|We arrived in Xela on saturday after a 4 hour nauseating, high speed ride around the guatemalen hills. On sunday we picked our spanish school, El Portal, and enrolled in a week of classes. The school was nice enough and the teacher seemed great but what really convinced us to pick this particular school was that they are a non-profit organization and our money goes towards education scholarships for poor children of single mothers here in xela. We had our first day of spanish class this morning(5 hours) and are excited to learn so we dont feel like dumb americans anymore. Part of our spanish school includes staying with a local family. They are a very nice, middle-class family. In the house is a 24 year old guy, his two parents, and his mothers parents. Sarah and I have our own room with two double beds and our own bathroom so it is much better than we expected. The five days of spanish lessons and the homestay, including 3 meals a day is costing us $130 for the week(pretty good deal).
funny story.... On Sunday, after eating lunch with our new family, Maria(the mom) took us on an outing which included a 2 hour walk through Xela´s new mall, which also is connected to walmart. She seemed proud to show us that her city is commercialized and wanted to show off the mall and walmart to us. So we walked throug EVERY single aisle of walmart (we drew the line when she decided to check out the bras). sarah and I couldnt help but laugh at each other every few minutes. It was really funny, but also got to see the city more. Maria was very proud of the Walmart and mall, as it showed how xela is progresing into a modern cosmopolitan, whereas we saw it has an american invasion. Xela is completely different than antigua, not only are there less tourists, but just the entire feel of the city is different. Its definitely rougher, dirtier (trash everywhere) and less expensive (which is of course good!). All in all I think we are gaining a more realistic glance at guatemalan life while in xela compared to antigua.
Sarah is still uneasy about being blatanly and loudly flirted with(catcalls or harrassment as she says) but I guess that´s just part of the culture (machismo) I´ve also been approached by a local who wanted to point his finger in my face and yell something I didnt understand, which i assume was about me being white or 2 feet taller than everyone else. No big deal, and those are the worst things that have happened to us. We will be in Xela until Saturday or Sunday when we will head to Lake Atitlan by chicken bus.