Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Verbos Y Volcano (Verbs and Volcanos)

Guatemala Highlands

Mark & my Spanish Teacher

La semana pasada la familia Wheeler estuvo estudiando Espanol en Quetzeltanango. The translation for those of us not yet fluent in Spanish is that for the last week the Wheeler family has been studying Spanish in Quetzeltanango, Guatemala.

Since arriving to the Rio Dulce on August 11th we have been going non-stop. Five days after arriving we hauled out to give Mima a new coat of bottom paint. With the help of three local men we had the job done in a week and we were back in the water. It was our first time out of the water and it was quite a sight for us to see 50,000 pounds of sailboat sitting on land.

Once back in the water we got settled at Mario’s Marina and three days later we were on a bus to Guatemala City. Our good friends and cruising buddies, the Johnson’s (s/v Side by Side), were flying back to Guatemala City after 8 weeks back in the U.S. Our plan is to travel inland together for a few weeks and also to attend language school together. After a day in Guatemala City we loaded into a van together and after 6 hours arrived in the mountain town of Quetzeltanango, 182 Km from the capitol city. If you are doing the math that is roughly 113 miles in 6 hours.

Although we were in a private chartered van the sheer ruggedness of the terrain made for a very slow ride. The minutes melted away however as every turn in the road revealed another breathtaking vista. The sheer beauty of Guatemala escapes this author’s descriptive ability. In 6 hours we had gone from the metropolis of Guatemala City through beautifully cultivated fields into highland jungles and finally into pine forests always surrounded by volcanoes. As I write this I am looking out over 7 volcanoes three of which are active. The people and landscape of Guatemala are candy for the eyes, bring a smile to your face and place a joy in your heart. This is a truly spectacular country.

Upon arriving in Quetzeltanango (Xela to the Mayan) we settled in with our host family and began our week of Spanish emersion. Our Spanish program involved 5 hours daily of individual tutoring and as much Spanish afterhours as possible. We spent all our mornings in class studying Spanish and even had homework to do in the evenings. The rest of the day we spent exploring the city and its’ many attractions. Xela is the second most important economic center in Guatemala. The city is also in the center of an area populated largely by indigenous Mayans. The dress, culture and pride of the Mayan provided a fitting complement to the natural beauty of the area.

We have now moved onto a coffee finca (farm) that is cooperatively owned by the 40 families that reside here. This all organic fair trade coffee and macadamia nut plantation is a fully sustainable farm that generates its own biodiesel and has its own water purification system and hydroelectric power source. It has been a wonderful learning experience as we gain more knowledge about the history of Guatemala and the struggle of its’ rural inhabitants to carve out a place in this new democracy. Where the road leads from here we are not sure but where ever it leads we are assured of beautiful vista and charming people.

Until next time we trust your coffee is warm and your macadamia nuts sweet.
The 4Wheelers

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