Guatemala – a country aflame

demonstration-guateThis has been an interesting two weeks for us – especially this past week.

Corruption is endemic in Mexico (from our experience of living there last year), and now after living here in Guatemala and listening to our local friends, apparently is true here as well.

In May the former Vice President of Guatemala resigned and is now in prison awaiting her trial on gross corruption issues.  The President is under intense pressure to resign but refuses to do so – and the national presidential elections are next Sunday.

The country is fed up.  This week has seen mass demonstrations around the country demanding the resignation of the President.  Here in Xela, we saw three days of mass demonstrations, all very peaceful, but intense.

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Across the street from our apartment is an electoral voting office.  It was shut down by the demonstrators who hung large banners across the front demanding the resignation of the President.

Cars would stop in the narrow street and men would write with white shoe polish on the windows “renuncia Otto”  (resign Otto Pérez Molina) to loud cheers, blowing whistles and honking horns.  Many cars, trucks, buses, etc, here in Xela have these messages.

The Guatemalans dearly love their country but hate the corruption and suffering it brings on the people (which is exactly like what we saw and observed in Mexico).  The next two weeks will be interesting to see how all this plays out.

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Español – kicking it up a notch

Leslie and I started with a new school last week.  Our previous school was very good but it focused on conversational Spanish which is what a lot of people want.  We see a lot of young backpackers here who want maybe 3-6 weeks of conversational Spanish before heading off to travel and explore.

We signed up for a more academic, structured and intensive program.  This program is designed for young people who want to get credit for university language courses back home.

There are 4 three week courses, each course the equivalent of one semester of Spanish back home.  Our goal is to complete the 12 weeks by this fall (2 years worth of college Spanish back in the states).

Every day is 5 hours of teaching – all in español – and homework at night.  Starting at 8 (school bell goes off!) it’s non-stop teaching and conversation for 2 1/2 hours, a 30 minute “break”, then another non-stop 2 hours before we head home around 1:30 pm.  We’re mentally tired after getting home!  I spent almost all day Saturday and yesterday memorizing new words (verbs, adjectives and nouns) and doing written assignments in the textbook.

The school is just a little further from our apartment than our previous school, but it’s up a hill and because the individual teaching rooms are at the top of the building, we have spectacular views of the city.

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To get to our school, we climb a bit, and after getting to the top I’m reminded again Xela is over 7,500 feet!

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Every teacher has his/her own private room.  Leslie’s new teacher is Aury.

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My new teacher is Judith.

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Finally, the school’s visible from our apartment roof top.  The school’s the tall building with the “penthouse” room at the top.  The teacher’s rooms are all the windows on the top floor.

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Hand written receipt from Wendy’s

We visited the campus of the Peace Corps the other day and it’s close to the old city of Antigua, a popular tourist city not far from Guatemala City.

We had a few hours before catching our shuttle back to Guatemala City, so after our visit, we went into Antigua to look around and catch a bite to eat.

Wendy’s is right on the main square (loaded with tourists!), and it seemed to hit the spot with us at that moment so we went in.

The line seemed to be going slowly, but it wasn’t until we got up front, placed our order and then realized what was slowing things down – every single order got a hand written receipt!

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