It seemed like a typical fair day in any prairie small town. First difference is that as soon as you hit land, the first destination is the Church. Again, obviously it depends on the company you keep, but it was one of the busiest places. Some people pray to God that they make it and others have a drink. I guess I look at the bigger picture and figure I have to get back some how so the Church is the better option
. Then again, God looks after fools, drunks and little children so maybe I am being overly cautious. One thing about their Churches, they weren't built to accommodate my size. The kneeling rail is built out of 1 x 4s and if it didn't have a leg every 4 feet I am sure it would bend and touch the floor if it doesn't crack first. It has that feeling of sitting in an elementary school.
The festival booth contain items that are reminiscent of fads from 10 to 20 years ago with the exception of the latest grey market watch and CD sellers. Food booths abound all with their own little cast iron devices for squeezing juice or shaving ice. Simmering pots of traditional rice and milk drinks are in big cast iron kettles sitting on smoldering fires. I have had my curiosity filled of what drinks out of a cauldron taste like.
The best part of the festival was seeing my host's daughter enjoy herself. Generally she is pretty happy girl and enjoys the occasional bag of chips. Now here the chip bags are a bit smaller than regular - 25 grams to be exact but they only cost 1 Q (less than 14 cents). I saw her eying up an inflatable alien doll and decided to get it for her. For 10 Q I am not sure who got more enjoyment out of it, her playing with it or me watching her play with it
. I also bought her a cup of coffee while we were waiting for the boat to take us to San Marco. Yeah, 4 year olds drink coffee but they like lots of sugar in it. So far under $2 a kid can be taken to a fair and come home totally pleased.
The trip home was pretty wet. Rained hard for a little while then cleared off a bit. I was told to get used to it since it will be like this until November. Its winter here and that is the weather - beautiful sunny, dry mornings and wet evenings. Haven't had any all day rains yet.
Now I have to say something about the fireworks they have here. Actually it is a firecracker that they put into a mortar-type holder. My first experience was at the Easter Vigil. I was part of the crowd outside the Church since there wasn't room for everyone inside and the group I was helping was in charge of bringing firewood to keep the fire going to light the congregation's candles. Now there are just some things that transcend the language barrier and when you see people running with their hands over their ears, your first instinct should be to do the same. No, I have to look what they are running from. About 20 feet in front of me is this guy lighting the fuse on something in about a 5" diameter pipe by 1 foot tall. In about 10 seconds I knew why they covered their ears but realized that it really can't help that much
. The blast goes right through you. Your chest vibrates. Then just when you think it is all over, it explodes in the sky. Now I have been around dynamite that they used up North to break up rock and its quiet compared to the bang this thing makes, not too mention the flash. Once you think that it's finally all over, crap from the sky starts falling on your head. I guess what goes up, comes down but it seemed like the whole front area of the Church was covered in bits of burnt paper and residue. Not being content to light just one, they do them in sets of three. The next day in Church, they let three off near the end of Mass. I think they sounded louder inside the Church than outside; the only difference is nothing is going to fall on your head except what seems like the roof. They do wake a person up. Everyday they have been lighting these things off at all hours and when I asked why, the usual answer is "because." Not everything needs a reason. Then I found out that the reason I didn't hear any in the first week I was here is that lighting off these mortar cross fireworks is something they give up for Lent. Of course it seems like every community around the lake is letting them blast and it echoes everywhere. Today I wasn't 50 feet away when one went off. Didn't see it coming and my head was ringing. Of course there are no cordoned off areas or fire department standing by (actually there isn't a fire department in San Pedro) when they light them. Apparently, accidents happen when they buy the cheap ones, but good ones are usually safe. I just don't think I will ever get used to them. You would think that after over 30 years of civil war with gun fire and things exploding they would want calm. I guess it's one of life's ironies
Every community has an annual fiesta or festival. Across the lake, San Marcos was having theirs today. I wasn't too keen on going since many people wanted me to drive and that's that last thing I want to do is drive in the rain and dark with a bunch of partiers coming and going. I was up for a boat ride across the lake so off I went with my host family. Like any adventure, there are always doubts but when all is said and done I was quite grateful they insisted I go.