Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Few Days in Santiago

After exploring around Guatemala for a few days, we decided that Rick needed to experience the magical, mystical powers of Lake Atitlan, so we headed home to Santiago. Did you know that Lake Atitlan was a haven for hippies in the 60s and 70s because it supposedly was a place filled with magical powers? Even today the region attracts some interesting people - but that is part of what gives this place its charm. 
We made sure to spend Friday morning picking out produce in the large market held in the center of town. Every day in Santiago there is a market, but on Fridays and Sundays, vendors come from all around to sell here - and we love going since there is a much wider selection. We ended up buying way too much fruit, blackberries, strawberries, pineapple, mangos, apples, bananas... seriously a ton! We had so much that we ended up making smoothies after we ate all that we were able to. 

On Saturday we were discussing the difference between Pepsi and Coca Cola, and why sodas are so different in Latin America. Caitlin and I rarely drink soda, but if we do, it is normally Coke (or maybe some fruit flavored soda), but never do we ask for Pepsi. Rick said he felt some sort of loyalty to Pepsi, so we decided to sample them both to see if we could notice a difference. 

For our blind taste test we put both Coke and Pepsi in glasses and sipped, smelled, and sampled the different flavors. 
In the end, all three of us chose Coke as our beverage of choice. But, even if it is the beverage of choice, I'm still not a huge fan. Coke has created an awful health epidemic in Latin America. When we were in Mexico, we learned about the infiltration of Coke into indigenous communities, and I was appalled at how much soda is now used in religious and cultural ceremonies. We learned all about their marketing strategies and what they have done to encourage Coke over water in many of these communities. It is a tragic thing, and makes me hate Coke as  company. There is a great article (for any that speak Spanish) that talks about the Coca Colization of Chiapas, Mexico. It is definitely worth a read for anyone interested. But of course, I didn't start this blog in order to rant about the evils of Coke, so I'll continue with my intended post. 

On Sunday we had a BBQ in the local park, which is always an adventure. One thing about Guatemalans is that they have no personal boundaries. They will come up to you, touch you, touch whatever you are holding, watch you from inches away, etc. Our experience at the park was no different. 

Rick and I set out to start a fire, and of course it was as super windy day, and we were starting a fire with carbon. After about a minute (maybe not even) of trying to light the fire, I notice a family staring at us. The mom had a basket of clothes on her head and the dad had 3 kids tugging at his arms. I quickly looked away (still haven't broke that cultural norm of not staring for more than 3 seconds) and the next thing I know, the lady is pushing Rick aside and starting our fire for us. She didn't even say anything to us, just starting building our fire. I started talking to her and I think she was surprised that we spoke Spanish - although I'm not sure how much Spanish she spoke. 

After a few minutes we had a hot fire and were ready to barbeque. We made tin foil veggies and bbq chicken. During the process, a group of kids came over to help us gather wood, and kept playing around us during the cooking process, and an old man came and sat on a bench near us and kept talking to us every few minutes. He spoke a little English and would say a phrase in English, I would answer in Spanish, and the conversation would continue in Spanish. We love Guatemalans, but we are still adjusting to some of the cultural norms. 
We spent a lot of time in Santiago hanging out in our apartment as well. It rained nearly every night, so we enjoyed the thunderstorms by playing cards and watching movies, including Mr. Beans Vacation - which Rick thought was extremely important to watch because he was on vacation. On Friday we went and explored some ruins, which I will be expanding on in the next post. 

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