Last weekend was full of actividades!
The weekend started late Friday night when one of the candidates running for president had a little parade through town: starting about 9:00 pm. This consisted in a truck with loudspeakers driving through town yelling out all the reasons why people should vote for this candidate. The loudspeaker quality was so bad I couldn´t understand even a single word. There were also lots of horns honking and “bombas,” explosions of fireworks. I rarely see fireworks though. They just set off things that sound like bottle rockets or pipe bombs or something. They are really loud. Qué ruido! Then of course all the dogs around the neighborhood start barking.
There is a law in Antigua that election candidates can´t put up billboards (in fact there are no billboards of any kind in Antigua) so the candidates put billboards in their trucks and drive through town blasting obnoxious music or shouting out why people should vote for them. Or they put up “temporary” billboards just for the day – erecting huge scaffolding on the side of the road and hanging giant posters of the candidate – only to take the whole thing down at the end of the day.
Saturday morning after breakfast I met my friend Kristen for tea/coffee. She is the volunteer coordinator for Child Aid. We stopped by to see her friend Hector. He is preparing to open a new café here in Antigua. It is a very small restaurant with the kitchen and a couple tables all in one room. It is absolutely beautiful and Hector is building a lot of the furniture for the restaurant. Now I have to come back to Guatemala when the restaurant opens. =)
After lunch I went with my friends Scott and Jen to the market. They were looking for a few more gifts and for fabric. I was looking for a sombrero. After they bought a bunch of fabric I asked where we could find sombreros in the market. The man pointed in a general direction through the market.
Last year I talked about the outside market, for those of you who remember. We were in the inside market on Saturday. The inside market is a huge building of sorts, some open to the outside, some of it not. It is an enormous dark labyrinth of tight pathways twisting through scores of little shops selling everything you can imagine: fabric, fruit, nuts, vegetables, bras, tricycles, huge bags of spices and cooking ingredients (you scoop out what you want), cut flowers, clothing, shoes, toys, baby clothes, drugs (like tylenol – that sort of drug!), live plants, pots for plants, barrels, raw meat (chicken, fish…and other unidentifiable animals), dried fish, dried iguanas, candy, and more than I can even remember. I guess it´s like a Fred Meyer – only it´s kind of dark, the ceiling (when there is one) is very low, there doesn´t seem to be any organization to anything, there are no signs, it´s not very clean, and sometimes it really smells awful!
So, off into this labyrinth we were directed. The man had gestured with his arm straight and then left – directo y izquierdo. After some time we still hadn´t found sombreros. I asked another person and their answer: directo y izquierdo. So we hadn´t passed them yet! We kept wandering through the maze, always straight ahead and taking lefts when they looked promising. We kept asking people every few minutes and kept getting directo y izquierdo. At long last we found sombreros! We had lots of fun trying them on and posing for silly pictures.
We agreed to go out to eat Saturday night and give our host family a break from cooking for us, mostly because they had begun the moving process that day. The family I´m living with is moving! They were going to move on the 20th, but when I reminded them I was staying till the 21st, they changed their plans. Part of the moving process involves removing everything they added to the house. They had added on a whole section in the back for their rooms and they removed all of that and moved into one of the rooms that students usually live in. Things are getting interesting around here!
On our way to dinner we stopped at La Merced, one of the big churches. The International Olympic Committee was in town and they were having a huge final event in the ruins next to La Merced. I guess Guatemala is pushing for the Olympics to be held here in 2014.
We went off to a lovely dinner after that at some restaurant I can´t remember – sorry. But it was really old and had really great food. We always smell garlic while walking down this street and it turns out the garlic was coming from this restaurant. So we all ordered lots of extra garlic with our dinners.
Sunday morning I went out to breakfast with Scott and Jen at Café Condessa. This used to be a home for some Count back in the 1700s. The rumor is that one time the count came home early from some travels and caught his wife with the butler. It was said that he buried the butler alive in the house. This rumor was (perhaps) confirmed when the house was being renovated and they found a skeleton entombed in the pantry walls – standing up.
After that lovely breakfast we went to the ruins of Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, Las Capuchinas. The convent was completed in 1736 but when the big earthquake hit about 40 years later the nuns abandoned the building for something safer elsewhere. Not much damage was done to the building in that earthquake though. Scott and Jen and I spent three hours wandering around the ruins and taking photos. We found one great room that was down a flight of stairs under the ruins. It looked like I was going into a deep black pit but when I got into the large round room it was light because of two vents cut at angles letting light in. The room had amazing acoustics. The three of us went into the room and attempted to hum Gregorian chants. It sounded pretty good…at times.
After a little plate of nachos, some ice cream, and a brief rest at home, we climbed up a hill overlooking Antigua. There is a huge cross up there and a lot of postcards and pictures of Antigua are taken from this hill. It had been a beautiful day but we could see clouds starting to come in. I saw several bolts of lightning around Volcan Agua, the volcano that rises above Antigua. On our way down the hill a person in our group heard a large boom or explosion. We looked to the west, to one of the volcanoes ringing the area and saw a column of smoke rising from it. Qué interesante! But we haven´t seen any more activity from that volcano.
So, that´s just an overview of my excellent and full weekend! And now it´s back to work…