Postcards from the West 3
So much has happened since I last wrote something down … I promise I will keep this short. I have learnt so much in these 4 months and feel incredibly lucky to have had this experience ….. the kindness of strangers and adventures galore.
I never made it out of Antigua for New Year as we went back up to the lake (Atitlan) again and then got back in time to celebrate with all our friends in the main square. Lots of fireworks, people and champagne. I had forgotten why I don’t drink Tequila so the first day of 2004 was spent in bed feeling sorry for myself. My friend Amalia came round and made me hibiscus tea and we watched crap TV, so the usual New Years Day!
After New Year I headed south to San Salvador to hook up with an Italian friend and some guys from the BBC who I had met in Antigua. They were making a documentary about the gangs in San Salvador. I got a lift there with a Salvadoran journalist and a friend of a friend from Argentina who worked for the FMLN, the communist party in El Salvador. Next I headed to Nicaragua with Paola, after one night in the capital we went straight to Granada. A small colonial town right on lake Nicaragua, which is like a sea – big waves and beaches. It was hot but the breeze blew off the lake through the wide palm tree streets. We stayed in a great hostel and met some party people so for some reason found myself at Sunday morning mass at 7am. It was packed full of Nicas in their Sunday best and a rousing service. From there we headed to a couple of islands in the middle of the lake but the beach was calling and we ended up in San Juan del Sur on the Pacific near the Costa Rica border. We hired bicycles and cycled up the coast to empty beautiful beaches. I wanted to carry on going South …………. But I was late paying my rent in Antigua so dashed back stopping one night in San Salvador to meet up with some new friends.
Back in Antigua, I carried on working at the hospital with the disabled children and was invited by some of my interviewees to see the premier of their new film. They said it was the first totally produced Guatemalan film. It was based on a novel set in San Pedro on the lake so that was where it was screened. They showed it in the municipal hall and I was pushed around with all the Maya villagers in their beautiful outfits trying to get in …. They were all giggling with excitement at seeing their village and their friends on screen. I think it goes down as the most unusual film premier I will ever get to see. Afterwards I went out with the film crew and talked to a lot of people about their work. I ended up staying at the lake again for 5 days instead of 2. I met some Guatemalans who had a lot of stories to tell about the war and the terrible things that had happened all over the country, people who had lost family and seen terrible things. The revolutionary fire still seems to burn here, although everyone is talking about the new president and peace culture, I feel for some people it will take generations for those scars to heal, and too many people have not been brought to justice. However, for me one of the major problems for the Latin world is that the men and women start treating each other better!
Have also met a lot more nice Americans who give me hope that maybe we can stop Bush from ruling the world. It is sad that a lot of them move here because they cannot feel free in their own country anymore. I don’t say anything but sometimes I feel that they should go back and help make the land of the free what it should be again instead of running away.
Then my mum and John have just been out for 3 weeks so I have been a Guatemalan tourist doing the sites, visiting Tikal and the Maya ruins in the north, going up to Lake Atitlan again staying at my friends’ hotel in Santa Cruz. They loved Antigua, Atitlan and Guatemala and thought it was a holiday of a life time. It really is a special place.
This week things are back to normal and the pool is working in the hospital so we can swim with the children and they love it
I am off to Buenos Aires for a month on 1st March. I have organized to meet up with quite a few filmmakers and through one of my freelance websites have contacted loads of people who are helping me with Spanish teachers, language schools, city guides, accommodation, weekend trips etc. It’s a crazy thing but I have always wanted to go there and can’t wait to dance some real Tango and sample the delights of the Paris of the South and go to some good clubs and films.
Then its back here for Semana Santa, flower carpets in the streets and huge processions.
See you all in April or some time after.