Life Goes On In Xela!

It's hard to believe that we've already been here for 13 days. I feel like the first week was kind of daunting because we had so much to learn and get used to in a such a short period of time. But after getting back from Lake Atitlán, it seemed pretty easy to go along with the flow of our schedule. I'm actually very surprised at how comfortable I'm starting to feel here in Xela, especially considering how welcoming and friendly everyone is everywhere you go.

So the last two days kind of mimicked the beginning of the week in that we've just had Spanish classes followed by activities in the afternoon. Spanish class is always really relaxing and no-stress because Annabella and I have a lot of conversations about various things like music, partying, my life plans, etc. Of course we also go over the things in my lesson plan such as preterite or imperfect but it's so nice just talking with her in Spanish and practicing my conversational skills.

Yesterday, our afternoon activity involved watching "Sin Nombre," a movie about a girl and her attempt to immigrate to the United States. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how I felt about the movie. It's a dark movie, and the ending left an almost sour taste in my mouth. But the dark and realistic approach to the movie really allowed it to show the terrors and perils that immigrants face when they attempt to come to the United States for a better life. I felt like the movie also did a good job of showing some factors that influence people to leave where they live, including violence, gang activity, and poverty. Another thing that I found interesting was the director also showed how different areas of Latin America have very different opinions and attitudes towards those that they to immigrate to the United States. In one part of the movie, the locals were giving food to the people onboard the train, while in another area the locals were throwing rocks and cursing at the people onboard the train. I think that did a good job of showing the variety in public opinion on such a controversial topic. Overall, I think the movie did a good job of not sugarcoating or over-dramatizing such a dark topic. But I don't think that I would watch this movie again.

Today, our afternoon activity was our second salsa lesson! We actually learned some really complex moves, which was kind of challenging but still really fun! Mitchka and this other guy at the dance studio were dancing and they were really impressive to watch, like it seemed so effortless for them to just dance and go with the flow. I think I'm going to check out some salsa classes at USC when I get back! For now, I'm going to get some sleep since we're off to Laguna de Chicabal tomorrow at 7:30am. See ya guys there! -Scott