Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Very Green Hills of Guatemala

There was much gossiping and talking in the car, and I did what I usually do when people tried to get details about my life: I talked about nothing but work, avoided my entire existence before September 1995 as if it had never happened, explained that like Athena, I was birthed out of the head of Mayor Daley in 1995 in Chicago, that I was a teaching addict, and that I knew way too much about way too many things. The latter is the thing that always seems to stick with people, just how much information I have crammed in this head of mine. I’m quite good at not going on, but when you are with a group that would be just as happy to find out about your family as anything else, it’s handy to distract with obscure knowledge.

I let one half of my brain deal with the conquistidoras and let the other half of my brain wander over the countryside we were driving through. The mountains were up and down and up and down and I realized that we must be driving along the edge of a mountain not too far down; clearly we were perched high up, as I kept getting glimpses of the other mountaintops with valleys falling fall down below.

The words “verdant green” kept coming to mind, but that was problematic because those words did not do much to really describe the color of the greens we were seeing. There was a lush living vibrancy to the greens here that choked out everything else. This wasn’t just green, this was like what green would be like if it walked the earth still in the mantle of the goddess and converted everything it could see. It was an appealing, attractive green that you wanted to run your hands through and bond with. It was beautiful and powerful and appealing. Having never been to Central America before, all I could think about was a desire to go back. There was such beauty here.

We passed gorgeous furniture made of wood on the edges of the forests; a variety of sellers peddling their wares could be found at the odd pull-offs that existed in the forests roads, not quite the rain forest but definitely the jungle. Little towns and villages clung to the sides of the roads, pushing up onto the near edges of the mountain that surrounded the road we passed through. Glimpses of people with an ancient heritage, short with distinctive dark skin, deeply set eyes, and wide nosesa look that would not be out of place on an ancient Mayan carving.

The van moved on and we ended up on choppy cobbled streets where it was explained to me that traffic could be fierce where we were going as many people came to visit and participate in tourism in Antigua. The traffic could get so bad that many opted to walk the few blocks to work. I smiled, thinking that it wasn’t too unusual to walk a few blocks to work, but apparently it was more of a thing here. There were cars everywhere and I saw few bikes, although the weather (a balmy and beautiful 23 degrees) would be prefect for biking almost every day of the year.

After some rocking and shaking about we finally arrived at our destination and piled out of the van and into the museo.

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