Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guatemala: Xela (Week 4)

I can´t believe my spanish classes are almost over!  I just bought my bus ticket to go to San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico on Friday.  I´ve had a great time learning spanish and living a relaxed  (chilly) life here in Xela, but I´m definitely excited to get down into the jungles and see the ruins, beaches, and etc.

Speaking of getting "down", Dad, you will be interested to know that Xela is 7,660 feet above sea level.  So you can imagine that although everything is green, the climate is quite chilly where I am, especially at night.  It´s definitely a mountain climate. 

And speaking of mountains, this weekend my friends and I decided not to go on any weekend trip, but rather to stay in town and climb a nearby volcano.  We climbed Santa Maria, a dormant volcano with a peak of 12,375 ft above sea level.  And I assure you we climbed all the way to the top.  I think the only other mountains I´ve climbed all the way to the top of are Timpanogos and Mt. Hood.  It´s such a fun feeling to be hiking (virtually straight up) for hours, and then all of a sudden to find yourself looking over the edge into nothing but a downward slope on the other side.  The downward slope of this mountain was particularly interesting because there was an active crater about half-way down the mountain that erupted about five minutes after we got to the top.  Talk about amazing!  It sounded like a train or an airplane flying low overhead, and it lasted about 10 minutes. Lots of steam and ash billowing up, but no red-hot lava.  I was happy to be on the dormant main cone rather than down at the little crater.

We hung out on top of the mountain for a while, then headed back down and into town.  We didn´t stay in town long, though.  I had wanted to go to church, but none of the churches ended up having afternoon meetings, so I joined the others on another trip out to the volcanic hot springs.  The springs were as pleasant as the first time, and my weary legs appreciated the hot water a lot more.  It was great to sit in the hot water, with cool rain hitting my face, and chat with the other random people there.

Yoga has been going well, too.  I finished up my week´'s membership, but since I´m leaving so soon, I probably won´t keep going. I had a pretty funny conversation with the yoga instructor, though.  After one class he asked me where I had been practicing.  I told him that I had been doing yoga in New York.  He said he could tell because I had really stood out in the class as someone who knew what I was doing.  Then he started asking me all these questions about what type of yoga I had been doing, and if i knew certain sequences, and I had no idea what he was talking about!  I clearly thought I was yogi/peace person, when in reality I´m just a neurotic law student who wanted to destress...  I did take his encouragement, though, and came one day for an advanced yoga class -- which about did me in.  They were doing all sorts of crazy positions and stunts that I just did not have the upper-body strength to do.  It was a good workout, though....

Okay, that´s all the travel log for now.  I´m leaving on Friday to start the rest of my trip.  In the interest of keeping you au courant with where I am, in case you need to know for some reason, here´s a rough outline of where I´ll be over the next few weeks:  From Friday until Monday I´ll be in southern Mexico at San Cristobal and Palenque.  Then I´ll be back in northern and central Guatemala until Sept 14.  I´ll spend three days in Belize, and then head to Honduras where I´ll be from the 18th to the 29th. Then I head back to Guatemala and the flight back to DC.

I won´t have the daily free computer access that I´ve had so far.  But I will be online fairly frequently.  Most hostels have internet now, and there are lots of cheap internet cafes in the towns.  So I´ll most likely be online every couple of days. 

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