After a lengthy hiatus from any form of blog communication, we finally found enough energy and time to put together a smattered reflection of some of what has kept us on our toes and out of the blog world for the past 6 weeks. During this time we experienced two significant events that we had either known about or dreamed of…..interestingly both occurred in Guatemala! I (Rick) rang in the New Year with my good friend Rogelio by hiking up Volcan Tacanà, a non-technical climb that reaches just over 4000 m. While we left the trailhead in Mexico, our route (surprise!) took us over the border into Guatemala for the remainder of the ascent…an enjoyable border crossing without a single request for documentation! Then, about 10 days later, along with Kelly and Miriam (MCCers here in San Cristobal), our family travelled to Santiago Atitlàn (central Guatemala) to participate in a week-long MCC regional retreat (Mexico and central American countries). Whether it was travelling, hiking, retreating, or a host of other activities in which we were engaged, it gave us an opportunity to learn more about our southern nieghbours and similar culture (Maya) with distinct regional characteristics.
Visiting Guatemala for the first time left me with a couple of impressions……………………….. 1) while I only experienced limited geography of the entire country, the region around Tacanà as well as the route through the highlands to Lago Atitlàn could be described as either a mountain bikers dream, or a road-builders nightmare. The ruggedness of the terrain was impressive, yet not as much as the local folks who navigate the trails and roads daily on foot, by donkey, bicycle or truck. As Rogelio and I often struggled to catch our breath due to the altitude and the ascent, we would meet local folks (who live on the mountain) going up and down with the same ease that one walks to the nearest tortilleria on a Sunday afternoon. Our trip to Santiago Atitlàn also impressed upon me the resourcefulness and resilience of the Guatemalan people, many for whom life on rugged, only somewhat arable land was not their choice, having been forced off their fertile homelands due to civil war, and government and big business interests.
2) colour colour everywhere! The persistence of Indigenous highland culture was very evident, as much perhaps if not more common than here in Chiapas. Whether it was the finely woven dress of both the women and men in town, or the tarps that offered a night`s shelter in the crater of Tacanà, vivid colours were commonplace. In terms of language, certainly the local Mayan dialect (sorry I forget how its spelled) was more commonly spoken, with fewer Spanish-speaking folks. And while the food was very good at our retreat location, I did miss the variety of salsas and range of flavours that I have become accustomed to here in Mexico. We also noted that we are a tad spoiled in San Cristobal, with convenience stores on nearly every block that carry a wide range of food and, well, conveniences! – this was not the case in Santiago Atitlàn. But not to complain…..because I can say without a doubt that the beans (with a bit of onion too) and tortillas that was served on a small plateau on Tacanà at 13,000 ft was some of the best and most needed nourishment I can recall.
Nuff said….may we share His peace within our communities……..