Monday, December 15, 2008

Preparations

Well, there are less than thirty days to pull things together but I'm getting things organized.  Got a good rate on Continental ($314) round trip out of Newark connecting through Houston.  I'll fly into Guatemala City and grab a bus to Quetzaltenango.  With luck and no ladrones I should be with my new family by 7:00pm local time.  Looks like a long day, starting early, and finishing more than a mile higher than my home in the endless mountains of PA.  Hope the one two punch of sleep deprivation and altitude don't ruin my attitude. 

Quetzaltenango (which is also known by its mayan name Xela) is the second largest city in Guatemala with a population of around 250,000.  It's also one of the fastest growing cities in Central America.  It has a large colonial downtown, el centro, with narrow cobblestone streets and a large central park which is the hub of the zona viva.  It should offer all the charm and convenience of Antigua with a lot less tourists.  

My home is about a ten minute walk from the park and my plan is to start my days with a walk to el parque and back then four hours of morning classes and afternoons for whatever.  My host family runs the school and accomodates most students in their large home.  The director Gladis and her mother are good cooks and part of my day will be spent in the kitchen helping and going to the market for fresh goodies.  I love Mexican food and many of the dishes and ingredients are shared by their neighbors in Guatemala.  Their climate allows for a constant supply of fresh fruits and veggies and small family plots are still the norm.  Each day the two large open air markets are crowded with vendors from the countryside displaying and selling their wares.