Saluting the Rose
After the tour we all trouped a few blocks to an ice cream parlor for cones. They have many
flavors, not only of fruits, but also vegetables and even fish! I had rum with raisins.
Incidentally, my name, Ron, is "rum" in Spanish, causing one lady to "crack up" seeing my name on a
The weekend of Thanksgiving, a church group from Alabama came down to Guatemala and put on a Singing Christmas Tree and drama in the National Theater, doing a condensed version of the life of Christ, including the crucifixion and resurrection. Some of the "Alabama Spanish" was pretty bad, but it was at least understandable. Saturday afternoon was supposed to be free for street kids, and the government officials commandeered it for themselves (also for free). I think they got more than they bargained for, but I don't know if it had any effect on the corruption.
Burn, You Devil!
Prensa Libre Photo
Get Your Devil Here!
Prensa Libre Photos
Dining, Kitchen, Living Rooms
Embroidered Blanket/Wall Hanging
Our water at the apartment is from a well, and tested drinkable, but we put on a sink filter in the sink, just in case. It was supposed to last two to three months, but it has been five months and we haven't seen the red indicator yet. I think it is pretty clean water. Sure tastes better than Phoenix!
And Deb got her last "concert fix" Friday night, as there was a chamber orchestra and choir
performing on the steps of the Radisson Hotel with the street blocked off and chairs set up
there. Free is a very good price.
Well, our "big adventure" for this Episode was riding a "chicken bus" to Antigua (twice) instead of the shuttle. I hope the following description gives you some idea of what it was like.
"Antigua, 'tigua, 'tigua!" he calls out, as we walk up to the waiting bus. He motions for us to climb aboard, and we do. We are in Zone 1, the heart of the city, and have just walked five blocks from where we got off the city bus, past crowded sidewalk stalls selling everything from fruit to sunglasses to C. D.s to clothes to fireworks for Christmas eve, walking in the garbage-strewn street when the sidewalk was too full, dodging cars at intersections where there are no signals and pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way. This is where the buses to Antigua queue up, awaiting their turn to load. One has just pulled out, and ours is empty as we climb on. I notice that the seats look in good shape, the bus pretty clean. Good, should be a reasonably comfortable trip, I hope, if we aren't too crowded. Over the next few minutes more people climb aboard, and finally it is our turn to depart. We travel on different streets than I know; this isn't the "Zona Viva" where the foreigners live, shop for imported high-fashion clothes, and eat in fine restaurants, this is where the "real" Guatemalans live, the ones who can't afford cars. At various intersections the driver pulls over and again the doorman is yelling, "Antigua! Antigua, 'tigua, 'tigua," and more people climb on. We don't seem to be as full as last time, and by the time we get out of the city there are still a few spaces available in back. On our first trip we were three-to-a-seat by this point, and by our arrival in Antigua the aisle was pretty full too. This trip might not be so bad.
But as we pass through the villages on the way we are adding more, and soon a young mother with a one-year-old boy is seated next to us, Deb scrunched as tight as she can to the window, I in the middle. Soon the boy is asleep in his mother's arms, and as more people squeeze down what is left of the aisle, she attempts to stay on the seat that isn't quite wide enough. I point to the child and say in the only Spanish I can think of, "He has no problems!" I hope she understands my meaning.
Then the doorman starts collecting fares. As he squeezes through the non-existent aisle he is collecting Q4.50 (about 56 cents) from each of us, making change as he goes from a fistfull of bills and a pocket full of coins. He is also making sure that everybody is three to a seat, as it is illegal to stand in the extra-urban buses. Then it happens. We come upon a broken-down bus, with a crowd of passengers milling around. Oh, no! Yep, here they come, squeezing down the aisle, filling what few inches were left. One woman calls out the window to her friend, asking if she is coming too, but she declines, preferring to take her chances with the next bus. Now we are packed, and still there are a few stops to make, a few people to squeeze back up the aisle and out, others getting on to replace them.
But remember that it is illegal to stand in the aisle? As we approach Antigua and a police checkpoint, the command is given, and everybody standing manages somehow to crouch down level with the seated passengers, standing again when it is "safe."
Now we are on the cobblestone streets of Antigua Guatemala, the colonial capital, but we skirt the town, slowing down for numerous speed bumps, driving all the way around the edge, eventually getting to the ending point of our trip on the far side of town.
Finally we can pile off, stretch our cramped muscles, and prepare for a day of shopping and seeing the sights. From start to finish the ride took just under two hours, it got crowded and uncomfortable, but we arrived safely, having paid only $1.38 instead of the $16 that a shuttle bus would have cost. And we have been a part of the local culture, lived for a few minutes as the natives do, experienced some more of "Ron's Guatemala Adventures."
May your Christmas be joyful, and if it isn't, the One whose birth we celebrate wants to give you that joy if you will talk to Him. May the Author of hope make your New Year prosperous and full of hope, even in these trying times. We have been enjoying ourselves, and look forward to what the New Year holds in store for us. May the same be true for you.