Thursday, August 12, 2010

Saturday August 7, 2010: An 8 Hour Boat Ride

Last night we had dinner at an amazing Uruguayan restaurant! I’m not sure what Uruguayan food is, but it tasted like really good steak and some other red stuff. It was so good! We liked it so much, we all decided to go back as a group for a typical breakfast. In Guatemala, a typical breakfast consists of eggs, black beans, plantains, tortillas, and ours came with bacon! During this trip, which is sponsored by the field school (they’re paying the bill), we all have to eat at the same place on one check. It’s hard enough to decide what I want to eat, let alone get 14 other women to agree on a place. Thankfully, we all love the Uruguayan place, so we’re headed back for breakfast tomorrow too!

After breakfast, we all followed a man to his boat for a journey around the lake. The plan: Santa Catalina, Something Atitlan, San Pedro, then Panajachel again. Santa Catalina was cute and we stopped at a weaving coop where the kids and their parents make things to sell and raise money for their school. Everyone bought a lot of stuff, for charity of course! Then we visited some church, then a local family in their house to show us what it looks like. They didn’t have beds, clean water, a fridge, or proper floors, but they did have a TV and some chickens. The family is Mayan and they live the way their ancestors live, however I have a feeling their ancestors didn’t watch TV. All in all, it was interesting to learn more about their lives and meet a really family unit who lives in the village.

Next we headed to something something Atitlan. I don’t remember the name. But I did see another church. Not that I don’t like churches, but I wanted to see the town and I got annoyed that our guide was so excited about spending all our time in a church. One interesting thing did happen though. As we stood around the guide outside the church and he was saying something about it in really fast Spanish, a young lady dressed in Mayan dress of the town came up and gave him a big hug from behind. She must’ve been about 18 and she had Down’s Syndrome. She’s the first indigenous person I’ve seen with it. Next, she came and gave all of us a big hug each. Then she settled on our coordinator Ellen, called her “Mi major amiga” (my best friend) grabbed her arm and accompanied us on our tour of the church. She was so excited to be in the middle of our group and I was more thrilled to have her nearby too!

As far as the subject of this young lady goes, here might be a good place to address some beliefs of the Mayan culture. First, there’s many different tribes, 22 I believe, so customs and beliefs are unique to each tribe, just like the pattern of their weaving and dress. Over 50% are malnourished, medical care is hard to come by, and the lifestyle is based on traditions passed down through the generations. It’s not uncommon for families to have a couple of children die. Many believe that disabilities are a punishment from God so they get embarrassed and don’t bring the kids out of their house. This is why I was surprised and excited to see this young lady come up to us and hang out for the tour.