Saturday, December 30, 2006

San Pedro, why not stay a while?

I've spent just over a week in a sleepy town called San Pedro, living with a local Mayan family and taking Spanish lessons. The town climbs up the bottom of a volcano, and as you walk through the narrow stone streets and maze of little alleys, you can hear the rhythmic clapping of women's hands making tortillas and life generally just going on. Even though I´ve called it a 'sleepy town', in fact a lot goes on here. Like the exciting arrival of my spanish teacher and neighbour's baby boy on christmas eve, or the local school that has been trashed and vandalised by fanatics from the local government that want to turn it into a marketplace. Or the fiestas, always fiestas! It seems every time I step out of the house I have walked into a celebration of some kind - religious processions, christmas dances in the street, birthday parties that blast out the whole surrounding area with music... and of course, the bombas. Amateur fireworks, everywhere, all the time. Lola (the mother of my house) said to me,' Si no hay bombas, no hay fiestas' - if there are no fireworks, there are no parties. Little boys of about 3 years old let off bombas right in the middle of a marketplace, or massive bombs go off and echo across the town and the whole lake. For Christmas, a three day dance party was set up in the street outside the Catholic church next to my house - a troupe of dancers in big masks danced away, and all the families came together at night time for dancing. I really like the family atmosphere of everything. For Christmas, I went to midnight mass with Lola and her young daugher Juci - it was a marathon service and the church was absolutely packed, people were cramped up and standing. Instead of an organ, the accompaniment for hymns was a guatemalan marimba.
I came down with a cold earlier in the week, which was a bit annyoing - but Lola keeps me so well fed and watered that I quickly got better. The women here are forever serving and looking after others, very strikingly so. I'm so well looked after - Lola will affectionately chide me [´'Tus Zapatos Senorita', (your shoes, miss),] to make sure I stay healthy and happy.
Of course, when I recovered from my cold I absolutely killed myself by going on an epic rocky bike ride to the beach with my mate Pedro (of San Pedro!). He's off to new zealand today which is a huge thing here, in a town where hardly anyone can afford overseas travel.
Anyway, so I have been charmed by this town, and I{m staying for new years eve - I mean, come on, Javier has bought 18 bombs for the occasion and our house is throwing the biggest party around, how can I not stay? I was going to go to another small village for a traditional new years event, but there is so much going on here!
I have learnt a lot of spanish and complex grammar this week, but the challenge now is to stay on track and keep practising! But it´s a good town for practice, where pretty much all the tourists speak spanish to each other as well. The community also speaks Tzutu'jil, a Mayan language. I can say 'thankyou' and 'goodbye' in Tzutujil. Come to think of it, it's time for adios now! Happy new year everyone! ... one last thing, oh the whole internet cafe just shook with a mini earthquake! wow, okay gotta go...


Isa said...

Maddy! Wow!
It sounds truly magical! When I'm reading your stories I feel like I am there where it's all happening -in the midst of the hustle and bustle on the street, I can hear the fireworks, smell the fresh aromas of cooking tortillas, hear
the patter of childrens feet on the cobbled streets, feel the trembles of an earthquake...
you write in an amazing way that puts the reader into your world.
Jeez I can ramble!

I am ever so happy just thinking of you there, I can see you partying on with the locals! =)
However I hope your New Year's hasn't left you completely def after all the fireworks! hehe

I'll leave it at this for now, just wanted to let you know we're all missing you here in Syd, and I look forward to your next update with great anticipation!!!
Thinking of you.

xoxo Isa =)

Eammon said...

hey maddy!! sounds awesome - it is so good that you are out there seeing the world.

how is your spanish going?

Take care and keep having a blast - lots of love