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Last Chicken Bus in Guatemala

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

So.. I can´t help but write about my last chicken bus in Guatmala, this one from Xela to Guatemala city…

There are no words descriptive enough to write about the chicken bus expereince, but here is a list of all the people that came on to the bus to sell things during the 5 hour ride into the capital.

7 women selling watermelon slices, atop big bowls balanced on top of their heads
1 man selling religious scrolls
1 man selling baby chicks
1 man selling diagrams of the nervous system
6 men selling cookies of varoius kinds
17 men selling soda and water
3 women selling tamales
2 men selling green mangoe slices with cumin and salt
1 woman selling slices of cake, on platter on the top of her head
1 woman evangelist, selling Christ(!), charging people for the privelege of being saved
1 man with a pen and paper, offering to write letters for people
1 man selling pencils
1 woman with a very disfigured face, holding a baby, asking for alms
1 man missing an arm, asking for alms
14 women, selling tostadas and empanadas
2 men selling fried plantains
1 woman, carrying a tiny man in her arms, asking for alms
3 men selling coconut juice with a straw
1 woman selling fried chicken
6 women selling tacos
13 children, selling hard candy and caramels
1 man selling bibles-and he also preached for about 2 hours
1 man selling ginseng tinctures
1 man selling a cureall medicine, supposedly from the USA, that smelled and looked just like mouthwash

Thats about it! A classic Chicken bus ride!


My Last Day In La Esperanza

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I´m here in Guatemala City, awaiting my flight to Panama City.
Luckily, the wonderful hotel I stayed overnight at has given me some free internet time, so I thought I´d do a blog entry.

My last day in La Esperanza was wonderful.

In the morning, lots of kids came over to visit..some of them were very emotional at my leaving. The night before, I had had the final art class for all the kids in the neighborhood at my house, and several kids were crying and asking me not to go. It took all I had to not cry too.
Instead, I tried to focus more on the positive, and passed out cookies and we played games.
I invited the kids over that seemed particularly sad for breakfast the following day.

Some of these kids will remain forever with me. In particular, Alma´s son Emmanuel, whose intelligence and perceptiveness to those around him makes him seem more like an adult; Elky, who in spite of a life filled with difficulty, radiates love and warmth; Joselito, who must quit school this year to work, but who is incredibly bright and loves to read; Gabby, a tiny, round little girl, who just wants to be held while she colors…

I was, and still am, incredibly moved by all these charming , wonderful kids-and their families, who although they did not know me, invited me into their homes and their lives, and trusted me with their children.

In the afternoon, I went to have lunch at Dona Minas house, and it was really lovely to spend time with the family. Alma, my friend; her sister Anna; her brother, Jorge; Dona Mina; and everyone else showed me such kindness. My friend Alexis was also there-a man who had been staying in Guatemala for some time, and had a real comraderie and affection for the whole family, especially the children.For lunch we had a sort of chicken stew, hot sugary coffee, and some chocolates a guest had brought along as a gift.

Emmanuel, Almas son, had invited me to their house in the evening to watch a movie-it turned out to be ¨CARS¨, that animated American film-dubbed in Spanish, and pirated, of course. Thruout the film, you could hear the laughter from the movie theatre, see people´s shadows walking across the screen, and so on…halfway thru the film, it stopped and wouldn´t start up again-so Guatemalan! No one cared, it was just nice to spend the evening together, eating snacks Alma had prepared( Popcorn, waffle cookies, white bread sandwiches with velveeta cheese and ham, and a special treat, a few cut up Snickers bars!). When I had to say goodbye to the kids, particularly Emmanuel, it was hard not to cry.

After the movie, it was about nine pm, and we (Moira was with me) still had more visiting to do, as we had been invited up the hill to say our goodbyes to Elky and Joselitos family. When we arrived, their characteristic hospitality-in spite of not having much-was overwhelming. One thing I have learned from my time in Guatemala, is that no matter whether I want something or not, or like it or not, I always must accept graciously whatever is offered to me. For example, a meat taco, even though I don´t like to eat meat much here; a tattered wall hanging as a parting gift; a hot cup of steaming milk, straight from the family cow;or a child´s doll. People want to give something, even if they have little to give. Elky´s mother was no different, handing Moira and I each a parting gift, one of the few decorations she had on the bedroom wall.

Elky was the most special child to me while I lived in La Esperanza, and her spirit simply glowed, she was so happy I had come to say goodbye. While I live there, she visited me everyday-and she helped me around the house alot as well. In return, I bought her some clothes for school, and fed her breakfast. We have a deep strong attachment, based on our common characteristic of generosity-rarely have I seen a person., child or otherwise, who is so giving, and without complaint or jealousy towards those that have more than she. I think she will inspire me for years to come.

On this night, Elky glowed with happiness at my visit, and sang me a song. It was one of the most moving an inspiring moments of my entire trip.

Joselito, Elky´s brother, was also there, all smiles that they got to have some ¨special time¨to say goodbye. Joselito´s family needs him to work and drop out of school, but I found him to have a shining intelligence, and wanted to reward that with a parting gift. I gave himn a book of stories in Spanish and English-a special gift, as books here are a rarity, and well outside of the average person´s income or priorities. He told me he will have the book for the rest of his life, and I believe he will.

While there, I also had the chance to interview-for this blog- their two brothers, who are famous Guatemalan cyclists.In spite of being part of the national team, they still live very simply, yet their passion for cycling is really quite overwhelming, and they have the talent to match. We all watched a soccer match, while they pulled out newspaper clippings and talked to Moira and I about their dream to ride in the Olympics.

We finally walked home, finished packing, and I fell asleep, exhausted from the day.

Whats Next…Panama,among other things!

Friday, January 25th, 2008
On Tuesday I fly to Panama City, Panama. Before then, here's whats in the general works: Saturday and Sunday, spend some time with the kids in my neighborhood/including our last english class tomarrow night. It will probably be more like a ... [Continue reading this entry]

Okay, Okay..Photos Finally!

Friday, January 25th, 2008
All right everyone, you can stop asking me now. I have a flicker account, i am afraid it is a bit disorganized, but there are about 600 photos on it. They are not organized in any particular order, and in fact ... [Continue reading this entry]

Dengue Delirium and the Sisterhood of Women Travelers

Friday, January 25th, 2008
Well last off I felt like hell, no kidding. What happened was after we left out hotel in El Remate, We-we being the three of us, Jackie, Moira, and myself-went to Flores. originally our plan had been to ... [Continue reading this entry]


Friday, January 25th, 2008
Well,´s been awhile since I have written on this blog! Lots to tell everyone, but perhaps best to start from the beginning. Last off, we were in El Estor,a town by Lago Izabel. I felt a little under the weather, kind ... [Continue reading this entry]

True Life Planet Interview No 1: Alfonso Perez

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
Alfonso Interviewed on January 12, 2008 with the help of Moira Murphy, at the Scientific Research Station in El Refugio de Vida Silvestre, Bocas del Polochic, Guatemala. Background: El Refugio de Vida Silvestre, Bocas ... [Continue reading this entry]

I Find Out I´ve Got Dengue Fever

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
So, We´ve been back in El Estor for two days....and of course, I have been pretty under the weather. Today, I finally found out what I´ve been suffering from: Dengue Fever. It sounds very exotic, I know. I ... [Continue reading this entry]

Polochic Diary:January 11th and 12th/ Monkeys, Bugs, and a Sleepless Night

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
On Saturday, woke up feeling worse than before, with some sort of rash, although the fever and chills seems to have disapeared for now. Trying to put on happy face and look on the bright side-whatever it ... [Continue reading this entry]

Polochic Diary:January 10th, 2008/ I Get Sick;We Visit The Village

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
Okay, so last night was awful, because I was really really sick. I haven´t been that sick since first entering the country months ago(seems like years since I´ve been here). Why? Who is to say-I´ve been really careful about ... [Continue reading this entry]