The Book: Juntos by Ally Condie
My Rating: 2/5
Blurb from Amazon.com:
“Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.”
This was the Spanish translation of Matched. I count myself lucky to have Spanish-language ebooks available from the library, but the selection isn’t the best. As this book shows.
You know you’re in for a real paragon of originality when the story’s dystopian society is literally called the Society (or in Spanish, la Sociedad). Capital S and all.
It’s The Giver all over again: young adult protagonist grows up in a utopia where all choices are made for them and everything is painless and easy. But – holy cow – there’s a whole messier, more vivid side of life calling!
In this case, the two sides are conveniently packaged as two boys in a love triangle. Which is a fine concept if the book weren’t so… boring.
On the plus side, the glacial pace of this book makes it great for language learning! The majority of the book describes everyday life in the Society and nothing much happens until the very end (seriously, a large portion of the book is about hiking up the same mountain over and over).
Even if you don’t understand every word, you don’t have to worry about missing out on much and you’ll pick up a lot of useful vocabulary.
The Place: The Indian’s Nose, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
My Rating: 3.5/5
La Nariz del Indio is so named because it’s the highest point on a ridgeline that looks like a Mayan face in repose:
It’s a popular hike for watching the sun rise over all of Lake Atitlan and its three volcanoes. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Photo credit: Lawrence Murray via Flickr CC
The easiest way to do this hike is to catch a chicken bus from San Pedro or San Juan (they start running at 4am) and take it up to Santa Clara. Then it’s only a short 45-minute walk up the backside of the mountains to the two lookout platforms. From there, you can walk the steep front side all the way back down to your starting point.
It’s recommended you go with a guide who knows the route and who to pay. Trail fees are 50Q (~$6.50) and a guide plus transportation will typically cost you another 50Q.
Book + Place Pairing
My rating: 3/5
Nash and I went on a discounted tour with our Spanish school, accompanied by one of the teachers and two other students.
They didn’t offer the hike at sunrise, which meant we got to sleep in and have the mountain all to ourselves, yay! But it also meant the lighting at two lookout points was harsh, so our pictures are less than spectacular.
I loved looking down at San Pedro and trying to figure out where our house and favorite spots were. (This was also how we discovered the impressive soccer stadium!)
Our instructor gave us plenty of time to rest (and in my case read) at the top. It was a relief to switch from struggling to speak Spanish to reading Spanish, even if the book was inane.
My brain was already getting tired, so a benign teenie romance suited me just fine.