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More Adventures in Xela....

GUATEMALA | Monday, 27 May 2013 | Views [836]

So I’ve now ended up stranded in yet another town for much longer than planned, I’ve been in Xela for pretty well a month now, learning spanish, suffering from a horrid cold from the dramatically changing weather and with a mildly sprained ankle. All fun and games though. A few different things that have been filling the time (other than studying and sleeping lots to try to kick this stupid cold) are below....



One common pastime in Latin America is of course Salsa dancing. In Xela a lot of people visit the club ‘La Parranda’ on a Wednesday and shake their booties until the wee hours. It can be pretty amazing seeing how well some of these people can dance, and a bit of a rude shock to see how closely they’ll dance with you too, as one of my friends says after a dance “I feel like I need a hot shower and a morning after pill”. The boys get pretty damn close and you feel a whole lot you’d rather not... getting to the point where you have to make a quick dash and escape to hide behind your friends. Or at least that’s what I’ve done more than once. Fun though. After 1 most nights the only bar that is open is a crazy gay bar too, where it’s a bit like going to a house party, but with a whole lot of transvestites running the show. Loud music, drinking and dancing until 4 is the norm there and it’s a lot of fun. Another thing you notice at the bars (and generally out and about) is that for what is theoretically a conservative society, the level of PDAs is really really bizarre. The young couples sit in the parks, stand in the streets, dance in the bars etc and are all over each other, apparently because it’s not allowed at home, so they all do it out in public. Really quite interesting and in a way kinda sweet if you don’t factor in the ridiculous level of teenage pregnancies and illegal abortions.



I also went along one day to visit Fuentes Georginas - basically a series of pools that are filled by natural hot springs. The setting is beautiful, way up high in the hills and generally every afternoon it’s covered in a cloud of mist because of the high altitude so it has an almost ethereal quality, and the pools have a lot of jungle trees and rocks around them so it’s all really beautiful. The water is heated by the nearby volcano and one of the pools (which is pretty huge, like a big natural swimming pool) is so hot you have to get in an inch at a time like in a boiling bath. After being in there for a while I felt like I was cooking so got in the FREEZING shower and basically started a pattern of boiling then freezing myself for the afternoon. Lots of fun and very different to going for a swim at the beach. You could hardly even move in this pool without feeling like you were scalding your limbs.



One afternoon here after school I went along with one of my friend’s here to his work. Damian is another Aussie (from Melbourne) who works as a primary school teacher at home and here is kindly offering his time and teaching for free at one of the local public schools. Here the way the public schools work is really weird. Firstly, the kids either have class in the morning or in the afternoon, so there are two groups of classes. The morning classes run from 7am - 1pm and the afternoon 1pm-5pm. Almost all of the kids work when they are not at school, whether on the family farm, in the house, in the family shop or whatever, from when they are really small. Most of the girls have classes in the morning while the boys are at work with the family and the boys have classes in the afternoon.

So anyway, I went along with Damian and visited 2 of his classes with him. One was only boys, aged 11 & 12. It’s pretty funny to see how many things are similar despite the massive divide in cultures... The ‘fat boy’ in the class was clearly being teased and had to stand up to himself against the obvious ‘head honchos’ in the class... The naughty kids talked and showed off while the good students tried to get approval from the teacher.  The second class was younger students including a few girls. The boys there made sure to ask me “Que significa fug yoo en inglés?” (What does fuck you mean in English) and also “Que significa shit en inglés?” Some things just don’t change. What was sad though was the obvious lack of education, lack of opportunity and lack of discipline. Having said that Damian was very good with them and assured me they were usually well behaved but having the random unknown, foreign woman in the class had them all a bit rowdy.



Anyway, that’s just a few of the things that have been filling my time, Xela has treated me very well (bar illness and injuries anyway) and it’s been a great place to get to know the culture of Guatemala. I’ve made some great friends here too who I will hopefully get to do some more of my travelling with and who I’m sure I’ll stay in touch with over time.

Next stop are the Copan Ruins in Honduras, before the magical island of Utila for some more scuba diving and some much needed sun, Xela being a cold high altitude town has stolen my tan and I need to get it back! Before that though I have another trip to see the football tonight and more Xelaju! Wahoo!!!

Hope you’re all well and happy!

Jahne ox


Tags: hot springs, salsa, school, spanish, xela

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