Saturday, July 11, 2009
It seems like I am always behind on posting.
On Friday, Wily and I went to Canton (=aldea) Las Maravillas. It was a LONG day! HFPF recently finished a water project there, installing 84 tinacas (LARGE-like 200 gallon or more, black plastic tanks) and roofing system to collect clean, rain water. Before, community members (usually women) had to walk 2 hours or more to a river to get water because there aren't any springs nearby. Think of how big a deal this is! (What time and energy the people have back in their lives! And the water is so much cleaner!) The slogan of the company that makes the tinacas is "mas y mejor agua" (=more and better water). Now every family has a tinaca and the community has 42 to share as well when it doesn't rain as often. In order to follow up with this project, everybody decorated their tinacas and added a "thank-you" message to HFPF, the volunteer groups who went down and built the concrete pads and roof system, and installed the tinacas, and the various Rotary groups who helped sponsor the project (Club Rotarias Huehuetenango, Club Rotario Everett-Port Gardner, Club Rotario White Rock Peninsula). Wily and I went around and took pictures of all of them and then we "calificar"-ed them (picked the best ones) today.
But, before we even got to Canton it was an adventure. The last 2 km of the road to Canton is the worst: mud, hilly, sharp (as in 180*) turns, rocks. We barely made it to Canton. 40 of the villagers had to push and (literally, with ropes) pull us up the mountain. And, we almost didn't make it down alive because it had rained a lot in the afternoon before we left. I said over 50 prayers yesterday.
The houses are pretty spread out so we had to walk a ton; it was really hot early on in the day and I was sweating! The situation turned comical though, as we were offered hot milk and a rest at one house. A hot drink on a hot day! Only in Central America!! Then, we had a lunch of hot pollo criollo soup (it's chicken that has only eaten corn-so it tastes better in a broth with a few big vegetables). To top it off I added some picas (hot peppers) to taste the real cultural thing. I couldn't cut open the green, less ripe (and less spicy) pepper with my spoon as Wily was, so I chose a more mature, red pepper which was softer. And as they say, pica mucho!! Still after a hot and spicy lunch on a hot day, I was able to sit back and rest for a while, and really just be with the people and experience life as they live it. But, there in that wood hut, after eating lunch while sweating and with my nose running, I was able to sit back and estuve contento pincho (another indigenous term I learned that day, it means that I was content to the depths of my heart...)
We finally finished all the houses at 6 and got off the bad mountain roads before it was completely dark. It felt to get back and relax, shower, do laundry. I woke up a little late today...
But today was also a lot of fun. After grading the tinacas this morning and a short English lesson I left for Claudia(a new friend)'s house at 3:45 (like I was supposed to so we could leave at 4 for a wedding). Our ride didn't show up until 4:30 and we got to the wedding at 3:45 where of course they gave seats in the very front row by placing seats right in front of the bride's parents. Bizarre, I know. I didn't realize where the ushers were leading us until it was too late. It was very embarrassing but there was nothing I could do but try and enjoy the ceremony. Three gringos (I was also with Elise who is from Redmond and Chris McCormick from Snohomish, who I have met down here), front row center at a traditional wedding where the bride and bride's maid and multiple flower girls were wearing traje tradicional. We left the wedding early (in the middle of a HUGE rainstorm, it was like being under a waterfall) for a quinceañerawhich was supposed to start at 5:00, but didn't start until 7:15 when the birthday girl showed up. I was joking with Wily who is a padrino (god-father) about being on "God's time." (we only had to wait for a little while cuz we got there at 6:40). And then we didn't eat until 8:45...
I had a lot of fun after the formal ceremonial part of the quinceañera was over. During dinner I sat next to 10 year-old Gabby, who was one of the attendants. She was beautiful in her pink dress and curls. We talked, clowned around, and played with squishy balls in the flower vases. I was happy that I got a few pictures with the princess afterwards.
The events of today have given me a new appreciation for my family who is consistently late to large, significant events. Though to everyone's credit, we are getting better...
Marco Tulio brought Pete Kinch, the exec. director of HFPF into Barillas today from Guate. (That's an 11-hour drive, which he has done 4 times in just over the past 2 weeks!) I was describing my day and he put it perfectly, "There's Guatemalan time and there's Barillas time!"