I am surprised by the appearances of the natives. Some look like visitors- they are wearing american clothing or fancy shoes and jewelry, but then they speak and they are defintitely Guatemalan. The teenagers here dress much like American teenagers- tight jeans, baby doll t-shirts, etc. There are few women in traditional dress. The teenage boys dress much like the ¨gangsta¨ types in America- baggy clothes and Nikes with a lot of product in their hair. I saw many teenage couples making out on empty streets. A couple of boys confronted me to sign some sort of petition, but it was clear that they just wanted some sort of contact with the blonde tourist. Their smiles were hugely suspicious and they were speaking slowly and clearly in Spanish.
At Las Palmas yesterday I ordered nachos con guacamole and a Gallo light. Gallo is the local beer. It was a lot like Bud Light to me. It occured to me after I ordered that I probably should have ordered the quesadilla instead as it would have been heated, but it turned out to be ok. I did take some Pepto Bismol tablets just in case. The chips were obviously homemade. They were very thick and had uneven dark spots from cooking them. I have had better guacamole.
Inglesia de San Francisco
Across the street from where I am staying is Inglesia de San Francisco. The original church was built in 16th century but little remains of it today, though extensive reconstruction and restoration make the church a lovely place to visit. The tomb of Santo Hermano Pedro de San Jose de Betancurt (1626-1667) is there. He is a Franciscan monk who opened a hospital for the poor here in Antigua. This guy is so well-respected that he was sainted but not until 2002 by Pope John Paul II. I can see part of the church from the window in the common area outside my room. Oh, how I wish I had digital photos to share..... I will visit inside later today.
On the north side of the Inglesia de San Francisco is one of the main bus routes going to Guatemala City. These buses are amazing- they are painted all kinds of bright colors each with an original design. At the ¨stops¨ they open up the back door to the bus and people just keep piling in and piling in until no more people can fit and people are standing and holding on to the sides of the bus.
Every other country I have visited has smaller cars than America, except for maybe Canada. Gas here is around Q$25 or US $4.25 per gallon so its understandable. There are also a lot of scooters and golf cart-looking taxis that have three wheels and sound like go-carts. The equivalent of the Toyota Tacoma here is called the HiLux. Sounds like a household cleaner to me....
I walked past many cars being hand washed by young men using a bucket and a brush. When they are done, they put the windshield wipers out for drying. I haven´t seen many bicycles which surprises me. Most walk I guess. The streets are very tidy- no garbage blowing about. It seems there is a lot of pride here.
It´s funny how looks are exchanged between the very obvious tourists. It´s the look like, ¨I want to say hi but I´m not sure what language I should say it in.¨ While I am not the only blonde here, I think I am one of only three in the entire country with curly hair. One of the other three is my housemate Samantha.
At Parque Centro, Guatemalan families were strolling leisurely eating ice cream and entertaining each other. It was partly sunny and warm until about 3pm. The sky started to get dark and within 30 minutes or so, it was downpouring. Luckily, I was fairly close to home.
I wonder if I could be writing in spanish in my journal by the time I leave..... I hope so.