Pregnant Postcards from the West 3

I arrived back from London feeling as though I had been away for so long.  The flight was great, empty planes, no queues, polite stewards, 3 good films …… and no swollen ankles.  God bless British Airways – may I never get rerouted onto Iberia again!  I was relieved that that was my last flight and now I am here until the baby is born.  It was strange to think that next time I am on a plane I will have a little baby.

The rainy season is still upon us but the countryside looks green.  It was dark when we got back so I couldn’t see all the improvements Rafa had made but the house looks a bit like a hippy who has had a haircut!  A little bit bald and shocked!  Rafa had bought a chain saw and attacked the garden while I was away.  He is still wincing as he passes one of the tree stumps which is ‘bleeding’.  My compassion does not extend to the tree; I am just delighted to have the sun on my patio.

Rafa had his 44th Birthday when I got back and we met up with his family in Antigua for lunch at my friend Tetzeta’s restaurant.  I had bought him a lambswool jumper and a great book called ‘Watching the English’ by Kate Fox.  He sits in bed chuckling over the stereotypes that I adhere to, with me denying them vehemently.  One of the codes she calls ‘the importance of not being earnest’.  Which is so true – we do hate people who take themselves too seriously.

I am getting into serious nesting mode and feel quite anxious that everything must be ready in time for Zucchini’s arrival.  We are still waiting for my shipment to be delivered.  I have forgotten what I put in those 4 Tea chests – it will be like Christmas come early.  And have a carpenter and painter arriving next week, now that I am back to supervise them in my bad Spanish.

We have had cable broadband installed so I now feel very connected and can play all the radio stations on line.  Today I have been listening to BBC world service and Radio Nova from Paris!  Rafa has bought a digital camera and I am trying to find a DVD film club to download some European films.  It s amazing what facilities we have in our little shack on the mountain.  Also have found out about telephoning the UK through the internet – much much cheaper – a company called Sky PE for those of you spread around the world.  Have yet to test it out.

Guatemala Drug facts

I discovered the other day that Guatemala is the 4th biggest supplier of heroin paste.  The poor peasants started growing it during the war, encouraged by the army/government as it stopped them becoming guerrillas.  Most of it is grown on the highest volcano towards the Mexican border and Rafa says they mix it in with the corn fields.  I was imagining ‘Wizard of Oz’ type poppy fields but it is a mini golden triangle.  Guatemala is not high enough for cocaine production apparently but a lot of trafficking happens.  Maruana is mainly grown around lake Atitlan.

Rafa’s meeting of old friend and the baby monkey

After a visit to the Doctor in the city we decided to go and grab some lunch in the old centre in Zone one.  Zone one is a fascinating part of the city full of character and characters but …. It is not a place you would go after dark and certainly not on your own as there are too many prostitutes, drugs and guns.  We parked the car near the palace and headed to an old traditional Spanish restaurant.  As soon as we sat down Rafa started to look very uncomfortable, he told me …. on the table behind is one of my oldest friends, we were guerrillas together during the war and covered each other in extreme situations.  But he later joined the opposition (the Hitleresque Rios Mont) and became a senior official.  We could see their bodyguard at the back of the restaurant.  Seeing him again brought back all those feelings of betrayal so common in a civil war, it was almost as though he had seen an ex-girlfriend.  Rafa felt extra uncomfortable as one of the characters in his film is based on this old friend and he knows he will recognise himself.  When we got up to leave, he came over to wish us congratulations on the baby and told me with such sincerity that I had found a really good man and father for my child – adding more pathos to an already difficult situation.  We walked back to the car feeling sad and philosophical and as Rafa was collecting the car keys from the valet, I spotted what I thought was a black cat on an office balcony – I walked across to investigate and found that it was a black baby monkey.  The people inside the office shouted out ‘se vende’ – he’s for sale.  This little thing was so human and looked at me with pleading big sad eyes and reached his hand out to me.  It was heart breaking.  Rafa dragged me away .. they were selling it for over 100, our dogs would have attacked it, we have no idea what diseases it was carrying and we have a baby on the way.  All sensible responses but I will never forget it’s pleading eyes.  The poachers take them from the national parks in Peten and Rio Dulce and sell them for big profits.

&&&&&&&&&

My shipment finally arrived through Excess Baggage.  They charged us $300 to get it out of the pound.  I will never ship anything here again – they had gone through all my things and thrown them back in the box it was like being burgled.  They had treated everything with utter disrespect.  All my framed pictures were smashed and clothes were covered in dirt obviously dumped on the dirty floors of the port.  Photography books were bent and soiled. I’m sure lots of things were missing but can’t remember yet – will need to check my boxes in Ealing to see what is lost for ever.  But at least I have a few of my home comforts around me.  Silly things like my favourite saucepan, my onion chopper, duvets (!) and real china mugs as well as useful lamps and my stereo.

We now have hot water throughout the house and have painted every room except the kitchen.  A very hard working evangelical came and built a wardrobe in the spare bedroom and cupboards in the kitchen.  My friend Bertrand came and helped me with the garden on his day off from the gallery.  As he wouldn’t let me lift or bend I ended up rather lamely watering with the hose and my watering can while he laboured.  But I did reward him with rabbit in Dijon sauce for lunch.

September is the worst month in Guatemala, or in San Lucas definitely.  It has rained and rained and feels more like Manchester than Central America.  I have been begging Rafa to take me to the Finca where it never rains but he has been too busy with the film festival and Las Cruces (his film to be shot in March).  He still hasn’t raised all the money and the Norwegian embassy have just informed us that Casa Comal will get the same money as last year.  Rafa was hoping for a payrise and a little more money for the film so was a bit crushed.  Anyone have any clever fundraising ideas for Cultural projects in the third world – let us know!!

The baby shower

It is the tradition in Guatemala to have a baby shower, which means you organise a party, usually all women and everyone brings presents or nappies for the baby.  Rafa’s sister organised one for us with all the family.  It was Friday night and Rafa got stuck in traffic so I ended up hosting it in my bad Spanish. Everyone brought lovely presents and one cousin brought a bin bag full of her baby things and a smart push chair.  Rafa’s parents and sister bought us a ‘vestidor’ or changing station.  We told everyone we have at last both agreed on a name …. Paulo …. Which is neither Spanish or Italian but Portugese … or Brasilian in this part of the world.  He can be Paul if he want to anglicise it and Pablo if he wants to be Hispanic.  Rafa’s family is full of women, probably why he is such an unmacho latino – no chance with all these bright women around him.  He was always the baby boy of the family and it looks as though Paulo will be the same.

Casa Comal also organised a baby shower for us and we were given a couple of hundred nappies!  It was a fun evening until I went out to my car and discovered the bastards has stolen my stereo.  The following week I had a baby shower for my little circle of friends in Antigua, just Amalia her mum and dad, Arturo and Lucrecia, Fede, Bertrand, Heather who is due 3 months after me, and Tetzete, my beautiful Ethiopian friend. We sat on the roof of Panza Verde and watched the amazing sunset eating French chocolate cake and supping my Darjeeling tea!

On being pregnant

I think from reading the books I have been very fortunate …. No major weight gain, no varicous veins, no swollen ankles, no water retention, no nausea, no stretch marks, no radical skin changes, no bleeding gums, no hemaroids (sp?).  Just been feeling more tired and had heartburn like I never knew existed … acid crawling right up the back of my throat.  Oh and don’t feel too dynamic, can’t read anything too demanding and imagining that I will read these ramblings later and wonder what I was on!  Only 3 weeks to go, although the doctor thinks we should work on the basis he is arriving around 10th not 17th November – so still a Scorpio.  The hospital has a water facility and you give birth in the same room as you labour.  Our doctor stays for the whole labour (and charges the same amount for natural birth as caesarean, very important in the private sector!) and Rafa’s uncle will be there at the end as he is our paediatrician.  We have done the antenatal classes and seen the video.  At the moment the birth is an all male affair, I’m still trying to decide whether to take another women.  There will be nurses in the hospital and I think there are enough people at the party at the moment.  I can just see me losing it and shouting at the men saying ‘shut the xxxx up, you’ve no idea what this feels like’.  We are allowed to take music, cups of tea, food, candles, cushions and a barber shop quartet if we so desire!  I have banned any type of photography until I am feeling suitably serene and have had chance to put some mascara on …… so it could be weeks after the birth.

Our Paediatrician

Juan Jose is Rafa’s uncle, he is 75 and has 6 children and probably four times as many grandchildren.  Both families were very close when they were all younger and spent summers at the Finca together.  His daughters have been very kind to me.  He is one of the most experienced paediatricians in Guatemala and certainly very active.  He was kidnapped by the evil evangelical Rios Montt in the 80’s and only saved when the US sent a senate group to demand his release.  Unfortunately Rafa’s brother was not so lucky.  So he is a bit of a legend Juan Jose and has a kind intelligent face.  I am confident that little Paulo will be safe in his hands!

The rave

Casa Comal used to organise a dance party in a castle 40 kms from Guatemala City in the early days before the film side took off.  Now it is organised by one of the people who used to work for them and is sponsored by Heineken.  The castle is not really a castle but a house built by an eccentric.  Everyone goes and camps for the night or drives back to the city the next day.  Although I was curious to see what it was like and they had some big international DJs, it was still the rainy season, too slippy and too far away for me to drive home early.  I insisted Rafa went, but couldn’t resist asking if he was the oldest raver there?  Which he acknowledged he probably was.

Fede, a friend from Italy arrived on 16th October.  She came and stayed with us for the weekend before heading into Antigua.  She is teaching at a little school just outside Antigua, part of a Dutch project. Quite a change after spending 13 years in London working in the city and in shipping.  It was lovely to have her stay and keep me company.  We stayed home and ate lots of delicious food and caught up with all our news.  On Sunday we went into Antigua for lunch and put up film festival posters.

The Icaro Film Festival (www.festival icaro.com)

The festival opened last Thursday in the National Theatre with a ceremony and a premier of a Guatemalan film followed by a cocktail outside and performance by the national dance company.  Fede and I drove down and got lost in the middle of the city during rush hour.  We could see the theatre which is huge and sits on a hill above the city but could not get to it, as usual there were no signposts and the traffic was terrible.  In the end, when we found ourselves driving through the middle of the bus depot and the market, Fede jumped out the car and asked a taxi to lead us there.  We arrived in time to meet a very nervous Rafa outside.  He and Elias were giving the welcome speech and introducing the Minister of Culture and the Norwegian Embassador.  As usual the Norwegians were heavily involved with the sponsorship and you can always spot them in the theatre as they are so tall and blonde compared with everyone else.

Casa Comal had made an introductory video with a countdown showing Icaro flying down from Lake Atitlan to the city not to miss all the films – it was really good.  The film that followed was all filmed in Peten – the wild jungle north of Guatemala – and had some beautiful scenery, competent acting but was a little bit slow.  It was a screen play written and directed by a novelist – and it showed.  Lots of friends and family were there and I said hello to everyone.  Fede and I left after the dance show and one glass of Coke for me.  I was exhausted after the stress of the drive down and happy to leave early.  Rafa stayed down in the city in a hotel as he partied until 8am with all the film people.

I arrived back from London feeling as though I had been away for so long.  The flight was great, empty planes, no queues, polite stewards, 3 good films …… and no swollen ankles.  God bless British Airways – may I never get rerouted onto Iberia again!  I was relieved that that was my last flight and now I am here until the baby is born.  It was strange to think that next time I am on a plane I will have a little baby.

The rainy season is still upon us but the countryside looks green.  It was dark when we got back so I couldn’t see all the improvements Rafa had made but the house looks a bit like a hippy who has had a haircut!  A little bit bald and shocked!  Rafa had bought a chain saw and attacked the garden while I was away.  He is still wincing as he passes one of the tree stumps which is ‘bleeding’.  My compassion does not extend to the tree; I am just delighted to have the sun on my patio.

Rafa had his 44th Birthday when I got back and we met up with his family in Antigua for lunch at my friend Tetzeta’s restaurant.  I had bought him a lambswool jumper and a great book called ‘Watching the English’ by Kate Fox.  He sits in bed chuckling over the stereotypes that I adhere to, with me denying them vehemently.  One of the codes she calls ‘the importance of not being earnest’.  Which is so true – we do hate people who take themselves too seriously.

I am getting into serious nesting mode and feel quite anxious that everything must be ready in time for Zucchini’s arrival.  We are still waiting for my shipment to be delivered.  I have forgotten what I put in those 4 Tea chests – it will be like Christmas come early.  And have a carpenter and painter arriving next week, now that I am back to supervise them in my bad Spanish.

We have had cable broadband installed so I now feel very connected and can play all the radio stations on line.  Today I have been listening to BBC world service and Radio Nova from Paris!  Rafa has bought a digital camera and I am trying to find a DVD film club to download some European films.  It s amazing what facilities we have in our little shack on the mountain.  Also have found out about telephoning the UK through the internet – much much cheaper – a company called Sky PE for those of you spread around the world.  Have yet to test it out.

Guatemala Drug facts

I discovered the other day that Guatemala is the 4th biggest supplier of heroin paste.  The poor peasants started growing it during the war, encouraged by the army/government as it stopped them becoming guerrillas.  Most of it is grown on the highest volcano towards the Mexican border and Rafa says they mix it in with the corn fields.  I was imagining ‘Wizard of Oz’ type poppy fields but it is a mini golden triangle.  Guatemala is not high enough for cocaine production apparently but a lot of trafficking happens.  Maruana is mainly grown around lake Atitlan.

Rafa’s meeting of old friend and the baby monkey

After a visit to the Doctor in the city we decided to go and grab some lunch in the old centre in Zone one.  Zone one is a fascinating part of the city full of character and characters but …. It is not a place you would go after dark and certainly not on your own as there are too many prostitutes, drugs and guns.  We parked the car near the palace and headed to an old traditional Spanish restaurant.  As soon as we sat down Rafa started to look very uncomfortable, he told me …. on the table behind is one of my oldest friends, we were guerrillas together during the war and covered each other in extreme situations.  But he later joined the opposition (the Hitleresque Rios Mont) and became a senior official.  We could see their bodyguard at the back of the restaurant.  Seeing him again brought back all those feelings of betrayal so common in a civil war, it was almost as though he had seen an ex-girlfriend.  Rafa felt extra uncomfortable as one of the characters in his film is based on this old friend and he knows he will recognise himself.  When we got up to leave, he came over to wish us congratulations on the baby and told me with such sincerity that I had found a really good man and father for my child – adding more pathos to an already difficult situation.  We walked back to the car feeling sad and philosophical and as Rafa was collecting the car keys from the valet, I spotted what I thought was a black cat on an office balcony – I walked across to investigate and found that it was a black baby monkey.  The people inside the office shouted out ‘se vende’ – he’s for sale.  This little thing was so human and looked at me with pleading big sad eyes and reached his hand out to me.  It was heart breaking.  Rafa dragged me away .. they were selling it for over 100, our dogs would have attacked it, we have no idea what diseases it was carrying and we have a baby on the way.  All sensible responses but I will never forget it’s pleading eyes.  The poachers take them from the national parks in Peten and Rio Dulce and sell them for big profits.

&&&&&&&&&

My shipment finally arrived through Excess Baggage.  They charged us $300 to get it out of the pound.  I will never ship anything here again – they had gone through all my things and thrown them back in the box it was like being burgled.  They had treated everything with utter disrespect.  All my framed pictures were smashed and clothes were covered in dirt obviously dumped on the dirty floors of the port.  Photography books were bent and soiled. I’m sure lots of things were missing but can’t remember yet – will need to check my boxes in Ealing to see what is lost for ever.  But at least I have a few of my home comforts around me.  Silly things like my favourite saucepan, my onion chopper, duvets (!) and real china mugs as well as useful lamps and my stereo.

We now have hot water throughout the house and have painted every room except the kitchen.  A very hard working evangelical came and built a wardrobe in the spare bedroom and cupboards in the kitchen.  My friend Bertrand came and helped me with the garden on his day off from the gallery.  As he wouldn’t let me lift or bend I ended up rather lamely watering with the hose and my watering can while he laboured.  But I did reward him with rabbit in Dijon sauce for lunch.

September is the worst month in Guatemala, or in San Lucas definitely.  It has rained and rained and feels more like Manchester than Central America.  I have been begging Rafa to take me to the Finca where it never rains but he has been too busy with the film festival and Las Cruces (his film to be shot in March).  He still hasn’t raised all the money and the Norwegian embassy have just informed us that Casa Comal will get the same money as last year.  Rafa was hoping for a payrise and a little more money for the film so was a bit crushed.  Anyone have any clever fundraising ideas for Cultural projects in the third world – let us know!!

The baby shower

It is the tradition in Guatemala to have a baby shower, which means you organise a party, usually all women and everyone brings presents or nappies for the baby.  Rafa’s sister organised one for us with all the family.  It was Friday night and Rafa got stuck in traffic so I ended up hosting it in my bad Spanish. Everyone brought lovely presents and one cousin brought a bin bag full of her baby things and a smart push chair.  Rafa’s parents and sister bought us a ‘vestidor’ or changing station.  We told everyone we have at last both agreed on a name …. Paulo …. Which is neither Spanish or Italian but Portugese … or Brasilian in this part of the world.  He can be Paul if he want to anglicise it and Pablo if he wants to be Hispanic.  Rafa’s family is full of women, probably why he is such an unmacho latino – no chance with all these bright women around him.  He was always the baby boy of the family and it looks as though Paulo will be the same.  Rafa’s family are all so excited about this baby and he think he will be spoilt by lots of older female cousins!

Casa Comal also organised a baby shower for us and we were given a couple of hundred nappies!  It was a fun evening until I went out to my car and discovered the bastards has stolen my stereo.  The following week I had a baby shower for my little circle of friends in Antigua, just Amalia her mum and dad, Arturo and Lucrecia, Fede, Bertrand, Heather who is due 3 months after me, and Tetzete, my beautiful Ethiopian friend. We sat on the roof of Panza Verde and watched the amazing sunset eating French chocolate cake and supping my Darjeeling tea!

On being pregnant

I think from reading the books I have been very fortunate …. No major weight gain, no varicous veins, no swollen ankles, no water retention, no nausea, no stretch marks, no radical skin changes, no bleeding gums, no hemaroids (sp?).  Just been feeling more tired and had heartburn like I never knew existed … acid crawling right up the back of my throat.  Oh and don’t feel too dynamic, can’t read anything too demanding and imagining that I will read these ramblings later and wonder what I was on!  Only 3 weeks to go, although the doctor thinks we should work on the basis he is arriving around 10th not 17th November – so still a Scorpio.  The hospital has a water facility and you give birth in the same room as you labour.  Our doctor stays for the whole labour (and charges the same amount for natural birth as caesarean, very important in the private sector!) and Rafa’s uncle will be there at the end as he is our paediatrician.  We have done the antenatal classes and seen the video.  At the moment the birth is an all male affair, I’m still trying to decide whether to take another women.  There will be nurses in the hospital and I think there are enough people at the party at the moment.  I can just see me losing it and shouting at the men saying ‘shut the xxxx up, you’ve no idea what this feels like’.  We are allowed to take music, cups of tea, food, candles, cushions and a barber shop quartet if we so desire!  I have banned any type of photography until I am feeling suitably serene and have had chance to put some mascara on …… so it could be weeks after the birth.

Our Paediatrician

Juan Jose is Rafa’s uncle, he is 75 and has 6 children and probably four times as many grandchildren.  Both families were very close when they were all younger and spent summers at the Finca together.  His daughters have been very kind to me.  He is one of the most experienced paediatricians in Guatemala and certainly very active.  He was kidnapped by the evil evangelical Rios Montt in the 80’s and only saved when the US sent a senate group to demand his release.  Unfortunately Rafa’s brother was not so lucky.  So he is a bit of a legend Juan Jose and has a kind intelligent face.  I am confident that little Paulo will be safe in his hands!

The rave

Casa Comal used to organise a dance party in a castle 40 kms from Guatemala City in the early days before the film side took off.  Now it is organised by one of the people who used to work for them and is sponsored by Heineken.  The castle is not really a castle but a house built by an eccentric.  Everyone goes and camps for the night or drives back to the city the next day.  Although I was curious to see what it was like and they had some big international DJs, it was still the rainy season, too slippy and too far away for me to drive home early.  I insisted Rafa went, but couldn’t resist asking if he was the oldest raver there?  Which he acknowledged he probably was.

Fede, a friend from Italy arrived on 16th October.  She came and stayed with us for the weekend before heading into Antigua.  She is teaching at a little school just outside Antigua, part of a Dutch project. Quite a change after spending 13 years in London working in the city and in shipping.  It was lovely to have her stay and keep me company.  We stayed home and ate lots of delicious food and caught up with all our news.  On Sunday we went into Antigua for lunch and put up film festival posters.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>