I am a little pissed at Guatemala. She stole my heart back in October and still hasn't given it back. And then the other day she once again bowled me over with her beauty. It may be hard for some people to believe that there are still huge parts of Guatemala that I haven't seen, but it is true. The road from La Mesilla to Panajachel via Huehuetenango is one of those places. And damn is that ride gorgeous. Worn limestone hills that look like emerald camel humps give way to sheer water carved canyons cradling rainy season brown rivers. Along the roadside one catches glimpses of women weaving on back strap looms, men carrying impossible loads of wood on their backs, and the fresh green of the growing maiz. Through the mists of Cuatro Caminos, past the market at Solola, to our first glimpses of Guatemalan Volcanoes. Then Lake Atitlan finished the journey, gracing us with a beautiful showing of blues and purples as we rolled down the hills towards her waters at sunset.
The only thing that would have made the journey better would have been doing it by chicken bus.
Most of this time in Guate has been spent doing various tourist activities. We had a hilarious visit to Maximon, in his new house. This time I did have my camera, which lead to two underexposed very expensive photos, (now my mom may still put me back into her will if I can only get her to forgive me for the quiche debacle). Another entertaining portion of the last week has been practicing my chicken bus calls with Tiago, a fellow tour leader. I think he may have me beat, but he has latin blood, so I figure I am still the best gringa at screaming, "GUATE GUATE GUATE!" or my personal favorite, "CHICHI CHE CHICHI CHICHI CHE!"
The most poignant and beautiful experience that I have had in the last week was when Tiago got me to go out and visit a small town outside of Antigua. The place is Santiago Zamorra, and when you organize a tour with their women's weaving cooperative they will come get you in a pick up truck. Then you ride out for half an hour, through the fields of maiz, cafe, and frijole to Santiago. There the women will meet you, tell you the story of their town, about their cooperative, about the kids they support and teach you things like how to grind coffee. It was another reminder of what makes travel important and good, those moments where you really connect to another person, when you realize that your being there is making a difference, that we are all truly in this together. Plus as Tiago says, the food is so good, you could be enticed to go out there for nothing else, so between the Pepian and the amazing community it was a satisfying afternoon.