The school is called Corazon Maya, which means "Mayan Heart". I studied here for 2 weeks in December 2009 and for another 5 weeks in Jan 2010. For me, it is the nicest of the 8 schools at which I have studied so far in Guatemala and Honduras.(0029) Corazon Maya is owned and run by the Navichoc family, and has room for 16 students (8 in the morning and 8 in the afternoon). In December there were only 4 students in total, but this increased to 12 in Jan 2010. During my stay, there have been students from the US, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, England, Germany, Japan, S. Korea and Belgium.
The property is narrow and long (about 50 ft by 600 ft), and stretches from the main (dirt) road down to the lake shore. The upper half is fenced and has the kitchen, outdoor communal area, office, PC/TV room and a main classroom (30x 12 ft, open on 2 sides). The latter is where we volunteers teach, where communal meals and meetings are held, and where we play table tennis.
Lower down, toward the lake, there are a family bedroom, the communal bathrooms and "pila" (for washing dishes and clothes), and 4 small cabanas or standalone bedrooms, one with 2 levels and a kitchen and two with private bathrooms. These rent for about $35 - $40 per week. Nearer the lake are 4 tiled pergolas, each 6 x 6 ft, with 3 windows and a small table, where each student sits with his/her teacher during Spanish Lessons. Here it is peaceful and relaxing, and one is not disturbed by other students. Classes are usually held from 0800 - 1200 or 1300 - 1700, with a half hour break. Students can also study alongside the lake, which is scenic and usually quiet. However, I prefer having a table and chairs while studying, and it is a little far to lug these to the lake (100 yards), so my teacher and I study inside the school grounds.
(0499) Two of the private pergolas, for studying. Very peaceful. Bird song is ever present in the garden. One can study in these pergolas, or at the lake, or anywhere else in the school property.
(0507) View of the lake from just below the school, looking SE. The active volcano Pacaya (near Guatemala City) is in the far distance. I usually sit out here in a chair most evenings, with beer and my Ipod. Very relaxing (mostly). Sometimes they have water pumps going at the lake, but these are relatively quiet and canal phones tend to block out most of the noise. The standard Ipod earbuds may not work as well.
(0485) Another lake view in front of the school.
(0454) I am staying in this Cabana on the school property, which is peaceful and has many pretty flowers and shrubs. It has a private bathroom, nice hot shower and a beautiful tiled floor.
(0455) View of 10,000 ft San Pedro volcano from in front of my cabana.
(0460) Here I have a table and laptop set up in front of my cabana, ready for my Spanish class. There is a 120 V outlet on the porch, but one needs a 12 ft extension cable to reach it from the garden. Alternatively, one can study on the porch and the power supply cable will reach the outlet.
(0464) Here I am studying in front on my cabana with Mildred, one of my 4 teachers at the school. She has a degree in Marketing (Mercadotecnica) and is now studying psychology. She studies all day Saturdays at the local branch of the university.
(0598) Recently, since the school acquired wifi, my teacher (Micaela) and I have relocated to the main classroom, where I can use my laptop and wifi. (See picture, left). This has added much to my Spanish lessons, enabling us to look up the definitions of strange words, and to explore articles of interest in the Spanish version of Wikipedia. For example, recently I chose to read to my teacher a history (in Spanish) of Columbus’ four voyages to the Americas, using a book from the school’s library. Wikipedia provided detailed maps of the 4 voyages, which added much interest. I had not realized that it was only during his fourth and final voyage that Columbus reached the mainland, first landing at present day Honduras and later traveling down the coast to Panama. Another interesting addition provided by Wikipedia was pictures and details of Gutenberg’s invention, in 1449, of the printing press with movable type. I had to read a story about this in another Spanish book, and it was stimulating for both of us to use the internet to expand the details and photos. We then discussed how the subsequent dissemination of Bibles and other printed matter amongst the people gave birth to the Renaissance (el Renacimiento). We mused that perhaps it also led to Protestantism, since people could for the first time read the Bible themselves, and in this way realize that the sale of indulgences by the Catholic clergy was not Biblical. This thought led us to discuss religion and politics in the US, South Africa and Guatemala. Religion is a big thing in Central America, and is more central in people’s lives than in the US (in my opinion).
(0468) Marta busy in her kitchen. She also has a gas stove and a refrigerator. Tortillas are usually made on the wood fire. Making tortillas (the Spanish verb is "tortear") is harder than it looks. I battled to make mine round and stop them sticking to my hands. Making tortillas is almost exclusively a job done by women. We joked that men don't have the aptitude.
(0691) Mealtime with fellow students Jim and Lauren (medical students from New England), and Sheryl (missionary from Missouri). Norm, her husband is also studying here.
(0502) The Pila where the dishes are washed.
(0462) Marta and Josepha, Chema's wife, shucking corn. I tried to help but soon developed a blister and had to quit. It is harder than it looks.
(0458) View of the lake from below the school, looking north.