First Day of Class, First Day of Volunteer Work & Volcán Pacaya

So, I left off just as I was about to go to my first Spanish lesson. I am taking afternoon classes for four hours with my teacher Helen. One-on-one Spanish lessons are offered, which is perfect because although I feel confident in my Spanish speaking abilities, there is always room for improvement.

Helen and I began our lesson just taking for an hour. I told her about my family and school, about the exchange I did to Costa Rica and how that inspired me to become a Spanish major in college. Our conversation drifted and before I knew it, it had already been an hour! From our conversation Helen suggested we review certain things that I was not surprised to hear and I told her some of my grammatical concerns…my purposely avoidance of certain tenses haha. We spent the rest of our lesson reviewing “por y para” which I will not explain but for those who have taken Spanish before, I know you feel my pain haha. It was a great review and I went home with 6 worksheets to complete for homework…and here I thought I was done with homework for a good while haha.

During the four hour lessons the students get a half hour break and during that time we are encouraged to go talk to other teachers and practice speaking with them using what we are learning in our lessons. I talked to Manuel for a while. He is the one who gave me the tour of Antigua. We had tea and talked about Guatemalan slang words. It was a very funny conversation. I also talked to Raul who is quite a character. His catch phrase is “Soy loco pero no soy peligroso,” which means, I am crazy but I’m not dangerous. Haha…and it is so true! He is crazy but crazy fun! Everyone is so nice! I love the atmosphere there. It is so welcoming and all the teachers are so patient and really know how to push a student to do his or her best. Having one-on-one help is so amazing because it is so personalized and you are really able to get the most out of your experience.

After class I headed home and had dinner with my host mom. She makes the most amazing food. I promise I will post pictures of her cooking soon but I am really enjoying it. After dinner I played with my host mom’s grandchildren for a little while and headed upstairs to do some of my homework and then I went to bed.

Yesterday morning I had an early morning. I woke up at 6:30, showered and ate breakfast. Corn flakes, bananas, and pancakes with maple syrup! Yum!! I left my house shortly before 8 and went to the school. Someone from the school went with me on the bus to the place I am volunteering because I still didn’t feel 100% confident with the buses.

It was a bit of a long morning. I am volunteering in the school as a teacher’s aid but the kids have vacation until Tuesday so I helping out in the office. I helped set up for a talk about water filtration and healthy eating this morning and then helped with some paperwork. It isn’t exactly what I had planned but it is interested to be participating in all the behind the scenes as well. I took a social work class my last semester at UVM and it’s really interesting to see social projects in the works from an administrative point of view. At noon I took the bus back to Antigua. I wasn’t extremely confident in where I was going and how to get home but I trusted my instincts and surprisingly they were correct! Phew! Antigua is very easy to navigate but coming from a different small town via bus is a bit challenging.

When I got back to my host family I had lunch and then packed my backpack and changed into my walking shoes. Yesterday afternoon I went to Volcán Pacaya, an active volcano in Guatemala, with a group of other students all studying at different schools in Antigua. There were people from the US, Canada, England, Holand…it was quite a group! The bus was about an hour and a half drive to the volcano. Once we got to the starting point we bought our tickets and began our hike. It was 3 kilometers to get to the volcano and 3 back. A ton of walking and very difficult too because of the incline. We began our journey on foot…

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The views on the way up where unbelievable:

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We had the perfect day for it! No rain and minimal clouds!! Que suerte!  The walk was very tiring so I opted for a horse to take me the rest of the way up for only 50 quetzales which is about 7 dollars.  It was perfect because I could really enjoy the views and who doesn’t want to go horseback riding up a volcano for 7 dollars?!  It was such a steal!

Once I got on the horse things moved much faster and before I knew it we were at the top looking at one of the most amazing views I have ever seen in my whole life:

At the top we said goodbye to our horses and headed downhill closer towards the volcano.  There we were able to take pictures on the rocks formed from the last volcano.  Walking on the rocks was a lot warmer because there was steam coming up from the rocks.

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In one of the craters there was a little store selling jewelry made out of the lava.  I bought a ring because it was too cool of a souvenir and a definite conversation starter!  And no Momma, you cannot have it! 😉

After we visited the store for a bit we followed a path to a different crater that was a lot warmer and our tour guide gave us marshmallows and sticks to roast over the rocks.  It was such a unique experience!

All in all it was an amazing day!  I can’t believe I got to go horseback riding, see such amazing views, and roast marshmellows over volcano rocks.  So amazing!  On our way back down we were able to stop and admire the sunset:

Last night I didn’t get home until about 9:00 so I ate a quite dinner, showered, finished my homework for today and headed to bed.  I was exhausted after such an exciting day.  Today I am going to volunteer in the morning again and back to class in the afternoon!  I’ll write soon!

xoxo, Caro

Carolyn Boudreau studied abroad with API in Salamanca, Spain and is an alumna of the API Peer Mentor Program. Carolyn is currently volunteering in Guatemala.  

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