From Guate Guate Guate III.

MAY 17-21: Work and Sickness

I was supposed to have a meeting with the director of ADISA school Argentina on Monday in order to discuss the documentary film I am going to shoot. Argentina was not there and I was not surprised any more because THIS IS GUATEMALA! People promise something but usually it takes them longer time to do it or if they promise to be somewhere they are usually late. They love to use the magic word “ahorita” – a moment, which in their case means ages. So what I have learnt, if I come to the meeting 15 minutes late, I will definitely not be the last one. The same stands for the whole organization of this volunteering program. I can see that Guatemalan people are not flexible, it takes ages until they decide to do something, so sometimes I got a feeling that we are wasting a lot of time. It seems to me that Guatemalans completely lack organization of their work because everything seems to be very chaotic. They hardly plan ahead and sometimes they make decisions in the very last minute.
In the afternoon I had another meeting with a director of the Human rights organization that is based in Santiago Atitlan. My idea was to get someone from the organization as a guest speaker for the documentary screening event. Well, the director said that he is very busy and that they are only solving local human rights problems and that he does not know much about international human rights. I asked him if he knows Fidel Castro. He said yes but that he does not want to discuss the figure of Fidel Castro in front of the public- what if there is somebody that likes Fidel Castro? That was his answer!!! I was shocked- how can this guy be a director of a human rights organization when he holds such an opinion? In my opinion, someone who is fighting for human rights and is a director of human rights organization should speak openly and should explain people that there are bad persons such as Fidel Castro!
I have a question for you (It is actually a joke that Mario from ProPaz thought me): How do you prepare CUBA LIBRE? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Find the answer in the end of this post.

Ok, I will stop joking because what I want to talk about now is serious: I finally also get sick. Before me all the French people and Riin had all sorts of stomach problems. The hygiene here is alarming and the quality of the water is really bad. Local people can drink the water, some of them even use the water from the lake for cooking! So here is the deal-after a month there was a cleaning lady that came to clean our rooms and bathrooms- the only thing she did was that she piled our staff on the table, made our beds and gave us a new soap, that´s it. No cleaning, no sweeping, no disinfection, nada!
This time, I did not have a stomach problem but I was the first one who got cold. I got cold on Monday afternoon while I was sitting on the terrace and edited the video from the trip around the lake with INED. I was so occupied with my work that I even did not realized that it was very cold outside. So since Tuesday I stayed in the bed for 3 days. Dr. Miguel from Chuk Muk prescribed me some medicine and since it did not get any better, I went to the hospital on Thursday morning. I went with Marie who has been sick with her stomach for 10 days. There were some American medical trainees in the hospital so it was good that I could talk to them in English. My Spanish is still very bad even though I can understand much more than in the beginning.
So this week was pretty much uneventful- I stayed in the bed in the pain sleeping all the days long. And the only thing I did was attendance at the Spanish classes and watching lots of stupid romantic American movies (do you want to know which one? – The Accidental Husband, The Ghosts of My Exgirlfriends, Devil Wears Prada, 500 days of Summer and one good movie- Julia and Julie with Meryl Streep).

WEEKEND:
On Saturday we wanted to hire small wooden boats and cruise on the lake but since it was raining we could not. The rainy season started and it has been raining basically every single day lately. The rain is very strong here- I have never seen such a heavy rain in my life, the water is pouring from the sky and it is soooo noisy! The water flows in the streets and since the city is hilly it all goes straight down to the lake and it takes all the dirt from the streets. I suppose that the lake must be very dirty because the drain from the houses goes there as well.

The weather got better in the afternoon so we decided to go and see local legend MAXIMON! Maximon or Ri Laj Mam in tzutuhil (or San Simon in Spanish) is a local god. Mayan people worship him in few places around the lake and his reputation is influential especially in Santiago Atitlan. If you come to Santiago and you look like a tourist, all the kids would scream on you: I will take you to Maximon!
Maximon is a wooden statue of a man who wears fancy clothes, sometimes wears sunglasses and smokes cigars. His appearance differs from city to city because there is not a precise description how should he look like. There is always a group of religious confraternity, cofradíaz who take care of him and the statue stays in their house. People then come to their house and worship him with a local alcohol quetzalteca, cigars (Maximon in one of the mayan dialect means tobacco), hens, pink candles or money. All the sacrifices have their ritual and symbolic meaning. The origin of the god is not certain, some people say Maximon was a Catholic leader in the 16th century, some other say he has his origins in the precolumbian Mayan beliefs and some other even say that he was a conqueror of Guatemala Pedro Alvarado or a burnt leader of the Mayan uprising against Spanish conqerors.
It costs 2Q to enter to see him. Diego warned us that we have to pay 10Q (1euro) for every single picture that we take. I was planning to shoot some videos there but they were charging 50Q and plus there was no guide who could explain us the origin of Maximon in front of camera so we decided to come back some other day. The old men who were sitting there around the table behind the statue in the candle light offered me that they will tell us story for 1000Q!!!! No, thank you. So now you can understand why I do not attach any picture here.

Maximon

On Sunday I and Jan had a meeting with a music teacher Santiago Sapalu who has his own small music school in Santiago and teaches religious music to the students and he plays on Sundays in the Evangelic church too. We made an interview with him which will be a part of the upcoming documentary film about religion in Santiago.
And there was another big event on Sunday- the final match the Czech Republic vs. Russia but we actually could not find any cable TV in the city and we did not find any on-line streaming either :( So it was a nice surprise when I learned the result of the match later on- the Czech team won, yay!

That is all from me today, hasta luego!

PS: And answer to my question is: Kill Fidel Castro! :)

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