The most appropriate word to describe life over the past month. It also happens to be the 'state' in which Guatemala finds itself at present. The government of Guatemala declared a 'State of Calamity' on Monday due to the devastation of the roads post- tropical storm 12E. I cannot think of a more unorganized word to describe one's country than 'calamity'. Love it. So appropriate.
On September 11th, Guatemala held national elections. The Presidential race was narrowed down to 2 for the runoff in November, house representatives were elected as well as mayors. In general, mayoral elections tend to cause the most violence and tension. This was certainly the case in Uspantan. The current mayor was reelected to the dismay of many. He did not win with a majority but had the highest percentage of all candidates... as is typical procedure for democratic elections. However, this did not sit well with supporters of the losing parties.
Here comes the fun part! Elections were the 11th and Independence Day was the 15th. Since everyone has the day off work and school for Independence Day (which includes a day or two before Independence Day as well to 'prepare' for the grand celebration)protests against the election outcomes were conveniently postponed until the following Monday, when everyone was sure that Independence Day had been properly celebrated and should have been returning to work. How nifty!
Independence Day parade ending at the soccer field.
Some of my English students:
Girl in traditional Uspantan traje (on the right with the fun head gear)
Fun Independence Day tradition- grease up a pig and whoever can catch it can keep it. This kid won and walks away with his prize.
Other grease event: teams of men try to climb a pole covered in pig fat. There is an envelope at the top with money and whoever reaches the top keeps the money. No one won.
But it was fun to watch...
So basically, 8 days after the elections and after all the Independence Day celebrations were done a group of angry Uspantekos gathered in front of the municipal building and declared that the mayor had not won the majority of the vote (true) and therefore was illegally and deceptively accepting his reelection (completely false and not how elections work). The crowd was angry and tense but disbanded around lunch time leaving the threat of another such showing on inauguration day.
Moral of the story, I got the heck out of Uspantan and went to the United States of America. Best country ever. I met my family in Florida for my cousin's beautiful wedding to his stunning bride and basically laid out in the sun for 4 days and relished in the fact that I was not the tallest person in the vicinity and babies did not cry when they looked at me. In fact, there were very few babies. Which was awesome.
I then popped up to New York for 9 days to annoy all my friends with real-people jobs and force everyone to hang out with me. I could go on and on about the luxuries and conveniences of America but will limit the list to a few: drinking water from the faucet, trash pick-up (that doesn't then take the trash to the side of a mountain), grocery stores with everything you could possibly want, food, ohmygod the food, public transportation that involves few children, is reliable and everyone respects your personal space. Incredible.
Hung out with the pops
Hung out with my mom
My dad's idea of vacation: a view and a cigar:
Beach time with the cousins
My ma breaking it down at the wedding with her sisters
Last night in FL. Dinner with the whole fam as we send off Jason and Suzanne on their honeymoon. The restaurant brought them a congratulatory fish cake. It was weird.
So I took the majority of my NY pictures on disposable cameras because the outcome is more fun that way... but is less sharing-friendly. Sorry, guys.
But I have made my way back to Guatemala, possibly at the worst time climate-wise. I landed on October 12th on the 2nd plane that was allowed to land in Guatemala City that day due to weather (yeah, it was a great flight). Guatemala was hit heavily by rain due to the tropical storm 12E. Roads have been washed out, there are countless landslides, many cases of flooding and blackouts. Thankfully I missed the brunt of the storm but was stuck at the Peace Corps center for 3 days after arriving before being cleared to travel back to site. It is my personal belief that tropical storm 12E served the sole purpose of eroding away all the political party posters covering the rocks and mountain sides of Guatemala. Did I mention billboards aren't a thing here? Candidates just paint their names and party emblems on rocks, houses, mountains or anything else.
Now I return to this 'State of Calamity'. We are not allowed to travel until further notice while this country figures the road situation out, I suppose. Which is fine because I need some down time after the ruckus that was the past 4 weeks.
Please note that since I made the above statement that America is the "best country ever", I found out that this song is #1 on Itunes: