Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Past Couple of Weeks

Besides lounging by the lakeside, I´ve had a pretty active couple of weeks. First I swam in a hot waterfall in Rio Dulce. It was really cool...a hot spring came out of the mountain, gathered in little hot-tub-like pools and then spilled over a small cliff as a waterfall, mixing with the natural (cool) stream. You could sit in the pools above, swim in the cool stream or swim up to the falls where the two met.

After that I came back to Antigua and worked for two days with a volunteer group digging out a town where many houses are still drying out from being flooded with mud up to four feet high during Hurricane Stan. I saw a sign in my hostel which said just to show up, so I did, expecting to find other tourists, but instead it was just me and a gang of 14-16-year-old boys, part of a summer volunteer program, who spent their days wrestling, whistling and yelling out to passing girls, and also doing some work. They were really sweet and funny, and if I could have understood any of what they were saying, I´m sure I could have picked up some new colorful slang. Then I went to the lake, where I helped out for a few days at a program to give breakfast and lunch to the kids in San Marcos, many of whose families are still suffering after the flooding there.

Yesterday, I was in Quetzaltenango, usually called by its Mayan name, Xela (pronounced Shay-la). I went to see one of the most interesting things I´ve seen here: San Simon, the Mayan Saint, kind of a mix of Catholic and Mayan traditions, but definitely unique to the highlands of Guatemala. I put a lot of notes on the picture I took (for which I was charged $1.25) so you can click on it to learn a little more.

San Simon