using my inside voice

Day 82 - Two weeks in Antigua

Central American Travel | August 21, 2009

Two weeks in Antigua = ...

  • 12 days of Spanish School
  • 1 volcano climbed
  • 10 dinners, 10 lunches and 10 breakfasts at Casa de Lorena
  • 1 weekend away at Lago de Atitlan
  • Innumerable stray dogs, haggling venders, near-collisions with tuc tucs, chicken buses and old-model Toyotas
  • 1 trip to San Antonio Aqua Caliente for a demonstration of the local traditions, a taste of the town's local dish, and an impromtu wedding with Luke.
  • 5 trips to the cafe for wifi
  • 20 hours of study at home
  • It's been an interesting two weeks.

    Our homestay for the two weeks was at a lovely house, Casa de Lorena, with Lorena cooking our meals and taking care of us like all good Mums do. Lorena is actually from Mexico, and during our stay we had the opportunity to taste a variety of Mexican dishes, such as home-made mole enchiladas, unbelievable tomales, cream of tortilla soup (Lorena's own creation), a variety of different salsas and much more. It was all pretty delicious, but of course there were a few dishes that weren't completely to our taste...

    On those days it reminded me being 12 years old again, sitting at Mum and Dad's dining room table and choking down chunks of zucchini, trying not to barf, then asking to go to the bathroom so I could spit it in the bin. Okay, maybe in this case that is a slight exaggeration, but there was one particular morning where Luke couldn't muster up the strength to make his way through an entire bowl of porridge, according to Luke it's like eating glue, and Lorena took it incredibly well, insisting that he not force it down.

    Learning Spanish was incredibly hard. Spanish is worlds apart from English, with masculino and feminino for everything, and so many versions of the same verb it makes my head spin. For those who don't speak, I will provide an example. The verb,"to have" - Tener - has five versions in Latin American Spanish, in simple present tense alone (it has six versions in Spain...)

    1. tengo (I have)
    2. tienes (you have)
    3. tiene (He/she/you-polite have)
    4. tenemos (we have)
    5. tienen (he-plural/she-plural/you-polite-plural have)

    There are five more for past tense simple. It is so damn confusing and requires a lot of concentration. I find myself saying about one word every two seconds when speaking to people, and having to ask everyone to repeat what they said at least once. It's challenging, but also really interesting and actually a little bit fun.

    I am finally, well and truly, coming to terms with the culture, and have gotten to be quite good at the old market haggle. I asked my Spanish teacher and got some good advice - start at 50% of the initial price, and never pay more than 75%. Though, when I went to an artisan's market the other day, that had fair fixed prices, it was a bit of a relief not to have to go through the process!

    On Sunday Luke and I leave Antigua for Xela. It is with mixed feelings that we depart. I'm buzzing about being on the road again, but also a little sad to leave Antigua. What I first thought was a dingy, run-down, chaotic town, I now realise is a funky, cosmopolitan (by Guatemalan standards) and friendly oasis. It was a shock to the senses coming to Guatemala for the first time after shiny, sparkling, organised and English-speaking North America, but I can already see that Central America will hold a special place in my heart.

    More soon...


1. Elizabeth on August 21, 2009

awwwwwww... sounds like you have a special place in your heart for it.

2. Andrea on August 24, 2009

Only 5 versions per tense? Bah! French has 6 :-)

J'ai (I have)

Tu as (you have)

Il a (he has)

Nous avons (we have)

Vous avez (you have, plural)

Ils ont (they have)

I quite loved learning Spanish: we should practice over Skype some time!

3. bay on August 25, 2009

Hey Andrea, there are actually six in Spanish too, but only in Spain, not in Latin America. So, I'm lucky in that way, but I may very well be screwed when we get to Spain :) I would LOVE to practice Spanish with you sometime!

Any Comments?

About Bay Oliver

Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And thatʼs exactly whatʼs been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

Blog Roll

Categories of Published Work

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Pullman buses - the cheap and fast way to get around Guatemala.

Day 89 - The day the earth moved...

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