Monday, June 21, 2010


...means star in Spanish.  Estella was my teacher in Guatemala in 2007.  She was a life-long local in San Pedro la Atitlan and was related to the owner of the language school.  In fact everyone was related to the owner of the language school.  The school had little huts along the beach of the lake where we had classes each day.  I had signed up for the full load and went to school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.  I still wonder if I was learning Spanish from Estella or if she was learning English from me.  It was about equal.  

Each morning a black helicopter would fly along the shore of the lake.  I wondered if it was the police or the army or just some rich person commuting to Guatemala City for work.  

There were no local police in San Pedro.  Having come from a career in law enforcement and public safety I wondered about this.  I asked where the nearest fire department (bomberos) was and I was told that it was about two hours northwest in the city of  quetzaltenango shortened to  Xeal (shell-ah) about two hours northwest of San Pedro.  I asked about the nearest hospital and it was in Xeal as well.  As well as the local police (policia municipal) and the federal police (policia national).  Talk about a terrible response time.  

There was an ambulance in San Pedro owned and operated by the husband of the local massage therapist.  He was from Germany and she was from the Czech Republic.  Nice people and they both spoke English.  There was a clinic in the Baptist Church, the largest building in town and it was manned by doctors from Spain.

During Santa Semana (Holy Week) there were some local police in the town center but that was about it.  The federal police would come through once in a while in their black pickup trucks wearing their all black uniforms.  

Early one morning a large group of federal police lined up along the shore of the lake.  One was close enough that I walked up to him and spoke to him in Spanish. I told him that I was a retired police officer from the United States and that I was studying Spanish in San Pedro.  He gave me a very long, cold stare and ignored me.  Later a friend told me that the federal police were lined up along the shore to provide security for the drug dealers as they were moving drugs in the area.  Whoops.

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