Guatemala

Wednesday 24th of May 2006

Place: Flores to Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, around 270C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling good
Thought of the day: I hope we safely reach Antigua because I don’t have much trust in buses (Anit) It was a good night bus, but I didn’t get that much sleep (Henk)


Last day in Flores, time to check out the city. In the morning we packed our stuff and checked out leaving the backpacks in the hotel until late in the afternoon. The bus was at 9pm so we had the whole day to walk around.  We first found a local tiny bar with great pancakes. Good start of the day. Afterwards we made a walk around the peninsula and finally visited the internet café which is always a good option when you have to “kill” some time.

Jus before the bus we had a quick bite and off we went on our night trip down to Guatemala city. The bus was comfortable, but some kind of stress didn’t allow us to sleep much that night. We arrived to Guatemala City at 6am and after a while a man who had a piece of paper with our names took us to Antigua.

 

Thursday 25th of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Seems to be a nice city (Anit) Spanish school investigation! (Henk)


Today after a good nights rest we started to check the 4 schools we had on our list. The first school on our list was Ixchel. A quit big school (mentioned in Lonely Planet). What we liked here was that they offer first week crash courses. Ha!, sounds good. The lady who helped us could speak quite well English. All seemed fine, except for when we asked for the crash course, she did not know what we were talking about? Hmmmm, not so good. Accommodation possibilities she could show us at one 1pm. Okay we’ll be back.

Not being much impressed, we went on to the next school, Sevilla, recommended by our friend Kim.
The owner Carlos was friendly and promised us good accommodation and a good teacher. We would probably stay with a family. After a nice conversation, we went to check another school, this time recommended by the girl from the travel centre in Flores. The school was much smaller than the others but had a nice ambience and the director, Julio, was very convincing too.
We also checked the highly advertised school called La Union, but it was too massive for us. After all this investigation, it was clear that we had to make a choice between Sevilla and Antiguena. After heavy discussion, and after checking out more accommodation possibilities, we decided to try with Antiguena. Main reason where, it was a small school, Julio gave a good overview what to expect and we now we would organize our own accommodation.

When we walked today around in Antigua we liked it more and more. It has a lot of ruins because of the earthquakes but they are still impressive. Tomorrow we are going to Antiguena and to Sevilla to inform about our decision.

 

Friday 26th of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: warm and rainy, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I have a good feeling about the school we chose (Anit) Now let's get ready for some Spanish lessons (Henk)


Today after breakfast we visited Hotel Casa Rustica, a small hotel in the centre where we consider to stay for 3 weeks. It was a bit more expensive when you compare to the family stay but well, we both like freedom and privacy, that’s why Casa Rustica seemed the optimal option. Here we would have our room with private bathroom, kitchen with refrigerator, free breakfast and the laundry service. Also we could decide when to eat and what. and Antigua seems to have a lot of nice restaurants. The only problem was that there was no room for the coming days… Daryll, the hotel owner, agreed to give us the room for 1 month and for the coming 3 days we could sleep at his house. Wow, it was really nice of him to offer us place at this house not knowing us really…

We liked the idea very much. Later we went to the school to inform Julio about our decision and also we went to Carlos to let him know that we would not choose his school this time. Must be said that also this school gave us a very professional impression.

When we settled all this, we could breath out and go for a walk in the Parque Central.
Daryll helped us with the backpacks and took us home with his car. Good guy, really. His wife Carmen was also a very nice person. They had 5 dogs at home which we of course loved and spent a lot of time playing with them.


Saturday 27th of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Now, my biggest dream, let’s organize salsa lessons (Anit) Yep, that's what it will be the coming time, salsa and Spanish (Henk)

Today, when we woke up (quite late) in the new place, Daryll and Carmen had already gone. We wanted to check out salsa and fitness possibilities since we were going to settle down here for some time. But because it was Saturday, not everything was opened. Well, we walked around and visited the internet café to update our website. We also quickly discovered that there is a choice of great restaurants here serving all you can think of cuisines. Good, we are going try some of them for sure. Keeping in mind that Guatemala isn’t a safe place to walk after dark, we decided to get home early. It was about 30 minutes walk from the city centre. In the evening, when Daryll and Carmen came home, we had a nice chat until late in the night.



Sunday 28th of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and warm, 250C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling very good
Thought of the day: I love the colors of the houses here (Anit) Yes, Antigua is very picturesque (Henk)

When we woke up this morning, Daryll and Carmen were not there any more. If you run a hotel, you don’t have Sundays; you have to be there for your guests. Today is the last day before we start our Spanish classes. We decided to discover some of the places in Antigua. It was such a beautiful day. We walked towards the Parque Central and visited some churches along the way. We even stayed longer for the mass in Iglesia de San Francisco. Later we walked around and admired the beautiful colonial architecture. We also visited Daryll at the hotel and sat for a while at Parque Central to watch the life here. We noticed that the pace of life here is much slower. No stress, no people in hurry, no shouting… just relaxed.

 


Monday 29th of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: First day at school was actually a great fun (Anit) 5 hours Spanish seems long, but it goes in a flash (Henk)

We got up at 6.30am today because of the school which started at 8am. We had a quick breakfast (cornflakes and milk) and left at 7.30 in direction of the school. Daryll would take our backpacks to the hotel because today we could move there.
When we came to school everything was so new. All the unknown faces…but very friendly at the same time. We didn’t dear to speak in Spanish but they didn’t understand much English. Julio, the director, met us there and introduced to the teacher, Lorena. We had our first lesson upstairs, at a terrace with a beautiful view on the volcano. The lesson was from 8 to 1pm with 30 minutes break. During the break we met some other students and maestros. The school was small, professional and very friendly. We already liked it very much.
After the school we went back to the hotel to unpack our backpacks.
The room was very nice, the hotel itself was great too. Not only was the location great but the ambience was amazing too. With two gardens, fountains and hammocks it was a great place.
When we made a little home out of our room, we went to the supermarket to do some shopping. We would eat breakfasts here and also cook in the evenings.

At 5pm there was a free salsa lesson at one place which we wanted to visit. When we came there, we found out that the place was really small for a group lesson. The teacher could dance really nice but he didn’t pay much attention to the participants and in result, we didn’t like the lesson too much. Actually, he paid a lot of attention to himself and also a bit to the good looking girls.
However, during the lesson, we met one girl who told us about some other place where they also teach salsa, so we went there to check it out. It was in the café Sito and it was called 'Salsa con Gloria'. When we came there, we spoke to one guy, called Gerson and he told us about the lessons and about the possibility to participate in a free lesson tomorrow at Sin Ventura. Ok, why not, we will be there.

 

Tuesday 30th of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny with some clouds, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling very good
Thought of the day: Looks like we will have to solve the problem with mosquitoes in our room (Anit) Yes, it's a mens job solving the problems with the mosquitoes (Henk)

Wake, wake! At 6.45 the alarm went off. The second day of our Spanish lessons. We had breakfast in the kitchen (cornflakes + milk), than packed our notebooks and went to school. At school we had free coffee which helped to open our brains for Spanish. Lorena had a lot of patience for us and in case we couldn’t understand she explained in English. Time went really quickly.
For the lunch we chose a coffee bar at the Parque Central. They sell good sandwich and you can watch people passing by.
When we came back to the hotel it was time for the homework. Some basics but it took us two hours. We had to figure it out how to install a mosquito net in our window. We talked to Daryll and he said it was not a problem to buy a net and to put it the window. Henk went to the shop and bought some net. Some 3 hours later we had a great mosquito net in our window:


At 9pm we went to the Sin Ventura bar where the free salsa lesson was. When we came there, we saw a nice lady, called Gloria who had a microphone and who gave the lesson. She was really professional and she danced beautiful. We joined the crowd and tried our first salsa steps. We had one lesson in Mexico and one lesson yesterday at the other place, so we new more or les the basic steps already. We really enjoyed it and after the free lesson we talked to Gloria about the private lesson. She could speak English very well and we agreed to meet the next day for our first lesson. Anit was more than happy because she has been waiting for this moment for a long time.


 

Wednesday 31st of May 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds but warm, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Can’t wait until 5pm – first salsa lesson (Anit) Now we are getting busy, Spanish lesson, homework and salsa (Henk)

At school we had another nice day. We liked Lorena very much and we wanted to talk with her a lot but our narrow Spanish vocabulary still didn’t allow us to do so. It was really difficult to talk in Spanish.
There were some nice activities at school after the classes but we didn’t feel like participating in them because our Spanish was still not good enough to understand. There was also salsa planned and here we would participate for sure.

After the classes we went to a bar for the sandwich and later we came back to the hotel to do our homework. Daryll promised to give us access to the wireless internet at the hotel, but at this moment it was still impossible. To check e-mails we had to go to internet café. We also found out that opposite our hotel there was a phone box where you can call to Europe very cheap (only 6 Euro cents per minute).
Before salsa lesson we went to the supermarket to do the shopping. It was located very convenient too. Casa Rustica was simply the perfect accommodation choice.

 

 
When we came to the Café Sito for our salsa lesson we met Gloria, Gerson and Hugo. They are the salsa teachers. Besides Spanish, salsa was also very important to us and we wanted to learn it good. That’s why we decided to have private lessons; Henk with Gloria and Anita with other teacher. Gloria introduced Anita to Hugo who was going to be her teacher. The first lesson was more or less the same as the free lesson yesterday. We practiced the basic steps. One hour went really quickly but we had a lot of fun. We agreed with Gloria for the coming days. The plan was to take salsa lessons every day except for when we had salsa at school.

 

Thursday 1st of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and warm, 260C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Need to plan every day, now we had many activities every day (Anit) Rhythm of 'normal' life is coming back. Thinking already about the weekend (Henk)

In the morning in the kitchen we met some other guests of the hotel. It was a family from US with 4 kids. They also attended Spanish lessons. Actually, Antigua is a famous place for learning Spanish. There are about 70 schools here! Not easy when you have to choose one. Probably best is to go to the one recommended (checked) by someone. That’s what we did as well.
Classes were great fun today as well. We tried to talk more an more in Spanish but still it was so difficult. Anyway, when we went to the restaurant or a supermarket or any other shop, we had to communicate in Spanish and it was a great challenge. But a good practice too!
After the homework we went for our second salsa lesson.
It was really great fun. Henk had it a bit easier because Gloria could speak English but Hugo, Anit’s teacher only spoke Spanish except for: one, two, three, five, six, seven…Well, great, Anit, in the beginning, didn’t know what he was talking about but she was following. And Gloria helped sometimes too.
There was a new problem connected with salsa…we needed good dancing shoes. We only had our tramping shoes, sandals and Anit had some kind of flip flops but they all were not good for dancing.
Gloria advised us to go to a town called Pastores where we could order or buy real hand made leather cowboy boots for approximately 35 Euro. In Europe you would pay at least 200 Euro for one pair. We planned to go there during the weekend.

 

Friday 2nd of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: warm and sunny, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good health
Thought of the day: I love this city (Anit) It looks like finally I get my cowboy boots (Henk)

We woke up at 6.45 as we do every morning. After breakfast we went to school. On the way to school we started to notice the same faces we meet every day. The town started to be familiar to us. It took us 5 minutes to get to school. The distances in Antigua are small anyway because it is a very compact town with Parque Central as the orientation point.
At school we had fun as every day. More and more Spanish every day but we didn’t see much progress yet. Because we were not traveling any more but did other regular activities in one place, our life was more like in Europe and we got a feeling of coming weekend for the first time since a long time.
For the lunch time we went to a very nice Italian restaurant called Queso y Vino where they have delicious sandwiches. As we found out later, the pizza and other stuff were even good. At 6pm this we had our next salsa lesson. Gerson, Hugo and Gloria were there when we came. Friday seemed to be a busy day because there were more students having lesson at the same time. Today we learned first turns and after practicing with maestros, we both had to dance together. It was great. It’s a good feeling when you can do some turns and not only the basic steps.
After salsa we went again out to have some light meal. Later we walked around and admired this beautiful city.



Saturday
3rd of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Markets are a common thing in all of the countries we visited (Anit) Life is great here (Henk)


We woke up this morning later that usual simply because it was Saturday and we didn’t have to go to school! We had a breakfast, talked a bit with the hotel staff and the other guests and checked our e-mails since the wireless internet was already working. What a difference when you can surf in internet while having a breakfast in the kitchen. Now we can quickly check some news in Holland and Poland and use msn not leaving the hotel. Moreover, we can show our parents our hotel and even the street. The good thing is that internet usage is included in the price of the room.
It was already afternoon when we left for the market. Markets are always nice to visit because you never know what you can come across. We bought some CD’s. On the way back to the hotel we made a stop at the supermarket for the food supplies. And so there was already evening.
Some 3 doors further from Casa Rustica, is Café 2000 where you can watch films on the big screen. This evening we decided to watch some movies there because there is no cinema in Antigua. They also serve nice food too.

 

Sunday 4th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, 260C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: What a lazy day (Anit & Henk)


Today we slept longer again. We didn’t have much plan for today except for making the further traveling plans and learning Spanish. We didn’t know exactly where we wanted to go after Guatemala. Our dream was to dive at Galapagos Islands but as we found out it was terrible expensive. South America is huge and we didn’t know which places to choose for our last month of traveling. Galapagos would fit in time but it would blow our budget which was already in bad condition. We checked out in internet the connections, hotels and diving packages but it was very expensive (total price for 2 would be around 5,000 US$). We sent out some inquires and Henk checked out connections back to Europe. We also had a look for jobs because we started to look around considering that we would be back within two months.
The rest of the day we spent on learning Spanish.

 

Monday 5th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: some rain, cloudy, around 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I do like Mondays in Antigua (Anit) It's rainy season, which means temperature is good and mostly in the evening one big shower (Henk)

Today the second week of the Spanish school started. At school there were the same teachers but there were some changes in students. There are people who come for one week to refresh Spanish or just learn basics and go further on traveling. And there are others like us who come for longer. In meantime we got to know other teachers and we started thinking, we might change Lorena for somebody else. It’s good to learn new accents and maybe to get to know some other point of view because Spanish lessons are not only about the language but about the culture of Latin America too.

After the classes we went for a lunch in a small café close to the school. At 2pm we had salsa at our school. Salsa lesson was with Olga, one of the teachers of the school. It was nice, a bit different than with Gloria.
In the afternoon we had to buy some wall paper and markers because we wanted to write down all the new verbs and their changes on the paper and hang it on the walls of our room. We had to learn so many verbs that we thought we could “visual” them when looking at them on the walls of our room. Of course Daryll didn’t mind (this guy is super relaxed) that we would change the room a little bit. We would do it during the next weekend because it was quite a lot of work. The second learning help would be the small cards with the Spanish verb on one side and the English one on the other. Would it help us to memories them? We hope so!

 

Tuesday 6th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Tonight salsa party! (Anit) Pfffff Spanish is harder than I thought and also Salsa is not easy(Henk)


The day started like always with the breakfast at 7am and the school from 8 up till 1pm. After school we went to the restaurant called “Las Palmas” which was located on the same street as our hotel. They have here very good food at very reasonable prices. We found out that we can eat lunch at some cheap restaurants here because it is not so much more expensive if we had to buy food at the supermarket. And also considering the time we would need for cooking, eating out was just a very convenient option. Hahaha, how to convince yourself of that something nice is good.
When we came to hotel it was already 3pm and time for studying. We had to do our homework and study what we handled during the lesson. We studied together and had a lot of fun. Actually we didn’t know each other from this side. In the afternoon we ate pineapple which replaced the supper. We didn’t have to eat anything else. One warm meal per day was absolutely sufficient.
At 9pm we went again to Sin Ventura for salsa party. We participated in the free lesson and later tried to practice what we have learnt up till now. Gloria, Gerson and Hugo were there as well as some other persons who we met during the classes. At around 10pm there were so many people that it was almost impossible to dance. And it was so hot that we were sweating like a hell. But we had fun because the atmosphere was great and the beer cold.

 

Wednesday 7th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I can understand a bit of Spanish! (Anit) Should or should we not change our teacher? (Henk)

Today was a very sunny day. We could feel it sitting upstairs at school. The walls are painted light green and this additionally reflects the sun resulting in pain in the eyes. It is difficult to concentrate like this so we asked Julio if we could change the classroom as from the next week. It was not a problem. Also changing a teacher was not a problem. Good. Next week new teacher and new classroom. We think it would be good. It at first didn't seem an easy decision, but when we talked to Julio, it was no problem. Also we agreed with Julio that we would stay longer.

At 2 pm there was an activity organized by our school. It was a city tour around Antigua, with Spanish speaking guide. Seemed difficult to follow but Anit decided to join them. Henk didn’t feel like and went back to hotel to work on the computer. The group was really small; only 3 persons and a guide. It was difficult to understand but the guide didn’t mind repeating and speaking slowly. In fact what we saw and visited was very interesting. Antigua has a very vivid colonial history on one hand and amazing Mayan culture from the other. We spent 3 hours walking around and visiting churches, monuments, public laundry, monastery, parks and other sites.

Henk even was worried a bit about Anit being out so long. But the time went really quickly and after 3 hours she was back at hotel. We had some fruit and went for our salsa lesson. It was good, as always. When we came back home we spent some time on internet and went to sleep.

 

Thursday 8th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: No special thoughts today (Anit & Henk)

When we woke up this morning it was raining. Actually it rained a lot during the night too. They told us it was rainy season in Guatemala now. Oh, we were not happy to hear this. The good thing was that the rain was mostly at night and in the late afternoon and the temperature was anyway around 23-26 degrees. Well, it’s not bad at all. We had to buy umbrella so after school we went to the supermarket and bought one. At 2pm we went to Café 2000 to watch the Worldcup 2006 in Germany. They had all the games on the big screen. The afternoon we spent on studying and writing e-mails, reading news, looking around for the jobs, and so on. At 6pm we had salsa again. It was raining hard again so the evening we spent in our room studying Spanish.


 

Friday 9th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and some rain, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling very well
Thought of the day: Wolrdcup 2006 how would Poland and Holland do? We would all see it live! (Anit & Henk)


We woke up at 6.45 ate breakfast and went to school. It was the last day with Lorena, our Spanish teacher. At 10.30 we joined other students for “Scrabble”. Quite a challenge for the beginners but we could use dictionary and support of our maestras. And you know, Henk won. He was really good. The prize was a bus ticket to the beach of Monterico. Well, what would we do with one ticket to Monterico? We asked Julio if it was possible to change it into a tour to the volcano Pacaya. It was better because Anit was promised to get a free tour to the volcano so it would be nice if we could go together. And so we got two tickets to the volcano. We appreciated the flexibility of Julio. After the school we went for a lunch. Later we visited  market, grocery and went to café 2000 to watch the football.  



Saturday 10th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: How nice to start a day with salsa (Anit) (Henk)

Today at 10am we had 2 hours salsa lessons. Time goes always quickly when we dance. After the classes we went to Pastores, a small town, 10 minutes from Antigua by bus, where they make boots. Gloria advised us to have a look at a small shop called Justin boots where she always buys her boots. The first challenge was to find a bus going to Pastores. Normally there is no bus schedule at the bus terminal in Antigua but you have to listen to the guys shouting out from the bus where they go. So, for example, from the one going to Guatemala city you would hear: Guate, Guate!
Really cool. But we had to find the one going to Pastores?!!?!??!
It was not difficult because when they see a bit confused tourists they help you and ask where you want to go. Also, they helped us with stepping out at the right bus stop. Pastores was indeed one street only with boots shops. Before making decision we wanted to see all shops. The boots were more or less the same so we decided to use the reference of Gloria and visit the Justin boots. It took us 1 hour to explain what kind of boots we wanted. They didn’t have our size so we had to order tailor made ones. Really cool. They took our sizes and wrote down details. When we left the shop exhausted by explanation in Spanish we only hoped that we wouldn’t get sandals. We had to come back one week later to try them.
In the evening we went out to our favorite Italian restaurant for a nice pizza and around 9.30 to a discotheque next door.


Sunday
11th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I didn’t know that Catholicism was so strong here (Anit) Look at our hotel room (Henk)

Today the whole day we spent on preparing our Spanish verbs. It took us a lot of time to write down all the verbs and their forms in present tense. We did it in the kitchen because we needed more space and other guests and hotel staff were wondering us for the effort we put in it. In the evening we put the ready papers on the walls. This is how are room looked like now:



At 7pm there was a mass in La Merced, a very nice church close to our school. It was indeed very nice only we couldn’t understand what the priest was saying. Quite nice experience but would have to buy/borrow a book with a mass in order to follow it.

 

 


Monday 12th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and rain, 230C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Spanish torture… (Anit) More speed with Olga and also we learn street language (Henk)

We were very curious about our new Spanish teacher. Olga turned out to be very friendly, to the point and energetic teacher. We had to talk a lot during the lesson and it felt like a torture…you want to talk a lot but you still has this barrier…. During the lesson another Olga told us about the school trip to a village called San Pedro where we could encounter Mayan women and listen to their stories about Mayan culture and habits. It seemed interesting and we signed in. It would be on next Wednesday. After the lesson we had a quick lunch and at 2pm we were back at school for salsa with Olga. Now we had lessons with Olga and salsa with Olga which was fine because we had a lot of fun. Olga gave us a lot of homework so the rest of the day we spent on studying.

 

Tuesday 13th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and rain, 230C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: When you meet the same people on the streets every day you feel more and more like at home (Anit) Anybody knows what is "Chichiflix"? (Henk)

The “Las Palmas” staff, a Chinese girl, two black guys selling perfumes on the street are the people we meet every day when walking to the school. Buenos dias, Buenos dias…
Also the two street dogs living at hour hotel greet us every time we enter or leave:

We really like it here. After 10 months of traveling we love to stay in one place, unpack the backpacks and put them into wardrobe…
It gives us the possibility to build friendships and to do some fun things with new friends. We like it here so much that we decided to prolong our stay in Antigua. We decided to concentrate on Spanish and salsa, see something more of Guatemala and postpone South America for the next trip. We checked the connections, asked Daryll if we could stay longer at his hotel and finally informed Julio, the school director that we would stay another month. He was happy, you can imagine… We also. The fact that there was the Worldcup 2006 Germany going on also helped made us stay here. Since Poland and Holland were participating we wanted to see all their matches.

 


Wednesday
14th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, San Pedro, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, around 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: We’ve just got married, ha ha (Anit) But not for real, just wanted to make the point (Henk)

Today was a school trip to San Pedro. We first met at school and than in a group of 20 people we left for the bus station. Top San Pedro we went by chicken bus which was really funny. It took us maybe 20 minutes to get there. In San Pedro we visited a shop with traditional Mayan clothes and one Mayan woman talked about The Mayan women community. They make the clothes and sell them. The money they earn by selling it they invest in schools for their children. On of the customs was the wedding ceremony. We were chosen to demonstrate the bride and the bridegroom and our best families where 2 ladies from the US. It was really funny:

After the demonstration we could taste the typical Mayan food which was good. The whole trip was interesting not only because we learnt more about Guatemala but also because we got to know more other teachers and students.

In the afternoon again we had salsa lesson. Wow, we dance with a great pleasure.

 

Thursday 15th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: (Anit) (Henk)

Today we woke up as usual just before 7am. We had breakfast, quick conversation with Angela from the hotel and we went to school. Every morning we take coffee at school and go to our classroom. The classroom walls are made of glass so we can see everything what is happening around. It is a good strategic place to be informed about the school life.

 

At 10.30 we had a 30 minutes break and we talked and laughed a lot with the teachers. It is always a good moment to practice Spanish! The lesson went quickly and at 1pm we went for a lunch, this time to our favorite Italian restaurant Queso y Vino. The sandwiches are so big that they fill you up to the end of the day.
At 6pm we had salsa again with Gloria and Hugo. We made progress, really. We have more and more pleasure in dancing together. 

 

Friday 16th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, some rain in the evening, 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: It’s interesting what Olga says about the situation of Guatemalan women (Anit) We are getting somewhere with our Spanish (Henk)


Today at school we had a very nice conversation about the situation of Guatemalan women. Our Spanish lessons are not only about the language but also about the culture, religion, situations of the local families, etc. It is said what we heard about the local women having so little chance to educate themselves, to develop their skills and work professionally. The man was dominating here and indeed you can see and feel it. We talked a lot and we liked to compare our countries with the local reality. We liked it so much that we decided to make a power point presentation for the next Friday about Poland, Holland and Guatemala in different aspects. Should be interesting.
When we came home from the school, we left our books and went out to eat something. We also did the shopping and checked the e-mails. At 5pm we had 2 hours salsa lesson and after that we talked with Gloria and Hugo about the trip to Monte Rico this weekend. They would hire a bus and we would go for Saturday and Sunday. In the evening we packed our stuff for the weekend at the sea side.



Saturday 17th of June 2006

Place: Antigua to Monterico, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and hot at the sea side, 320C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling very well
Thought of the day: We have never seen black sand before (Anit & Henk)

We agreed to meet at 10am in the Parque Central so we woke up at 8am this morning. We had breakfast and went to the agreed place to meet the others. When we were sitting on the bench, two guys came, Wilson and Denis so we joined them and waited together. In Guatemala you can forget about punctuality. If Guatemaltecos agree to meet at 10, they start to appear around 10.40. It’s normal but we needed some time to get used to it and not get irritated. But today it was even worse. At around 10.45 Hugo came and told us that the trip was postponed until 1pm because there were problems with a bus. Ok, well, good start of the day. Relax. We decided to go to a bar nearby to have coffee and maybe a small bite. It was a perfect day with much sun and nice temperature. At 1pm we went again and this time more and more people appeared. We didn’t know exactly how many people would go and who exactly would go but we were happy to find out that there are more foreigners, two girls from USA. At around 2pm the bus came, we jumped in and went to the beach. It was a long way and it was so hot there that we hardly could breath in the bus. We were all together with 12 people in a small bus.
When we arrived in Monte Rico the first hotel was occupied. The Guatemaltecos didn’t book any place, relax man. The other hotel did have places and 10 minutes later we were on our way to the beach. The Pacific Ocean was wild, amazing to see how the huge waves break when hitting the coast. Guatemaltecos played football, we walked a bit and played in shallow water. Henk dared to enter the water. It was so nice there. Later we went back to the hotel, took a swim in the pool at our hotel, changed clothes and went our to get some food.

 

Later we decided to go to Café del Sol where we had possibility to danse salsa. It was such a beautiful place right next to the beach, with open bar and a lot of space for dancing. Look how we practiced what we have learned:

 

At 2am we came back to the hotel and could not sleep that night because of:

  1. mosquitoes
  2. being very hot in the room
  3. some of us liked the cerveza (beer) too much J uh….

 

Sunday 18th of June 2006

Place: Monterico to Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: hot, 320C
Health: Henk & Anit kind of weak
Thought of the day: It's hard to wake up early after long party with alcohol, but we want to see the Worldcup (Anit & Henk)

Amazing that we could get up at 7.30 am this morning. And this all because of the football. We agreed with Café del Sol that we would come for breakfast and for watching the football. And so we did. A bit weak we tried to wake up by coffee and nice breakfast. Later also the other came and we watched football together. No way to go to the sea because it was terrible wild. Together with the 2 girls from USA we stayed at Café del Sol and did our homework. It was a lazy Sunday for everybody. At around 4pm we went back to the village where the car was waiting. We took our stuff from the hotel, packed the car and left to Antigua. It was  great trip, with a lot of salsa, football, fantastic Pacific and black sand.



 

Monday 19th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, around 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I like Mondays (Anit) Well, one more Sunday would also be nice (Henk)

After such a nice weekend you normally have problems with getting up early in the morning on Monday. Well, not in our case, because we like our school very much and go there with pleasure. At school we heard that Olga is reserved for the next week and that we will have to have a new teacher. It’s a pity but we asked Julio to recommend a good, new teacher. He introduced us to Julia. She was very nice, we knew her already so we thought that we would be happy with her. After school we went to Pastores to pick up our boots because we were not able to do so on Saturday. When we came there however, the shop was closed. Great, we came for nothing. The owner was away the whole day according to his daughter. Well, relax man, it’s Guatemala. Well, we would have to come back next day. At school today we had salsa lesson with Olga at 4pm. Later we eat something and studied Spanish.

 

Tuesday 20th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds, 230C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: We are now really getting somewhere with this Spanish and Salsa (Anit & Henk)


Today nothing special happened. We went to school, after we went out to have something to eat and at 6pm we had 1 hour salsa. In meantime we tried to do our homework. At 9pm as always on Tuesday we went to Sin Ventura where we met most of the people who were with us in Monterico. How nice! We danced half the night like crazy.

 

Wednesday 21st of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sun and warm, about 260C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: 2 more days before our 1st Spanish presentation, maybe it was not so good idea to volunteer to this? (Henk)

We woke up at 6.45 am. Difficult when you dance a lot the night before... After breakfast we went to school greeting all the people we meet every day on our way to school. The day at school went good and after the lunch we rushed home to prepare the presentation for Friday. Unfortunately, reading news, e-mails and doing homework didn’t leave much time left for making the presentation. And so it got late and we had to go to salsa lesson.

After dancing we didn’t feel like doing it any more but we spent some time on practicing the verbs which didn’t want to stay in our heads…

 

Thursday 22nd of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: warm but cloudy, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling very well
Thought of the day: Good-bye Carly (Anit & Henk)

Today was the ultimate day for our presentation. We were supposed to show it tomorrow. After school we went home and worked on it together. We decided to make one presentation and to present it together. It took us some time but went quite smooth. At 5pm Henk had 2 hours salsa lesson and Anita at 6pm 1 hour. After our lessons we went back to the hotel to complete the presentation.

Today was a bit sad day because Carly, one of the 2 girls from Monterico had her farewell party. She was leaving tomorrow. We agreed to meet at 9.30pm in Sin Ventura. It was not only salsa night but also merenge and pop music. We had a great night. At 1pm they closed Sin Ventura so we had to go to Café Sito for after party. Well, it was not so nice as Sin Ventura but it was nice to stay with Carly longer. She was leaving at 4am so she didn’t have to sleep that night at all. It was 3pm when we said goodbye to each other. I wonder (Anit) how are we going to get up tomorrow…

 

Friday 23rd of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I need sleep! (Anit) Anit is Kamiek (Mayan language) me to by the way (Henk)



It was indeed difficult to get up this morning. And to make it worse, we had to give the presentation today. Loads of coffee and it should be fine. It took as almost 2,5 hour to present and discuss the presentation. Olga liked it very much and for us it was a great exercise.  Only, after school, first thing we did was sleep. We came back to hotel and slept for 3 hours of so. When we got up we went for salsa lesson, two hours. But we had our energy back, so no worries. On Friday, Gloria has always several lessons at the same time which is also nice because we can change the partners. Everybody dances a bit different and that’s why it’s important to try different styles. This weekend we are going to relax.



Saturday 24th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, around 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Shall I buy the boots or not?? (Anit) And, do we get boots or sandals???(Henk)

Today we first went to Pastores to pick up the boots. We had no idea if the shop would be open but we had to go to check it out. We were lucky this time. The shop was open and the boots were there. We liked them. Such tailor made boots are great, they fit so well. And they seem to be really good for dancing. On the way back we made stop at the market and supermarket to do the shopping. We also bought new jeans for Henk and Anit because they fit well with boots. In the evening we went for a walk around Antigua and also had something to eat. 


Sunday
25th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: I have never seen such a brutal match in my life (Anit) Holland oh my Holland, what are you doing!!!! (Henk)


It’s Sunday and the weekend is almost over. It’s weird after so long traveling to get back to this week/weekend rhythm, but we think it’s good to do it now.

After breakfast Anit called her parents. Good timing, also her grandfather and grandmother were present. She had time to speak with all of them. It was nice to hear they are all fine.

Today is also the big day. Will Holland move on to the quarter-finals? The game will start at 14.00h (Guatemala time). Portugal is a difficult opponent. At 10 we saw England beat, via a beautiful free kick of Beckam, Ecuador. If Holland wins, they have to play against the English. That will be a good match.
In between we tried to work a bit on the web-site. We still have a bit a delay and Anit’s parents already asked when will there be new material.

At 1pm we go to our big screen bar Café 2000 for a lunch and game. We had already reserved good seats last night so that’s fine.
Close to 2pm the whole place was completely orange. Hardly any Portuguese to see.
Holland started quite good with some nice changes, but rapidly the game changed to a war. The referee lost completely the overview and saw most things wrong (When will FiFA change this, the technology is already there). In chaos of the game the referee gave one yellow card after the other. In the end he gave 8 yellow cards and 4 red!!!! Can you believe, on this level???
Portugal won the match with 1-0 and Holland is out. Everybody was sad, but Henk thinks Holland did not play well. And one thing he could not understand from the beginning, why leave the top striker in Germany, Mr. Makaay at home and bring Kuyt.
Well anyway, less football means more time for Spanish, but of course we hoped and yelled that Holland should have one. To watch such games far away from home brings a lot of good atmosphere and emotion.

After the game we worked further on the web-site.
At 7pm we went to church. It was a nice mass, but still difficult to understand. At the church we saw some teachers from our school. It’s nice to know some people around.
After the church we had a quick meal (burritos) and check out one place for Salsa, but there was nothing to do. We returned back to the hotel and called it a day.
Tomorrow was important, new teacher so we had to be fit!

 
Monday
26th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and heavy rains in the afternoon, 200C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Let’s see what the new teacher brings (Henk & Anit)


Monday morning, at 6.40h the alarm rang for the first time. It’s not easy to get up. We’ll we simply have to. It’s time to go to school and learn Spanish!!!!
Exactly at 8am we arrived at the school. Today we got our 3rd teacher. It seems maybe strange, but change is mostly good.
Julia is her name. She starts good. Repeating the verbs and checking us how good we know them. We do not know them so well. 
After some exercises we move on to a new chapter of grammar “the Imperfecto”. Wonderful, again a new time in Spanish. How may more would we get?
The lesson went very well and the tempo was high. Julia speaks clear and asks the right questions. We like it.
After 5 hours we were also happy it was finished. Well, actually not completely. As homework we have to write a story using the Imperfecto. Before the homework a nice lunch. Where to go this time. We decided to take Las Palmas again. Always friendly staff and good food. Also this time. With a nice glass of red (for Anit) and white wine (for Henk) we feel good in Antigua.
Afterwards we finish our homework, check the internet and Henk saw Ukraine win over Switzerland via penalty shootout. This time the referee was better than in the last 2 games.

In the evening we together rehearsed the verbs in all 3 times. Not an easy task.

 

Tuesday 27th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds but no real rain, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Parque Central is my favorite place here (Anit) We have to get this thing organized for Floor’s wedding (Henk)

Today after school we agreed to meet Hugo who would help us to make a film for Floor and Annemarieke who were getting married. The idea was to make a short movie with some view on Antigua including our greetings. Hugo came as agreed and we made 3 times a short movie and then chose the best one. It was funny. Later Hugo showed us where we could buy postcards and all together we went to Café Sito where our salsa lessons take place.

In the evening we visited Sin Ventura for salsa party. Again we had great fun and we met many friends.


 

Wednesday 28th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: Nice day with lot of sunshine, 260C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Julia, our Spanish teacher, is really good (Anit) It’s hard some days like today. Spanish and also the salsa are not easy for me (Henk)

We had hard time to get up this morning. Of course it was related to our visit to Sin Venture yesterday evening. At exactly 8am we arrived at our Spanish school. Just in time.

Julia also came and we started the lesson as usual with some discussion about yesterday and how we had spent the rest of our day yesterday. Grammar regarding Imperfecto was all covered and it was time for more practice.
One type of practice we liked was each one of us chooses a type of job (fire man, teacher, etc) and than the other would ask questions about the job and the life. In Spanish of course.

Julia was very structured and we liked it very much, so she put the plan for the day on the board and repeated the goals for the week.
Also today the time flew and we did a lot.

Close to one o’clock we received our tarea (homework) and left the school. We decided to have lunch at Las Palmas again, but first back to the hotel. Lunch was good as usual and after lunch we started with our homework. To distinguish the difference between Preterito (simple past) and Imperfecto is not easy.

At 17.50pm we hurried to get to salsa classes with Gloria and Hugo. Henk is now really improving and knows already quit some vueltas. Still he struggles not to mix them. For Anit it’s time she works more on the hands. The feet are doing the right job, but now, to compete the moves, she needs the right hand signs. Not so easy.

Also this lesson flew and around 20.15pm we came back to our hotel to do some more tarea. We still had to prepare the text “A letter to God” and Henk wanted also to work on the web-site.



 

Thursday 29th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: The hours, the days and the weeks fly by (Anit & Henk)

Today at school we realized that the verbs are our weak point. But we are not the only ones! There are more students who mix them in different tenses. At least Julia was very structured and had a lot of patience for us. After school we went to the fast food with burritos and had a lunch there. Later Anit went to the supermarket to do the shopping and Henk worked on the computer. In the afternoon we wrote compositions which were our homework for tomorrow and at 6pm we had our salsa lessons again. It went fine. We learned again new turns and danced together to practice them. When we came back to the hotel, we had some pineapple and went to bed.

 

Friday 30th of June 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: It’s nice Julia doesn’t give us homework for the weekend (Anit) Vino y Queso is definitely my favorite restaurant although Las Palmas is also very good (Henk)


Friday is always nice. In the morning we went to school and learned a lot again. At least we handled a lot of material; whether it stays in our heads or not, we don’t know. After school we went to our favorite Las Palmas for the lunch. The staff is really friendly here and they know us already because we visit them quite often.
After lunch we went to the market to look for some Spanish films. We try to buy the ones with English/Spanish subtitles because we can learn the language like this. We bought Titanic, Crash, and Madagascar. Now we can watch it in the evening.
Just before salsa we eat pineapple, checked e-mails as every day and that at 6pm our lessons start. It’s nice that salsa is just around the corner. It takes us 1 minute to get there. Nice, he?

As every Friday, it was busy at Café Sito. Many people dancing but Hugo and Gloria waited already for us. Today we had 2 hours and again we learned and practiced a lot. We also showed them the pictures from Monterico and Henk copied some nice salsa CD’s from Gloria. In the evening we watched Madagascar in English with Spanish subtitles. It’s a great film!


 

Saturday 1st of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and very warm, 280C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: My mum’s name day is today (Anit) The last month, happy to go home, but also would love to travel 6 months or so more (Henk)

This morning we got up later. It was already 11am when we went down for breakfast. We took computer with us to check the last news. After breakfast Anit went to the telephone box to call her mum because it was her name day. Later Anit went to the bookshops to look around for Spanish books. Yes, yes, we are so motivated that we try to learn Spanish from different sources.
We did the laundry as well. We spent the evening on browsing in the internet, nothing special but we need to organize the last part of our trip, visit to our friend Patrick in Florida, USA.


Sunday
2nd of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, 280C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Stupid verbs – can’t remember them! (Anit) Espanol, Espanol, El Zorro, ……..(Henk)

Today Spanish was on the program. We got up around 9am, had breakfast and after breakfast we started to study. Ah, no, just before Henk made a phone call home to his family and Anit wrote a letter to her grandparents. The day passed by quickly without much exciting things. The most exciting was actually when we went to church in the evening. In church a dog also attended the mass and he was making a lot of noise. Additionally little children were crying. We tried to understand what the priest was saying. It went already a bit better, but not all was possible to understand. Also nice of going to the church is that we always meet a lot of people we know and today we met Julio, the director of our school and his family and Hugo from the Salsa classes and his friends. Together with Hugo and his friends we went the Parque Central, but only for a while. We still had to study the story about El Zorro (=the fox).


Monday
3rd of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Monday morning we always meet the people we know on the street when we walk to school (Anit) Spanish is going better and better (Henk)


At 6.45am the bell rang. We had to get up to go to school. Spanish classes were waiting. Again a week full of Espanol and Salsa was ahead of us. We should really get good at it now. Well the salsa is going in the right direction and also the Spanish, but it is not all that easy. Especially the different tenses in Spanish and with all the verb changes.

Our new teacher Julia is torturing us right from the start with the tenses. Well guys, she says your Preterito and Imperfecto are not good enough, so we cannot advance to the future time today. The lesson moves quickly and before we all noticed it is 12. End of the torture Julia says. We will end the last hour with listening to a song and analyzing it. All in Spanish of course.

With nice homework (continuation of the torture) we headed back to hour hotel. Before we made a stop at our favorite lunch restaurant “Las Palmas”. Anit ordered her standard Quesadillas and for Henk Chicken salad this time with a nice glass of white wine. Mmmmmmmh delicious, mmmmmmm rico (in Spanish).

In the afternoon we had to buy some stuff for school and Anit was running out of a particular make-up which is difficult to find here in Antigua, but she found it finally. Along the way we met some of the people we know in Antigua and had a chat with them. It’s nice here.
After shopping it was time for working. We did our homework and also worked on the web-site. We both even had some time to look for jobs. Time goes amazingly quickly.
Tomorrow is a new day full of Spanish.

 

Tuesday 4th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: All day nice sunshine, 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Julia is a real good teacher, we get effective tortura (Anit) I feel Spanish is going in the right direction (Henk)


7am, waki waki. It’s time to go to Spanish classes. At 08.05h we arrived at school, oops a bit too late. No hay problema. We started the day off with some small talk in Spanish about the day before. Then our homework. Yesterday Anit and Henk both wrote a story in Spanish and guess what, they both got good notes from the teacher. We are getting somewhere with this Spanish. The biggest torture is doing the verbs and yes, we practiced them today again. Time flew. We really like working with Julia.
Since Anit had spoken about Bridget Jones, we asked Julia if she wanted to join us to watch it in Café 2000. Yes she wanted. Henk would organize it.

After classes we didn’t go to Las Palmas this time, but took a grill restaurant. Not so nice for Anit, but delicious for Henk. Anyway Anit would just order a salad. Henk had spare ribs. Quite good. Next time he wants to try the steak.

Back at the hotel we worked on our homework and time flew again.  It was 5pm and Henk had his Salsa lesson. Anit would come 1 hour later to join him. It is also starting to pay off all these lessons.

After salsa some more homework and study, and then at 9pm to our favorite bar, Sin Ventura to meet our friends and have a nice salsa evening. Man was it busy. You could hardly breath.

Around 12 at night we left. Time for a little bit sleep, because tomorrow at 8am was Spanish lesson again. Goodnight!


Wednesday
5th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly sunshine, with little rain in the afternoon, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Spanish, Salsa, Spanish, Salsa (Anit & Henk)

As always after the night in Sin Ventura the next day at school is quite difficult. Julia keeps torturing us with the verbs no matter what we did the last night.


And so we needed double the coffee we normally take to keep our eyes open. The lesson was nice as always and time went quickly. After the school we went to a burrito place where we had quick meal. In the hotel we talked and laughed with Angelica and Gladys, girls from the hotel staff. Henk stayed in the TV room with his computer and Anit went up to the room. At 5pm we had salsa. Henk started one hour earlier and Anit joined him at 6pm for the second lesson. It was funny, we learned new steps and later danced together. Truly, we are making progress. When we came back we did our homework for tomorrow and together learned the verbs. How romantic…

 

Thursday 6th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, around 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Great dancing at Torrero (Anit) My best salsa dancing (up till now) was today at Torrero (Henk)

At 8am there was again a Spanish lesson! Lot of tortura with the verbs today, but also time for a song in Spanish. After the school we had lunch at Las Palmas.
After lunch Anit went for a bicycle tour organized by school and Henk fixed his problem with the virus scanner and made his homework.
At 6pm we had salsa classes. It went quite well. Gloria asked us if we would like to join them since they were planning to go to Torrero salsa dancing tonight. Seemed a good idea. Anit had only one small problem, she didn’t finish (or actually started) her homework yet. Well, we went anyway. She would finish it after the visit to the bar.
We met Gloria, Hugo, Gerson and his girlfriend around 9pm at the salsa school and from there we would go together to Torrero. Well, meeting at 9pm means leaving to the bar close to 10pm in Latin America and that’s how it happened.

The good thing about Torrero is that there is a lot of space there for dancing. We danced and drunk the whole night till the bar closed. This was around 1 o ‘clock at night. Gloria had promised there would be many tuktuk’s to bring us back, but we were so late, that there were none. Well, nothing to do than walk back home. At home Anit finished her homework and Henk watched a film. Around 2pm we finally fell asleep. It’s going to be an interesting day tomorrow?!!?!?!?

 

Friday 7th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly sunshine only at the end of the day heavy, heavy rains, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: God, help me survive the school today (Anit & Henk)


 

Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff. It was not easy to get up. Heaving both a bit of a hangover and a lack of sleep, we dragged ourselves to school. Luckily Julia asked us if we could end lessons a bit earlier, since she had wedding. No problem, half and hour would suite us fine and we would catch up on Monday when we were fit again.
Homework review first. We checked the stories we wrote last night. Amazing, Anit is really good at Spanish. Even though she wrote most of the story after the bar visit of last night it was practically without mistakes. Henk’s story was also quite good, but he had received some help from Angelica from the hotel.
Next was the grammar. Good, since it meant we didn’t had to speak so much and just make notes. Today we leant the conditional. Actually the grammar is not so difficult, but it’s so much and with a lot of exceptions. During the lesson our eyes were getting smaller, but the time went fast as usual.

Lunch today at Vino y Quesso, one of our favorite restaurants. Anit had already the whole morning thought about having a pizza and they are the best here. Henk had his favorite antipasto, but he should have ordered half a portion. He ate to much.
And that just before salsa lessons. Henk also had 2 glasses of wine, which made him feel better. During the lesson one more beer and salsa went fine. We had our lessons originally at 6pm, but we change to 2pm, so that we could see a movie in Spanish at Café 2000 at 4pm.
Well, at 4pm it started to rain. Rain and rain and thunder and lightning. Amazing.
This meant no movie, unfortunately. They had shut off the beamer. Well, we were anyway tired and needed to be a bit fit for tomorrow because we were going to climb the volcano.

Henk watched a movie on the laptop and Anit fell asleep. Around 10pm Henk also fell asleep.


Saturday
8th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: some clouds but later sunny, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Relax, it’s Guatemala (Anit) Where is the bloody bus to the Vulcano (Henk)


What a start of the day. Yes we were fit, at yes we woke up at 5 in the morning. We were ready for our excursion to the volcano. Just before 6am we arrived at the tourist office where the bus should pick us up. We waited, saw many busses passing by and waited and waited, until 06.45am but there was no bus… Bad, muy malo. The only good thing was that we had an early start of the day, but that was about all.

When we came back to the hotel, Henk worked on the web-site, spoke to his brother-in-law, Alwin via skype. In the meantime Anit went to town, to do shopping and look for the Bridget Jones diary in Spanish.

In the evening we had salsa lessons. Anit had to dance with a different Maestro this time. It was a bit harder for her. Gerson focused a lot on details and some turns she had to do several times.

For dinner we had a quick snack a the taco place. Later we walked in the Parque Central which is beautiful with the lights and the fountain and all the people. Antigua really has a heart.


Sunday
9th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, some rain in the eveining, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: What a nice surprise Henk prepared for me today (Anit) (Henk)


This morning we took it easy. Around 11am Henk got up and went down to prepare breakfast. And what a breakfast. He surprised Anit with a big breakfast outside in the patio of the hotel. What a treat!!

After breakfast it was close to 1pm and we were getting ready for the world cup. We had reserved seats at Café 2000. It was a great match. In Café 2000 there were mostly Italians. They can really go crazy!

The match was finished around 5pm and we decided to take our Spanish to the park for studying, but we didn’t. We just sat and watched the people go by.
At 6pm we had a fast-food dinner at Campero, a chicken restaurant. Good chicken by the way.

Close to 7pm it was time for church. Would we understand a bit more this time? Well, it’s hard. Even though we bought a booklet we couldn’t follow much.
The day ended in the park on chatting with our amigos, one of our favorite places in Antigua.


Monday
10th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly dry and sunshine, 260C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: What a pity we couldn’t watch the movie with Julia (Anit) People don’t do what they agree! (Henk)


Today would be a nice day, because after classes we would go together with Julia to café 2000 and watch Bridget Jones in Spanish. So after lessons we went and you know, the bar was closed. What a bummer. We had specially organized it. We found out that after the hard working during the world cup they closed for 2 days.
What to do? We decided to invite Julia to our favorite restaurant Las Palmas. Again the service, food and all was good. We talked a lot in Spanish and had fun.

After lunch we went to the market. Julia showed us some shops were we could by nice local things. After the visit we said goodbye and returned to hotel. Anit studied and Henk worked on the computer, searching for a job.

 

Tuesday 11th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds, but dry, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition, but Anit has more and more bites
Thought of the day: What is biting Anit??, can’t be mosquitoes (Henk & Anit)


Today was a day of Spanish again. Today Gerunte was on the program. Henk had difficulties to stay concentrated. He was tired. Why? We don’t know. Anit had also more and more problems with the itching. She was bitten all over. Where did it come from?

When Julia saw it, she knew immediately. Flees. Flees? Yes. Probably from the dogs in our hotel. What to do?
After Spanish we bought a spray to kill everything and man, was that strong stuff. We almost got killed. For sure we had headache after spraying this. Also we washed all our clothes and replaced the bedding. Now, let’s hope this night will be better. Otherwise we have to spray again.

At 4pm salsa lesson. This time not in the bar, but in the house of Gloria. The owner of the bar closed down his place for some reason.
The dance room in Gloria’s house was small and without air, but we managed. More and more vueltas for Henk. Soon he will be a professional… hahaha, maybe in 10 years.

In the afternoon Anit finished her homework (Henk didn’t receive any today) and Henk went for groceries shopping.
In the evening we went to Sin Ventura for some beer and salsa.
Days fly by when you are having fun.


Wednesday
12th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds but dry, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: It’s terrible, I can’t touch our dogs any more (Anit) Are they all death? (Henk)


The day started at 7am as usual. At 8am classes. No grammar today, but only practice. We reviewed Anit’s story she wrote and it was perfect! Julia was impressed. More and speaking Spanish today. We don’t have a barrier like some people do, but we lack vocabulary. That’s why Julia gives us lectures which we have to translate and summarize during the lesson.
After the classes we went to the shop near our hotel where Anit bought a new pair of jeans. They had there a special deal for 100 quetzales. Nice jeans and at a very good price. We eat sandwiched for the lunch and spent afternoon on studying Spanish.

 

Thursday 13th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: rainy, 230C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling very well
Thought of the day: It’s nice when  we can order in Spanish and the staff understand us (Anit & Henk)

Today at 8am we had Spanish classes. At school we had a lot of fun with other maestras as well. We will for sure miss these classes…
Lunch we ate at Las Palmas and then we went to the market to look around for some films in Spanish again. It is so cheap here.
When we came back to the hotel we sat at the hotel bar and talked to some hotel guests. Time went quick and we had to go for salsa lessons. Gloria and Hugo were waiting for us. We had again a lot of fun. In the evening we didn’t feel like studying any more, we just did the homework and went to sleep.

 

Friday 14th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: warm and sunny, around  240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: What a nice view from the Cerro de la Cruiz (Anit) Ahhh, nothing special today (Henk)

Today we had the Spanish lessons like always. Because it was Friday, Julia didn’t give us homework. She never gives homework for weekends, how nice, isn’t it?  We talked a lot and practiced verbs again. After the school we went again to Las Palmas for a quick lunch because at 2pm Anit had to be back at school for the trip to Cerro de la Cruiz. At school there were 4 people who wanted to participate in this trip and one maestra who was a guide. Jacky, the guide told us a lot interesting facts about Antigua’s history and culture. Now it was easier to understand because we could understand more. We first walked along the Antigua’s streets and then we climb the small hill with the concrete cross on top of it. There was a beautiful view on the whole Antigua from this hill. We also saw the surrounding volcanoes. Really, worth doing when you visit Antigua.
At 6pm we had salsa classes. It was quite busy as on every Friday. After the classes we talked with amigos, made a short walk in the Parque Central and went back to the hotel. We would have to get up early tomorrow because of the second attempt to climb the volcano.


Saturday
15th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, cold and hot at the volcano, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit feeling good
Thought of the day: Never seen the real lava in my life (Anit) (Henk)

We got up at 5.30 in the morning. We had a quick breakfast and at 6am the bus came to pick us up. This time, there was a bus and it was on time. Only the bus brought us to another place where we had to wait for another bus. There were more people waiting there and the second bus also came. Good. It took us about 2 hours to get at the foot of the Volcano Pacaya. We had to buy entry tickets and a nice guy called Erwin took us up. We walked up about 1,5 hours and he showed us some plants on the way. When we came there it was amazing to see the real lava. We didn’t expect that:



It was so hot when we came closer…

 

Later Erwin took us to the place where there was lava 2 weeks old and we could walk on it:

We were in the group of 8 people. But because July is a holiday month there were a lot of groups from Europe visiting Guatemala and of course this volcano as well. We had to wait sometimes to get to a view point. Going down was easier and quicker. At around 1pm we were back in Antigua. Henk went to Pastores to look for another pair of boots. Anit in meantime sat in the TV room of our hotel and searched for a job. Even though it was an easy climb we could feel our legs. When Henk came back from Pastores with a new pair of nice black shoes we prepared ourselves for the dinner with Darryl and Carmen. They invited us for the dinner tonight. A bit after 7pm they picked us up and we went to a very nice restaurant. The food was great and we had a nice chat. 




Sunday
16th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: some clouds but warm, 260C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: (Anit) I am against what men made of religion and how it is used and executed, but it is always relaxed to sit in a church and follow a mass or just think (Henk)


We didn’t do much today. When we woke up (late) we had breakfast and went to the Parque Central to look for books. There was a book fair with many stalls selling new and second hand books. We bought National Geographic in Spanish over May 2004 when Poland joined the EU and the second one, in English, from 1933! It was nice to walk around and just look what they sell.
At 7pm we went to church for the mass. We had a book which helps us find ourselves a little bit in the mass and where we can read the preys in Spanish and therefore participate more in the mass. The mass here is so relaxed. Totally different than for example in Poland where everything is so official and people and priest are so serious. Here children can walk, people talk with each other, people even can bring their dogs to the church… Streets dogs also visit the church and nobody sends them away… During the mass it is allowed to smile and laugh and therefore the whole atmosphere is more pleasant. 

 

Monday 17th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and warm, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Happy Birthday Natalie (Anit & Henk)


 

Today was the birthday of Natalie, Julia’s daughter. Because of that Julia invited us to her house to participate in the birthday party of her daughter. We went to San Felipe where Julia leaves by chicken bus:

As you can see in the picture it was very crowded… And there is always place no matter how many people are there already on the bus. After 10 minutes we went out in San Felipe, a small town with a very nice church. We met Julia’s family and Natalie, the star of today. She is so sweat:

We first had dinner with the family and later the kids came from the town to participate in the destroying of the paper doll full of sweets. That’s a special custom here in Guatemala when a kind has a birthday. And so we watched and even had to help hit the doll:

It was already late in the afternoon when we came back to Antigua. We had one hour break and we went to another party. This time Gloria invited us for dinner at her place. On the way we bought a bottle of red wine. When we came there most of the guests were already there. It was a great evening, the food was good and we laughed a lot:

 

Tuesday 18th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some drizzle, 220C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Our last days (Anit & Henk)


At school today in the morning we had a good excuse for not having done our homework. Two parties in one day don’t leave any time for homework. But we practiced our Spanish a lot yesterday. So it’s not all about the homework; it’s about speaking Spanish.
Our day at school was very nice. Time went quickly. When we came we ate something and went for salsa. Later we did the homework and at 9pm we went to Sin Ventura for salsa party. There were so many people there that at certain moment we couldn’t dance any more. They definitely should organize more space for dancing here because the atmosphere is great and we always meet our friends here, including maestros. We didn’t stay long tonight because we wanted to be fit for tomorrow.

 

Wednesday 19th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, some rain later, 220C
Health: Henk feeling very good; Anit got a bit cold
Thought of the day: Difficult to organize something with these Guatemaltecos (Anit) And difficult is an understatement!!!!! (Henk)



Today we woke up at 6.45, had breakfast and went to school.
After school we ate some sandwiches and went back to hotel to study Spanish. At 5pm we had 2 hours salsa. Since this is our last week in Antigua we decided to take 2 hours of salsa every day. Some time ago Hugo told us about the trip to Semuc Champey the weekend of 22 and 23 of July. We first thought of going but than we thought that it’s too far and this would be our last weekend in Antigua so it’s better if we don’t go. Additionally, we didn’t hear anything about the car of hotel reservation. It looked like nobody really was organizing it. We didn’t know who wanted to go and how much it would cost. We asked Hugo about all the details but he couldn’t say anything concrete. Well, probably we won’t go in the end. After salsa we went back to hotel, worked on the website and study Spanish a little bit. Anit felt worse and worse. Probably she caught cold. She took some medicines and went to sleep early in order to be fit for tomorrow.

 

Thursday 20th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: mostly clouds and some rain, 250C
Health: Henk ok & Anit feeling bad
Thought of the day: I’m so weak (Anit) Get better soon my Anit (Henk)

When we woke up this morning it was clear that Anit won’t go to school today. She felt really bad. Anit had headache and was very weak. She had cold and hot at the same time. Henk went to school alone. It was the last week of Spanish so Anit felt really sorry that she couldn’t participate in these last classes. Also she couldn’t go for salsa lessons today. Henk went alone for salsa and came back with a little rose from Gloria and wishes to get better soon, how nice!
In the afternoon, Anit felt a bit better but still very weak. The evening we spent in bad in order to rest and get better for the last day at school tomorrow.

Friday 21st of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny, 250C
Health: Henk ok & Anit feeling a bit better
Thought of the day: Goodbye all our nice maestras and maestros (Anit & Henk)


Sad day at school today…We had to say goodbye to our friends here. Our last lesson aimed at summarizing everything what we have learned up till now. Julia really did it good. After 12 Anit and Julia went to the copy shop to copy some additional material for further studies. At school we took pictures with our maestros and Julio, the director.

We exchanged e-mails, said goodbye and left to the hotel. We had to organize everything for our party on Monday. We wanted to invite our friends for the farewell party at our hotel. Therefore we had to buy food, prepare the TV room, discuss with Daryll about the use of the bar, etc. In the afternoon we went to the supermarket to buy already the necessary ingredients. When we came back, Angelica told us that Gloria was looking for us and wanted Henk to come to the lesson a bit earlier. And so he went and Anit put all the stuff to the fridge. At 6pm Anit’s lesson started. We had two hours today. And that the great news came: they wanted to go tomorrow to Semuc Champey. First we though that we don’t go but Shelly, a girl from Canada and John, also from Canada were going and wanted us to join them. Henk didn’t want to go in the beginning but Anit wanted and so we decided to go. We would leave at 5 in the morning. Good that we did the shopping today.


 

Saturday 22nd of July 2006

Place: Antigua to Coban, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and warm, around 250C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: Sleep… (Anit & Henk)

We agreed to meet with John in front of Café 2000 at 5am and from there the car would pick us up. Hugo, Gerson, Moy and Shelly were already in the car when they picked us up. We first went to pick us some more guys, Wilson and Manolo, but they were not there and they didn’t pick us the phone. And so finally we left without them. We had more place in the car, that was an advantage. It was dark and we tried to sleep in the bus. It was a long trip, around 7 hours…We made some stops of course for the toilet and coffee. At around 2pm we arrived to Semuc Champey. Hugo booked the hotel and we only had to decide which option we take. There was one house available with 2 floors and it looked good. Hugo, Moy and Giovanni, the driver slept upstairs and Shelly, John, Gerson and we slept downstairs.

When the sleeping was organized we had a small lunch and decided to take part in the cave walk at 3pm. At first sight it didn’t seem so interesting but what we experienced in this cave was AMAZING.
It was a long cave partly filled with water. There were underground waterfalls there as well. We had a guide and everybody got a candle… It was dark inside and at the entrance to the cave there were spiders bigger than a hand!!! You can imagine the reaction of Shelly and Anit…Screaming like a hell… It was dark, there was water everywhere, you didn’t know what was on the bottom, sometimes you had to swim (because it was deep) holding one hand with the candle above the water and we had 2 people who couldn’t swim… now you can imagine…Hell! We had to climb the underground waterfalls holding to a line or holding to each other…We had to help Gerson and Moy who were scared like a hell because they couldn’t swim good. What an experience man!

After that great walk which lasted 2,5 hour we went up the river and could try the tree swing which brings you to the middle of the river so you better don’t fall. Great fun. The last attraction was going down the river on the rubber bands which were attached to each other by a rope. It was also a great fun only it started to rain and it was freezing cold. Now, we had a day full of adventures and we were hungry. After the shower we had a supper all together and of course we asked for salsa. We danced, drank and just had a good time. The goy from this showed us tarantula spider which he found here in the jungle. Well, we’ve seen enough scary spiders today, but, ok, it was nice to see tarantula going along the Gerson’s arm!

When they switched off the light at 10pm we sat at the candle, playing cards and chatted. How nice it was!
When we came back to our house we couldn’t sleep of course. We had so much fun. Shelly and Anit were scared of spiders and other jungle beasts and Gerson, Henk and John kept teasing them a lot by throwing paper balls on their beds. To make the matter worse, the boys from upstairs couldn’t sleep either and screamed like a hell too… we were like kids from the school on the class trip…and it was great!

 

Sunday 23rd of July 2006

Place: Semuc Champey to Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and hot, 270C
Health: Henk & Anit in very good condition
Thought of the day: Paradise on earth… (Anit) (Henk)


We woke up at 7am because breakfast was at 7.30am. We packed our stuff and at 8.30 we left for the river cascades at Semuc Champey. We first climbed the view point to see the cascades from above:

Breathtaking, really.

Than we went down and to the top of the cascades. Here some of the water goes underground and the rest makes the cascades:



We went for swimming of course and walked from one pool to another. It’s such a beautiful place that you could spend here the whole weekend. On the way back we even saw monkeys on the trees.
When we came to the parking place, Giovanni was already waiting for us. He didn’t want to leave to late because we had 7 hours driving back to Antigua. On the way back we took 2 other girls with us who wanted to get to Antigua as well. We had place and for us it meant decreasing the transport costs. We made one stop for lunch and continued to Antigua. We came back around 8pm. We didn’t expect it to be such a nice adventure…

 

Monday 24th of July 2006

Place: Antigua, Guatemala
Climate: sunny and warm, 240C
Health: Henk & Anit in good condition
Thought of the day: We have built a nice group of friends here in Antigua, it’s a pity we have to leave them (Anit & Henk)



We woke up at 6.30 am this morning because we had to be at 7am at the baker for the fresh bread. Later we had breakfast and went to the supermarket and to the market for the remaining ingredients. We were very early at the market what gave us the opportunity to see how the real Antigua market looks like. And it was interesting to see…They sell all you can think of; women in their traditional clothes with kids at the back. We bought fresh vegetables and went home to prepare. At around 1pm we were ready with vegetables. Than Anit went to the book shops to look for lectures (books with stories in Spanish and English) and also visited the book fair which was still in the Parque Central. In meantime Henk prepared champignons and other stuff. We estimated to have 14 people and we had a lot of work to be done. Gladys and Angela even helped us:

At certain moment we though we would be too late but as we found out later, our guests from Guatemala are not punctual and besides Gloria, the rest arrived one hour later…Actually it was not a problem, only our vegetables were getting cold. We reserved the TV room for our party and we had music (salsa of course). The atmosphere was nice:

Only we were disappointed because the school director, Julio didn’t turn up. When we finished with food we moved to the bar and danced and talked there. At around 11pm some guests left. The last ones, Gloria, Hugo, Gerson, Daryll and Carmen left at 12. To say good bye was difficult. Anit even cried like a baby… But we hope to see you soon. Thank you all for great time we spent with you!

When all the guests left we cleaned up and went up to pack our backpacks. The bus to the airport would pick us up at 6am from our hotel. Goodbye Antigua, we would love to come back here as soon as possible.