Monday, March 29, 2010

Casa de Waffle, y Casa de Corea?!?!?!

Sunday morning, shortly after I woke up, Claudia came to my room and asked if I wanted to go into Guatemala City for breakfast with the whole family. Of course I did, but when I asked her when we were leaving, she told me "Oh, 10 minutes." I knew I couldn't shower and be ready by then, so when I told her I'd need about 30 minutes she gave me a sad, "I don't think we can do that" look.

About 5 minutes later, Pablo came to my door and said "Emily, I need to shower, too. You can still come with us!" So I said, "Ok, we'll race... uno, dos, tres, VAMOS!"

By the time I had showered, blow dried, lotioned, and dressed, Pablo still had one sock and one shoe off. I WON!!! (PS - It only took 10 minutes, haha!)

Anyways, we hopped in the car and went to Guatemala City for a morning of eating, shopping, shopping, and driving! Since you can't actually be here with me, I took photos which, if you enlarge them on your computer and sit VERY close to the screen, might enable you to pretend you're here :)

Road to Guatemala - The twists!

The turns!

The... Waffle House??

PS - I kid you not, I also saw a place called Denny's, specializing in breakfast (desayuno), which was basically three picnic tables and a tent!



y Yo, tambien!

We went to a really delicious place for breakfast - I had a Mediterranean omelet and some weird black bean loaf. It was great!

Guillermo and Titi (ps - I had to go look up his name just now... shows how much I see Titi's husband, haha)

After breakfast we went to Guatemalan Sam's Club - PriceSmart!

Pablo and I had fun eating and drinking EVERY free sample we came across. We also had a swordfight with whiffle-ball bats. This family probably thinks when I said I was 27 years old, I meant 17. Or 12.

Today I got a pedicure. Titi's sister owns a salon, and did an excellent job, in spite of the fact that I haven't had a pedicure in more than 2 years (probably more like 4 or 5) and kept giggling and wincing like a baby :) (ps - I know the ladies are wondering.... it was about $11)

On the way to the bus, I finally passed the Korean restaurant!

The menu seems like it was taken straight from in front of a restaurant in Korea, except for the funny spellings and prices in Quetzales :)

I definitely need to eat there before I leave!

Love you all! Leave comments!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


So today started out a bit rotten. Last night, I was invited by Julio to go with him and Carina (his girlfriend) and some friends to the beach. I was very excited, even when he said we'd leave at 6 am. So at 5:45 this morning I rolled out of bed, packed a bag, and was ready to go. And I waited. And waited. Then I laid back down (with the light on and the door open) and must have fallen back to sleep. And they left without me.

I was disappointed, as I really wanted to see the ocean here. But then Claudia invited me to walk up to the coffee plantation near the house and have a cuppa and read a while. So I did, and it was great!

The coffee was fantastic, and they have a lot of tours you can do. Sometime this week I think I'll go back and do the canopy tour - where you take 7 different ziplines through the trees!

Then we came back to the house for lunch, which was delicious - I love how much guacamole we eat here! Now I'm just sitting - I was going to go into Antigua today, but I'm getting a pedicure there Monday, so I'll just wait to explore more until then :)

I forgot to include the photos of Antigua's Parque Central in my last post... It's very famous here, and many people go there just to hang out. And it's pretty. And has a naughty fountain.

That's the excitement for the weekend, folks. Hope you're enjoying the pictures and updates!

Love you all!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Antigua and a Convent

Thursday morning was uneventful, thank goodness. Except for sweating my face off on the bus and having a complete mental block in my Spanish class, everything was normal :)

I went back to mi casa for lunch, and then decided to head back into Antigua to walk around and take photos (ps - I'm actually living in Jocotenango, which is basically Antigua's left arm... but I can't walk to the downtown area from here)

One of the first places I went was an old convent that had been destroyed by earthquakes. It was basically a big brick patio with some arched doorways and a fountain - but it's attached to a beautiful bright yellow church. Pictures:

I also discovered the Pillsbury Dough Boy's skanky cousin:

Do you see the arched bridge over the street in this photo?:

Apparently the nuns who lived in a convent down this road used to have to cross the street to go eat their meals. Every time they did, the men would gather and try to talk to them - eventually, some nuns started running away with the men - So the Mother Superior had this bridge built so the nuns couldn't interact with the men!

Here's just a typical Antiguan street:

I'm inserting the funny story I previously posted here, as I deleted that post:
I was walking around Antigua, and encountered many people handing out flyers for various restaurants and hotels. Not so strange - we've all gotten these things before.

One guy handed me a flyer, then said "Where you from? De donde eres? Where you from?" (Really - all 3 sentences ran together) When I told him the US, he said "Ah, American! You want to buy some really good weed?"

Apparently selling pot suddenly overshadowed selling a dinner when he found out I was from the US. He didn't seem to believe me when I told him I didn't smoke, and then laughed at me when I continued to walk away.

Anyways, it made me laugh.

After walking around, I decided I wanted a beer. I went into a place that advertised it's rooftop patio, and ended up meeting some nice people. And took a picture:

Of course, they all left this morning to go home.

(ps - can you see the necklace I'm wearing in that picture? Eduardo, the guy who took me on his motorcycle, deals in handmade Guatemalan items (clothing, jewelry, etc). Anyways - he was at the house when I returned after lunch yesterday, and gave Carina and I necklaces from his new "shipment"... I love it!)

So now it's Friday. School was uneventful, and I have no idea what the weekend holds. I wish I lived close enough to go out on my own, but maybe it's for the best :) I just hope I'm not bored out of my mind this weekend. And if I am, I hope I get off my butt and go do something :)

Love you all!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

There was an earthquake today!! My first one ever!!

Ok, so it only lasted about 10 seconds, but according to a news article I found, it was a 4.7. So that's exciting, right? My coffee threatened to slosh off the table, and my stomach dropped to my knees. But then I was told I wasn't going to die (right then) so it was ok :) Shortly afterward, I bought a tostada from a woman carrying a big basket of the makings. It was delicious. And covered in guacamole. Yum.

Also, I took the bus to and from school ALL BY MYSELF today! I was still giggling this morning that the extent of the notifications people have of the buses is a man shouting and whistling "Antigua! Antigua!" I made it to school in under 30 minutes today, so we must have been walking slowly yesterday.

We had a lot of fun at MonoLoco last night. It was ladies night, and all the rum/gin/vodka based drinks were 3 Quetzales, or 37 cents. Also, I tried the nachos there. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that these nachos are THE BEST IN THE WORLD. I know what you're thinking: "Like anyone could ever know that, Emily..." But it's true. Es verdad. I have never tasted nachos that came close to the amazing flavor explosion that these babies held. Yum.

And I took photos!

Here are the girls:

From left to right: No idea, Gabriela (Claudia's friend), Me, Claudia (the daughter of the woman who owns the house where I'm staying), Carina (the girlfriend of Claudia's brother, Julio)

The boys:

From left to right: Julio (the son of the woman who owns the house), no idea, no idea.

The beer (excellent, I might add):

Also, I took some photos of my current home. It's really beautiful.

My room:

The living room (as seen from my room):

You see all that sunlight? That's because there's no roof over half the living room - it's open air! And you can see the rooms are situated around the living room. I want to live like this.

And here are two views from the roof (part of which is under construction, as they're building an entire apartment up there):

So you can imagine where I go every day (because I know you have nothing else to think about) I'm including some photos of my school.

The board:

FYI - If I know you, and you've done anything remotely interesting, or about which I can talk in Spanish, I have discussed you with mi profesora. This woman pretty much knows my entire life. Lo siento, pero necesito aprender!

The outside of my classroom:

The garden from my classroom:

In the background of this one, if you look closely, you can see the Volcano Agua. It overlooks the town. And it's huge. And after the earthquake today, I was very concerned that it would erupt. But apparently it's not active.

Turning left from the volcano, this is what I see:

And finally, the view that sometimes distracts me as I'm sitting in class:

And that, my friends, is a glimpse into the past 3 days :) A friend of mine pointed out that I've experienced a lot already, especially for being here such a short time, and he's right. So the next 3 1/2 weeks should be interesting!

Love you all!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Morning

Well, I solved the time issue and woke up at a decent hour today. I'm afraid I'm going to get very used to a balanced breakfast being set out for me every morning. I took the bus to school for the first time today. Maximo Nivel promised no more than a 20 minute commute... it took 40. I was a little late to school.

The bus was hilarious. No real bus stop sign, just a man shouting from behind the bus "ANTIGUA! ANTIGUA!" Also, all the buses are from the US - remember the big yellow bus you took to school? That's what I'm taking now! It felt very strange and nostalgic to be sitting in that dirty brown bench seat with my knees pressed against the seatback in front of me. Also, people enter the bus not only from the front door (which never closes) but from the emergency exit in the back!

There are no real stops (I think) - it just goes until it reaches the large handcraft market in Antigua. From there, it's about a 10 minute walk to my school.

Claudia (the daughter in the house I live in) told me last night over dinner that tonight she is taking me to MonoLoco, a pretty famous bar here in Antigua. She also made me try Gallo, the #1 Guatemalan beer. I was skeptical, as Koreans say Cass and Hite are good, and they taste like muddy horse pee... But Gallo is DELICIOSO!!!! I'm looking forward to nachos y cerveza at "Crazy Monkey" tonight, and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Love you all!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tuc-Tuc update

Did I mention the streets here are all super-bumpy cobblestone? Just took my first tuc-tuc and feel like I got a mammogram. Ouch.


Ok, so I haven't posted since December. And I've left Korea a poor blogger. But let's not dwell in the past... I'm in Antigua, Guatemala, now - and I want to tell you all about it!

I left snowy Wichita at 7:40 Sunday morning. Take-off and landing were bumpy on both flights, but I made it to Guatemala City in one piece. After clearing immigration and customs, I walked outside to a large crowd, many of whom were holding signs. Unfortunately, my name wasn't on a single one.

The school had told me that someone would be there with a sign saying "Emily Weigand," but they were wrong. I began to feel a little panic-y, especially since my brilliant mind didn't think to bring along the school's address or phone number. A kindly shuttle driver was trying to help (and asking if I was single) while I watched a tiny girl playing with pieces of a broken Snapple bottle. Finally, a man showed up with my sign. Whew.

The drive was curvy and wild, and the panic returned when we passed the exit that said "Antigua" and continued on into mountains and nothing. All I could imagine was being sold into prostitution at knifepoint. Perhaps I should have gotten more sleep the night before.

We finally arrived in Antigua and he dropped me off at the beautiful home of Marta (who prefers to be called Titi). This was also confusing, as I had signed up to stay at the more dorm-style place instead of with a family... Today it was explained to me that the dorms are under construction. Titi and her family are extremely kind, and her home is beautiful. The living area is all open air, with hanging plants and soft, overstuffed couches. Around the outside of the living area are the bedrooms - kind of like lower-level apartments around a commons. My room is small and neat and I'm sure I'll make a mess of it in a few days :)

Anyways, Titi's brother Eduardo was visiting, and his English is quite good (Titi speaks none). He invited me to come into downtown Antigua to see the Holy Week Procession... on the back of his motorcycle. Again, I was nervous. But I figured if I survived airplanes and taxi-vans to nowhere, God wouldn't let me die on a motorcycle. So I went. It was great. Antigua is beautiful and old and a great place to walk around. Also, Eduardo seems to know everyone in the city, and everywhere we went he stopped and introduced me to another of his friends. (When we were leaving to go back, we ran into his girlfriend. She did not look amused to see me on the back of his bike. I wanted to point out to her that he's 60-something and I'm not interested.)

After dinner, I was very ready for bed. Also, I had to be at the school an hour early today for orientation. So I was sure to set my alarm so I could have time to shower and get ready. Except I forgot the time difference. When I was done getting around, the whole house was still black and quiet. I stressed again, thinking "I'm going to be late on my first day and won't have time to eat breakfast and this is horrible!" Then I remembered the flight attendant mentioning something about a time change. A quick Google check later, I realized I had another hour of sleep :)

The original plan for today was that the maid would take me to school and show me how to take the bus(it's much too far to walk). Unfortunately, today all the bus drivers decided to strike. No transportation into Guatemala City (where many people work), no transportation to nearby neighborhoods (where many children go to school), no public transportation anywhere! So Titi took me to school.

The school is beautiful. Again, all open air (with free coffee all day long!). My instructor is Nora, a sweet older woman who seems a bit judgemental of behaviors that don't follow strict Catholic guidelines :) After 3.5 grueling hours of forcing my brain to think in Spanish (with a small break in the middle to eat chuchitos ), Titi arrived to take me back to the house. We had an amazing lunch with some meat mixture (with cilantro), rice, homemade tortillas, and a yummy veggie mix. Then I went to my room to study Spanish. Instead I passed out. At 3, Titi woke me up to come back to the school where one of the directors gave me a mini walking tour of Antigua. Now I know where the best ice cream, wine, beer, and coffee are!

This catches you up to now, when I am sitting in the school using the computer because I'm not quite ready to go back to the house. Partly because it's good to be somewhere with lots of people, and partly because there are some English speakers here so I can rest my brain. Also, I am going to take a tuc-tuc (little three-wheeled taxi-thing) by myself, and am a bit nervous. But, like everything else I was nervous about, it'll be fine :)

Love you all! Promise I will try harder to keep this updated!