Greetings from Jeanne
It has been a quiet week in Antigua. The school is in a flurry of exam activity, so I have stayed home, mostly being lazy and hanging out with Tom. We met our respective teachers for Spanish classes and are both reporting progress in speaking, writing, and reading. It is an uphill battle for both of us: me finally breaking out of my fear to actually speak, and Tom being held back a bit, as his teacher corrects his street Spanish of 43 years. We are both coming out better on the other end and enjoy the challenge.
Yesterday we returned to Jocotenango, a village near Antigua, where we toured three museums: coffee, Mayan instruments, and Mayan housing. It was terrific to see the artifacts and learn new things about the Mayan culture and coffee history in the area. After this small adventure we found a cafeteria that had three small tables, one mamascita cooking in the back, and no menu. We were served an excellent meal of ribs, rice, salad, and corn tortillas. It was delightful, although we were quite the curiosity, as this seemed like a local place, and it was great to see the comings and goings of the people who dropped in.
We walked for about an hour in search of wood artisans, which is the artistic highlight of the pueblo. After asking a number of people, we eventually found the one we sought. The shop was approximately 10x10, and along all of the walls were glass cabinets covered in plastic, to protect the finished pieces from the sawdust from the lathe, saw, and sanding that took place in the left corner of the tiny shop. The artist, his wife, and assistant (probably son), opened the shop and we stood in awe at the carved vegetables, both in natural wooden relief, as well as painted in very realistic reds, greens, and yellows. Needless to say, several leaf-shaped bowls left with us and are quite exquisite. The detailing in the wood is extraordinary and the finish work excellent.
We skyped with Gordon from New Orleans for a long time and got caught up on his plans to move and work toward purchasing a house in New Orleans near the river, not far from where he works on Magazine. It was great to hear the excitement in his voice about the potential, the possibilities, and the thrill of moving into a new place he can call his own. We hope to see pictures of this when he and Sara join us here in Guatemala in May.
Another bonus was a meeting with Ron Wilhelm and Kim Batchelor, who had just returned from Lake Atitlan in northwest Guatemala, where they had been conducting health research and visiting a friend who does community outreach. We met them on the square, then proceeded to dinner at Welton, a nice restaurant here in Antigua. We visited through the night talking of things great and small, adventures we have all experienced, and our love for things Guatemalan. It was a lovely night, in spite of the music, which could have been just a bit softer for conversation sake.
Today we begin preparations of sorts for our next adventure with Doug and Janet in Belize; haircuts, laundry, Spanish classes, in general, slow preparations. Hope all is well. Love jt