Later that night there was a terrific barbeque at the AIDG compound. I think just about every expatriate in Xela attended. Will made great burgers, Virgil baked home-made buns (which pleased Erin to no end) and Netta- an Israeli volunteer at AIDG- speared veggies and fruit onto kebobs. She asked me how the vegans would feel about eating human blood in their kebobs, actually she just asked me how they would feel about eating human blood in general. I didn`t get it until she showed me her sliced hand. And so the vegans ate some of Netta`s blood.
I had a great conversation with two Xela natives, interesting people who are somehow connected with AIDG indirectly (perhaps they rent to them?). We talked at some length about community dynamics, specifically the contrast between Guatemala and the states. To them, families should live together through several generations, its a more loving and connected way of being. Everyone can help each other, there is a great sharing of duties and resources, its a much more relationship-rich style of living. I spoke some to the perception in the states of a multi-generational home as being somewhat dysfunctional. Mostly in the sense that it is considered embarassing or shameful for children to live with their parents past a certain age. Our culture, i said, does not encourage togetherness (unless of course it is to facilitate some sort of financial transaction and "aid" the economy). No, we are all rugged individualists. Even if we only get dirty in virtual landscapes while blowing up aliens. It was a great conversation and a good testament to my improved spanish.
Being sold on hiking the volcanoe Santa Maria, we were further convinced to do so at 2 in the morning so that we could arrive just in time for sunrise. It sounded exhausting and exhilirating. Any doubts were quelled by two thoughts- when else are you going to get to do this, and the mantra that Palo left us with "you can be comfortable at home."
While the girls got some pre-hiking sleep, Will and i went off for a crazy and circuitous scavenger hunt through the city. It would have felt ridiculous if it hadn`t been so much fun. I don`t remember exactly how it went, but it was something like this:
we had to drop off materials at AIDG, grab a half eaten chicken and take it back to the compound.
pick up grocceries, take them back
get warm clothes from Will`s awesome friend Mazz
go half way back and then realize that i need to get batteries for my dead camera
not find any decent batteries and return home to make chicken sandwhiches for the trip
Mazz and her friends ahd the largest apartment i have ever seen in person, it was like a small dormitory with alot of shared space. Pretty good price from what i understand. The best part though was the awesome roof hang-out space. Their roof top get-togethers would be the envy of any 20 something, the view was immaculate and there were lots of tables and chairs.
After getting back to the apartment and getting all the food ready, Will and i were able to catch a couple hours of sleep before the hike.
Around 1:00 we all got up and began packing and dressing for the cold. Anneliese looked... spectacular.
A quick walk to the central park found us a taxi. There were also a surprising amount of young people making music in the main gazebo. It was really nice to see them out enjoying the night.
I didn`t catch our taxi driver`s name, but he was a nice enough guy and got us to where we were going. Though he did attempt to drive through pot holes and ravines that his car couldn`t have possibly handled, but it did. It was in getting out of the taxi that i somehow lost my international phone. Luckily no one made any calls on it.
And so at 2:30 in the morning we bagn our long slow ascent into the dark.