Saturday, May 24, 2008
the real guatemala post
left for midway with a plate of pasta, mug of fake coffee (thanks pop), and about 4hrs of sleep. traffic at 4am is never too bad. and the drunks are just about home at that time. midway's a breeze, the flight to atlanta is light, lots of room to stretch out, embraer 190 had nice seats. Hartsfield-Jackson is such a busy airport - I think Ohare hides it's busyness. it's just blatant in atlanta. perhaps the parallel runways. found gate, ate food, tried to scoop internet, made last phone calls from cell, changed ticket for an open row. 757 down to guatemala city. always a quick liftoff, remembered how much I love flying over water, especially caribbean water. good airline food, bad walt disney movie (national treasure 2). flying over guatemala city involves a multitude of valleys, with sheered hills, man-made plateaus, smog layers, and tin roofs. At this point, I began to really consider what I knew of Guatemala - and it turned out to not be a lot. I knew there had been a war, but I didn't know how extensive. then zaak encourages me to close my window for fear of getting robbed or killed. ack. ah well, a trip to the center of guatemala city, a walk through the plaza, mile 1, and on to Tactic. smog, exhaust, heat, followed by the introduction of the luxurious licuado, a windy road into the jungled north, and we arrive. amber, acadia and blaise greet us, fresh fruit for supper and a movie on hit and run. good to chill.
early rise, watched U2 DVD, made faces at Acadia, scrambled eggs with chicken sausage and hot sauce, exchange money at bank with guards, eat authentic corn tortillas with mango salsa and black beans. after dinner movie of Crime and Punishment, back to market to meet group from Trinity Western University, trip to the local catholic church, Chi Xim, and a curry feed with sweet potatoes and egg, and a game of settlers which I efficiently lose to Amber (I will never say anything about a number ever again).
good morning starshine. Another early rise, but lazy. todays content included a trip to a coffee plantation with the group from TWU; crazy road, so crazy vertical, brakes have a new meaning in places like this. who knew coffee begins a little multi-colored. afternoon leisure ends with a meal at a local church members home where we watched as corn is processed at a public mill, and then we help pat it into little pupusas (filled with farmers cheese), and then deep fried. friend, I was plugged. which was alright as I was slowly getting used to not flushing toilet paper. but the eventual BM was like bullets. enough.
early morning trip to Semuc Champey. about 100kms away but windy roads turn it into 3.5 hours. so but Champey is this set of natural limestone pools on top of a river - or better said, above a tunneled river. beautiful sun, warm water, windy, much burned skin, adrenaline raced (with some treacherous cliff jumps - who knew I was such a jock). I'm sure this place could be really beautiful at night. another windy trip back to Tactic where mango chicken and the darjeeling limited await. of course another van trip means heated discussion about whatever topic (cause we covered so much during the week - it was very refreshing) - and today's topic was Music. we hit so many hits of the 90s, covered some new artists, and chose some favorites. Alan, our resident pop guru, vilely infected us with some black eyed peas. darn that skanky hook.
early morning devotionals at the Impact Ministries school. loud singing, hands raised, the longest medley I've never understood. it's hard not to sense a calling when you combine the surroundings of tactic, the poverty and the injustice, with the true redeeming quality of education. pictures, sounds, images later, we hit the market for some bargain action. thanks to Amber, I have returned with some tablecloths and mats. and an afternoon of leisure ends with a night at a local restaurant for meat, meat, and more meat. I think I may even like steak now. oh, and settlers - I think I lost again.
the morning is spent packing, as we're headed to Antigua, the tourist capital of Guatemala. while europeans seem to traverse the country, most americans seem to only hit Antigua. travel discussion ensues, windy road leads to some in-car puking (it's all cool, Blaise - I was totally there on the way to Tactic). lunch stop at Pollo Campero finally lends some leafy-vegetables to my plate - remarkably, greens (lettuces, spinaches, leafy things - with the exception of cilantro - aren't easily found in tactic, and thereby aren't often eaten. the fiber revived my colon. wow, that sounds dramatic - it wasn't - but I was glad to have a salad. bargaining in the market leads to a new purse for michaela and a hammock for my parents. supper highlights my appreciation for good customer service. hotel, sleep.
early morning pick-up by the tourist bus; hour ride to the Pacaya Volcano. it was a moving UN bus - 3 canadians, 1 norwegian, 2 french, 2 swiss, 1 greek, 1 american, 3 danish. the walk to the volcano turns out quite laborious, but the view of the spewing (well, maybe creeping) is wicked. the fresh rock feels hollow but the edges will gash you - the scar in my hand still testifies. 20 feet from fresh lava is cool, but quite hot. (lame, I know). it radiates quite well. walk down in dust and sweat finishes with a creamsicle. what a workout. we had lunch at a nice vegetarian restaurant - something I'm assuming is quite unique in guatemala. and a nap. yes. more chilling, more tourism, cathedrals that are half fallen down and my last licuado. back to the hotel where we can't help but play some more settlers and finish with a last discussion on religion and life.
early morning rise to search for fresh bread. no such luck. back to the hotel to begin our trip back to Guatemala city. Breakfast at Pollo Campero leads to discussion on life and careers, etc, over eggs with black beans and salsa. so good. and back to the airport, and back to america.
-- there it is - short and sweet, but barely hitting all the details that made it a great trip. thanks zaak, amber, acadia, blaise and alan.