I am currently in Xela, or rather Quetzaltenango, in Guatemala and have been here for almost 2 weeks enjoying the freezing cold weather and a lovely cough-inducing cold...
Although the above is true (well, except for the enjoyement part), this is a cool place. Quite a big city, the 2nd biggest in Guatemala after Guaté (or Guatemala City), it's beautifully placed with mountains and volcanoes surrounding the city in every direction. And the school I'm in is really cool with good direction (I really like one of the 2 directors, named Jocelyn, an GB girl who's been living in Xela for 4 years, but who is only 30 years old and always with a great big smile and cheerful attitude), and nice coordinator, and my main Spanish teacher, Susan (yep, they like to give American names to kids here) is really super nice!
The family stay is also working out well. The mother of the family is nice, cooks well, and speaks in a way that any Spanish student could easily understand (well, she is a teacher herself). The house is fairly basic and could be cleaner, but hey, I got to use my silk bag for the first time here, but is situated in a good spot only about 5 minutes away from school and the centre. I have also been volunteering in an orphanage with kids from the ages of 1.5 years to 6 years. 11 kids in total so quite a lot of work, but mostly work consisting of hugs, playing, kisses, comforting, more hugs, and some diaper changing. Usually get away wishing I had 5-6 arms instead of just 2.
So in general the stay in Xela has been a cool experience, much different from Cuba which was warmer - both climate wise and people wise, well at least the ones in the street -, a bit more colourful, a lot safer - I could walk home by myself in the middle of the night there, here I have to take a taxi after 8 pm! -, but with less interesting food and indigenious populations. I also happened to have fallen in love with Cuba (when I was not ranting against the place that is), and hence it's difficult for the next place to reach up to the same level, especially since I have been sick since day 2 here and just can't get rid of this irritating cold. And I spend a lot of time being cold here - and I think I have realised that I don't like cold very much, I much prefer heat!
But I like this place as well and it feels a bit early to move on already. However, I have realised that I am running out of time. If I want to visit Lago Atitlan (minimum 2 days, 4 days if I hike there as planned - yes, mum, I would hike in an organised group hike), Antigua (1 day), Tikal (about 4 days), and then move on through Honduras (probably 2 days) and onto Nicaragua - I need to leave this weekend if I want 12 days in Nicaragua before it will be time to head to Costa Rica to meet up with Nuno.
So, normally I am leaving Xela on Saturday morning to hike to Lago Atitlan, will spend part of Monday and full day Tuesday in Atitlan, Wednesday in Antigua, and head up to Tikal on Thursday (1 full day of travel to get there as buses here are fairly slow). Will then spend next Friday and Saturday in and around Tikal, and then start making my way back down the country towards Honduras where I will try to stop in Copan, before moving on quickly to Nicaragua.
Sounds like a plan, I know, and a quite good one at that. My problem is that I put down roots quickly in a new place and then don't want to leave. Like I did in Havana. I can leave the place for a few days to travel elsewhere, but then want to go back there. In Cuba that meant that I spent one week more in the country before moving on, and here it means that I have seperation angst for leaving Xela. But of course, the longer I stay here, the less time I will have to visit other places. Although staying here and continuing with my Spanish classes would be good for my Spanish.... ;)
So indecisive Helena is trying to make up her mind and have to do it by tomorrow if she wants to go on the hike leaving on Saturday morning.... What should she do????