Thursday, October 22, 2009

More information about driving from Guatemala to Texas

Someone emailed me through the blog about buying a car in Guatemala and driving it back to the States.  Never one to waste effort, I thought I'd post my response here in case it could be useful.  Of course, if someone needs more specifics, I'll be glad to help.

I haven't driven from Guatemala to Texas (yet) but I can tell you the route I took down from Texas.  Check out this post if you haven't already:

That post outlines in detail my route.

Based on the paperwork I've had to do to import my car to Guatemala, I would plan on spending a couple of weeks down here, maybe 3 to get the paperwork done.  Could be shorter than that, but it's hard to tell sometimes.  Let me know when/if you do that and I can get you the name of a tramitador who will do all the paperwork for you.

Check the car out well...I can give you the name of a mechanic if you decide to go for it...American who has lived down here for ages.  Great guy.  He won't charge you a whole lot to look at it...maybe nothing, if he thinks you'll give him future business. Of course, I can't guarantee that :)

You do not have to have insurance in Guatemala, but you can get it if it makes you feel better.

Driving through Mexico, I would contact Transmigrantes Mireya near McAllen, TX.  They have partners on the southern Mexican border and can help you with the process of driving through Mexico legally.  Of course, you can enter as a tourist, but you can't carry much in your car.  The number for Transmigrantes Mireya is

1479 S Rangerville Rd
Harlingen, TX 78552

That should be enough to get you started.  I can get you hooked up with some maps, etc, if/when you decide to make the trip.  Just let me know and I'll be glad to help.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why I love to teach fifth grade...

Something I really appreciate about teaching fifth graders is all of the love they have to give. That sounds really corny, but I always have kids making me cards saying "I love you, Mrs. Adina" or bringing me flowers or making me origami dinosaurs, giving me hugs, telling me jokes or something equally endearing. For me, it is the perfect age.
-The kids are old enough to do some pretty serious, intense conversations and writing about important things in life, even if they are still portraying their parent's opinions for the most part.
-They are old enough to be responsible for themselves, with the obligatory exception or two.
-Their creative side is developing and expressed in many different ways.
-Linguistically they are getting a handle on two languages and are starting to master them both.
-And, usually, fifth grade is one of the first where changing classes occurs and teachers teach one or two, instead of all, subjects. I love having to focus on just language! It is a lot easier to get creative and in-depth with something when your attention is not divided.

On the other side of this equation, teaching in Elementary school has a completely different realm of social norms than middle school or especially high school. The teachers are more involved with each other. You are a lot more likely to get a birthday part, baby shower or marriage gift. In the morning people are more likely to greet you and, overall, interaction is much more a part of work. This has its drawbacks sometimes, but for me, it is mostly a positive thing. I have to constantly force myself to be a part of society for my own good, and I enjoy it when I do, but I need an environment that pushes me that extra bit to interact with people.

In Guatemala, I have noticed all of these things in a more positive way for the most part. Some things are a little different, every school has it's up and down sides, but overall it is a good thing. This is something I have prayed a lot about, since new things are terrifying anyhow and going back to work was hard enough without it being in a new country! :) I think it is interesting the amount of American/Canadian teachers I work with who do not speak Spanish. I am glad that I do because it allows me to interact better with both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking teachers and to more fully appreciate my environment.

If you've ever considered international teaching, I would definitely recommend it.

p.s. Sometimes you also get to participate in the art session and sculpt your own triceratops!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Should expats in Guatemala encourage others to move here?

A discussion I had a couple of months ago with Mark prompted me to observe more closely the dynamic between locals and expats here in Guatemala.  We were discussing how it's incredibly difficult to find information about moving to Guatemala on the internet.  Sure, there's loads of information about tourism and travelling, even about hostels, but virtually nothing about cost of living (besides "it's cheap"), housing other than overpriced luxury homes, and how to get set up in the country.  With the plethora of "gringo" expats in the country, one would think that this information would be easy to come by.

But alas, it's not.

We originally started this blog to keep our friends and family informed about our adventures, but soon it was evident that we could use this to try to develop some materials that could be beneficial for those coming.

But again, that begs the question...why has this not already been done?  And since it hasn't, except for recent efforts in the past year, as far as I can tell, should it be?  Do gringos want to keep this bit of paradise (more or less) to themselves?

Friday, October 9, 2009

" lo pasas después..."

I guess the concept of credit at stores is not dead in Guatemala.  As many who travel throughout Latin America know, and no doubt in other parts of the world, shops don't carry a lot of extra cash.  I was bike-riding the other day, and halfway through I stopped at a corner store in a plaza we frequent.  I've been in the store maybe five times, and not really ever made conversation there.  All I had on me was a 100 quetzal bill (about 12 USD) and was buying a bottle of water that cost Q3.50 (about 40cents US).  The cashier asked me if I had anything smaller, and I didn't, and she just said "me lo pasas después"..."you can give it to me later".  I looked at her in disbelief, thanked her, and walked out with my water without her taking my name or anything.  I fully intend on paying her the next time I go to the store.  Anybody else encountered this?