My Skin Hurts

[Apparently Canadians talk about the weather more than any other nationality]

I shiver. This is Guatemala, not a lake in north Ontario in late November. Yet, I shiver.

Poor little Blaise has a cold, so his nose whistles when he sleeps. His voice reveals he has a cold too. The past two nights Amber has brought the little blanket kicker into bed with us to make sure he stays warm and can't kick his blankets off. His cold little fists waving about.

I'm quite certain it got down to 0 degrees Celcius last night. I could see frost on the grass in the shadows this morning and on a shirt that fell of the clothesline. I could see my breath in the shower.

Amber and I ate breakfast on the roof in the bright morning sun to try and warm up. She read to me from I John 5. I ate my pineapple banana rice and drank my cacao cafe. There was a cow nuzzling her calf in the meadow. Two large trees behind the field each held a very large white bird - something out of a very overdone 32-color painting of heaven.

I posted more of the family. I like this montage of 7 generations. I just wish we all had Blaise's expression.


Melocotón & Cacao

Amber purchased this "melocotón" for 8 Quetzales. A melocotón is a peach. This is clearly not a peach.

I purchased these cacao beans for 6 Quetzales. This is what chocolate comes from. The process: roast, peel, grind. Very delish.

Ah! the smell of alcohol

Les had to remind me to write this in my blog.

Two weeks ago, enroute to the capital (a three hour drive), our vans were pulled over by some roadside policemen. Usually there are about three places on this journey where cops do registration and license checks of selected vehicles. It is interesting to note that Erick, one of our compañeros from Guatemala gets pulled over when driving the Toyota van about 80% of the time whereas Les, a Canadian who usually drives the Kia van, gets pulled over about 20% of the time.

On this occasion I was riding with Erick. We were carrying a van full of medical supplies that had been donated to our ministry. These were being dropped off at a needy hospital in Guatemala City before picking up a team of 19 Canadians from Ft Saint John, BC. It was a wonderful experience to see the excitement and gratitude in the faces of the doctor and nurses we met as we delivered these supplies (gloves, syringes, and the like) a couple hours later. What a privilege to deliver the gifts of others. Three policemen attended to our vehicle. One stood away from the vehicle with his semi-automatic rifle. One checked Erick's license and the van's registration (vehicles are not required to be insured here, though it is a good idea). The third came to my window and inquired about my passport.

The one checking Erick's info became quickly interested in the supplies in the back. Erick said he knew they were donations made for a hospital, but not what they were (which is true) and that if the police wanted to know what they were they could search every box. He said this with a smile of course. This policeman made a five minute cursory inspection of the old boxes. He was trying to easily find a way of "fining" us. He was unsuccessful.

The policeman at my window, after inspecting and approving of my passport photo, began to inquire at close range to my face about the supplies in the back - a sort of cross-reference as Erick was occupied outside the van with another cop. I have enough trouble understanding and speaking Spanish as it is, but when the man you're talking to is slurring his speech and smelling of homebrew... I had trouble not laughing at him, so I just vainly flipped through my pocket dictionary trying to interpret what he was saying, though for the most part I could already understand. He let it go after getting mildly frustrated with his and my inability to communicate, mostly his I am certain.

I believe I have learned a valuable lesson: Feigning ignorance is a great tool when being interrogated by an intoxicated policeman.


Talkin about HOT spaghetti


I spent all morning working on the new Impact Ministries website. The shortterm team that is here now is travelling to Fray Bartolome de las Casas and I got left behind. This is good as I can work on the website and the child sponsorship database while they're gone. When Amber mentioned to me that lunch was ready I nodded mechanically as I always do when I'm wrapped up in my cyberworld only to realize 90 minutes later that I was hungry and that lunch was in the fridge.

I reheated the spaghetti and the sauce in a saucepan and added some chilis. Oh, sweet volcanic chilis. Now I'm wiping my dripping nose and licking my lips - the parts of my lips without drippings. Now I'm fired up.


Day of the Dead

On November 1, the Catholic world celebrates the Day of the Dead. This follows All Hallows Eve (Hallowe'en) and precedes All Saints' Day. Here in Guatemala, devout believers meet in cemetaries to spend time with dead relatives by bringing food to share with the hungry dead. The food is usually eaten by roaming dogs, or by those who bring it.

I visited the local cemetaries to observe the festivities. The rich cemetary had lots of kiosks set up at the entrance selling treats and french fries to visitors. I abstained. Many families surrounded the tombs and colorful concrete beds with beers, pop, bags of flower petals and long grass clippings, and of course french fries. They decorated the graves with the grass and petals.

I wandered accross the road to the poor cemetary where most graves are unmarked and have no cement coverings. Mercedez was with me to make sure I didn't do anything ignorant and to explain some of the behaviours. We met three young boys who were lighting votives on dirt mounds under plastic sheets and behind makeshift windguards. One of the graves was of an older sister.

Last night (Nov 2) there were apparently really big parties at the cemetery. I was planning on going to see them, but Eric didn't come so I didn't feel like standing in the mud and rain to film shadows.

Let me know some of your thoughts on this practice. I'd like to discuss.