28 agosto- Again I slept through my alarm, the drawback to sleeping with earplugs to drown out the fireworks and roosters. My body revolted at the 6:30am awakening, especially for Saturday so I had a 15 minute dash from my bed to reunion with my comrades at the parque (park).
Off we went by camioneta (bus) to Antigua for the movie “El Norte”…none of our families have DVD players, so our instructor’s friend kindly invited us to her home. A powerful movie…it evoked many for feelings as we vicariously suffered along with the Guatemalan sister and brother who leave behind a pueblo that looks just like ours, only to risk a new life in the U.S. The sadness of war which greatly impacted the indigenous population here is not so distant in time…the peace accords were signed in 1996. During training we have learned that there could be undercurrents beyond our comprehension when we seek community participation, such as some people refusing to work with others…an indicator of wounds from the dark history of warring factions and families. Healing is a long process.
On a lighter side, we headed to Cookies Etc, a café that sells delicious sweets, treating us to a taste of home. Large cookies cost 2.5 quetzales or 30 cents. Some treats actually made it back to our host families. After lunch we reunited at Justin’s host family home for Tamale-Making 101, a hands-on training (literally) that provided much humor. Us gringos really struggled to achieve thin, regular-shaped tortillas made of cornmeal batter (masa) for the chuchitos (similar to tamales). Esperanza, his host mom, had an incredible memory and pulled our chuchitos out of the vast quantity steaming in a caldron so that we could taste them. Tamales and chuchitos are a special food for holidays and weekends, and this is her economic livelihood. We joked that due to our imperfect results, she would need to sell our tamales at a lower price! Definitely an art to this…hay que practicar (we need to practice).
While tamales were cooking we headed to the entrada (entrance) of our town…a great vista, and clearly the place for young lovers to hang out. Feeling energetic, we kept walking along the road to the next small town…only ¼ mile away. An open door and the smell of fresh wood called us into a shop. The friendly carpenter gave us a tour of his incredible craftsmanship …headboards, chairs, tables, and picture frames, all carved by hand. He thought we were a group of Spanish tourists. Wow! Quite the compliment; we had just learned yesterday that we tested at the advanced language level, but we certainly don’t pretend to be native speakers! We clarified our origins, “Somos de los estados unidos.” (We’re from the U.S.) Not many handmade products like his in the U.S. we commented.
A Saturday immersed in the taste of Guatemalan food and the beauty of their crafts, with the movie, El Norte, giving us a sobering reminder of the violent past these people have endured.