to dry over night so we will get to taste it in the morning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday in Xela

Gerson and I had a good class today. I can feel myself pushing harder each day since I only have a few more days left.

I decided to go on another after-school activity. There is one student from France and I that have been doing the activities. Today, we took a bus to Zunil, which is about 30 minutes from Xela. We passed through some areas that we were told are very organized and export much of their vegetables. This photo does not do the farming justice. The agriculture and landscaping were very beautiful!

When we finally parked, we were at a river. It was the fastest moving river I have seen in a long time.

This is the large Catholic Cathedral. It is known for having a silver cross inside while most crosses are made of wood. I took a photo of it but it did not turn out well.

The teacher that took us was very interesting and he had a good sense of humor. He took us to a place where the ladies market and sell goods. I tried to get him to buy this but he refused :)

OK, the last thing he took us to see was an area that was having a festival. It is the place where Saint Simon and Saint Pascual are. This photo is of Saint Simon. He is a full-size plastic mannequin that is smoking a cigar. People would approach him, kiss him, hug him and treat him as if he were alive. They would take his stick out of his hand and touch their children's head with it. It was an environment that I did not feel comfortable in at all. People were drinking liquor and then leaving the mannequin some after they would pour it in a plastic bag.

The next room was for Saint Pascual. There was not a big figure as with Saint Simon but here they would leave small burnt offerings made with tobacco or vegetables. I do not think there was any live offerings but you never know. You can pray and request good things from Pascual. You can also pray and ask for bad things to happen to people you wish harm on.

The room between was the party room. There was a band playing and people were did not matter who you danced with or how many people you were dancing with. We saw a few arguments and some fights that were brewing. I was ready to leave.

It was an educational day and also sad in some perspectives. The idea of these saints are from the Mayan belief and not Catholic in origin which causes some disruption in the community. I believe that there is only one God and to Him only should we bow and worship.

Whew..........time in Xela is drawing to a close an there are still so many things to learn.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday classes

I wanted to share a little more of the parade acvivities from yesterday. In all of the alfombras that I have seen, they have been made of flowers and sawdust. Yesterday, there were pieces of material in some of the alfombras. At first I did not know what was happening as people ran into the streets, practically knocking each other down! The lady is the skirt is going for her third piece of material and she is meting some resistance.

After the parade passes and the material scarfers get what they want, the street cleaners come in...........and sweep up the streets. It is sad because so much work and preparation goes into this and then it all ends up in the black plastic bag :(

Today we had our usual breakfast before heading off to school. Gerson met me at the door and we went up to our usual table and began. He was pleased with my story even though there were a few mistakes.

After class, I decided to do the tour of Xela with one of the other teachers and his student. I did not take many photos since I have already explored Xela. I did take this photo from one from the second level of a building only used for government and official meetings. This presentation is done with plants.

Home for the night..........home work is done and I am ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday evening festivities in Xela

First, let me say that it is a sad day when the place in town that sells the coldest Diet Coke is sold out. I know that I drank their monthly quota in one week but it is still a sad day :( He will get a new supply on Tuesday!

I am the only student in the house now. The other student from Japan left early this morning to travel around Lake Atitilan. Elubia and I wished her safe travels.

On the way to worship this morning they were preparing alfombras in the street for the afternoon and evening activities. They are usually created with colored saw dust and flowers. These also had small pieces of material.

They had just begun this one as I passed by. The guy is misting the saw dust with water so it will not blow away.

This was the finished product about three hours later.

Here is another one that is being finished. The whole park square was covered with alfombras where people were waiting for the parade to pass.

Many people walk along the float or cargo. This one was carried by about 50 woman on their shoulders. As you can see, the incense is very heavy.

Below, a couple of the men help the ladies redistribute the weight on their shoulders. As they passed, you could see the ladies were very tired but also very serious about their job.

This young man had waved his incense enough He was ready to end his job.

This little boy had seen enough and was ready to head home for the day.

It was a fun weekend filled with exciting things......................tomorrow it is time to begin classes and I hope that Gerson is ready!

Early morning Sunday

I do not have any photos to post this early but I will later. There is to be a parade and activities in the park later today.

Today for breakfast we had corn flakes and cooked bananas..................I would like to send you some but I ate them all. Sorry :(

As we eat our meals here I think of the talk show programs that use to get violent and people would fight on stage......don't jump to conclusions, we do not throw punches in Elubia's house! But as people would be yelling and ready to pounce on each other, the door bell would ring! That is how it is here. It is not uncommon to hear that ring, 4-7 times during a meal and who ever is there, is invited to eat! So, I have started asking Elubia as she heads for the door, "Who is it?" She laughs hard and says, "We will see!!"

Last night I bought colored pens. I need to write a story for class tomorrow using the 11 tenses that Gerson and I have practiced. I will use the different colors for the different tenses and make a game out of it. Gerson is like I am. He likes challenges and knows the important factor is how you approach things. This is also something my parents taught me. If you think things are hard and feel you can not master it, you will not. If you see it as a challenge and make it are more likely to succeed. Yes, Spanish is very frustrating for me but when I can use a different tense or I recognize a word I recently have learned..................whew!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday in Xela

Lisa and Kemmel often say in their blog, "The bear went over the mountain to see what it could see." Well, today the bear and I went over the mountain.

This morning after breakfast, I pulled out my map of Xela. I left the house at 0800 and walked north on 15 Avenida hoping to get a view of the volcano. This was my first clear view of Santa Maria. Usually in the afternoon it is hidden behind the clouds.

This is a Catholic Cathedral near one park.

I was hoping to find the zoo. I had read different articles on it but thought it would be nice to visit it. When I would ask people directions, they told me I would have to take a bus. Well.........I was not sure about that. I remembered the landmarks that Lisa and Kemmel showed me last Sunday so the bear and I kept on walking.

The zoo was OK but I really enjoyed the walking and studying. I saw the zoo in about 15 minutes and then studied on a bench. I had more fun watching the people, watch the animals.

I then looked for a place for lunch..............................I know Glenn and Neva are going to laugh but Pizza Hut was calling my name. I found more places to study as I walked back to Elubia's. It was almost 1500 when I arrived and it was a great day.

Tonight for dinner, Elubia placed before me a rice tamale and a pupusa. I could barely finish the tamale and it was wonderful. I asked her if I could save the pupusa for tomorrow and she did not seem to mind. There comes a point when you just have to say, "no more, please." It was just more than I could eat.

Speaking of rice...................Kemmel, I have my rice for tomorrow :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday in Xela

Classes are going great but as I have told Gerson, my teacher, knowing the rule and remembering it for every day practice are two different things. He did laugh at me yesterday when I was reading and the book changed to English and I continued to try to read it as Spanish! He thought that was sooooooo funny! hahahaha! I will get him back!

This is Gerson when he is serious with me and is less than happy with my Spanish.

This is Gerson when he is happy with my Spanish.

He is a good guy and low-key. This morning our class went over 20 minutes before we realized it. This is a good sign.

I tried to find a used book store for Lisa and Kemmel today. I talked to the guy in the store but I will need to return. I picked up my laundry and then went to McDonalds to do my homework.

Elubia continues to be very kind and very helpful. It is hard to believe that a week has almost passed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday in Xela

Today during class, Gerson took me to the top of the school so I could take some photos. He warned me not to go too far to the left of the building because the neighbors next to the school do not like it and they will throw rocks at kind :)

So this is a view of Xela.

This is the top of a large Catholic Church.

Later in the day, I walked around to find a good angle but this was the best I could do.

Then I decided to walk to the cementary. I knew I was on the right road when every store sold items needed for a funeral or a burial. The cementary was huge but not maintained as well as I thought it would be.

This is a volcano but I have not had a clear view yet. Elubia told me about a place I can go early in the morning for a pretty view. I will try and do that Saturday.

Every block is a burial spot.

It was another good day of school. It is a total different envionment than the other school I studied at. Elubia is ind and helpful. She will help and correct but is not cruel about it.

Tomorrow is another day.........another opportunity to learn.

Monday in Xela

First, let me say that I am so glad to have my MP3 Player. Being in a different place, with an evangelical church across the street, fireworks going on all night and one of the students in the house being sick.................I was so thankful I could drown all of it out. I did not even finish one album and I was gone.

These are more photos I took yesterday in the park.

You can buy lots of food and toys.

I think that I mentioned that I am the only student in the school. My teacher is Harrison and he is really nice. He has been teaching two years and is very bright. He has a great memory and can remember what I said when I forget what I said. Did you follow that? We study five hours a day and then I spend the rest of the day studying and wandering around Xela.

I am staying in the house of Elubia and she is really nice. There are 2 or 3 other students in the house from Japan. I think one of them left today. I do not think they have studied very much Spanish but Elubia is very patient with all of us.

It will be a good two weeks and I know that it will go very quickly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vamos a Xela!!!!

Kemmel and Lisa picked me up at 0630 and we went to get Glenn and Neva. We enjoyed coffee that Lia had prepared for us as we drove to Xela.

We arrived in Xela in time to grab a quick breakfast and then walked back for worship at 0930. There were quite a few people there and Lisa and Kemmel said that when they visited for the first time, only 20-30 people were in attendance. It is good to know that The Church is continuing to grow in different areas.

We drove to a large mall and a zoo that I may check out later. They showed me so many things to do during these two weeks that I may have a hard time finding time to study.......just kidding!!

Then we went to Pizza Hit for lunch and I can not tell you how marvelous it was!! There are no words to describe the salad and the pizza.

Lisa and Kemmel were in Xela for 3 months when they first arrived to work for HTI. I will be studying at the same school and living in the same house they were in. We went to visit the school and talk with Hugo. I will be the only student next week. It is sad but the enrollment is down due to the economy and people being afraid to travel due to the flu.

Everyone dropped me off at Elubia's house where I will be staying. Glenn wanted to roll the window down and toss me out as they slowed down but he decided to be kinder to me :) Elubia was glad to see Kemmel and Lisa. I will be staying in their old room and I think it will be a great two weeks.

I could not wait to walk downtown and take some photos. This is the park near the school.

It is a very old city and buildings are beautiful.

This is one of the big Catholic Churches near the park.

OK, I have been here a few hours and I already know where they sell diet Coke, have a school trip planned and I have already been spotted. I was sitting in the park listening to music and someone recognized me from Santa Cruz. Guatemala is small!!

I will keep you posted on my two weeks here and I have high expectations from my time here.........good night :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday Clinic and welcoming Glenn and Neva

Today we had clinic in Lemoa and saw 21 patients. We finished early and everyone was invited to meet at San Juan to meet/ welcome Glenn and Neva.

They are currently studying Spanish in Antigua and will be full-time with us in November. They will spend this weekend here in Chichi and also go to Xela on Sunday.

I did not do a very good job of capturing everyone. This is Glenn and Neva joking with the guys.

As I said, my photos are poor but this is our first time together as a group. Glenn and Neva now know their Guatemalan family :):):)

After we had some time with everyone, we took them to see the house they will be living in. They seemed to be very pleased with it. I hope they are very comfortable there and enjoy it.

As I mentioned, we will be going to Xela. Kemmel is giving me the opportunity to study Spanish for two weeks there. I am really looking forward to it and hope to learn a lot! So on Sunday, my two sets of parents will drop me off and wave good-bye.........I will have to be careful because Kemmel and Glenn really want to toss me out of the truck with my suitcase :)

Promoter Class

Tuesday was our monthly class for the health promotors. The last count I had was 21 so it was a good class. Lisa taught the class and the first session was on vaccinations. She divided the class in three groups and each group prepared a flip chart with information and presented it to the class.

This process is the CHE format and is very effective. It encourages class participation, keeps students active and helps the students remember the information because often, they are preparing and presenting.

The second session was on proper hand washing. First, Lisa had everyone use sidewalk chalk to get their hands dirty.

Juan and Gaspar especially enjoyed this. They said that there are many different types of germs so they used several different colors of chalk.

She then had each group wash their hands. The first group used only a water, no soap.

The second group used only water and the third group used water and soap.
She talked about the effectiveness in each technique.

Notice below. There are six men and they all used 2 basins to wash their hands.

One of the students was very astute and brought to our attention that we were using a poor technique when washing our hand since we all used the same basin of water. Lisa was very proud of her student for recognizing this. It is a common practice in the communities so it gave her an opportunity for discussion. We will see if practice changes.

Education and change in practice takes time and is the same in every country.