Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1, 2011

From Jeanne

It's been a quiet week in Antigua for me and Tom.  We took a nice walk yesterday to the tourist office and spoke to some artists who were from San Felipe who worked in wood, metal, jade, and fabric.  We bought a table runner/wall hanging from a weaver.  It was amazing to watch her sit on the ground with the weaving loom tied across her lower back as she wove both fabric and designs into the fabric with special threads.  We learned that this is what she did, in spite of being a mother of four.  Someone else takes care of the children, so she can do her art.  As we strolled through Antigua, I took multiple photos of brass door knockers. There are some extraordinary brass lions, hands, amusing faces throughout the city.  I'll publish those photos in a facebook album when I get a larger collection.

Today we went for desayuno at the El Tener de Cerro restaurant at the top of the hill across from us.  We see this place at night, but had not ventured there yet. We had heard that the view was spectacular, but what we did not expect was the setting of this very modern restaurant in a hillside of modern arts of metal, wood, ceramics, paper, and murals.  It was an extraordinary experience, partly because of the view from the hill of the mountains, but also because the service was terrific and the food excellent.  Although we had what we have many time, huevos rancheros, somehow here it was exceptional.

Our main work this week has been practicing Spanish, in classes, on the street, in our homework for our lessons.  This week was the first time I ventured out alone for an appointment to get a manicure and pedicure.  Although I was familiar with the place, the only other time I went there was to get my hair cut. This time, I was sitting alone across from Thelma, alone for several hours.  Toward the end of our silent time, Thelma began a conversation.  I informed her that my speech was slow, but that I was studying and trying. We spoke for quite a while and she was very patient.  This was a major breakthrough for me, to speak to someone in sentences other than repeating what comes from a workbook.  I still struggle with questions people ask me on the street, but I am improving some, and hope that with hard work, I will continue to progress. Tom is still speaking quite well, but his teacher continues to work to get him out of his years of slang and into more formal forms.  It is taking pretty well.

This weekend we hope to catch our first glimpse of Lent in Antigua.  We plan to begin in Santa Ana when the procession begins, and pick it up later when it arrives in Antigua.  Pictures will follow in facebook on Monday. Today we got our first glimpse of a Lenten carpet at the restaurant on the hill. The work was extraordinary and the results true beauty.  Throughout the town there are purple banners commemorating semana santa in Antigua. Tom was able to procure the last one available from city hall for our apartment.  A photo will be included when we post the rest of this fourth lenten weekend on Monday.

With some time at home, I was able to get one of the five articles I am working on well under way.  I also spent some time reading, in Spanish, the Guatemalan recommended curriculum.  It is amazing to observe the disconnect between recommendation, written, and taught curriculum throughout the city.  We met a woman who works for the ministry of education, supervising private schools in Antigua. Her greatest struggle is to get teachers to embrace this new, more flexible, creative curriculum. She "trains" teachers in the use of the curriculum, but observes them teaching the way they were taught, an age-old problem in education in general.  It will be interesting to observe some public schools soon, to see how they interpret this new curriculum. 

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.  jt

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