Tuesday, July 6, 2010

La Fin de Semana de El Cuatro de Julio

“And then we enter into the new Guatemala brought to you by the United States of America”

What an ironic way to come back to class after Fourth of July weekend. Coming from someone who doesn’t regularly harbor extreme patriotism, I had one of the best weekends in a long time (which of course is another irony in and of itself because I’m nowhere near EE.UU.)

My weekend technically started Friday with the absence of classes. Knowing I would want the rest of my weekend free, I went over to CIRMA with Abbey in the morning to get work done (which turned into an hour long digression of Andrew McMahon obsessing, but I qualify that a much better use of our time). However, I did end up getting enough work done to satisfy the motivated part of me for basically the rest of the weekend. After lunch we were going to climb up to La Cerra de Cruz (our second attempt) but we were once again thwarted by a rainy afternoon brought to us by the Guatemalan rainy season. Before the seemingly perfect blue sky opened up on Antigua, I ventured to the tattoo place again with Brad to get his tragus checked out and was disappointed to find out that my tongue webbing is not suitable for piercing (yes because I figure I’m only in a third-world country for so long, so why not get something pierced. But for reassurance measures, I still only have 5 man-made holes in my body). Once the skies decided to open up, I had made my way home and was safely perched on the roofed balcony on my house with my roommates Staci and Jennie. We enjoyed our afternoon monsoon accompanied with cheesy Pringles and cookies while waiting for our other roomies to return because yes they still decided to attempt the climb to the cross. Nonetheless, they returned later completely soaked. And us being the perfectly matched six of us which we are decided what better way to dry off than to have a massive dance party up on the balcony. So Friday night started off with a massive gringo aka white girl dance party which Thelma was thoroughly amused by. After dinner we went to Riley’s bar to go see Brad’s cousin who was DJ-ing that night. We briefly met his family who was there – his aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandma. The night didn’t turn into quite the rave that was expected, but it was still a great night just hanging out with Jennie, Brad, and his cousin Rodrigo (who was 17 and totally chatting it up with Jennie all night haha).

Saturday was probably the most epic day of the weekend. Don’t mess with three gringo girls on a mission for bombas – that’s all I have to say. If anything was going to occur on Saturday, Michelle, Jennie and I were determined it was going to be to find those damn bombas. At breakfast, we asked Thelma the best way to find them because on our last excursion earlier last week to find them, we were only met with puzzled looks and assertions that the people had no idea what we were talking about (aka they didn’t want to tell the gringos where to buy fireworks). These are the directions Thelma gave to us: go to the paca section of the market (the thrift store equivalent of the market), then you should find the bombaros (firemen) and ask them for “lights.” If it even sounds a little crazy, you have no idea. First off, it was a Saturday so the market was at peak numbers. Second, there is no way one could really describe such an experience of a third-world market accurately – it is filled with anyone from live chickens for $2 apiece to bootleg DVDS to women openly suckling their children in the fresh fruit section to high-end American clothing brands, just to give some examples. Finding the paca section itself was quite the adventure after passing by all the aforementioned things. Upon finding the paca, we immediately gave into our natural feminine instincts to shop wherever thrifting is present (and I got an amazing skirt for 30 Q that is very latina). We were finally able to pull ourselves away from slightly-used, cheap clothing to continue our search for the bombaros. After exiting the paca we found ourselves in a large parking-lot type structure covered in more fruit sellers. Apparently these bombaros we were looking for were just a couple men sitting in the back of a truck which resembled a U-Haul. But before we could even make our way over there, we stopped a lady to make sure we were correct in our assumption about who these bombaros were. She informed us (just like everyone else) that it wasn’t the right season for bombas, but we might try the piñata section of the market for some (if you think it’s strange that the market has a pinata section, it gets better). We were then pointed in another direction and set off in search of the pinatas. We had to stop a couple more times and be pointed in a few more directions (why did they always seem like completely different directions every time) we stumbled across the pinatas! However, it was no surprise that each stand was devoid of bombas. One lady, with the cutest little sleeping nino in her lap, told us to try the other pinata section (oh yes – there are two pinata sections in the mercado) so we set off AGAIN in our search for bombas. Hang in there if you’re beginning to wonder if we’re ever going to catch this goose – there is a happy ending in sight. With the rustling of pinatas behind us and now in front of us again we were hoping we had finally settled upon the promise land. I never imagined I would meet an angel in a Guatemalan market, but there she was, a young latina girl standing underneath the shelter of a myriad of pinatas. She originally told us she didn’t have what we were looking for, but pulled out a string of firecrackers saying this was all she had. Immediately our eyes light up in unison as we were unable to hold back the delight that after 2 hours we had finally found something which would make a noise to rival the ones which unceasingly wake us up many mornings before dawn. Ok, so we weren’t going to enter any fireworks contests anytime soon and we certainly weren’t going recreate anything close to what I would see sitting on the docks in Annapolis, but we were going to be able to light something on fire and have it make obnoxious noises to annoy the neighbors (because isn’t that really what the 4th is all about – lighting shit on fire and make a big fuss about it). We purchased numerous packs of firecrackers, these volcano fireworks, sparklers and after 2 trips to the pinata sections, a pinata of course. We made our way out of the market, our loot clutched tightly in hand and continued finally go home, walking across Antigua, quite the sight of course carrying a large red and blue fuzzy ball pinata.

I do not think I have ever wanted a siesta so bad in my life after our morning adventure. I don’t know how those Guatemalan women do all their shopping at the market – Thelma came back later that day with numerous bags from shopping there and we commended her greatly for her strength and bravery. I was so tired that afternoon I took a solid 2 1/2 hour nap without waking up to another raging monsoon that was going on outside. About the only other exciting thing that happened was finding a totally banging panaria down the street which we have thus visited every day since (I mean can you beat the best loaf of bread I’ve ever had for only 5Q??) After all that resting all afternoon, we were reading for some more dancingggg Saturday night, especially because the fiesta de bailar didn’t really occur Friday night. Michelle, Jennie and I went over to another group’s casa to hang out before hand then we were going to try a couple places to go dancing. The first place had a 50Q. cover so that definitely wasn’t going to happen so we decided to try our default, Sin Ventura, peroooo it was too late and they were already closed. Being the gringos we are, we just went next door to Mono Loco and got the most amazing nachos I’ve ever eaten in my life. Coincidentially enough, Brad ended up texting me saying him and his cousin ended up going out and they were at Mono Loco so I met up with him and met his cousin (whose name is also Ali and her boyfriend is from Edgewater, MD – which for those of you who don’t know is right by where I live – so strange, right?) We stayed at Mono Loco for a while just talking and then she drove Brad and I home.

Now the day we had all been waiting for – EL CUATRO DE JULIO (is it un-American to say the 4th of July in another language… or does that just make it even the more American)!!!! We all woke up that morning with the anxiety of our party to ensure later that day. I went to the paneria in the morning for breakfast and got to talk to my parents for a while. Then I went with Brad to meet his family who were still in town and we hung out with them the rest of the day. I was pretty nervous about the language barrier at first, but I had the best time. When we got there, they were all headed off for the park because it was such a gorgeous morning. Back at the house, Brad and I just sat up on the rooftop patio while lunch was being made. If I thought CIRMA’s rooftop was gorgeous, I was pleasantly surprised there was a view more beautiful. Even after 2 1/2 weeks, I still can’t get over how perfectly beautiful Antigua is. If I could find anywhere half as beautiful in the states, I would move there immediately. Just sitting up there and talking I couldn’t help feeling like this was a scene right out of a movie. Like I said Antigua was everything and more than I imagined. Lunch was amazing (as it always is here) and I felt very comfortable even (or maybe especially) among the eclectic mix of Spanish and English although every so often I’d have to turn to Brad with a totally puzzled look on my face hoping he’d translate for me. After lunch there was some fantastic karaoking that ensued and I reluctantly had to pull myself away in order to help my roommates get ready for our fiesta that night.

Pizza, beer, a ghetto fab pinata, things to light on fire, a slightly tipsy host mom and her random friend, and a bunch of college-aged Americans in another country turns out to be the perfect combination for the best 4th of July party ever. The brothel decidedly throws the best party ever! The firecrackers were a success, even if we had to set them off in the rain, using Michelle’s broken umbrella to hold over the cardboard box we used to light them on. I can only imagine the sight we were, about 15 gringos standing out in the street, in the rain, setting off firecrackers and screaming ‘AMERRRRRRRICA’ at the top of our lungs. Overall the weekend was such a success and I can only hope our trip to Peten this weekend can rival it.

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