Sunny San Pedro - living with the Mayans
Trip Start Dec 03, 2007
29Trip End Mar 29, 2008
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The day after we arrived in San Pedro, we started our daily 4 hour Spanish classes with a pretest and then we were introduced to our teachers. Our goal was to have some of our ´holes´ filled in and cleaned up and the teachers here are very good in doing this. Each teacher and their student sits in a palapa hut in a beautiful garden overlooking the lake and in the 4 hours there is only one ´pausa´or recess. Everything that we needed was provided. We chose this school because half of what we pay to them goes to poor people in the community. On Friday we had the opportunity to take and present a bag of staples (rice, corn, beans, etc.) to a family who is being sponsored by the school
She will translate the Spanish songs into the Mayan language of this town for the kids.
Last Saturday night was the Day of the Virgin of the Conception - a very big fiesta. We walked up the mountain to the upper town and watched as huge fireworks were set in the streets, or rather ON the streets. It was so loud that we had to go after a little while as our ears hurt from the continuous bangs of the fireworks that looked like sticks of dynamite and the dangerous nature of this custom. We headed back to our hotel and watched from a distance. When the big bombas went off the ground shook!
One night, we were asked if we would move in with a Mayan family for a night as our hotel was totally booked. We cooperated and only took our night clothes and a change of clothing
During the daytime, we have hopped on a boat and headed to some of the little towns, named after the apostles, that surround the lake. San Marcos is one of these towns and is known for its ´cosmic energy´. We asked a 14 year old boy if he would be our giude and we had a lot of fun with him, climbing hills, skipping stones on the lake and visiting meditation centres in the middle of a very nature oriented spot. Most of the stones are pumice and they float on the water. On Sunday we went to Santiago, the town that was hit very badly 2 years ago when Hurrican Stan came roaring through. A landslide occurred and completely buried the town. Now, you would never know that a town had been there. It looks like a football field. The Guatemalan government declared it a burial ground. Santiago is famous for having a very strange idol called Maximon that is cared for by a different family every year. The idol is the ´diety of drinking´, gambling and sex and he smokes a cigar. People come from all over to get his blessings and to ask for good health. A sick man was being treated when we were there. When we got off the boat in San Pedro, the dock partially collapsed under Connie and the numerous people on the dock, but all was well and Chris reassured everyone that I could swim
The food here is excellent and cheap. We figure that with our $10 a night hotel room and about $20 a day for food and other things, we are living pretty cheaply but ...extremely well. Surprisingly, the food is wonderful. We cannot get enough of the Thai, Argentinian, Italian and Guatemalan food. Each day is a great experience. Where we get our breakfast we get the internet for free. Our dirty clothes are weighed and we pay pennies per pound to have them washed.
The basic transportation is by Tuktuk - those little vehicles that skoot around in Thailand. The drivers though, are a lot more careful. Most of the roads are little paths through cornfields and coffee fields and no cars can possible drive on them so it is very peaceful. We´ll send photos of our way to school as soon as we take them - an interesting route.
I found a place in the neighbouring town of San Juan where I can take traditional weaving lessons using a backstrap loom from a Mayan lady who is respected for her work. I started today and in 3 hours, basically got everything ready for weaving tomorrow. She uses natural objects to dye the cotton (roots, leaves and flowers) and when I finish I should have a new belt that I will show off
Every day has been an adventure but overall we have enjoyed the sweet Mayan people who are extremely kind and have mutual respect for the work of either gender. Every person that we have met, including the children, smiles and has direct eye contact with others as they say Good morning. It´s the poverty here that we have not been able to get used to.
P.S. A little update on Caitlin´s car accident. She sent us photos of the car today and it is a miracle that she was able to walk away from it without too much wrong with her. It was totalled.