Posted by: janetwright2guatemala | 11/11/2010

Poetic License

10 noviembre 2010- miercoles

Tomorrow marks my 3 month anniversary of arriving in Guatemala! Interesting paradox….seems like I’ve been here forever, but everyday there are challenges to remind me of my newcomer status. Here is a poem I wrote last Saturday during the 2 hour bus ride (in between bumps) to Quezaltenango (nickname Xela) which is the 2nd largest city in Guatemala.

Becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer at the home of the U.S. Ambassador

Journey to Xela

Lurching along packed dirt roads past fields of corn,

Sentinels to the life-giving food, smoke curls up from homes

Where likely a woman clad in tejido  tends the noonday meal and fire.

Hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder on this bus,

A pair of dark brown eyes peer at me from beneath a knitted cap.

The future of Guatemala examines me, a pale face amongst the brown.

Other babes sleep peacefully, snug in colorful slings upon mothers’ backs.

Bent but dignified older women with folds of fabric upon their heads

Peer out the dirt-streaked window, perhaps visiting family today.

Pine trees line the highway, some reddish brown and struggling with disease.

In the distance I spot the perfect cone that is Volcan San Pedro,

Its large and silent presence protects Lake Atitlan.

Pueblos of concrete block homes and metal lamina roofs

Are sprinkled along the highway, amongst a checkerboard of cornfields.

We are stopped briefly and I see a woman beneath a bright colored umbrella

Patting out her tortillas at this roadside stand announcing “papas fritas”.

Family groups trudge along the highway with sturdy women

Carrying bundles in colorful cloth in dignified balance upon their heads.

Boys and men are bent over in the strain of carrying leña (firewood)

In huge quantities, the straps pressing upon their foreheads.

My fellow bus passengers sit stoically, lost in thought,

Perhaps contemplating their intended activities in the big city.

Such is a typical Saturday morning here in Guatemala

As we bounce along listening to the strains of bachata music on the radio.


  1. I pause in my nightly grind of paper grading, read my email, and find your blog. I really enjoyed your poem. I could see Guatemala through your images (and remembering the Mayans in Belize). Thanks for some fresh lit. (No offense, Shakespeare)

  2. un poeta ha nacido. Did not know you had it in you. Lovely peom and congrats on your 3rd month aniversary.

  3. you look very pretty too.

  4. Gracias…I do enjoy trying to capture scenes in written prose or poetry. Certainly this beautiful and challenged country offers up many images and opportunities!

  5. Thanks…I’ll try to capture more of this country not just in photos but in words as well.

  6. Janet,
    your words leave an indelible imprint on we who follow you. Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

  7. Jan, We really enjoyed your poem, with your vivid descriptions of all you see around you. We can easily visualize what you are describing, in such lovely detail. Your blogs keep you close: We look forward to each new one.

  8. Janet,

    I do look forward to your words. It is you in a different and very beautiful light. They are inpsiring and I am proud of who you are. It does sound like you are fully there, with your hands and feet in to your elbows and knees.

    The poem was great. Please write more. You have the abililty to paint even a better picture with them. I can close my eyes and see just what you see, except for when I do, I can’t read the words.

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