Monday, August 29

Journal: Saturday August 20, 5:20 PM

More observations

Since Guatemala has no "ordinary" government, meaning none with laws or an active police force that catches all or most of the crinimals, the people are left to secure their own houses and businesses. This explains why there are so many walls and bars around them. And, what I forgot to mention before, on top of the walls are raiser wires or raiser fencing. So even if someone wanted to climb over the wall, they would be cut by the raiser wires on top. This seems strange to me, to have so many walls around. My parents' backyard is even surrounded by a wall, though one side is only 5 feet high while the other is 9 feet high. Still, its a distinct contrast to the fences and non-barred businesses that are in the States. I mentioned this to my Mom this morning, and she said that it took her a long time to get used to all of the walls and bars.

We left for Antigua about 11 and arrived about 11:40, though it took awhile before we found a parking spot. The streets in Antigua are made out of cobblestone, so they are very noisy when cars drive on them. They can also be uncomfortable to walk on for long periods of time.

Antigua itself is in a valley, as are many towns in Guatemala. Guatemala is very mountainous, and in terms of geography, it stretches more from east to west than north to south. The Pan-American Highway goes through the country and is probably the most traveled road in all of Guatemala. My parents said that if you wanted to hold a protest or demostration and get noticed, then you should do it on the Pan-American Highway. There were times when we drove south toward Mexico, and behind us, north, was South America. I'm not making this up.

We had lunch first since it was about that time anyway. The restaurant we ate at was called Los Palmos, whhich means "the palms." By coincidence, the T-shirt I was wearing had several palm trees on it. I had chicken quesadillas, which were very good. The tortillas that are made in Guatemala have a certain taste to them. I'm not sure if they taste better than the ones in Texas, but the Guatemalan ones do have their own distinct taste. My parents and our waitor took several pictures of us, with the palm trees as background. The restaurant itself was a building, but the part we were in was a courtyard or an atrium. There was a skylight above that held off the rain. There were colorful fabrics on the tables, with reds,bourgendy, orange--earth tones. The whole restaurant was lit with candles everywhere. There was a soundtrack of classical guitar in the background. This was particularly nice since in Dallas, some of the restaurants overdo it with Mexican singing and "traditional" music. The entire time we were there it rained very hard outside. It was nice to sit in a warm, cosey, place like that restaurant.

After lunch we went to a market. Wal-Mart doesn't have anything on this market. It had anything you could imagine, except a blind person's cane. I could not find one there, but they did have everything else. The first market we went to, according to my Mother, had practical things that you could really use. Most of the market was covered, but some parts, like the edges of it, was not. There was even a woman that was roasting corn over charcoals. Near the entrance to the market, there were quite a few people selling “black market” or “bootlegged” music. Though we didn’t see any, it’s fare to say that there was probably some bootlegged software that was sold there as well.

The second market we went to was called the Artison's Market, and though it probably had some practical things too, it mainly had tourist and suvineer items, like rugs, T-shirts, jewelry, wooden mats, articles for your home, toys (hand made trucks or cards that were painted, ),and many other things. This is where I bought a rug, T-shirt, and some other things.

By the time we left the Artison's Market we were ready to leave, and it was getting close to 4. Before we left town though, my Mother took several pictures of me standing in front of the Antigua arches. She said that the arches are what people think of and associate when they see pictures of Antigua and Guatemala.

One other thing before I close. While we were walking down the streets of Antigua, we saw several beggars. One was a girl with a cruch, and there were two blind men. One of the blind men had a radio that he had set up to listen to while he begged and collected money. My Mother said that she didn’t see any cane or stick beside him, so I concluded that he must have had someone “take” him to that corner for the day. Apparently this was a common thing to see him sitting there, since my parents said that they had seen him there before at various times.

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