Monday, June 11, 2012

"faithless is he that says farewell..."

by Keli Shipley,
Intern at Porch de Salomon, Guatemala

"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." -J.R.R. Tolkein
The past few days haven't been too fast paced, but after today, things should pick up. The group from Element 3 church in Tallahassee, FL. Anyways, one of the more interesting adventures was getting my laundry done at la lavanderia (laundromat, more or less). You go and they weigh all the clothing that you have brought. You pay per pound (I paid 22Q for about 5.5 lbs) and then they wash, dry, and fold your laundry within one day. 
Also, there is a man who walks around with his goats saying "leche" in the hopes of selling the goat's milk. If you wish to purchase milk, he will milk the goats right then & there; talk about some fresh milk. There are tons of people who walk around trying to make a living off of selling things such as fabrics, bracelets, earrings, and cashews. It is difficult to walk through the streets because tons of locals will come up asking for you to purchase what they have made or grown. Some of them are rather pushy and sometimes you have to just ignore them, which can be very difficult. It breaks my heart sometimes to walk through the streets and have to say no to these precious old ladies, young kids trying to make money for school, and the families who have all their children trying to sell things. Today, while Lindsey, Lena, and I were eating breakfast at El Patio, these boys came up asking for some kind of food. They were given leftovers and went over to the side to divide up the food equally amongst the three of them. Their jobs are to carry around the supplies to shine shoes and hope to get enough business to give money to their families. The picture to the left shows them... yes, it may seem like a creepy picture, but I really wanted to show people what these kids go through. 
Over the past few days, the town has been celebrating Corpus Cristi, which is a festival where everyone dresses up and dances around (mainly around the Catholic Church) but also parade through the city and down Santander, the main street. The purpose of this celebration is to "proclaim and increase the faith of the Catholics in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament" (according to Wikipedia which gives a good summary of what the locals have told me about). 
catholic church in Pana
parade down santander. the kids are divided by age groups
precious kids dressed in el tipico
A fantastic discovery at Cafe La Parada is the croissant with nutella. For about 2 dollars, you can purchase one of these delicious treats for breakfast or just a snack. While I have been cautious with the food I eat down here, you can never go wrong with nutella. 
As pictured below, Lena, Lindsey, and I went to a construction site in Pana. It is about a 10 minute walk from the porch. Until the job is finished, workers are attempting to construct a ceiling over the stairwell to the roof which would prevent the rain from washing into the house during this rainy season. Our jobs were to sand away the cement that were on these boards and Lena had to wrap wire and sift through sand and what not. Many of the locals came to see these Americans females working on the top of the roof haha. It was quite the experience and super hot. Because we are so much closer to the equator, the sun is so much stronger than it is in the states. As you can see by the picture of Lindsey, we were for sure working hard. 

Last night was a lot of fun because a few of the girls from various programs went out to eat at Chinese restaurant for Asia's 23rd birthday (she is from the NC state program). We then went "bar-hopping" so to speak, so it was really interesting to go around and see the night life in Pana. Most of us are used to being back to our home-stays fairly early, so this was a new experience. While we were all tired, it was nice to get out on the weekend. Fridays & Saturdays turn into very loud nights on Santander. Since La Primavera (my hotel) is on Santander, it gets really loud until very late at night, making it difficult to sleep. The cars zoom by and as Lindsey explained, it's like "fast & the furious" outside my window. Sometimes, I'll wake up thinking that the trucks are driving right into my room haha. Since there is no air conditioning, I have to keep my windows open which allows the sound to echo throughout my room. While at dinner and at the bars, all of us talked about how much we take for granted back in the states. I have it fairly well off, living in a hotel; but not being able to drink the tap water, having no air conditioning, brushing our teeth with bottles of water, and not being able to flush the toilet paper are all things that we are given in the US, but forget to remember how grateful we really should be for these things. A lot of us are becoming used to being in Guatemala and adapting to these different things that make Guatemala so different from America. As Betty said before, you come to Guatemala and leave with very different perceptions of everything in your life. I can only imagine how things will end up being after a few more weeks down here. We get to meet the team tonight and have a week filled with construction, medical clinics, and bible school. Prayers for all to go well and prayers that things will become more clear for we three interns down here.