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Sound Effect does the big U
Ruins in Antigua
hot and sticky
06/09/2011, Bahia del Sol

This picture is typical of 20% of Antigua is in ruins. Ancient ruins that in many cases were toppled during the 1976 earthquake. That earthquake killed 25000 people. That is a devastating natural disaster that went barely noticed in the states maybe because it was the bi centennial.
These ruins are generally right up against a building in full use.

Home Again
Hot! sticky and daily rain
06/07/2011, Bahia del Sol

Well, we made it back to the boat Sunday night, with groceries, and all is well aboard Sound Effect. We met Becky and Denny from Kokomo for the last leg Sunday afternoon in San Salvador. We shared a cab, bought some groceries and made it back to the dock, where we begged a ride out to our boats. (We had stored our dingy aboard for security.)
It is hot here but not as hot as May because it rains daily to cool things off a bit. The downside is we cant leave the boat without closing it up for fear of rain.
The attached picture is one of floats, full sized mannequins of the stations of the cross. We found these "floats" parked in one of church ruins waiting for next year. They use thes in a procession during Semana Santos (Holy week)each year. Whereas, we in the US hardly get a day for Easter they usually take off the entire week but certainly Thursday thru Sunday of Easter week for family gatherings and church processions. The week in Antigua is world reknown and we would like to go back some day to spend the week. The city of Antigua is about 20,000 people today and there are 38 churches!! To be fair most of them are ruins but there are 12 still active parishes. You cant walk down any streeet in town without running into a church.
We are settling into a routine here, working on the boat and preparing for the next leg. We know we want to transit the canal in early September but beyond that we don't know for sure.

06/08/2011 | mike merritt
hey cousin jim and connie, oh how i am green with envy, the trip you guys are having just makes me wish i would have been able to be with you, so a little side bar just for fun i went out and bought a brand new 1200 cc harley sportster custom, as you know i started out riding a motorcycle, guess i went full circle, and i'm enjoing az on my harley, though i would rather be with you guys good luck in the panama
Adios Familia Sanchez
06/04/2011, San Salvador

Today we said Adios to our host family in Antigua. Living with the family Sanchez was very special for many reasons. It was certainly helpful that both Karla and Jose are teachers and never tired of correcting our grammar and pronunciation.
But living with the family and participating in meals and family activities including Jose Carlos's birthday was very special. These people are very kind, generous, talented and intelligent. They live in a small colonial city in the center of Guatemala, but they know alot about countries all over the world. Their three children are being educated in languages and plan careers as lawyers and doctors, and the nine year old girl Tiffany wants to be a singer! These people are loving, and happy and living a wonderful life. It was a priviledge to spend time with them and make friends that we plan to stay in touch with.

06/05/2011 | mike merrritt
well it is good to see that you are mastering the spanish language, what language did you take in high school? mine was german, i thought you took spanish? and all those years you spent working in the carrabien islands didn't they speak spanish? i'm confused!
Adios Tecun Uman
06/03/2011, Antigua

Well today was the last day of classes in Antigua. Unfortunately I missed yesterday and Connie missed today with "tourista" she is resting today and hopefully will be ready for the long bus ride tomorrow.
We had three weeks of classes because thats the amount of time and money we had. I can speak in sentenences now, although mostly in the present tense and Connie understands much more with an enhanced vocabulary. We have promised to keep it up with our tapes and books back at the boat. Stay tuned.
Connie was at a huge disadvantage having never studied a language because the concept of conjugating a verb was completely foreign. But we both feel it was worthwhile (vale de pena) The pix is of my teacher who can not speak english.
She knows some vocabulary but when a new word was not obvious in the context of what I was reading it was off to the dictionary. Connie's teacher spoke English and in fact they spoke english half of the time. It was certainly a mixed bag but in fairness many of their students are from Germany, Taiwan, Israel, Switzerland etc so english isnt necessary.
This is one of those fun and worthwhile things we have done that wasn't even on the list when we untied the docklines in Tacoma
We are anxious to find the next adventure that we didnt plan.

06/04/2011 | Deb McAdams
It sounds like you had a good time with las clases and that they will certainly help both of you with the rest of your trip. There’s nothing like living the language to help you learn it. Hope you are both on the mend and have a good trip back to the boat. We actually had some sun today. Maybe spring in the northwest will be more than just a rumor after all. Even the weekend promises to be nice and get even warmer. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Food in Guatemala
Spring like
06/01/2011, Antigua

We continue to enjoy our time in Antigua. Living with a local host family has been the best thing we did because we enjoy the conversation over meals in Spanish to both learn about their lives and to improve our vocabulary. These people are extrodinary people kind generous and very intelligent. They are raising three amazing children. But the food is what I wanted to talk about.
It is no secret that I am not a fan of Mexican food. I know many who love the street food in Mexico but for me it was not a highlight.
Here in Antigua our family has continued to amaze with the variety of food and the quantity! It is generally simple but filled with wonderful soups, and rice with a little meat and vegetables... but the fruit is amazing. Papaya, mangoes, and melons with strawberries. We have had conversations for an hour discussing just the types of Mangoes available. The breakfast pictured is fruit of all kinds and what you can't see is my licauado which is a fruit milkshake (they use my delactose milk) So fruit sometimes with granola and yogurt and a fruit milkshake we cant duplicate in the states because if you can get tropical fruit it is very expensive and not the same quality as here. And the coffee! Coffee here is amazing and now even Connie drinks the coffee! ( with plenty of leche y azucar) We will miss the food and of course Connie will miss not having to cook and I will miss not having to do the dishes.

Santa Domingo
Rain every day
05/29/2011, Antigua

Yesterday we toured Santa Domingo which is typical Antigua. It is a 5 star hotel built over and around a 500 year old ruin. The ruin and surrounding buildings are now a series of museums. There is still some archeological work being done with bones discovered as late as 1997. It was a convent, church and college in the 1500's. Now it is married with an exclusive hotel. In fact as we were touring they were setting up in the old church (columns but no roof) for a wedding!
This is Antigua, antique colonial era buildings being used today for everything, hotels, restaurants, and commerce of all sorts. This is so novel for Americans because for example in Seattle nothing is over 100 years old and most not over 50.
Last week of school coming up I'm sure it will go quickly then back to the heat and boat projects.
For those asking about the next few months..... we are not sure. We plan to spend time in Costa Rica and Panama (Pacific side) and then transit the canal the first week of September?? We need a secure location to leave the boat for the first week of October to fly bact to visit our first grand daughter (expected to be born on or about Sept 5) Then we will hang out in the San Blas on the Caribbean side of Panama before heading to Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico and finally back the US.

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Who: Jim & Connie Merritt
Port: Tacoma WA
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