In The Way

Just a Fun Weekend in Guatemala

On Friday morning I stopped by La Union Spanish school to see if I could take a proficiency exam to prove to SAU that I can speak, read, and write Spanish at a proficient level. I wasn´t able to take the test last week, but I was able to talk with my former Spanish teacher, Alvaro.

He now has another student from Korea who is just learning Spanish at a very basic level. Alvaro was excited to tell me that him and a few other teachers were going swimming in a “piscina” or a swimming pool in a nearby village.

I couldn´t say no swimming! So, after lunch on Friday, we took a chicken bus to a small nearby pueblo called San Antonio Santa Catarina, which I am pretty certain is a village I tried to visit last year, but had some language miscommunication, so I only saw the town for about 5 minutes before taking a bus back to Antigua.

As we rode the bus, I quickly realized that the teachers from La Union were no longer in their official work positions as Spanish teachers. It was easily notable that I was among a group of friends due to their use of the “vos” form, which is something I don´t know a whole lot about. This isn´t the vosotros form, which they use in Spain, but rather an adapted dialect specific to some Latin American countries. At any rate, speaking as a gringo, and trying to speak among a group of a bunch of other native Spanish speakers is a totally different thing. I now understand why many people living in the United States stay quiet when around many other English speakers. It can be a little intimidating when everyone laughs at what you are saying, and you aren´t really sure why.

When we arrived in San Antonio, we weaved and walked through town, as several of the teachers stopped to buy lunch food for our potluck at the pool.

I don´t know what I expected at the pool, but after walking through the town full of cement walls and dirt covered streets, I didn´t have high expectations of the pool. Thankfully this sort of ethnocentrism often results in a surprise.

And surprised I was. The pool was really beautiful, complete with a slide that was literally the fastest slide I have ever been on. It was extreme.

Here is a photo I took from Alvaro Gil, my teacher´s Facebook page. You can´t see the diving board in here, but you can get the idea of the pool and the slide, plus the fact that the pool was built on the side of a small mountain!

Photo credit to Alvaro Gil, my awesome Spanish teacher!

Since I was the only gringo on this particular trip, I was able to practice my Spanish some. I was also able to teach some of the other Spanish teachers some basic swimming techniques like “flotando”, which means “floating”, but we typically call treading water. I also helped a bit with the basic front crawl strokes.

It always feels good to be good at something around here, since speaking a foreign language has a knack of making me feel like an idiot on a regular basis.

This weekend was awesome. Not only did I go swimming, but all of the guys on the trip here had a man + date = mandate on Saturday morning hiking some amazing trails up around the Earth Lodge. We also got to see some of Dali´s pieces in the Cooperación Español. Valerie and I went on a wonderful date to El Tenedor, a restaurant that overlooks Antigua, and we all went to Wokco, a new Asian style restaurant in town.

Altogether, it was a great weekend!

As always, if you are considering a semester abroad and interested in an awesome scholarship that I was blessed to receive, visit



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