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August 11, 2003

Guatemala City

I still feel strange, the way you always do when you're adjusting to a holiday. It is good to be here, though.

Regina is so kind and solicitous and she and Ricardo are looking after me ridiculously well. Regi is so careful - she wants me to be safe, and is afraid I'll get lost - she even drew me a map today just to walk in one straight line from her office to Ricardo's. I lost the map right away, at a cafe where I sat and wrote my journal and tried to read the Guatemalan newspaper. Regina would be horrified to contemplate the things I will no doubt do on this trip - none of them will be especially risky, but I'm sure she'd think they were. She is so cute.

I didn't really get a sense of the character of Guatemala City in my one morning here. I liked the look of downtown, with all the street stalls and the colourful colonial buildings with the paint peeling off. The police headquarters is full of bulletholes from all the uprisings and general chaos over the years. The main square is full of activity, with a pretty fountain and the national palace and the main cathedral. There's a kind of tent set up out the front of the palace, protesting the way Pepsi treats its workers in its factory in Guatemala.

The commercial center with all the hotels and stores like Gap and Guess is where Regina and Ricardo have their offices. Regina works for an investment company and Ricardo builds shopping centers.

The streets in this part of town are lined with gum trees and bottle brushes. So weird to be reminded of Stanmore when one's on the other side of the world. I always feel glad when I see my own trees in the wrong country - I feel like they're friends of mine. We're kind of winking at each other, as if to congratulate ourselves on how clever we all were to get all the way over here. But I feel sad for them, too. They must be homesick for Australia - they don't belong here all by themselves. They smell so good.

Regina will take to me Antigua this afternoon, then on Thursday we'll meet again in Guatemala City and on Friday morning we'll drive to the beach in El Salvador with her kids, her sister Tete and her family, and her brother, and perhaps their mother. I met them all at New Year in 2002, when I traveled with Rebeca, and it will be good to see them again. I'm sorry Rebeca can't leave New York for the weekend to be with us.

Posted by Sarah on August 11, 2003 07:09 PM
Category: Guatemala

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