Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sights and Sounds of Guatemala

There are always fireworks going off, morning, noon, and night. Sounds of traffic, even at night. Sirens all day and night... I'm convinced it's pedestrians getting hit by crazy drivers. Tons of motorcycles everywhere. I saw a funny thing last night; A young couple was leaving the temple when we did, all dressed, her in heels, backpacks with their clothes, and they rode away on a cycle!

There are guards everywhere at the gas stations. They run out and pump the gas for you... Probably to prevent theft. They leave their vehicles running when they pump gas... What?! The air is like LA, smoggy and humid. Horns honking, not blasting, but tapping. Pedestrians definitely do NOT have the right of way. Example: Two older hermanas leaving the temple in a crosswalk outside the temple... Driver speeding through and honking at them for being IN the crosswalk!

Armed guards at all the little mall locations, armed guards on the block surrounding the Temple and the CCM... Those guys at least smile and wave, but the others are all business. Pedestrians scurrying across and walking along the side of the roads/freeways here, guards on the buses... Don't ride the red ones, they're dangerous!

It gets dark at 6:00pm here. Rainstorms come on quickly and pour hard, water runs in the streets. Sidewalks (or reasonable facsimiles) are few and far between and are only wide enough for one person. They are made of cobblestone, cinder block, dirt, or something resembling cement. construction is all practically done by manual labor (he is not a person) even on the highways. Big stores have a gate and you get a ticket for your car, you can't leave without giving it to the guard... Prevents car theft... Guard towers in the parking lots of big stores, like Costco.

Cute little people selling things everywhere on a little table, from their car, on a blanket on the ground, or walking around carrying their wares. Little kids are always offering to shine your shoes. Houses all the way up the mountains surrounding the city. Little shared pieces of farmland with everyone working; Kids and adults with babies playing in the shade, etc. Tons of fruits and vegetables everywhere... The CCM has tons on a "salad bar" every day all cut up.

Always a big activity from the convent and school across the street. They even have a swimming pool (how can I get in on that action?!) and there is always something going on. The nuns even wave to me when I am outside on the balcony of our apartment or when they're walking around. They wear black and white outfits and are so cute.

Something is always burning, fires everywhere in this city. The air reminds me of Girl's Camp... No permit needed. Policia drive around in small trucks, sometimes two or three together. Safety in numbers, I guess.

No hot water... I never turn on the cold and it's lukewarm, makes for a quicker shower though! If you put it on the hot setting on the washer, it dribbles and takes an hour to fill!

Construction noises inside buildings. In our building they are chipping out a tile floor in our hall, by hand! The boy knocked on our door before starting and asked if it would bother us. Heck no! It was so kind that he asked!

Hard mineral water with various colors. So add vinegar to every wash load or your whites will be dark from the water. Don't drink the water from the sink (bottled water only) and disinfect all fruits and vegetables with Clorox or disinfectant before eating. Lunch is the main meal of the day here. Businesses close from around 12:00-1:00 for lunch or maybe a siesta? We should institute that for the Nortes, that's what the Latinos call us here.

Randy says there are no brakes installed on cars in Guatemala... They don't use them!!! "Alto" means hurry through ASAP, and there are few stop lights on the highways. It's always hazy, except for a little while after rain. Delivery vans have armed guards... Yesterday, I saw an Office Depot van delivering boxes, with guard standing right at the door of the delivery holding a rifle across his chest and NO smile/greeting!

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