Cream puffs, hard bus seats.
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E-Journal of an Aging Hippie:
Cream puffs, hard bus seats
By CAROL FRANKS, SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER
Carol Franks grew up on the family farm near Peterborough, Canada. A former journalist, teacher and innkeeper, Franks currently spends winters in Nicaragua, Central America, where she is a volunteer English teacher and student of Spanish. Together with the Fowler’s Corners and District Lions Club, she is raising money to buy textbooks for her students. In fall 2006 she spent two months studying Spanish in Western Guatelmala.
Guatemala‘s luscious cream puffs make up for the hard bus seats.
What are the guide books talking about when they describe the weather here in the western highlands of Guatemala as Eternal Spring? It’s more like the Eternal Chill!
No worries, mate! I’m tough or I used to be.
The power is off this morning in my hostel in Xela, a city of about 50,000 residents, the majority of whom is of Mayan descent. Fortunately the batteries in my laptop have plenty of juice left in them, allowing me to crank up my new salsa CD.
I can now multi-task without electricity��"warm up, get dressed, practice some dance steps and wear off some belly fat ��"another perk of aging.
But age is not the only culprit when it comes to weight gain. The bakeries here in Xela sell irresistibly luscious cream puffs.
At this point, you’re probably thinking what’s an aging hippie from Peterborough, Canada, doing eating pastry in Guatemala?
Well, the answer is simple: Guatemala is famous for its Spanish language schools and I am determined to master those 500 irregular Spanish verbs before I die-- or die trying.
When I become fluent in Spanish, I plan to spend six- months-a- year in Central America working as a volunteer, probably teaching English.
For those with a poor sense of geography, Guatemala is sandwiched between Mexico to the north and Honduras and El Salvador to the south.
My laptop and I arrived in Xela in early November after five hours on a crowded bus, driven by a maniac at neck-breaking speeds along a rough, winding mountain highway.
The worse part of the five-hour bus trip isn’t the driver, the lack of bathroom stops nor the hard, hard seats. It’s a local evangelical preacher who prances up and down the aisle of the bus, shouting the Word of God in 20 minutes spurts, seemingly without taking a breath.
My fellow passengers on the bus roll their eyes at each passing psalm and teach me the Spanish word for annoying.
The best part of this bus trip from hell are the indigenous children; little girls in traditionally- embroidered “blusas” and skirts and little boys in t-shirts and jeans.
Normally Guatemalan children are very wary of foreigners but the juices boxes and chocolate bars, stashed in my backpack, hasten the thaw. And, we pleasantly pass the time playing “I Spy” in Spanish and English.
Oh, I have lost track of the time! Got to run! It’s 9 a.m. and I’m to meet up with my Spanish teacher and classmates for a day trip up to local hot springs.
Just as I rush out the door of my hostel, the electricity comes back on.