Spanish, Hot Springs & Salsa!
The next stop on our Central American journey afforded us a week-long stop in the city of Xela, Guatemala. This was an exhilarating and interactive learning experience. Xela, which is an alternative name for Quetzaltenago, happens to be the second largest city in Guatemala. The name Quetzaltenango is derived from a species of beautiful birds which are called the Resplendid Quetzal. They liked these Quetzales so much the currency also shares this name. Xela is actually the Mayan word for the city. Guatemala is rich in Mayan history which is evident in many areas with local people clad in colorful textiles and clothing.
During our time in Xela we each lived with a homestay family. Some of us were paired with other students, and some got to stay on our own. In my case I stayed by myself with Clarita and her mom who were extremely friendly and really wanted to get to know me. They had a parrot named Paco and many cats. Paco was what would one would call “overly friendly” as he constantly said “Hola!” to me. It was a completely different experience being alone during my homestay - I enjoyed it and found that it allowed me to fully connect with my host mom and her family on a deeper level.
Our homestay was paired with language classes at the Juan Sisay Spanish school. Every day we would have class for five hours. Here we spoke Spanish only! We had an awesome 1:1 ratio which allowed for an individualized Spanish experience based on our knowledge of the language. The program was intense and focused on conversation while teaching us grammar, verb tenses, and cultural aspects. Some days our teachers would take us to the local markets or churches to immerse us culturally as well. After class we would return home for lunch. Following this we had a daily activity we could participate in. One notable experience was a scenic drive to a local hot spring where we could soak our bones in the mineral rich waters seeping from the green mountainside.
Another activity I especially loved was the salsa class. Being a dancer I really enjoyed the opportunity to be back in the studio again, even if it only was for a few hours.
I'm grateful that we stayed in Xela because I might even want to come back when Im older. Our time in Xela flew by and before we knew it we were off on our next adventure.
Thanks for tuning in,
Until next time!