20 octubre 2010- miercoles –
In a series of minivans and private car, I passed through the green highlands of Guatemala to my new home yesterday…leaving the Peace Corps compound at 10:30am, we arrived nearly 6hrs later with a brief stop for a lunch of thin steak (cooked to leather consistency, so any microbios were surely dead), beans and rice. The microbus from San Lucas Saquetepequez was decidedly more comfortable than a camioneta (chicken bus), but my heavy backpack on my lap nearly put my legs to sleep…I wasn’t quite willing to let my laptop and other valuables travel atop the van, only the two large suitcases got to hang out there in the breeze. Thankfully only a few raindrops fell, so I arrived with belongings still dry.
The travel along the InterAmerican highway was quite revealing as to the damages suffered during this extraordinarily rainy season. Many sections of roadway were closed in at least one lane due to landslides, and although repairs are underway, it is clearly going to be an ongoing task. My ears popped as we climbed over a mountain pass at 9,000ft, so I was quite impressed with the altitude, and the view down into the valleys dotted with farms was very beautiful.
My counterpart, Roberto, had contacted a friend for the last leg of our journey…so from Cuatro Caminos, an important crossroads, we rode in the comfort of a private vehicle. I was puzzled when we stopped briefly by the roadside, but then was impressed with the industry of providing individual service for travelers…a young man bolted across the highway, two plastic jugs in hand, and promptly began filling the gas tank. Perhaps a good deal, but certainly sparing a trip further on to a gas station. By 4pm, we had arrived to the elegant home of Don Caralampio and Doña Rosenda, my new host parents. Such a luxury to sink into a couch again, and with the TV in the living room I may get to watch the news now and then…it would help my Spanish and knowledge of the world considerably. My mental effort has been preoccupied with adapting to this culture, but I’m ready to explore what is happening beyond my Guatemalan bubble.
Last event of the day was attending an Evangelical service with my host parents. Although still primarily a Catholic country, the prevalence of Evangelical religion is growing rapidly in Guatemala. After a day of travel, I wasn’t quite prepared for the incredibly loud music and booming service. There was considerable dancing, mostly a kind of aerobic hopping about by children and adults, as people felt moved by the music and spirit. Tired, I stayed seated attempting to look contemplative, but mostly I was covering my ears with my hands to muffle the sound…just a bit too much of an assault on my tired senses. After 2hrs, the service ended to enjoy a dinner of rice, chicken, and tamalitos prepared by my host mom and others. I was greeted very warmly with the traditional embrace and kiss…these are members of my new community, so I will see many of these people again. At 9pm, we packed up all the dirty dishes from the 60 people and headed home….I fell immediately asleep in my new home.