Tuesday, December 27, 2005

“Merry Christmas everyone Happy Holidays y’all” to quote a little Robert Earl Keen. Alright alright I just got back from a little Christmas trip in Guatemala with some Peace Corps buddies. First off we spent a couple of days in Antigua, a very cool backpacker town. It is a crazy mix of highland culture and Spanish Colonialism with some strong contemporary influences thrown in as well. You could visit huge colonial churches and markets full of textiles and then grab a cappuccino and sushi for lunch (I didn’t of course I’m friggin poor and living on a volunteer’s budget). We stayed for a couple of bucks a night in dorm style rooms with a live bands playing in bar above our heads at night. A real bummer trying to catch winks sometimes but who needs winks when you’re on the move? Actually I do, I’m getting older and I complain more down here. This place was a backpacker Mecca of sorts and it was a little strange to see so many white faces after being in Honduras for so long, it was also strange to have some diversity in the meal choices and not have to cut the steaks with a saw. In Honduras the steaks have the consistency of shoe leather. While in Antigua, we hiked up Pacaya, an active volcano outside of the city. It started off as a pretty cool hike for the first hour and a half or so but Dawn, another volunteer, and I wore sandals and the last 30 minutes of the hike was up a steep, vegetation free, basalt slope. Man, you talk about exfoliation on the feet, it was like walking on sandpaper and glass, not to mention the fact that it was take one step slide back three the whole way. But the view at the top was well worth it. I guess you can see lava at the top sometimes but the fumes were bad and the gasses were hot so we didn’t see any. After that we went to Lake Atitlan, a huge volcanic lake. We took a ferry across to Santiago, a small village across the lake, to spend Christmas Eve. While there, we walked around, visited a local deity, and shopped a little. At night the town erupted with fireworks, our hotel shook and it seemed as if we were in a war zone. Burnt out artillery showered our roof well into the morning and it sounded like an Idaho hail storm. In the morning we headed back across to Panajachel and did a little swimming in the lake. After that it was pretty much straight buses, trucks, and vans all the way home. On the last stretch our bus started smoking so the driver pulled over and they poured some water in the radiator and on the engine, a couple of miles down the road she seized up completely. We jumped off and flagged the first passing truck and it just so happened to have a coffin and a shovel in the bed. It was a bit strange sharing the last portion of our trip with the dead but when the bus breaks down beggars can’t be choosers. Some other folks have some better pictures than me so I’ll try and throw on some more a little later. Hope you like these, Feliz Año nuevo. Joe


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