Imagine for the next three or four years there is a possibility of living in El Salvador or Guatemala. Specifically the capital cities of San Salvador or Guatemala City. If you know of these, any preferences that would suit you personally? Even if you don't know them, gut feeling?
Hello to both of you. Mick, I've been as usual at the house in Spain, with as usual, no internet. I'm now having a couple of days rounding off the summer down on the coast stocking up on fish and chips before returning to Zambia, via Germany, at the end of the week. Whatagain, they interest me as well but I'd also include flight connections to Europe, travelling in the country/area possibilities and importantly, food - amongst other things.
Well, I was just in Guatemala this spring. Guatemala City itself was the most Americanized city (shopping malls, burger chains...) that I have ever seen outside of the United States - but of course just the rich parts of it. There are very secure neighbourhoods of exactly the same style with which you are familiar. The local culture is fascinating, the food is good. Things are cheap. The murder rate is extremely high, and there is a lot of security -- probably absolutely nothing surprising to you either.
You've seen my photo reports of the country, I presume. I was not able to make one of the city itself due to the car breaking down any my friend being extremely sick... He has been living there for two years now and might extend at the end of his contract. As head of the Lycée français, he has regular meetings with the French ambassador and is one of the main people in charge of security in case of 1) volcanic eruption or major earthquake 2) coup d'état.
I'm not sure, but I think that El Salvador is poorer and less secure.
I haven't been to either but my daughter worked in El Salvador for a short time some years ago. She thought people were extremely nice, although indeed there are many dangerous areas. She travelled around by bus on her own and had no problems, but my gut feeling tells me Guatemala is probably safer, given the many schools teaching Spanish and organized tours going there. Although I think some recent news has not been good: www.nytimes.com/2018/09/10/world/americas/guatemala-corruption-cicig.html
Mick - Benalmádena! Absolutely wonderful place. I've even managed to spot a Spanish person! I admit it is one of the furthest points you can get away from real Spain and after spending the last three and a half months, more or less, in real Spain I make no excuses about having a fry up every morning, fish and chips for lunch and a carvery or Indian for dinner. It's a thing I like to do after locking the house up for the winter, waving off family at the airport and having a couple of days to myself pigging out before returning to our designated country, this time back to Zambia. It's a good people watching place as well. You're down this way at the end of next month, no?
K2, I did go back again to look at your threads and so far it all seems fine. I'll need to learn more Spanish though.
bjd, yes, that does give pause for thought for sure, but living in a corrupt country is not so unusual for me. In fact I'm living in one of the worst now.
Questa, yep, that info was something I did look at but thanks for it in case I'd not seen it. Though the dry facts influence me little compared to the feeling from your last sentence which is how my mind works as well.
My friend who lives in Guatemala City -- or rather in the "nice" suburb about 20km out of Guatemala City, yes "expat" land -- takes the main highway in the direction of El Salvador, and then there is a place to turn off for his neighbourhood. It is a gated community where all of the vehicles and drivers are identified. There are a number of very nice residential streets winding all around the hill, and then his compound of about 20 townhouses has its own additional gate to get in. Obviously the guards are on duty 24/7. Once you get through the second gate (even the first gate), you feel in total safety, but it might be just an illusion.
The adult son of one of the school staff was murdered during a home invasion while I was there, but she was the Spanish teacher, who apparently must be Guatemalan as per local law. So she was living in a "normal" neighbourhood rather than a secure one.
If you're interested, I'll ask my friend the exact name of where he is living and then you can investigate.
I'd expect that just getting an apartment/house in a local area wouldn't be suitable but I'd be hoping not to have to go a long way out of the city to get a decent one. If and when things progress and I need to do more investigation I'll take you up on your offer. Thanks.
The reason that he is out there is because all of the international schools seem to be there. The French school, the American school, the Colegio Interamericano, the Colegio Maya, the English American school, etc... and, er, quite a few Christian academies.
A downside of Guatemala is the fundamentalist evangelical Protestant influence. I'm not so interested in the theological debate, but they are actively against the cultures of the Mayan Empire, and even the beautiful traditional clothing. I have friends who were missionaries for a very different type of Protestant church, the United Church, which was at the forefront of the movement for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples up here, and who were working with Indigenous communities - groups similar to Catholic liberation theology, and definitely about valuing Indigenous cultures. Understandably, it took a while for these communities to accept the newcomers - and of course the evangelicals, all initiated by the type of "Christians" who support Mike Pence considered them traitors as they were working hand in hand with similarly-minded Catholics.
Well, at least on the school level (as opposed to post-secondary) Spanish language teachers should be local; why not?
I didn't feel any sort of religious "pressure" while I was there, just noticed the vast number of shitty little evangelical churches, just like in the United States. Like it or not, when people like us go to a country like that, we are on a totally different plane of existence -- we do not really enter their world and they do not enter ours. And of course even among the locals, there are totally different worlds that do not interact. At the French high school, even though the majority of the students are Guatemalan, almost none of them have a drop of Mayan blood -- they are all of European, Asian or Middle Eastern stock.
This will sound silly, but even the height difference makes interaction difficult. The Mayans are so tiny that "normal" people feel like Dorothy wandering around a group of Munchkins.
We are still in the very early stages of looking what might be available to us after Zambia. Judging from our previous experiences, what appears first often disappears later down the line and something new pops up. As it is, I'm just bothering with basic research to separate the wheat from the chaff. When a decision does have to be made for certain then I'll dig a lot deeper if there appear to be close choices. Often though, a clear winner comes to light that suits us far better than anything else. If that happens then it is easy. I'd prefer the region of south east Asia but my favourites would actually be Namibia or India, though living in Delhi? Hmmm........
Evidently Mexicans of Mayan origin with the same genetic profile are considerably taller than their Guatemalan neighbours. There is a handsome young man who works at our local SAQ (fine wines and spirits monopoly); somehow I asked where he was from as he was talking about "home". I thought he was from the south of Mexico, by his features, but he is originally Guatemalan. He is probably around 1m80 - 6 feet - I know those are not identical but common descriptions of someone who is tall but not freakishly so. Indeed he said that when he returned to see his cousins, who had been the same height as children, he towered over them.
Height is not linked just to genetics but also to nutrition. My husband had a Japanese colleague who claimed that the shortness of many Japanese born during WW2 and just after it was partly a result of the very poor food available.
My daughters, Colombia born and of normal sized Colombian parents, are 1.72m (5ft 7in) when the average female height is 1.55m (5ft 1in). I suspect it is mostly down to what we fed them when they were small. My son is the same height of the same origin.
I attend a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple occasionally. It is very obvious looking at the families there to see when regular meat meals entered their diets. Grandparents are tiny and wiry thin, women about 4ft 11 inches, men 1-2 inches taller. Their offspring are taller and much depends on if they were employed by the US or Oz forces. As they are nearly all refugees, the chances are they were. These workers were given supplies of meat as part salaries. Their kids were brought to Oz by little boats and families worked and ate good Vietnamese food and now are about the same as the local people in height. However I saw a lad with his mother, he was much taller but already at about 13 was overweight. When we share a meal there...delicious food...the lad and a couple of friends walked to the nearby McDonalds and had that for lunch.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
That's a pity, Questa. I saw a bunch of teenagers near Château-Rouge métro in Paris, in the 18th arrondissement. They were of Subsaharan African origin and eating at a Colonel Sanders that happened to be located on rue Poulet (or nearby, don't remember). I was staying with friends there, and early the next morning went down to the street market there, with lots of fish and vegetables, exotic or very local.
A friend here, originally from Morocco (she and her husband were political refugees) was annoyed about the same trend, at the very multiethnic school their daughters attended. The kids were enthralled with corporate junk food.
Fortunately their three daughters didn't fall into that. The first two are medical professionals (one is a shrink), I think the third is still at university.