Jun 22, 2005

Merrymaking MacAllens

Greetings from San Pedro, Tyler and I have stumbled across a really wonderful little town on the lake nestled between the Indian Nose mountain and the San Pedro volcano. The town itself has a number of major streets, but most places one gets to by wandering through tiny, tiny alleys between buildings, homes, and gardens. Its quite a maze to navigate, particularly when picking our way home from the Salsa bar late last night. There aren´t too many lights which is great to see stars but not so hot for late night navigation.

Our classes seem to be going really really well, and I´d enthusiasticly recommend Casa Rosario to anyone who´d like to come down here to learn Spanish. The school is well thought out, with a gorgeous garden, and run honestly by a pair of brothers. My teacher, Clara, is really clear, kind, and fascinating. She is a Mayan and is proud to talk about a lot cultural things while patiently letting my Spanish appear. Although it´s hard work, I´m looking forward to my four hours of class each day. We´ve met some really great people, and have had to forcibly stop ourselves from taking more and more of the same shots of lake/volcano/and town (Soon we´ll find a way to upload them, soon!).

One fascinating thing I have found is there is a sort of constructive optimism here. Most of the buildings are formed concrete and invariably there is steel rebar poking out of the roof. This is so when they have a little extra money it´s simple to add another floor. It makes sense for many reasons, for example children here don´t move out of their parents home partly because it´d be difficult to pay a mortgage. So, instead families subdivide their homes and build up. It seems to be working out well so when I look out at a skyline of rebar I can´t help but wonder how the whole town is going to look in five or ten years. Is this how Manhattan got its start?


The engineer in me also can´t help but wonder what a structural engineer would say about continuing to add floors above and beyond the original simple design. And how exactly the stiffening effect of rebar would be able to cope with some of the earthquakes that Guatemala is famous for. Fortunately, however, the backpacker in me really enjoys the culture and charm of this city and overrules the engineer whenever I start to whine. I love it here!

*Hey, we got a few pictures up. So I added a shot Tyler took of me and the rebar on top of our first hostel in San Pedro, Casa Elena

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