Every afternoon Juan Sisay, the Spanish school that I attended in Xela, offered fascinating activities for all the students. the activities were usually inexpensive (5 – 100 quetzales) which is less than $13 US. The activities often focused on the vibrant Guatemalan culture and the beautiful landscape. Below is a picture of the oldest church in Central America which we visited in one of the towns adjacent to Xela. We were lucky enough to visit on a day when someone was there to let us into the church and show us around.
Occasionally Juan Sisay had local artisans visit the school to demonstrate how they made their wares. I had the privilege of attending a lesson on weaving taught by an indigenous Mayan lady. She let us take turns assisting with the weaving (below).
Another excellent activity was a lesson at a local chocolateria. We participated in the chocolate-making process from roasting the cocoa beans, to grinding up the beans with sugar and then pressing them into little bars. We then were given fresh cups of hot chocolate – it was delicious! Below are pictures of the chocolate making ending with a photo of our class drinking in the cafe.
A huge part of the culture of Guatemala is dancing. As a result, we witnessed and participated in a lot of dancing, especially salsa. Several afternoons during my 9 weeks at the school we had salsa classes. One of the teachers at the school also runs a professional dance studio so he gave excellent lessons. Then every Friday night the school hosts a party to welcome new students and say farewell to the graduating students. These parties always ended in hours of dancing! Below are some pictures of the dancing and the Friday ‘fiestas.’