Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stories from Guatemala

A few things I want to write about. They are not chronological. I didn't have time to proofread, either.

*I forfeited watching the sun rise of the pyramids of Tikal this morning (and paying $35 for it) in order to take a hot shower. I'm in the northern part of Guatemala at the ruins of Tikal. There are only three hotels in the 122 square mile park, and I forked over $40 to have my own hotel room and my own private bath with, yes, hot water in the morning from 6 am to 9 am. Forty dollars here is more than I usually spend in a day, sometimes two. My favorite hostals have only cost $4 a night. So I am living in luxury for a day. I had a fresh strawberry milkshake with my dinner last night.

*A few days ago, I was dropped off in what felt like the middle of nowhere at a hostal with no internet and no hot water either. We had electricity from 6 to 10 at night in a little open air pavilion with tables around it where we all ate dinner together. Afterward, we danced salsa in the middle with the guys who worked there. During the day we swam in a series of limestone pools that drop into one another or we went into caves holding candles that we had to hold above the water while we swam from room to room. I came down with a little bit of a cold and stayed an extra day.

*Last week, I was in Xela, a supposedly "European" city surrounded by volcanoes, but really it was full of exhaust and trash. I didn't like it, and it was really spoiled for me when, in the middle of the day on a busy street, a man came up behind me and put both his arms around me tightly, like he knew me. He wasn't drunk and he didn't grab my small backpack I was carrying. I think he was just fucking with me. I pushed him off of me, yelling at him. It sucked. I've lived in Oakland, I've lived in bad neighborhoods of San Francisco. I know how not to get my wallet stolen, how to live in a neighborhood alongside drug dealers and prostitutes, and how to say "no" to an aggressive beggar, but I felt like a target in Xela. I left early. I felt like it was a matter of time before something fucked-up happened to me there. I liked leaving.

*Guatemala makes me feel like I work for OSHA. I am constantly thinking "that is dangerous!" My grandpa would have had a field day here pointing out all of the dangers. I, too, want to put handrails everywhere. I stood on the edge of a very very very steep temple this morning, 1000 feet up, and could have easily fallen to my death. Last week I climbed an active volcano. People roasted marshmallows over the open coals. Big hot rocks were tumbling down the mountain a few feet from us. Chicken buses take turns so sharply they go up on two wheels. Let's go jump off this slippery cliff into the water!

1 comment:

Christopher Rogers said...

I miss you, Susanna Williams! May your water be warm and your caves have enough candles.