When the sun rises on Guatemala City, the true nature of the city comes with it. In between the staples of North American life, the Taco Bells and the Sherman Williams, is a city of painted cinderblocks, street vendors and beggars. Crowds flock to the square in front of the Presidential Palace where these groups congregate.
The scents of roasted corn and fresh cut fruit permeate the air in the market as vendors shout their inventories to anyone who will listen, and even those who won’t. One man carries a large bag of boiled peanuts while another totes bags of cotton candy. Old women sell baskets while children sell baskets of various fruit. Near the road a man slices the skin off pineapples and sells the cut fruit for about 60 cents. It’s sweet and wet and sticky and a little sticky. A few streets of way under a sign that says Tipicos is the underground market, where hand woven goods meet with various tact types of mass-produced t-shirts. The vendors there act the same, calling out their goods as we walk by. Several say proudly that their goods were made in Atitlan, where we’ll be going on Saturday.
Beggars sat on cardboard outside the large Cathedral de Santiago de Guatemala on another end of the square. Inside, there was a christening and confirmation going on. Outside, in the square, a large stage was being set up for a visit from the most recent Latin America Idol winner. Those stereos duel with a marching band that’s leading a processional for the celebration of a saint.
When we left Guatemala City, it didn’t take long for high rises to give way to the cinderblock slums and automobile salvage yards. Small homes were stacked on each other closer to the city, but as winding mountain roads snaked and hair-pinned northwest to Chichicastenango, homes of brick and scrap wood and sheet metal began to take the place of the cinderblocks.
Driving in Guatemala is like skateboarding down a roller coaster with no harness and no helmet. Buses loaded with people, some hanging on top of the bus, barrel around jackknife turns while swerving around traffic. The road was out in some place where mudslides, the consequence of carving the roads out of the mountains, had washed it away. In some places, the road narrowed to two lanes. Pedestrians, whether children on foot or men on bicycles, traveled the same roads in a way you don’t see too often in the United States. At the end of this treacherous stretch was the city Chichicastenango, a town full of gray one-lane wide cobblestone streets and devoid of the chains that dot Guatemala City.
But the people are the same, which has made Chichicastenengo perhaps even busier of a city than Guatemala. The market may only be open two days a week, but people still line the streets in an attempt to sell whatever they can. The streets are still packed with buses, cars, and any other mode of transportation that can possibly take a person from one place to another.
Most of the streets of Chichicastenango are one lane wide but the natives still drive like an open field. Only now pedestrians are more prone to walk directly in the street. The buildings are concrete or cinderblock and the city can seem quite chaotic at times.
However, the people of Chichi have been like everyone else in Guatemala. They are helpful, understanding and cordial. They run on their own time, a trait that makes it difficult for a person whose life is normally centered on deadlines.
From my limited experience with the two cities, it’s amazing how two cities so different in size and scope can come with the same feeling. The people have, thus far, been friendly and hard-working.
Our next stop is in the mountains. The first village the missionaries will visit is so remote that they haven’t had any medical care in years.
Sometimes it’s easy to miss an event, so here’s a look back at the past week or so to help bring you up to date.
Wilson, shown in these undated photos,
State wildlife officials are worried how much damage will be done to the new Evening Hole and Lost Creek project on the Lower Mountain Fork River as a result of flooding.
Broken Bow Lake on Monday reached its highest level ever (more than 26 feet above normal) and the flood gates have been opened for only the third time in its history, releasing water into the Lower Mountain Fork River and flooding popular trout fishing areas such as Spillway Creek and Evening Hole.
Beavers Bend State Park has been closed and more rain is forecast. Paul Balkenbush, southeast region fisheries chief for the state Wildlife Department, said some structural damage has already occurred around Lost Creek, a new trout stream that state wildlife officials constructed in 2006.
“We don’t know what it’s going to do to our project,” Balkenbush said of the flooding. “We are cautiously optimistic, but it could be a big deal if we get the rain that is projected.”
Balkenbush said several people have asked what will happen to the trout.
“I think the trout will find their way,” he said. “They will get dispersed around a little bit, but they will find places to hang out until it calms down.”
Trout anglers should keep their fingers crossed and hope all of the work the state Wildlife Department did to improve Evening Hole and to build Lost Creek will not be washed away.
Ed Godfrey, Outdoors Editor
Nothing will bring you down faster than figuring out it will take you multiple lifetimes to earn what OU coach Bob Stoops will earn this year. His total package amounts to $5.75 million in 2008, although he could earn more if he hits certain bonuses during the 2008 season.
So, if you’ve got some anti-depressants handy, why not check out our Bob Stoops Salary Calculator here at NewsOK.com.
Just enter your annual salary–to the nearest thousand–and see what Stoops earns for each year, month, week, day and hour compared to you. The calculator will also let you know how many years you’ll have to work to earn what Stoops will make this year.
For some added comparison, why not enter OU President David Boren’s salary (about $373,000 this year) or Gov. Brad Henry’s ($140,000) and see how they stack up next to Stoops?
Just don’t contact me for any follow-up counseling.
–Paul Monies, Database Editor
Not that anyone needs another reason to root against the New England Patriots as they seek to complete their perfect season, but here’s one you may not have been aware of: your wallet.
There is a strong correlation between the Super Bowl champion and the annual performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index, the oldest, most prestigious stock index. When a team that was an original member of the American Football League wins the big game, the Dow slumps. When a member of the original National Football League wins, the Dow surges. It works about 80 percent of the time, a success rate the envy of any stock picker. Most recently, it worked last year when the Indianapolis Colts, an original NFL franchise, took the championaship and the Dow gained 6.4 percent.
So if you’re not already swayed by the Patriots’ cheating, slovenly, Machiavellian despot of a coach, their cheating (girlfriend, not football) quarterback or their cheating (drug policy violation) defensive back, then just vote your pocketbook. (And their uniforms are ugly.)
Back the Pack. Your portfolio will thank you.