Some answers to questions I have gotten…
Yes, mom, I am drinking plenty of water. The water system in San AndrÃ©s apparently used to be unreliable, but seems to work fine now. However, it is untreated water, and used for everything but drinking. Drinking water is delivered by the aqua pura man every morning (unless mi madre yells manaÃ±a out the door to him). I have no idea how much it costs, or when he gets paid. I suppose it is weekly or something. Drinking water is readily available at the school and at home, and I drink about a liter and a half every day, including several glases at dinner. Sometimes mi madre serves heavily diluted pineapple juice instead of the fruit punch they call fresca. It tastes great!
The exact program I am enrolled in is this one: Eco-Escuela de EspaÃ±ol. If you are planning on contacting the Eco-Escuela, do not be fooled by the EcoMaya website. It seems to be some kind of regional, government supported tourism office which simply funnels people to Eco-Escuela, and might even take a cut for doing so. I was unable to get them to answer my e-mails after I declined to deposit 6 weeks of tuition into their account via wire transfer from the US (before I had even seen the place). Make sure to contact Eco-Escuela directly!
When will I be home? My plane flight leaves, somewhat arbitarily, exactly 8 weeks after I arrived, May 13. It leaves from Mexico City and drops me back into San Francisco. I don’t have a clue what I’ll be doing when I get back to California. There’s also a remote chance I’ll change my plane trip to return much later from someplace else and continue to travel, or work someplace in Central America for a few months. Thanks to the short stint of work for Tellme I did in Virginia in February, I can afford to stay here for a very long time, if I want to. It is a bit difficult to stiffle my giggles when I hear post-college age kids here making decisions based on amounts less than 1 US dollar. My budget is just so, so different than theirs. There are some really nice things about getting older.
No one’s asked me this yet, but that last sentence reminds me of something else: it turns out, somehow during the last ten years or so, I got OLD. How did that happen? All the kids here are so, so, I dunno… young. The trendy thing to do is to finish high school or college and then travel. Which means that gringos I see here are mostly younger than me. But the funny thing is that it takes a while of talking to me before enough details emerge (own a house, worked 10 years then decided to change jobs, etc) that it dawns on them that I’m older than the 24 or 26 they take me for. Playing that trick on the little kiddies never, ever gets old!
I’ve also met people of all other ages, too, though. Today I met a guy who is traveling because the bar he tended at for 10 years got bought and the new management didn’t keep him on. He looks about my age. I also met a couple of 40-50 year old travel enthusiasts who simply want to speak Spanish for their next vacation. And I met one 40-something divorcee who left a high stress job in the Canadian government to take a year off and enjoy life. She knew herself well enough to know that she’d need to ease into enjoyiong life, so she took, and I’m not making this up, a 6 month contract position as a telephone operator in Bosnia between her “real” job and this trip to Central America to “destress”. This is clearly a woman who knows stress.
Talking to fellow travelers is infintely interesting. Assuming you can sit upwind that is, as is seems about 100% of travelers below the age of 25 smoke. (The remaining 100% drink to excess, but let’s just stop with the stereotypes before we get any more carried away, shall we?)