Thursday, June 16, 2005

Guatemala Day Eight

My Guatemalan adventure for the day was quite, well, adventurous, really.

We were working in the lab (“The lab's always open!”) when Margarita came up to where I was labeling shards and asked me if I know how to drive a car. She said that tomorrow is Jonathon's birthday and they wanted to surprise him with a something something something. All the people who have cars and know how to drive are all busy, so could I please drive them? I'd have to be stupid to say no to that chance. I haven't had an opportunity yet to drive in a foreign country. I asked if we were leaving right now, and she said she'd go check and let me know.

A couple of minutes later, I looked up and she was furiously beckoning me to hurry up, so I went outside where she was waiting with Victor and Diana. It was, of course, raining....hard. They all had ponchos, but I figured since I was driving, I wouldn't really need one. There was a good amount of open rain we had to run through to get to the car, though, and Margarita thoughtfully provided me with her poncho and she had a colorful piece of plastic to use for herself. We ran out to .... I still didn't know what car we were taking. Turned otu to be a cute white VW bug. Diana was furiously struggling to open the passenger side door. Victor and Margarita crammed in the back and I got in the driver's side. Diana handed me the keys and pointed to a padlock type thing like I used to have for my Jeep said, "Use that." So i put it in its appropriate slot and tried turning it, but the red light stayed lit, so I put it in the other way and tried turning that, and while it still wouldn't turn, the red l ight went off, so I took the lock thing out and turned on the ignition and it worked! They were all quite impressed with my skills.

To leave the compound we had to drive out a non-road composed soley of rocks and more rocks. It was not a smooth ride, nor did it get much better once we got on the paved road.

They directed me towards the green Catholic church, so I knew we were headed to Santo Tomas. It was raining quite hard and either there was no defroster or I couldn't find it, but either way, the windows were so fogged up I could hardly see. Diana thoughtfully acted as the automatic defroster, using her shirt to wipe off the condensation.

We have been told that Santo Tomas was within walking distance, and though I suppose that to be true, it's not a walk I would ever want to make. The road there is full of steep hills and steeper turns. There is no sidewalk to speak of. In the driving rain with fogged up windows and not having adjusted the seat so that I had to move up in the chair to reach the pedals, it wasn't exactly my best driving. Thankfully, the car shifted nicely and made me look good.

Not so thankfully, having to sit so far back made it difficult to work the brakes, to the point I really thought they weren't working very well. I said so out loud, and Diana said, "Shift into 2nd, then, and that'll make it easier." I looked at her and said, "If you don't know how to drive, how do you know that I should shift into second?" She said her dad has a VW and though she's learned to drive it, didn't feel comfortable enough to drive Carlos. I said, "But Carlos knows I'm driving this, right?" She shook her head no. "Well, then, did you just take the keys?" "Oh, no, he gave them to me when I said I would take care of the car as if it were my own."

Margarita contributed from the back, "But if we get stopped, you're just a gringa who only speaks English!" I allowed as how I could do that. But then she said that there aren't any police so we wouldn't get stopped anyway.

I asked them what we were looking for, and they said a bakery. I didn't know if they had a specific one in mind or not, so when I saw one, I pointed it out, and they said, "Stop! Stop!" But there wasn't really anyplace to stop, so I went around a few blocks and came at it the right way. They disappeared inside and came back out a couple of minutes later with some bread. I thought that was a bit odd, but okay. Whatever.

They said, Okay, now we have to find the cemetery. We asked some boys on a corner where the cemetery was, they pointed around the corner. We asked how many blocks it was, they said 2. We turned the corner, and started to laugh because it couldn't have been plainer that there was the cemetery at the end of the road. We turned left at the dead end (ha! I kill me!). I still didn't know what we were looking for, but then when Margarita saw a sign for Panaderia Sinai, which was the name of the other bakery we had just left. I parked two blocks down because there wasn't any where to back up or turn around. Margarita said, "If you want, you can wait in the car, but we'll probably be gone for awhile, so you might as well come."

I futzed with that padlock thing to get the red light to go back on, but couldn't figure out. Margarita said, "Beep, beep, okay, it's on, let's go," so off we went.

In the pouring rain.

Where I found out that the poncho Margarita had so thoughtfully leant me was not waterproof. I might as well not have even had it on for all the good it did me.

We went into the bakery and I stood a respectful distance back while they chatted at the lady. I understood that she didn't have any cakes and wouldn't have until tomorrow, but I couldn't figure out what else was going on. So off we went back to the car and piled back in.

The girls directed me around town in a confusing maze. I asked if the streets were one way, and they said they weren't, but I couldn't really figure out what we were doing. Come to find out, we were going right back to the bakery we had just left. The girls piled out, so I asked Victor what was going on. He said it was the same bakery, so I looked around, confused, pretty sure that we had just driven there so it couldn't be the same one. He explained that the other one was where they bake the cakes, but at the first one the first time, they had told us to go there because the cakes hadn't been delivered yet. At the second one, they said they had already delivered the cakes and didn't have any.

Margarita came out and said she was short 5Q and could Victor give her some money. He opened his wallet and carefully turned to a folded up, old bill. He said, "It's torn -- they probably wont' take it." Margarita said, "Sure they will, give it here," and went back inside. She came out a couple of minutes later and said they wouldn't take it, so I dug in my pocked for the 50Q bill I had with me.

They came out loaded with their cakes, and we started heading back out to Chocola. Diana said I was a very good driver, and I said she should see me back in California. She asked why, and I said, "Because I'm crazy!" She said, "But you're so calm! I can't believe that you're crazy." I started laughing and said, "You don't know me very well, then." She asked why that was and why I don't talk very much, and I said, "Because when Ceil's around, I don't have to talk -- she does it all for me. Every time I open my mouth to speak, she starts talking, so I never can." She sagely nodded, and said, "Yes, I can see that." Vindicated once again.

Then she asked me what I did for a living, and I said, "I work in computers, Kind of. What I do is very boring, though." She said, "Well you could stay here for awhile longer then and be an archeologist with us!" I allowed as how that might be fun, as long as I actually got to do some archeology that wasn't just sifting dirt of other manual, free labor. But it felt nice that they would acknowledge me in such a way, as one of them.

Anyway, we made it back to Chocola, only to see Jonathon walking up the road where we were driving. Getting out of the car, Diana piled the cake and something else under her poncho so he couldn't see what it was, and we piled into the kitchen to try and hide everything.

As I handed Carlos' keys back to Margarita, she said, "Muchas gracias, muy amable." And I laughed and said, "Oh, no. The pleasure was all mine. All mine." and it was. They're a fun group of kids.

It's still pouring and it's time to walk down to dinner. Well, time because Ceil says it's time, not because dinner will actually be ready yet or anything. The thought of this weekend getaway is what's keeping me going. I'm not excited about coming back to a full day of work on Monday, and Jonathon wasn't exactly thrilled when I reminded him that the schedule says we don't have afternoon tasks on Tuesday to allow us time to pack. He said, "You can pack on Tuesday night!" I said, "Ah, but that's what the Earthwatch schedule says too, so maybe for next year you can change it." He really does work us hard, or at least yell at us to work hard. This morning at 7:00 when we had barely gotten our eggs, he started hollering, "It's 7:00. Let's go!" So we hustled up and got up to the site for 7:20, even with a stop at the house for me to hang my laundry outside. It didn't matter, though, because the grad students don't get there until whenever they want, so there's nothing to do until they do. It's a strange dynamic. I've paid to come and be free labor for him. I'm enjoying myself more than I was five days ago, but I can say with certainty I'm not doing this again.

Anyway, dinner awaits. Ceil and Judy have just left and asked if I was coming, but I said I'd be down in a bit. I wasn't ready this morning, either, when they were to go to breakfast. Ceil hasn't said a lot to me today, and that's just fine. Either she's tired, or she's not as unable to read a room as I thought. Either way, this is a nice respite from her. I prefer hanging out with the students or with Mike and Dave. I know she's picked up on the fact that I'll go with them places, but it's not like she's exactly asking me to do stuff with her either. She prefers napping to socializing and being a know-it-all to listening, so....I just remove myself from her, and it works out okay. I really hope she's not planning on me sharing a room with her this weekend, because I'll essentially refuse. Politely, I hope, but I really want some space for awhile.

Okay, for reals now, dinner time.

Tomorrow's Friday! Yippee!!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment