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The Paroissien Diaries

The last month of Guatemala

GUATEMALA | Tuesday, 1 December 2009 | Views [853]

The fading memories of the last month of Guatemala goes something a little like this:
Manos de Colores (the school program we were running in Xela)
-Things went from strength to strength at the school. We were simply amazed at how far the kids had come in two months. Class 1, who had a random soup of english vocab swimming in their heads when we arrived (including monkey, turtle and elbow), were speaking in sentences (well 2 or 3 sentences) by the time we left. They had begun to use the auxilirarry verb ´do´for questions and negatives which to most of you wont mean much but in our world was a huge achievement.
- Class 2, classic group of little ones, were a real challenge as most of them are only just learning to write Spanish, let alone English. However after a few trial and error classes we realized how well they responded to active style learning. A sizeable chunk of the class had Beth and me saying the English verbs, nouns and adjectives and getting the kids to act it out. by the time we left they were able to recall heaps of words and act them out.
Successfull week long projects included
The Jungle: monkeys, trees, snakes,
The Arctic: snowflakes, polar bears, seals
Space: Aliens, spaceships, planets, stars and much much more.

The great but challenging thing about the school was the numbers and attendance of the kids. Somedays you would get 3 students in each class and on a good day could get 15 kids for each class. At the end of the Guatemalan school year we expected our numbers to go up a little and so planned accordingly. With time running out to see Guatemala we popped over to Antigua for the weekend and left another couple of volunteers in charge for the monday we would be away. We got back on the Tuesday, and an hour before class were told that numbers had trippled! I nearly had a nervous breakdown! We realized we had 40 children for each class...back to the drawing board!

The curriculum
Beth and I, along with the volunteer coordinators, manged to organize, write and implement a new school curriculum for all the El Nahual english programs. Pretty cool stuff.

Construction Site:
El Nahual is currently in the process of building a new community centre where I helped out 3- 4 days a week. highlights include:
Having the feeling that I was more of a nuisance than a help.¨
"oh Andres is here again, what should we do with the gringo today?"

Daily routines.
-Dig a hole
-fill a hole
-clear the ground of weeds
-move rocks
-move rocks back
-entertain Guati building boys by filling in holes
-Sitting under a tree during smoko eating popcorn, drinking pepsi and being terrified of trying to answer questions about Australia in Spanish. Always at the end... Do you understand? Always the response... "more or less"
-Nickname was Kangoooroo

In our last week in Xela we decided to make a video to try and capture what we had done. Tuyen, another volunteer, had been there the same amount of time as us and had taken about 4 million photos of everything, whilst I had mangaed to do a few vidoes on my little digital camera. The following is the result. Her photos and my videos all put together to make up the ¨El Nahual Experience¨ It goes for 28 minutes so if you want to watch it, allow for the time. Otherwise I hope you enjoy it.


Remaining highlights of Guatemala

- Scoring a sweet room with a hot water shower for $4 a night. Big enough to host gourmet dinners and red wine night extravaganzas.

-Volcano Santa Maria. Smashing it in under three hours and then having a 5 star picnic at the top. ONce again with the delightful view of what the inside of a cloud looks like.

-Sunday volcano brunch. a lazy walk to the base of this volcano with world class views and world class rum.

- Misty picnic at a sacred lake. "Beth, you can´t throw the orange peel in the water, it´s sacred!" "She´ll be right, it´s bio degradable."

Antigua weekend.
The complete opposite of the rest of Guatemala. No street dogs, wires under the ground, cobbled streets, expensive cars...its not the "real" Guatemala but who gives a shit!
-Lush hotels (thanks mum and dad)
-boozy lunches
- red wine bars
-some serious gin hangovers
-no beans or rice.

Lago De Atitilan. -Very beautiful but unless you are on the road to Nirvana I wouldn´t bother.

The fuentes hot springs.
- A very dodgy late night chicken bus where we all thought we were gone! Followed by an even later night time pick up truck adventure, speeding up the volcano, death cliff drops on either side and everyone pretending it was fine. It wasn´t.
- Three stunning hot spring pools deep in the volcanos side, sorrounded by massive trees.
-A stupid amount of food and alchol for the night. -An outside fire used for cooking the food.
-Fire with wet wood will only be sustained by a deep commitment by a group of pyros using fastfood rubbish from your neighbours bin.

Right. stay tuned for the last chapter in a few days.

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