4 febrero 2011- viernes
Last Thursday, January 27th: My alarm signaled that 7:15am was the end of my slumber…so I arose a bit groggily. The 3:30am bus rumbling by had disturbed my sleep, oh well…Guatemala is NOT a quiet country. Quickly I scrambled an egg on my little electric burner, and chomped down some pancakes with peanut butter….I wanted fortification for a morning away from the office. The church bells rang at 8am, my alarm system for departure. During my 2-block walk to my office along the street of concrete pavers, I greeted groups of schoolchildren and adults with “Buenos Dias”, receiving the same greeting or “Que le vaya bien” (That you be well). The pickup truck at the muni was being splashed down with buckets of water, a rudimentary bath…right before we were to head onto dirt roads.
I greeted my colleague, Klever, with the typical greeting for this region…shaking right hands and a light touch on his right arm with my left hand as I pull in close to kiss his right cheek…actually, no one really kisses….you just make a kiss noise next to a person’s cheek. This is the greeting between women or men and women, and I am quite fond of its friendly affection now…exactly when have I greeted the mayor of Seattle in this fashion? but that is how the mayor greets me here.
Gathering up our posters and supplies, Klever and I hopped into the cab of the muni pickup for the ride to Tierra Blanca, an aldea (town) of our municipality. Thankfully he let me have the front seat for the 40-minute ride on the rough dirt road out to the highway. I love it! The police from the department capital (Totonicapan) pulled us over on the road because we had no license plates! The driver got out to talk with them, and finally a policemen poked his head in the window…Klever explained that we were from the muni on official business, showing our rolled up posters, and that this was the only vehicle available to us. The cop nodded his head and apologized for bothering us…Pio, our driver, got back in and explained as we bumped along that the pickup formerly had a private owner but no one knows his name, therefore, the muni hasn’t gotten license plates for the vehicle.
A relief when the dirt road became the smooth asphalt of the highway, and Pio informed us of the town names as we zoomed by. At last the turn off to Tierra Blanca…only 2km from the highway. We parked next to the construction site of their new municipal salon, with men digging into the hard-packed dirt with hand shovels for the foundation. I learned from 2 women that the last salon had been destroyed by a hurricane, yet the new building was being constructed at the same site with a steep slope. Would it survive future storms I wondered? The workshop with the COCODE (Consejo Comunitario de Desarrollo) , an elected comunity group was to start at 9:30am….however, there were errands they had related to the construction Project, so it was 10:30am when we finally were led into the mayor’s office.
The mayor sat behind his formal desk and all 16 COCODE members sat in a semi-circle expectantly looking at us. (to be continued).