Friday, January 2, 2009

The pleasure and the pain

Jamie says Guatemala is all about "the pleasure and the pain," high highs and low lows. And yet, the highs are so high that it balances out to fantastic.

I'm still exhausted. My whole body hurts. I'm in my bed-bug-free bed drinking Guatemalan coffee that I brought back with me and eating food from the 7-11. I can't get over drinking water from the faucet. Brushing my teeth with water from the faucet.

I haven't yet downloaded my photos. Once I do, I'll probably bombard the blog, but for now, here's the one picture I took with my phone. It captures both sides of the rollercoaster country pretty well. And it happened on the first day. If I'm going to share, I might as well do it in an organized fashion.

Waving children line the road on a rural stretch between Guatemala City and Panajachel. Their fathers are fighting, their mothers are working, so they stand on the road and wave, hoping people will stop to give them candy and quetzals.

We'd stopped at a restaurant in the middle of our 3.5 hour shuttle ride, and these kids came running. Geoff gave them quetzals. Allie gave them candy, and then the driver suggested we sing to them. He said what sounded like, "songs is like tips for children."

So we tipped them. John played "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," we all sang, and they freaked out -- huddling together and laughing like they'd gotten an electric shock. They tried to sing along. We tried not to look too saddened by the bugs in their hair and the dirt on their mouths.

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