Waxing and Waning in Calakmul

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Waxing and waning in Calakmul: Los días aquí fluctúan de llenos y fascinantes a bastante lentos. Por lo menos cada semana ha sido diferente! En la casa hemos tenido unos talleres geniales y muchas noches de documentales. Y después de los primeros pasos lentos, por fin las clases están moviendo. Tengo una base buena de estudiantes que (casi) siempre vienen a clase. Llega Semana Santa y ojalá esas dos semanas de descanso no interrupan demasiado el orden establecido. De todos modos, aprecio muchísimo la oportunidad de viajar un poco por la región durante las vacaciones!!

Crazy Children

Crazy Children

One of the best groups I have is a group of kids. For a couple of weeks, the students were constantly spawning new friends and cousins. They were 3. Then they were 5. Then they were 7. Now they are 10. At first I found it extremely stressful to have to review the basics every other class, but once I stopped obsessing over that, we began to move forward at a good pace. We learn new words and incorporate old ones. It’s amazing how quickly children pick up on things! When I started teaching English a year and a half ago, one of the first things I learned was to avoid underestimating the students’ ability to respond positively to challenges. This class is a great example. Spongy brains!



Naturally, it is trickier to engage the teens in conversation and activities. Patience and a good sense of humor have helped me greatly in keeping the rhythm in my classes. At this point, I think the students feel comfortable around me. I always try to act silly and make them smile. The lack of self-consciousness is contagious. The classes go more smoothly if everyone is in a light mood and enjoying themselves. And by the way, improvisation is nothing to be ashamed of in teaching – being in tune to the flow of each class is essential!

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“Quilitz Quilitz” cry the bats of Xibalba, the underworld, in Mayan text Popol Vuh

I was able to visit la cueva de murcielagos a few weeks back. Witnessing the formation of these clouds of bats is equally spellbinding and charming. They drop and swoop and dive and shoot and dance – what’s really most remarkable is that they don’t have more collisions with all the spectators standing in their way!

When I begin to feel isolated or a bit underwhelmed living in this small town of different customs and habits, I remind myself how much life there is outside of that of human beings. The garden behind Germina is practically a bird sanctuary. And lizards are regular visitors to the house as well. This, after all, is the jungle – there is no shortage on life.


Laura Gilchrist

April 17th, 2017 View Profile

Calakmul, Campeche, spring 2017