Welcome to Antigua, where coke replaces coffee at the breakfast table, Latin club music is blasted on morning busses, traffic is an endless game of chicken and grocery shopping is not for the faint hearted.
The chaos of developing countries is part of their charm, and it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back. Of course, when fatigue hits home, the market seems like less of an adventure and more of an impending ordeal, and the local pizza place becomes a welcome respite. But there’s no time to stop, the daily rhythm here is quick and steady, from dawn ´til dusk, and everywhere you turn there are children and adults alike, running about, bartering, selling, calling, playing, dancing and laughing.
And all this in the rain.
We are in the rainy season, which means that it either rains all day or it rains most of the day. I have a secret pact with nature, and I travel with the sun: no matter how dreary the weather is forecast, it is always sunny when I’m there. My pact worked well for my first week in Antigua -to the dismay of local farmers-, but even my supernatural powers eventually waned and yielded to the torrential downpour that characterises these tropical climates. One thing is certain: while Canadians tend to stay inside and hide during the rain, life here doesn’t miss a beat. Then again, with leaky roofs and constant humidity, nothing dries anyways: there’s really no escaping the cold, so we might as well forget about it.
I’ve been working at MayaWorks for a little over two weeks now. We are well on our way to develop new business cards, flyers and other promotional material, and soon I’ll be promoting a new tour in the Comalapa region, where visitors will gain insight into our artisans’ lives and how fair trade works. Work is exciting, but sometimes slow as there are only 2 administrators to oversee all the orders and nothing can really be done without their approval. Despite the little setbacks, I’m having a blast promoting the projects and products we sell, and I can’t wait to put my salesperson talents to the test in the next few weeks.
On the social side, I was excited at the prospect of working in a Latin country as I could continue to develop my dancing skills. Performance dancing in Canada is slightly bureaucratic and can be long and dreary. I found a good teacher here and we are already practicing for a few shows in the region. Nerve-wracking definitely, but exciting! Of course 2 weeks doesn’t compare to 8 months of intensive training, but then you can never take yourself too seriously when dancing (or travelling, for that matter). When all else fails, laughter will make it better! I’ve also just finished writing an international Spanish exam over the weekend, preparation for which was time consuming during my first weeks in Guatemala. Who knows what I will do with my now abundant free time!
There is much work to be done, places to see, and people to meet.
¡Manos a la obra!