Title: I'm constantly practicing my Spanish! Location: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
After returning from my time at the coffee plantation and Cuba I moved in with a new family. My experience here has been totally different and just as interesting. My host dad is very active in the community and has even taken me to his radio program that he hosts once a month for the over 60's. The family is great fun and includes a cute dog named Flea who continually has a cold and spends her time wrapped in a blanket and sitting on the couch like a decrepit grandma.
I constantly practice my Spanish with my family. They are great and give me lots of pointers. The Spanish school is very helpful also.
Compared with my last family this one didn't seem too interested in my religion but on finding out that I was a solicitor they were very excited. I'm always weary when people are excited when finding out that I am a lawyer because it means either they are a) slightly deranged (I mean who gets excited about meeting a lawyer?) or b) they want some legal advice for some strange problem they have.
Luckily for me my family fall into both categories. On hearing of my profession they promptly asked me to call the police and complain about all the noise the church across the street had been making since the Pentecostalists had moved in and started conducting the world's loudest prayers sessions. As my father said "Who can possibly listen to Christian rock all day, it's just not right" (never a wiser word has been said). My family explained that perhaps the police would finally take notice of their complaints if they were delivered by a Gringo lawyer. Not wanting to start any serious neighborhood conflicts I politely declined, but after the last week of Christian ballads I'm either going to buy the next Jars of Clay album or pick up the phone and call the cops ASAP.
Guatemala is awash with fascinating traditions and beautiful sites and I can't possibly manage to describe all that I have seen here in this entry. The Spanish immersion school I go to arranges numerous excursions each week and I have been fortunate enough to witness everything from Mayan rituals and psychedelically decorated churches to natural hot springs and the world's most dangerous slippery slide. Some of the photos I have included will give a small indication of the remarkable things I have experienced during my time at the PLQ.
Rather than focus on the good, it's more my style to focus on the weirder aspects of life in Central America. And to do this I need to acquaint you all with perhaps the most dangerous aspect of my time here in Guatemala and most other countries around this area. That is none other than the act of showering. Not usually associated with danger - the risk that comes with showering here is that most bathrooms are fitted with my favorite piece of bathroom furniture - the Shower of Death!
As most houses don't have integrated hot water systems these showers create hot water immediately prior to the water leaving the showerhead. It does this by heating the water by creating an electrical current with two bare wires so that once you turn the shower on the water is heated. After my electrocution in Honduras and the years of learning that electricity and water do not mix it is more than disconcerting (read, absolutely terrifying) to walk into a shower and see two old, twisted electrical wires leading from some unknown power source directly to the showerhead. On first impressions it looks like a new version of the electric chair and once in and you turn the shower on you aren't greatly reassured when the bathroom lights flicker as the shower draws away current from them.
My fear of these showers has led me to adopt a "don't touch" approach to them. This means that every time I shower I duck as low as I possibly can so that there is zero chance that I will make contact with the shower. Crouched over while soaping myself I often think it will be hard to explain to everyone back home how I possibly managed to die in the shower via electrocution - "what was the damned fool doing in there anyway, using the hairdryer" I can just hear everyone asking when the news is delivered that I was found crouched over and burnt to a cinder in a Central American shower cubicle.
I was telling someone this same story yesterday and she pointed out that if I was really that scared of death I should, while showering, adopt the pose that I would like to be in when I am found dead in the shower. So, for the rest of my time here I'll be showering in some cramped approximation of a Napoleonic style, wistful and as graceful as you all know I can be...