Our trip to Guatemala was seemless with TACA Air last Monday. Flying over Guatemala City there were spots of bright colour disguising the dangers lurking in this city. The drive to Antigua where we spent the first night through the rugged, convulsed terrain of the land. Volcanoes are everywhere on the horizon. Actually the whole country is built on the remains of past volcanoes. We see farmed plots, often on dangerously steep conditions, cover the land. It´s both beautiful and awesome.
Antigua, the old capitol, with ancient reminders...buildings 700 years old, some left in ruins after major earthquakes. This city is wealthy in comparison to where we are heading. Our hotelroom is perfect with shower and toilet. We wandered the streets and it seemed that it could take a long time to figure this city out as all the streets are called Una Via. Rita, the next day informed me Una Via means ´one way´. What a gringo I am. We laugh.
Rita and Tom have guided us toward tasty and clean restos. Tuesday we went up to the roof of the hotel for a great view and happened to catch one of the volcanoes spewing smoke. It is the dry season and I notice as we leave Antigua the vegetation is turning to shades of brown especially in the higher elevations. Lots of deforestation for the purpose of planting. Different species of trees here, cypress, oak and pine. It rained last in September.
Our drive to Xela, the Mayan name for Quetzeltenango with Jose took 3 hours past glorious valleys. Even though it is dry the patchwork of fields growing things; cabbages, flowers, herbs and burning olf crops to get ready for the grwoing season is in full swing.
There is road work in many places resulting from major washouts when mudslides came down this year. Xela , Xela Ju meaning surrounded by 10 volcanoes is a big city ( one million in the GTA - GXA ). We are staying in the older and poorer part of town but much more interesting than elsewhere. Lots of local colour and visitors mostly young-íns, exploring, volunteering and studying Spanish. There´s an election in September and Jose our support here in Xela tells us about the sad and violent history of this country. Apparently 20 rich families have a hold on the pwer and one gets elected EVERY YEAR....hardly enough time to act on behalf of those who need it.
I am getting tired and there are errands to do. We are leaving for Comitancillo (NW of Xela) this aft for 3 days returning on Sunday. The full group of 23 people arrive that day and stove builing starts on Monday. Adios, Joni
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