I apologize for the uncreative title. I could title this “Stuff I won’t miss” or “Guate Culture Shock” or “Welcome Eric, this isn’t your country”, but true to form, this is my second (personal) decompression of the country where I have lived for the last few months. And lets face it, everyone secretly likes the movie The Rundown with the Rock and only is reading this to see if I will reference it. WELL, I DID.
Safety. I have been robbed three times in my life. The first in Rio de Janeiro during carnaval (my wallet got lifted out of a friends purse), the second in Tijuana coming back from building a house (locks got punched out on the van and my backpack with my tools, phone and car keys got lifted), and the third here (window broken at 9am and laptop, two cameras gone in the first week). I had heard that Guate City wasn’t the place to dance in the streets after nightfall, but I wasn’t expecting everything I had brought to get stolen the first week. It’s a matter of fear and i’m not the only one who feels it. The papers tell of mass murders in restaurants in the downtown, or armed bus assaults, or how 12 and 13 year old boys get paid Q100 by gangs to kill random people (Guatemala laws protect minors from going to prison). It’s a sad reality that where there is poverty, there is crime, and I hope that for the sake of all Guatemalans the streets are cleaned up.
Food. Ok, this isn’t entirely a negative. I have a love hate relationship with the food here. I love the typical Guatemalan food: the tortillas are out of this world, as are the tamales, the shukos, the beans, the plantains and the soups (minus the revolcado). But they consume limited quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables (makes me wonder where the huge bags of carrots and truck loads of pineapple go), and a lot of fast food. I guess what I am saying is that I have ate more McDonalds here than my entire life in the states (exaggeration? possibly, but close), and although I love American culture, I like to leave it behind when I travel.
Loneliness. This isn’t Guatemala, it’s me. From my year in Argentina to my summer in Spain and Israel, I have always had a ready-made group of friends. Travel is easy when you speak a foreign language 50% of the time and still have the comforts of your own culture. Here, my English has deteriorated. I love living with a family, but I speak Spanish at work, then at home. I guess after a while, I just start to miss well America (in the form beyond fast food).
Videos of my visit to Iximche, Mayan ruins outside of Tecpan, microfinance thoughts, a new Kiva blog post, and a street food post soon.