Friday, December 3

Guatemala time

One of the biggest cultural adjustments I've had to make in Guatemala is slowing... down...

By western standards, I'm a very easy going girl. I haven't been a fast paced overachiever in a long time. I'm usually 2-3 minutes late for everything. I'm flexible and prefer spontaneous adventures to well-planned outings.

But by Guatemala standards, I am so Type A. I found Nueva Alianza frustrating because there was nothing to do. Or rather, doing anything took 50 to 100 times longer than it would in a western country. Buses never left on time. No one seemed to care if the building was ever painted or if we paid for our stay.

Hawaii was a tiny bit busier, a tiny bit more structured, but that was only because it was full of western volunteers. The turtle festival was a strange experience as it was organized and led by Swiss and American expats armed with schedules and sign up sheets, but nothing went according to plan because it's Guatemala. Even after six weeks in the country, I found myself exhaling with anger because it's 2:30pm! The parade was supposed to start at one! There's nobody here! What's the point of this?!

But today I realized that Guatemala's sense of time and lack of urgency has rubbed off on me. I spent all day applying for grad schools, emailing professors, and researching internships. And I was overwhelmed by all the details and information. I had to take frequent breaks to munch on cheese and dried plums in order to stay calm. Maybe one day I will find a balance between Guatemala time and crazy American stress time.

Yesterday I ordered a scone and what I got was a cross between a floury British scone and southern cornbread. It was weird at first, but after three bites I was hooked.

Today, when I wasn't doing administrative things, I enjoyed basking in the sun on our hostel's rooftop terrace and listening to old church bells. I could happily relocate to Antigua. It's charming and quiet in an old colonial way. Walking to parque central for coffee, I saw a tour group of retired Americans, and I'm happy to report to my retired readers that Guatemala isn't just for the young and restless! Visit for all your airfare needs!

Tomorrow we're heading north to Panajachel and Chichicastanango, but I'll continue to update every day this week.

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