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 was the rather smug pregnant lady the next day, tutting at his excesses, making comments like ‘at your age’, ‘I slept very well thank you’.
I was too exhausted after all the driving and decided to forego the Friday night party and leave Rafa to it. They had a reggae and a funk band booked in a bar in the city but 8 months pregnant I decided a night of fireside TV was more appropriate. Rafa got home at 4. He said it was great and everyone danced all night.
As driving has become tiring, trying to cut it down to minimum, which means have not seen many of the films in the festival. Rafa has promised that he can get some of them on VHS for me, so I can have my own mini film festival in the house! The films are from all over …….. Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile, El Salvador, Israel, Norway and of course Guatemala. There are short films, documentaries and feature films. On Sunday we took the Jury and a few of the filmmakers to some ruins on the way to Atitlan. First we stopped for breakfast at the best café in Guatemala (in my opinion, or maybe I’m just pregnant!). Homemade bread, jam and cheese; bacon & eggs and hot chocolate. Beautiful gardens with a pond and a mini playground (crikey, I’m noticing these things now!). They were a nice crowd, everyone was asking about the baby and rubbing my tummy (funny how my tummy has become public property these days, I don’t mind most of the time though!) There was a Mexican director who had made a film in Scotland. He was passionate about Celtic history and people and it was a dream for him to make a film there. It must have cost him a fortune on central American budgets. He said it did and took him 5 years to raise the money and make it.
All week Rafa has been getting home at midnight having to go to lots of dinners. We have only been seeing each other for half an hour in the morning before he heads off again. Tonight is the closing ceremony and I will go with Rafa’s parents to the theatre this time. Then it is all over and we are going to Zacapa for the weekend to relax. My last chance before the birth. It is really hot out there so we won’t be able to take the baby until he is a bit older. I actually like the climate because it is really dry with warm winds, no mosquitos …oh and Rafa’s Mum does all the cooking, we just lie around the pool like teenagers – bliss.
Five awards were won by a documentary feature film made about Mayan health remedies – doesn’t sound too gripping but Rafa said it was beautifully shot and very sensitively put together. The director is called Misha Prince and lives on Lake Atitlan and has done for over 10 years. I assumed he must be Russian or American but he is British. Amazing as there are not many of us in this part of the world. WE were invited to his house on the lake for a celebration party but decided relaxing by the pool in Zacapa was the more sensible option for the weekend. I am very interested in meeting him though, as not too many of my fellow countrymen here. Rafa says he talks Spanish like a Maya!
Mum and John are arriving at the beginning of December and we will probably try to go to the lake at some point. We think we will have Christmas at home in San Lucas as everybody else will be travelling to the other destinations and it will be really busy.
The rainy season is coming to an end and the more familiar sunny days are returning. I sat in the garden with the dogs yesterday and read my book. I am planning a last trip to the hairdressers and beauticians before I become a Mummy I am obsessed with having a pedicure as I haven’t been able to reach my feet for some time. The hairdressers I know in Guatemala city are from Scunthorpe and about my age so I am hoping for a bit of shared national grieving about the wonderful John Peel.
Next time I write I will have a little baby – very strange. Rafa and I have the odd night where we giggle in disbelief as we look at the strange paraphernalia in the corner of our bedroom. We took a huge risk having this baby but as the days go by I am so happy we made the decision we did. There is nobody I would rather be doing this with but Rafa – anywhere in the world and I feel very lucky that this baby kept us together. I will always remember those days in Buenos Aires trying to decide what to do over long distance telephone calls surrounded by new friends in a world that seemed so far away from my own reality. But sometimes you have to follow your instincts even when everyone thinks you are crazy.
I have been reading Brick Lane – all about a Bangladeshi woman moving from her village to London. How my life has changed from my single days in the Eastend of London, cycling down the canal to the University. Now I spend my days driving through the green mountains, winning mini linguistic battles in the markets and trying to find all the things I need for the house and the baby, as well as seeing my friends in Antigua. Most of the time I feel fine but there are days where I long for familiar British things of course.
It is now the 10th of November and I have just visited the doctor. In a week I should have a baby. Apparently he has mature testicles!!! His head is down and he is ready for take off ………………… I am enjoying my last lazy mornings watching re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210 and Changing Rooms. Dona Teri is coming 3 days a week and helping me finish my nesting – I am obsessively cleaning everything in sight. We have been cooking meals to put in the freezer like domestic goddesses! No M&S or Tesco ready meals here you see – although there is a Dominoes Pizza place in San Lucas. The nights are now cool and the days sunny, the volcanoes are proudly visible and everything is growing in the garden……… and we are waiting for Paulo …. Now I really can’t wait to see his little face.