October 25, 2011

Renewing Visas = Vacation

Every couple of months we have to leave the Guatemala to renew our visas. Our visas are “tourist visas,” which expire every ninety days. School sends us next door to Tapachula, Mexico. It’s really not too shabby, as our expenses are fully covered by school: transportation, hotels, food, and translation at the border. We were only in Mexico for about 24 hours, but it was lovely. We relaxed, shopped, sat by our hotel pool, and ate a lot of food. Here are a few of our observations and learning experiences from our quick trip:

1. Apparently Mexicans and Guatemalans do not like each other. It is something about how each country thinks the other stole their national instrument, the Marimba. Interesting.

2. The drive from Xela to the Mexican border is about 3 hours, and includes about 130 speed bumps.

3. Border guards will try to intimidate you so they can get some money out of you. Thankfully our fearless leader, Kandy, was not taking any of that crap. At one point they wanted to charge a teacher 900 Quetzals (over 100 extra dollars) to cross the border because her passport had not been scanned when she came to Guatemala in the summer. The legal way to fix the problem was to simply make a copy of the passport and fix the records in the computer…and it no way involved paying any money.

4. It was at least 85 degrees. It was hot, sunny, and humid, and there were palm trees. Each of these factors fit my stereotypes of Central America a little better. It was a wonderful change as the mountains of Xela are getting a little chilly these days.

5. Tapachula, Mexico felt rather “United States-ish.” There is a Sam’s Club, Walmart, a large mall, and a big movie theater there. All a little taste of home.

6. The showers in our hotel were amazing. You could have hot water and real water pressure at the same time! Usually it’s one or the other.

7. I tried to branch out and try some new food at a restaurant. I ordered “enchiladas pollo con mole,” not knowing what “mole” means. It turns out, “enchiladas pollo con mole” means “chicken enchiladas with chocolate sauce slathered over every square inch of the dish. Again, interesting.

8. One dollar = 13 pesos. One Quetzal = 1.6 pesos. Wonderful exchange rates.

And I realize it has nothing to do with our trip, but here are a few cute quotes from 1st graders:

1. “My mom likes to touch my ears because she says my ears are so soft!”

2. “I have a six pack because I am so skinny! Right, Mrs. Broekhuis, that is how you get a six pack?!”

3. I showed the first graders a movie about a rainforest habitat, which included a few scenes of tribal people. After the movie I asked the students what kind of animals live in the rainforest. One student raised their hand and said, “People that don’t wear any clothes!”

4. Sometimes English Language Learners get a little tongue-tied when they try to answer a question too quickly. During Calendar time I asked a student what month we are in. As quickly as he could he answered, “Octember!... eh…no…Octuber!...eh…no…”

A prayer of thanks is that we are finally out of rainy season! The mornings are pretty cold, but the sunshine and warm afternoons make up for it! And we are already in the second week of the second quarter. Christmas will be here before we know it….which is rather exciting because we get to come to the States for 3 weeks!  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! We are doing great, but we always miss our family and friends at home!

Grace and peace,

 The Mexical Border.

 Standing in two places at once.

 Enchiladas pollo con mole. Try everything once. Some things only once.

 Tapachula Central Park.

 Again, Central Park. Pretty cute.