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).

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.


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! :)

From Guate Guate Guate II.

I am sitting on the terrace of Santiaguito school, enjoying the beautiful view on San Pedro volcano, palm trees and green garden and listening to the birds- it is cloudy Saturday morning, a bit chilly because there was a big storm yesterday night, so we did not have electricity for a while which was quite romantic. We sat around the table with the candle light and were drinking couple of cervesaz with the other volunteers- quite chilly evening. I usually feel very tired by the end of the work week, so there are no big parties on Friday night and we go to bed as early as usually.

While sitting on the terrace and writing these lines and editing some videos, I can also hear the chants from the Miel church which is close to the port, about 1 kilometer from the school. In Santiago Atitlan, there is a big meeting in the church these days that lasts for three days and we can hear constant singing and celebration from there because it is very loud and the songs are wafting in the air. The day before we had a lecture with Diego who explained to us what this church is all about – it seems to be an Evangelic sect that was founded by Gaspar Sapalu, Santiago Atitlan-born priest who is calling himself the Apostol! I went to the church yesterday to witness the ceremony and I sneaked in – the non-believers were not allowed to come in. I was totally shocked when I first entered the church. There was a couple of thousand people there- mostly women because this event was dedicated to them. I really could not believe my eyes. They were all singing and dancing and waving with shawls or some big leaves and they seemed to be in a trance. I would compare it to the live show of Madonna when people go crazy while seeing her! There was some priest on the stage (it was not prater Gaspar himself) and orchestra and couple of dancing women waving flags and everybody was devotedly singing the songs that were very melodic and rhythmic – not like slow chorals in the catholic churches in Europe. I would call it a Christian discotheque.
In the evening we got a chance to go to the church again with some Guatemalan women who are staying with us in the extra room in the school. So we were allowed to enter the church legally with them but I was told that I can not take any pictures or videos- they obviously remembered me from the afternoon when I was shooting there. I tried to take one picture and I was caught straight away! Ha, if they knew how much material I had shot there before, they would have sent me to the hell immediately, I guess. The atmosphere was the same – all the women were crazy. There was just one difference- the pater Gaspar was there too! So we saw him on our own eyes. He is 60 years old and got his PhD. degree in California. The sect was founded in Michigan in the US and has many followers all over Central America and United States. After this incredible experience me and Jan decided that we will make a film about religious fervor in Santiago and about all the sects that are here. It is really very interesting. I plan to make an interview with one of the ladies that have attended the sectarian disco session. – Update: The women refused to talk in front of the camera.

WORK 10-14 May
I continued working in INED (Institut nacional de education diversificad) which is a high school that our coordinator Diego is attending. The school schedule is in the afternoon only – from 1PM to 6:30PM. The students are 13-30 years old, some of them are older because they did not have a chance to attend high school earlier (because they did not have money and were working in order to make money to be able to pay the high school or their parents did not let them study etc.). The level of English of the students is really basic – some of them can not speak at all, so I would say that there is no difference between students in the primary school and high school. They also have no textbooks and their English teacher Salvador can not speak English- so I have to communicate with him in Spanish! He is basically only writing some words on the board and students are copying it. The students have no clue to what a grammar is, and can not make phrases in English. The fifth grade (which is going to graduate this year) ,where Diego is studying, is majoring in tourist guiding classes, so these guys should speak some English if they become tourist guides. The idea was to teach them some more specific words related to tourist industry but I am afraid they have to start from the very beginning.

market in Sololá, Guatemala


On Tuesday and Wednesday the fourth and the fifth grade plus the director Phelippe and a few teachers went to a trip around the lake Atitlan. I was asked to come with them and film the whole trip. It was really great because like that I could see the lake from all sides. We went to SANTA CATARINA, which is a small village on the west side of the lake. We went swimming there in the lake and I found out that the students can not swim – only few guys could – which really does not make any sense to me when these kids were grown by the lake! Well, I understand that the women only go to the lake to wash the clothes or to get the water so they never need to learn how to swim.
We continued by the van to SOLOLÁ which is the capital of the whole province. We went to the local market which is colorful as other markets around. We spent a night in PANAJACHEL, the biggest city which is on the north side of the lake. It is quite touristy and many Americans are buying piece of land and build houses over there. No wonder why – the beauty of the lake attracts many people and the lake is number one tourist attraction in the country. In the 60´s and 70´s it used to be a hippie hangout place in the Central American region. It is inhabited by Kaqchikel Maya people who are wearing different kind of colorful clothes. We visited the Butterfly Park (Mariposario) close to Panajachel in jungle with many kinds of plants and there were three monkeys in the trees too.

The next day we continued to SANTA CLARA and SAN JUAN on the western shore of the lake. In the mountains above the lake close to Santa Clara we witnessed the real Mayan ceremony. A Mayan medicine-woman was praying to the Gods and smoking big cigars in the holy place in the mountains in front of the fire. There are just few shamans like her remaining around the lake. In San Juan we visited a waving place called the Asociación de mujeres de Color where they produce different types of textiles with natural colors made of some special plants (

I also started shooting the documentary about the volunteers and about the places where we are working. On Thursday I went with Jan to Chuk Muk which is an area couple of kilometres far from Santiago Atitlan. There is a clinic for the people who are living there. It is all together some 5 thousands people. The area with new houses was built after 2005 when the hurricane Stan hit the region and destroyed many houses. The clinic has one doctor and a nurse. Doctor Miguel is super nice young guy who studied medicine in Cuba and now got a job here in Chuk Muk. I made an interview with him and was shooting him while he was working so I saw the families that are coming there. Usually only Mayan women with children come there because men are working during the day or they are never sick, who knows. The second part of doctor´s job is visiting patients at their homes. I went with him, too and saw the whole Chuk Muk area. It looks somehow weird. The houses are not very nice, they all look the same and there is nothing but the houses. It is like living in some remote place in the middle of nowhere with no facilities. We visited some pregnant woman in her home who had two other kids, they were sitting there, all dirty. They probably do not go to school.
On Friday morning I went to Centre de Salud, clinic in the centre of Santiago Atitlan that is right on the main square. I was interviewing the director of the clinic and the stuff- Graciela (Diego´s wife) and Miguel Angel. The function of the clinic is to make enlightenment in hygiene, pregnancy prevention and checking malnourished children, among others. The health service is for free in Guatemala because there is no social or health insurance system at all. So it is good that even poor people can get a medical treatment and medicine.
I took an initiative and I visited one human rights organization by myself. I wanted to invite the stuff to the screening of human rights documentary films that is being planned on every Wednesday in Santiaguito lecture hall starting next week. I wanted to ask them if they could hold the discussion about the documentaries but since my Spanish is still very limited I could not explain it. Hopefully I will succeed next time. My idea is to show the documentaries to the high school students, teachers and some educated people from Santiago. I think they don´t know much about human rights. The capacity of the space is small, though so it will not be as big an event as I had planned before. There is no cinema in Santiago, so we can only show the movies to a couple of people. I have few DVD´s that I got from People in Need NGO in Prague that I want to show here – some from Cuba and some from Mexico.

OK, that´s all for this week, hasta luego, amigos!

Psaní z dáli z Guatemaly

Santiago de Atitlan - u jezera Lago de Atitlan

Milí přátelé, buenas dias!

po 10 dnech strávených v Guatemale konečně zasedám za počítač a doufám, že snad zas nevypadne elektřina, což se tady při dešti stává víceméně pořád protože období dešťů tady akorát začalo, a podaří se mi připojit na internet, abych se s vámi podělila o první dojmy.

Jak jsem se tady vůbec ocitla-při hledání práce v Praze jsem narazila na inzerát: hledáme někoho, kdo by byl ochoten a schopen odjet do Guatemaly do 14 dní. Hm… Tak jsem šla na interview a vzali mě. Jedná se o francouzskou neziskovku Together, která má pobočky i v ČR, Lucembursku a Estonsku, čili účastníci programu pocházejí z těchto zemí. Nějakým nedopatřením jim druhý člověk z ČR odmítl, tak sháněli narychlo náhradu a našli mě- ideálního kandidáta. Podmínkou bylo, aby byl kandidát bud nezaměstnaný nebo aby měl nějaký slabší sociální background nebo nevystudoval VŠ. V mém případě A. je správně – nezaměstnaná půl roku.

Jedná se o Evropskou dobrovolnou službu (EVS), což je dobrovolnický program dotovaný Evropskou komisí, a organizace Together rozjela pilotní projekt mimo Evropu v centrální Americe. Za normálních okolností se dobrovolníci hlásí do projektu několik měsíců dopředu a prochází výběrovým řízením, já měla jako obvykle štěstí a vzali mě hned z fleku a odjela jsem hned- respektive s desetidenním zpožděním kvůli islandskému vulkánu, který toho času paralyzoval vzdušný prostor nad celou Evropou. Dobrovolníkům je hrazena zpáteční letenka do Guatemaly (27 000kč), skromné ubytování ve škole, jídlo, hodiny španělštiny a tzutuhilštiny (jazyka domorodců) a úvodu do májské kultury a dostávají kapesné 50E, což je v Santiagu Atitlan, místě konání projektu, v mnohých rodinách průměrný měsíční plat. Jsou plánovány 2 turnusy po 10 dobrovolnících, na 1. turnus se nás však sjelo jen 7- já, Honza z ČR, Kaisa a Riin z Estonska a tři nafrnění Frantíci (jak jinak) Marie, Pierre a primadonka Carina, u které absolutně nechápu, jak ji mohli vybrat, protože odmítá komunikovat anglicky a navíc nad vším ohrnuje nos, nic se jí nelíbí, stejská se jí po domově, nechce jíst lokální jídlo a všechno bojkotuje. Bohužel takoví lidé notně rozbourávají morálku celé skupiny.

Přiletěla jsem 26.dubna v noci, po náročném 24hodinovém letu Praha-Amstr-Houston (TX)-Guatemala City. V Guatemala city jsem strávila naštěstí jen dva dny namísto plánovaného týdenního školení, protože už tak jsem měla dost časový skluz. Bydlela jsem v guatemalské spoluúčastnické neziskovce Pro Paz. S šéfem Pro Pazu Mariem Salinasem jsme hned druhý den šli jako hosté do místního rádia Faro Cultural, abychom tam mluvili o volunteeringu. Všechno bylo en espanol, takže jsem skoro nic nerozuměla a sama jsem mluvila anglicky a simultánně to tam překládali. Tak abych to shrnula, GUATEMALA CITY není zrovna nejhezčí místo na týhle planetě – velké, zasmogované, horké a podle všeho i celkem nebezpečné město. Kolem každého baráku je ostnatý drát a těžké nedobytné dveře a policajti na každém rohu a oblasti se slumy také nejsou výjimkou. Zkrátka a dobře, viděla jsem už i pěknější a sympatičtější místa. Pak už odjezd busem do SANTIAGA ATITLAN- 3hodinová cesta v rozkodrcaném autobuse (30Q) americké výroby (staré vyřazené školní autobusy), takovým podobným jsem jela v Himalájích do Lehu, deja vu – v divočejších zatáčkách jsem vyskakovala půl metru nad sedačku, no prostě paráda, lepší než horská dráha.

Hned následující den po příjezdu a aklimatizaci a otřepání se z kulturního šoku zde v Santiagu (ubytování je opravdu velice skromné a možná už jsem na to trochu stará a trochu víc pohodlná?) jsme s místním koordinátorem projektu Diegem Tzinou obešli místní organizace, pro které budu pracovat.
Náplň práce záleží jak na dovednostech dobrovolníků, tak v pracovní nabídce zde na místě v Santiagu Atitlan, což je malé město u jezera Atitlan s májskou populací, kde většina lidí nemá řádné vzdělání (především ženy-přes 50% jich tu je negramotných), zato však jsou tady všichni pobožní až hrůza, a na 45 000 obyvatel je tady přes deset kostelů!!! (křesťanských, babtistických, evangelických a bůhví jakých ještě). Každý večer se z města ozývají gospely-zrovna teď datlujíc do notebooku na verandě školy nějaké slyším, jinak městečko uléhá už kolem desáté, avšak všichni jsou tu bdělí už od svítání. Hned u školy je mašina na zpracování kukuřice, zdejšího hlavního potravinového produktu – ano nacházím se v zemi Lidí kukuřice, jak se Guatemalané někdy přezdívají – a ta dělá strašný randál a o co hůř, spouštějí ji už v 5:30 ráno! Takže v půl šestý je nechtěný budíček, špunty do uší nepomáhají, protože mašina dělá větší bordel než vrtačka a v sedm je pak snídaně. Pracuje se od osmi do jedné a pak od dvou do pěti. Nikdy v životě by mě nenapadlo, že budu muset vstávat tak brzo! Lokální kuchyně je poměrně monotónní- tortillas, kuře, rýže, vajíčka na různé variace, rozhodně však žádné kuchařské umění.

Idea projektu je taková, že dobrovolníci rotují po týdnu po organizacích. Jedná se o učení angličtiny na základní škole Santiaguito a na střední škole cestovního ruchu, práce s postiženými dětmi v ADISA centru a výpomoc v dílně pro postižené, výpomoc v medickém Cetre de Salud, tam se chodí po mnohočetných rodinách (není výjimkou, že matka má deset dětí a ani si nepamatuje jejich jména, natož pak datum narození) a zkoumá se podvýživa a zdravotní stav místních dětí mimojiné. Další práce asi časem přibude- pro kluky se plánuje výpomoc na stavbě v nové osadě, která se staví kousek za městem, aby se tam nastěhovali lidé, kterým v roce 2005 vzal hurikán Stan střechu nad hlavou a pohřbil tehdy pod rozbahněnou zem na 500 lidí- jejich těla se nikdy nenašla.
Domluvila jsem se s lidma s ADISy, že o nich budu točit dokument respektive mě o to sami požádali. Už se pracuje na scénáři, tak snad z toho vznikne něco zajímavého. Jinak jsem udělala nějaké nenápadné záběry na mobil v San Pedru, městečku na opačném břehu jezera, kam jsem se vypravila na nedělní trh. Avšak lidé zde všeobecně nemají rádi, když je někdo fotí, natož pak filmuje, prý jim kamera krade duši, takže pro své filmařské záměry budu muset nejspíš dostat povolení a posvěcení od starosty města. Taky jsem měla v plánu tady uspořádat malý filmový festival latinsko-amerických dokumentárních filmů, ke kterým jsem již pracně obdržela promítací práva atd, ale když tady tak pozoruju úroveň vzdělání a vůbec jak tady probíhá každodenní život, tak si myslím, že nejspíš od záměru budu muset opustit. Zdá se, že polovina domorodců v životě nebyla v kině (vlastně jsem tady nic jako kino anineviděla) a natožpak jim pouštět lidskoprávní filmy z Kuby nebo Mexika. V celém městečku je jen pár lidí, co umí alespoň trochu anglicky, ale není se čemu divit, ve škole se to nikdo pořádně nenaučí, protože májské paní učitelky angličtinářky jsou o lekci napřed před studenty- a to doslova a do písmene a děti ani nemají učebnice. Počítačová gramotnost je tady taky minimální, děti ve školách se učí psát na prastarých psacích strojích a pak teprve přecházejí k práci na počítačích a dovolit si koupit počítač může jen málokterá rodina. Ve městečku je pár netových kaváren s mizerným připojením, kde povětšinou sedí místní omladina (rozumněj kluci), která sjíždí online fotbal nebo občas i porno.

Co se týče cen, byla jsem dost překvapená, že Guatemala jakožto rozvojová země není zas tak levná, jak by se mohlo zdát. Příklad cen tady v Santiagu (1$ = 8Quetzal): Ubytování- jednoduchý pokoj pro jednu osobu 600Q, průměrný plat těžce pracující osoby 1800 Q (225$), hodina internetu 5Q, cigarety 14Q, pivo Gallo 0,3l 8Q, libra hovězího 20 Q, libra kuřecího 10Q, půl litru balené vody 4Q. Většina lidí tady nemá stálý příjem a dělají různé kšeftíky. Většinou nevydrží pracovat déle než měsíc a po první výplatě přestávají pracovat až do té doby, než utratí veškeré finance a pak zas hledají práci. Já jsem prosím pěkně své kapesné rozšustrovala během prvního týdne, a to jsem si myslela, že tady s tím v pohodě vyžiju. Takže jsem šla měnit své záložní dolary do místní banky, kde stálo ve frontě asi 30 vesničanů čekajíc ve frontě na výplatu.
Taky jsem zašla k místnímu holiči (25Q) a byla jsem poměrně příjemně překvapená že neudělal na stojáka šmik-šmik jako mě naposledy stříhali v Mexiku, nýbrž jsem měla pocit že dokonce i umí stříhat.

Toť vše, pokračování příště in English! HASTA LUEGO!

ZDE můj článek o Guatemale s názvem “DOBROVOLNÍKEM U GUATEMALSKÝCH MÁJů” z webu