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August 17, 2003


I had an excellent drive to the lake on Friday with Cristina and her kids.

She has three - Cristinita, Maria-Jose and Javier. They are all delightful and they brought along their hamsters and their very cute dog, which looks like a sheep itīs so white and curly.

They were all going to meet their father, as well as Cristinaīs brother and sister and sundry other relations, at the family holiday house near the lakeside town of Santiago. Cristinaīs husband, Javier, has a finca - a big coffee farm - not far from the lake.

The drive was interesting, as Cristina explained how worried people are about the upcoming presidential election. A man called Rios Montt is running, despite having seized power some years ago in a military-backed coup. He recently bribed some judges to allow him to run in the election, as itīs unconstitutional for anyone who ever launched a coup to run for public office. But the judicial system here is completely corrupt. Anyway, he hasnīt got much support (heīs the one my teacher doesnīt like, either) and he is supposed to have been responsible for at least one massacre of indigenous villagers before the 1996 peace accords. But Cristina is worried heīs going to use his military support to rig the elections and take the presidency. She says itīs very frustrating to have such a malfunctioning system, and Iīm sure it must be.

As well as the interesting conversation, the countryside was very pretty. Itīs so green here, and the mountains are gorgeous and lush, and usually veiled with misty little clouds.

Cristinaīs brother Alejandro and his wife Irene and son Alex, as well as Cristinaīs sister Mariana, arrived at the house just as we did. They all invited me to stay to lunch, after which I could take a boat to the other side of the lake to San Marcos, a little town. Then they suggested I stay the night and go to San Marcos the next day. Finally, I ended up staying the whole weekend because I was enjoying myself so much. Everyone was so friendly and cheerful, and the lake is just beautiful. Itīs surrounded by magestic green volcanoes and itīs dotted with indigenous fisherman, who sit in little wooden boats and use nets and spears to catch the fish.

On Saturday more people arrived - cousins and friends - and everyone was so pleasant. I went swimming a couple of times, and basically just sat around eating and drinking and playing board games and talking to everyone. It was great.

And I think it's true that Latin American people are unsually warm. Not only was everyone beautifully warm and welcoming of me, but they were so cosy with one another. The way Javier and Cristina are with their lovely children made me look forward very much to having kids of my own, and of course it made me really pleased to think I'll be seeing my own dear gorgeous family in December.

Now Iīm in Panajachel, the largest town on the lake. I took the boat here with Cristinaīs cousin Margarita and her two little girls, who all live in the town. Iīm taking a bus back to Antigua tonight for another week of classes, and then, who knows? I still havenīt chosen my next destination.

Posted by Sarah on August 17, 2003 02:27 PM
Category: Guatemala

Finally everything turned out OK. I am so glad...I guess you had more luck than I did in NYC. I am so jealous about the swimming and the fishermans and more important :RELAXING!!! cause that is what is missing in the black apple!!!
ring me,

Posted by: Rebeca Davila on August 18, 2003 08:10 AM

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