an afternoon excursion

Juan Sissay is a non-profit collective that does much for the community. This is one of the leading characteristics that intrigued me into approaching it as my first Escuela. Today’s weekly venture? Teaching English at a local school 10 minutes from the city centre. Nine of us from the school piled into the back of a taxi truck and slowly inched our way up the steep hills of Zona 1. Pulling up to a dilapidated building, I wondered how different this school would be from the teaching facility at the orphanage? The classrooms were a sad state of affairs, with wasting walls touched up with spatters of paint (attempts at brightening an otherwise dismal environment). Christine and I spent an hour teaching basics of verb conjugation and adjective possession to twenty 17 year olds (in their 3rd year of studying English). It was painfully ironic for me to see that they possessed a similar, if not more advanced, level of English as I to Spanish. But not for long :). The hour passed quickly and before I knew it, we were walking back to the school. What a fascinating experience this was! Our path took us right smack dab through the city’s cemetery. The ‘aisles’ were teeming with the walking alive, arms overflowing with glorious flowers, most, I guessed, paying homage to their Mothers, on this most noted of days here in Guatemala. Splashes of colour abounded in both the floral arrangements and the painting of graves. Piles of dirt and knurled metal strands littered the haphazard placement of memorials everywhere. This cemetery was gigantic! I noticed that several funerals were taking place and I wished that I would have brought my camera along on this adventure of uncertainty (of course, any still photography in this country must be taken with respect and discretion if people are to be included as my subject — not necessarily true when taken from a heaving, weaving bus window, as was the case yesterday). I managed to fend my own way through a desolate market, purchasing much desired fruit (my house doesn’t offer that as a food source in my board) … Pineapple, mango and oranges were on the menu. Yum!

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