Saturday, August 28, 2004

Week 9 - Huehuetenango to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

August 21-27, 2004


Left Huehuetenango by bus to Quetzaltenango. Had my first really tough bus ride with a diesel driven headache and very windy roads which are beautiful but can be tough when not feeling well.

Sunday to Friday - QUETZALTENANGO (XELA)

Arrived to Quetzaltenango (commonly known as "Xela" pronounced "shay-la" - its Mayan name being Xelaju). The Minerva bus station was filled with gaudy yet really pretty school buses (like the one we rode) known as "chicken buses", along with market stands selling anything from fruits and vegetables to clothes.

Here you can see how the luggage is stacked on top of the can also see how beautifully painted the buses are...

Xela is at 2,335 meters in altitude and contains 120,000 people. One of the world's most dangerous volcanoes, Santiaguito, is five miles from Xela. It is active and one of Guatemala's 37 volcanoes.

Kiko and I both started school this week...we are both studying Spanish at different schools and are each staying with different Guatemalan families. My school is Inepas and Kiko`s is Utatlan.

In my family, there are four: my mother is Ana Maria, my dad`s name is Paco, their daughter`s name (my sister) is Ana Maria also, and she has a four year old son named David. They also have two dogs. It is very exciting, rewarding, and wonderful to actually live with a Guatemalan family.

My mother here cooks wonderful typical Guatemalan meals...platanos (fried plantains), tomalitas, black beans and eggs (frijoles y huevos), and much more!! Delicious!

Daily, I have class from 8:00am to 1:00pm. There are daily cultural activities and field trips in the afternoons which allow for much exposure to the wonderful and rich Guatemalan culture. Field trips this week included visiting a glass blowing cooperative (Copavic), a near by village (Zunil) and viewing a movie (El Norte).

COPAVIC GLASS BLOWING COOPERATIVE - I did not have my camera for this field trip, so be sure and check out the shows great photos of the people making blowing the glass...very interesting and very beautiful work. The started in 1976 and work with recycled glass.

Copavic site

ZUNIL - Beautiful small town that is home to San Simon, the Santa Ana Cooperative making hand woven crafts and employing mostly women, and many other beautiful and interesting sites. Read below and visit suggested sites for more information.

Click here to read about the Santa Ana Cooperative.

The following is taken from the web site about Zunil:
San Simón- San Símon is a statue of a Mayan god. The Mayans created him after the Conquista with Spanish clothing with the purpose of gaining his acceptance by the Spaniards. People give him gifts of alcohol, cigars, money, flowers, and candles when they are asking for help or giving thanks. October 28th is his official holiday and every year, on November 1st, he changes his site and moves to another house.

EL NORTE - A movie about a Guatemalan brother and sister who live through the massacre of their village including the killing of their parents. They seek a new life by traveling north to the United States. It shows the struggles met by many indigenous and the difficulties of working undocumented. Very powerful...very sad.

Click here for more information about El Norte...and also here, El Norte.

This movie was reinforced by my Guatemalan mother who told me of her horrible experiences living in a village during the war (see future posting in Guatemala commentary). She said that she has difficulties today as it still messes with her nerves...many years later.

The plan is to stay for another Xela.

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