Tag Archives: Volcan de Fuego

Probigua. The Spanish School with a purpose

Con permiso, let me just tell you about my work here in Antigua, Guatemala. I signed up for AIESEC last year to be able to travel somewhere to Latin America. I didn’t have much trouble deciding which project to pick, the team from AIESEC Guatemala are very professional and did a great job in the invitations and decription emails. It is called “Ambassadors of Guatemala”. Who wouldn’t want to feel that kind of recognition for their experiences in another country? I was hooked. Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America and I couldn’t wait to see what it has to offer. AIESEC together with the Govermental Insititution of Tourism and reputed Spanish schools are showing Guatemala’s beauty through all the participants’ eyes. Besides working in a volunteer project in my school, they are also offering me 2 hours of Spanish classes every day! How wonderful is that? 🙂

This is my sharp, gorgeous and very open-minded teacher, Gladys. I love our long conversations about the culture of Guatemala. ♥ Gracias.
Gladys

Academia de Español ProbiguaProyectos Bibliotecas Guatemala is where I work, learn Spanish and teach English to my Spanish teachers. Probigua is a non profit organisation that has two main goals: teaching Spanish and helping education reach poor communities in Guatemala. I find this so incredibly interesting and such an unique experience because I have also worked on a similar situation in Romania through OvidiuRO. The Spanish taught to the students of Probigua comes with an intensive, total-immersion experience, featuring 3 to 7 hours of one-on-one classes daily plus the opportunity of living with a Guatemalan family to learn about the culture and broaden language skills! I am so lucky to be one of these students and to be integrated into such a nice family. Not only is Sonia a great cook, but she also has a lot of patience and helps us, chicos, with the language during meals. My room is great and I have a perfect view from my terrace.

Probigua aims high and thinks big. They are helping the children of Guatemala by donating the school’s profits to maintain the Library Bus. Additionally, they establish and preserve libraries in the many rural places whereby there is no access to books. I was heartbroken while travelling with el Bibliobus to two of the poor communities close to Antigua: Magdalena Milpas Altas – a village on Volcan de Agua and Alotenango – a village at the bottom of the active Volcan de Fuego, which actually errupted on Saturday covering Antigua with ashes for many days.

This is el Bibliobus (the Library Bus) in front of La Merced church.
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Magdalena Milpas Altas
The kids had an earthquake evacuation drill and the lucky ones got to ride with the ambulance/firemen, los bomberos. It was also the school’s anniversary so the all the kids had activities in the yard and participated in a football competition.

The bullies stand aside but keep an eye out for some new victims.

It is incredible to be here and see children that RUN for the bus.They are super excited to see books and try to keep calm although you can see their sparkles of joy in their eyes while waiting for their teacher’s instructions and the librarian’s offerings ♥

RUN

I sit down with them and tell them about my country. Most of them haven’t heard of it and ask me if I am a gringo. I then switch to fairytales like Count Dracula and Transylvania as the heart of Romania and they listen carefully. 🙂 One of them, Carlos, the kid with sad eyes but a kind smile actually knows where Romania is on the map. I’m very much impressed. He pays much attention to my stories and corrects my Spanish. He then buys some sweets with his 1 Quetzal only so I can try it. He is first on the left.

We have a group picture and the kids ask me for my facebook or twitter. 🙂

At the bottom of Volcan de Fuego lies the village Alotenango. The volcano shows a bit of anxiety as we approach, it exhales fumes every now and then and some of the forests lower from the crater are burning. The people of Alotenango live in harsh conditions of poverty and lack of water. The women usually gather in the main square to wash their clothes at the local lavatorium. Their kids wander around playing with boxes in the dust. They are happy, but shy at the sight of foreigners.

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Life is calm out here. Very tranquila. The time is not rushing anywhere and the people seem to know that very well. We park the 3000 book carrying bus by the main park and wait for new students to come in and ask to read something interesting.

girl

This cutie saw me climbing el Bibliobus and decided to join. He goes in to do some basic maths practice afterwards. He is 8 and didn’t go to school that day because he hadn’t done his homework, he says. He can’t read that well, but he is good with numbers.

Out of curiosity we also visit some classes in the nearby school and find the children practicing their sewing on patterned tablecloths. They are happy to tell us the few words they know in English and then show us their masterpieces. When the picture time comes, they goof around. Kids will be kids. 🙂

Most of the children around the lavatorium are curious about us ‘gringos’ but too shy to interact.  I sit down since I’m actually quite tall here and start presenting myself and shaking hands to make them feel more at ease.


My days are full here and I always wake up with a smile upon my face. I am grateful for this experience. Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.

If anyone is interested in joining the projects of Aiesec Guatemala, you can find more information here 🙂
Until next time, keep on smiling!

Hola, I’m in Antigua, Guatemala.

The sight from almost landing in Panama.
Close to Panama

My first trip across the ocean and out of Europe: Don’t be nervous, everything will be just fine! I kept saying to myself. And then this became an involuntary soundtrack before my actual flights. Cheers, brain, I know I can always count on you for messing up my sleep and bringing up weird songs before any kind of travelling. 🙂

But now I am here (OMG!) and everything is so great and exciting and new and crazy different, but sometimes also out-of-this-world similar to the Romanian culture. It’s so hard to put in words. Maybe something of a harmonious chaos that we also master in Romania.

One other surprising thing, I understand a lot of the language, it’s incredible! It feels like it was all the time asleep inside of me. This learning process is very exciting for me. I only need to listen carefully and I understand the use of expressions. Love it so much! At times, I even keep up conversations for so long that I forget I am speaking Spanish. Now that’s really something 🙂

The people. Oh my, I don’t even know where to start on this topic. They are very hospitable, kind, patient, welcoming but also curious to know about you and your country. Here in Antigua they get a lot of tourists and they are used to sharing their lives with them. I have been welcomed with open arms into their houses (thank you Charly, Luis, Majo and Elizabeth), I met the extended family with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmas. I’m enjoying small talk during meals at my wonderful home and I have the perfect view on the terrace of my room. Antigua is surrounded by volcanos (Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Fuego and Acatenango)and I am lucky enough to see them all 🙂
What can I say, guys, it was love at first sight with Antigua. Here, el Volcan de Agua, first thing in the morning.
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Volcan de Agua is the most beautiful one, standing alone with its blunt peak sometimes wrapped in white clouds. The more cheeky one is called Volcan de Fuego. As his name hints, he is still active and kicking. Sometimes more than once per day. It’s far away so we can’t even hear the explosions many times, but you get such an adrenaline rush to see it by night! Mirna from Probigua Spanish School took a great photo of it the other day. I was overwhelmed at its sight to even move a muscle, but she managed to capture it! Such good timing! The Spanish language schools here in Antigua are renowned all around the world and have become one of the main industries along with tourism.

Volcan de Fuego, Mirna

So enough about how amazing this entire trip is for me, let me walk you around the places so you can get the positive vibes in wonderful Antigua. The city has well preserved Spanish colonial style buildings and many ruins of churches. During the colonial times it also served as the capital of an administrative region that covered most of Central America.

View over entire Antigua from La Cerro de la Cruz.
cerro de la Cruz view over Antigua

La Merced church.

La Merced

Antigua is well known for having elaborate religious ceremonies during important Catholic events such as Cuaresma (40 days before Easter Sunday), the Holy Week (Semana Santa), Easter. I will be here just before Easter time so I will document all the flowers, fruits, pine needles and paint artworks made by the artists to celebrate these events. Here you see Cathedral of San José which is located in the Central Park.

Morning
Flare san jose

This is the sight from Palacio de los Capitanes, Plaza Central. In the background, the beautiful Volcan de Agua.
Main Park

The main market. Love the colors of everything here. So many new veggies and fruits I had no idea about. Now wish me luck learning their names in Spanish with no Romanian equivalent. Quiero un camion de nisperos.♥

el mercado

el mercado )

prohibido

As for me, I wait for good light and spy on people, I’m really enjoying myself out here. 🙂 This is fast healthy food on the street. If you like how one lady is cooking, you usually stick with her. Guacamoooooleee tortilla wrap, yum! ♥

fast food

ruinas

guapo

la luz

cuida

Bicicleta

Oh, yes, this is me during lunch break soaking up the sun as much as I can before I return home. Keep bright 🙂
sun