Friday, July 23, 2010

Being a tourist...Guatemalan style

So a couple weeks ago the extended family on Oralia's side decided to go down to San Marcos La Laguna one Friday night and stay at a place her brother owns...just an hour away but since we rarely do overnight trips anywhere it sounded pretty exciting.  We were told the place had plenty of space for all of us, but in the end we only ended up being 17 instead of the whole 28.  Good thing too, cause once we rolled in to town (with a trunk full of blankets, plates, Cream Soda (India K´iche', my treat, cause it's so good!), tea and bread) we found out that the 'house' was really just two rooms made from concrete blocks right next to a store that the other brother owns, meaning that it was currently being used to store a huge pallet of sugar, water and a stack of 20 foot long rebar for upcoming construction.  There was a twin bed in the corner of the one room, a desk with one chair and enough spiders and random bugs to make this more of a camping experience (or jail cell), complete with a latrine out back with a sheet of corrugated metal as a makeshift two foot tall door that you had to move to go in and out.  But the funny thing was I didn't even bat an eye, not surprised at all.  We got to work grilling meat, tomatoes (to make chirmol, the sauce) and heating up tamalitos.  Despite the rain, which caused us to grill under the roof out back, trudge through mud to get to the water and the proximity of everything which filled the house with smoke, we had a delicious dinner.  The muchachos decided to go take a stroll through town with their uncle and I was privileged to be invited (instead of staying back with all the adults).  I'm pretty sure we looked like an interesting bunch....5 guys between 12-19 years old and a 38 year old Guatemalan walking around with a tall blond, joking the whole time.  

We get 'home' and its time to set up sleeping arrangements.  Luckily I brought a thick sleeping blanket and this ends up being the mattress for me and two of my brothers on the cement floor in the room with the sugar and water, with our feet dangling over iron rods.  Everyone piled on the floor in the other room in sections according to family (the grandma got the twin bed and shared it with the newborn baby some girl just gave to her a few weeks ago to raise).  As I got comfortable in my corner, arranging my pillow and blanket, I tried not to think about the creepy crawly things that most likely were watching me from the rafters above, plotting their journey down the wall to join me in my slumber.  Little did I know, those things would not keep me from sleeping, instead I passed the night listening to a chorus of snoring champions (who would have known the grandma would be the worst!?), the baby who cried and cried, which the grandma had no trouble sleeping through so Oralia would have to get up to take care of her, and tossing and turning to avoid the pains of concrete support.  All this made it pretty easy to get up early, accidently wash my face with the water that's used to flush the toilet instead of the water out of the faucet (the basins were close to each other and I was tired...), and head down to the lake to check out the view.  On our way we wanted some coffee to eat with the bread we bought, but since San Marcos is pretty touristy the only thing that we found open was a dingy hippie place that had some for Q7 a cup!!  Super expensive but since we were a big group and the men were good at bargaining, they got it down to Q3 and good thing too cause it turned out to be pretty bad tasting and served in chipped, stained cups of all shapes and sizes.  Oh well.  The day started out pretty cloudy but cleared up and turned out beautiful!  

The view from the rocks of San Pedro volcano.

Erin (a volunteer and good friend of mine who lives in San Marcos for now) took us around to the best spots.

Lunch!  Crab soup, turned out puro utz' (really good)

The boys trying to fish. the lake is still super contaminated (Erin, who has her masters in oceanography with an emphasis on fecal contamination calls it a gigantic toilet bowl since there are almost no functioning water treatment plants and all waste waters run directly in to it from the many towns and cities that lie on its edge and from the whole watershed itself).  Apparently this area is less contaminated so she took us here and the boys hopped in a bit to cool off. Erin just shook her head.

Juanita (Oralia's sister) and her two little girls.
We came home dirty and exhausted but with big smiles on our faces :)  Call me crazy but I enjoyed this much more than heading out with other foreigners for a weekend away (nothing against my fellow volunteers and other gringos).  I've been fortunate to have traveled to many places and countries before Guatemala and my way of looking at things is very different from people who rarely get out.  It's like the joy you get when you watch someone open a don't get anything material out that but the happiness is contagious.  It's nice.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and hilarious post B. I love how you always find joy in the journey!