Monday, October 8, 2012

Guatemala: Pana and Chichi continued...

Pana is about a two hour drive from La Antigua, where we are staying. Pana is located on Lake Atitlan. I have never seen a more beautiful lake. It is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Absolutely stunning.

We left for Pana after school on Friday, around 1:00 pm and arrived in Pana close to 4:00. The roads along the way were very narrow and the air was full of smog so there were a few sick little ones in the car along the way. ;) We spent Saturday exploring Pana. We met a young boy in fourth grade, named Tomas. We saw him selling items and he followed us around all day. He would say, "buy something and I get new shoes for school." We bought a lot from him, it was hard not to. His eyes were so tired and his body fatigued. When I asked him if he learned his English from school, he replied, "no, from the streets." After walking around Pana, we went down by the lake. The locals hang out by the lake and the gringos, too. There are many run down boats and men crowd around the tourists, asking to take them for a boat ride. The lake was a bit choppy by the afternoon but some of us were determined to take a short boat ride to another village, Santa Catalina. Annabelle stayed back because she informed us she has a "pathological fear" of boats since reading about the Titanic. My dad didn't want to go so he stayed back with her and the baby. ;) The boat ride on Lake Atitlan was phenomenal, just absolutely breathtaking. The village was like many others we have visited in Guatemala. Women selling their weaved textiles, men lying in the streets, young children running around without shoes, and older children, like Tomas, selling items. Something we have learned - every town seems to have a stage and a microphone. Usually a young man is talking and we have no clue what he's saying. There is never a large crowd, just a man talking and a few other people around him. I'm not sure if anyone is actually listening to him. It's a bit bizarre to us, but surely not to them. I love Guatemalan culture and when something stands out to me, I want to know more. I need to inquire about the microphones. It just seems very random and out of place.

So after our boat ride, guess who was waiting for us? Tomas. When we grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant for dinner, guess who was waiting outside? Tomas. It was getting late and I wondered where he would go for the evening. Throughout the night, we all thought about our friend, Tomas.

The next morning we woke early and drove less than two hours to Chichicastenango. Chichi has a large market on Thursdays and Sundays and many Indigenous Mayans travel on Sundays to the large church, Santo Tomas, where they burn incense and worship. Along our drive, we saw many truck loads full of people making their way to Chichi to sell their handmade goods. After we arrived in Chichi, guess who we saw right away? Tomas. Apparently he sells in Pana on Saturdays and Chichi on Sundays. He probably hopped on one of those many trucks we saw early in the morning to make his trek to Chichi. I started to wonder if he indeed went to school at all. He followed us around all day. He took us to the people who sell "good stuff" and talked to us about the new shoes he would buy. Talking about his family was a closed subject. I tried to ask questions but he clearly didn't want to talk about that. He introduced us to his friend and his friend also walked around with us. They were two very sweet boys and I haven't been able to get them out of my mind. Please say a prayer for them, for their health and future.

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